|The Neosho National Fish Hatchery will receive funding to support the construction of a two-story, 9,200 sq. ft., energy-efficient visitor center, according to an announcement by Ken Salazar, US Secretary of the Interior. A portion of the construction costs ($109,105) will be funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $3,753,627 contract was awarded to Kansas-based Crossland Construction Co., Inc. at a recent groundbreaking ceremony.
These funds will support construction of the new visitor center as a LEED-certified facility that will include installation of photovoltaic solar panels and expanded seating capacity for student groups and other visitors. The project also will provide a renewable energy source for the hatchery and improve the safety and air quality of existing buildings.
Building amenities will include a History of the Hatchery Exhibit Hall, Friends of the Neosho NFH bookstore, classrooms and wet labs, auditorium, library and additional office space for hatchery staff.
“The new visitor center will improve community education about our aquatic resources, and enhance the energy efficiency of daily hatchery operations,” according to David Hendrix, hatchery manager.
Established in 1888, Neosho National Fish Hatchery is the oldest operating federal hatchery, contributing to endangered species recovery and stocking efforts in the Missouri River watershed, and providing environmental education to more than 45,000 visitors annually. The new visitor center will showcase the hatchery facility, its mission and the aspects of the fisheries conservation heritage of the Midwest and help build a stronger relationship between Neosho NFH and the local community.
“The Midwest Region has a long tradition of enjoying the fish, wildlife, lakes, rivers and prairies we are so fortunate to have," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “The projects we are undertaking in the Midwest will provide jobs, increase the energy efficiency of government buildings, protect and enhance our natural resources, provide greater opportunities for people to enjoy those natural resources, and perhaps most importantly, help current and future generations understand and share our passion for the natural world.”
Funding for this project and hundreds more across the nation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Act provides $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – which includes $115 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at Service facilities, and $165 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects. The Service will benefit from an additional $10 million, which is administered by the Department of Transportation and is not included in the Service’s $280 million appropriation that will be used to rebuild and improve roads on several national wildlife refuges.
Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery website, and will include an interactive map that enables the public to track where and how the Department’s recovery dollars are being spent. In addition, the public can submit questions, comments or concerns by sending an e-mail here.