Historic hatchery is set to become research facility | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Historic hatchery is set to become research facility

Julie Brown
Julie Brown / Sierra Sun / Lake Forest's historic fish hatchery is being restored and renovated into a laboratory for the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. The building is being upgraded to modern safety requirements, eliminating asbestos. An old basketball hoop is reminiscent of its earlier days when fish hatchery employees played while on breaks.

The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center on Friday kicked off the renovation of its newest research center in a sleepy Lake Forest building that has stood solid through nearly 90 Lake Tahoe winters and summers.

The UC Davis project will breathe new life into a historical landmark at the intersection of Lake Forest Road and Highway 28.

The former fish hatchery, built in the 1920s, will soon house a cutting-edge research laboratory studying Lake Tahoe’s water quality and pollutants.

The converted fish hatchery will be the California counterpart to the UC Davis environmental center in Incline Village. Scientists will use the new facility primarily to process samples taken off the research vessel, John Le Conte, docked in Tahoe City.

“We always wanted to build a full lab here,” said Heather Segale, UC Davis’ education and outreach coordinator.

Construction began in late June, with completion expected in the fall of 2008.

In the 1970s, UC Davis purchased the fish hatchery, which ceased operations in the 1950s, from the state Department of Fish and Game for the bargain price of $1 – a transfer procedure, Segale said.

With $2 million in private donations, UC Davis plans to maintain the building’s historical look and feel, but update the dilapidated interior to meet modern safety standards, and install state-of-the-art research equipment. Another $1.67 million in state grants will fund the renovation of the surrounding grounds and wetlands.

“It’s a great opportunity to redevelop this building,” said Jennifer Merchant, Placer County’s Tahoe manager. “It’s an icon in North Lake Tahoe.”

The renovation will restore the surrounding Stream Environmental Zone, a wetland habitat that helps absorb runoff into the lake. Test plots will measure stormwater treatment options, and an observation system will monitor movement of the Earth’s crust. Interpretive signs, an indoor kiosk and a gathering area with benches should draw visitors to the site.

“This is going to be a great community resource,” said Christine McMorrow of the Sierra Watershed Education Partnership, one of the project’s community partners.

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