Fairport Fish Hatchery wins one of 25 nationwide ‘Love Our Byways’ grants

Photo courtesy Visit Muscatine

The Friends of the Fairport Fish Hatchery (FFFH) have been selected for a Love Our Byways micro-grant project. The award is one of only 25 projects from across the country. Funding is given by the National Scenic Byway Foundation and American Park Network along with Official Automotive Partner, Toyota Motor North America, to support local byway beautification and conservation projects which amplify by grassroots volunteerism.

FFFH will host a workday on Friday, September 17 from 9am-4pm at the Fairport Fish Hatchery doing brush cleanup as a part of its Interpretive Trail project. This project is designed to preserve and interpret the rich history of the Fairport Fish Hatchery.

“This grant and workday will bring us closer to having Phase I, the North Trail, completed by later this fall,” said Sandy Stevens, President of the Friends of the Fairport Fish Hatchery. “The North Trail will allow visitors to explore the living quarters and water cistern ruins where some of the country’s premier biologists lived while researching at the hatchery.”

The Fairport Federal Biological Station opened in 1910 to investigate whether artificial mussel propagation could help restore viable mussel populations in the Mississippi River. Researchers and scientists used the best science and technology of the day in their efforts. For nearly 25 years, freshwater mussels had been overharvested throughout the Mississippi River by the pearl button industry. The United States government hoped to sustain, if not restore, mussel populations in support of the button industry. The government built a 5-cottage village for the Director, staff biologists and workers, and VIP visitors. The undisputed ‘founder’ of the freshwater pearl button industry, John Boepple was the first to live in the guest cottage after he left his business to devote his attention to research conducted at the Fairport hatchery.

In addition to the Love Our Byways micro-grant, the Friends of the Fairport Fish Hatchery have received a REAP-CEP grant funding from the Iowa DNR, private donations, and in-kind goods and services to support this and other educational projects. Also, the Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP) provided a grant to nominate the former biological station to the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery is a volunteer organization which was formed last year as an adjunct of the Muscatine County Historic Preservation Commission.

Volunteers for the September 17 workday are welcome. Individuals and groups willing to help with the event are encouraged to contact Sandy Stevens via email at sandystevens@bellsouth.net

Learn more about America’s Byways and Toyota’s support at nsbfoundation.com