30 years of raising Atlantic salmon

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LSSU/John Shibley

Faculty, staff and students of Lake Superior State University invite the community to join them from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, June 3, when the LSSU Aquatic Research Laboratory celebrates 30 years of raising and releasing Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary’s River.

A commemorative wine, salmon hors d’oeuvres, and tours of the aquatic lab will all be part of the 30th anniversary celebration at the Cloverland Electric Cooperative power plant and Sault Ste. Marie’s Alford Park. At approximately 2:30 p.m., LSSU will dedicate this year’s “class” of Atlantic salmon yearlings in honor of longtime university friend and supporter Richard Barch of Ann Arbor, before releasing the fish into the river.

In a resolution honoring Barch, who received an honorary doctorate from LSSU in 2001, the LSSU Foundation noted that for many years Barch has been a loyal supporter of the university and the lab, which provides an important educational resource for students earning their degrees, while also supplementing the economies of Michigan and Ontario through the recreational opportunities provided by Atlantic salmon.

LSSU Aquatic Lab Manager Roger Greil noted that this year nearly 37,000 salmon will be released in the “Barch Class,” all of which have been identified with a right pelvic fin clip. As usual, the lab hopes to hear from fishermen who have caught Atlantics so they can continue to document where the fish show up in the upper Great Lakes and beyond. Since 1987, when the first class of fish was stocked in the St. Mary’s, an average of 31,000 per year have been raised and released by LSSU students.

LSSU’s Aquatic Research Lab was started in the mid-1970s by LSSU Prof. Gale Gleason and Edison Sault Electric Company President Bill Gregory, who were honored in 2011 when the lab celebrated 25 years of raising Atlantics and named that year’s class after the two of them. The two avid outdoorsmen envisioned a collaboration that they believed would promote tourism in the Upper Peninsula and northern Ontario, strengthen academic offerings at LSSU, and reinforce the already strong community ties with Edison Sault Electric Company, now Cloverland Electric Cooperative. To this day, Cloverland remains an active partner in the lab’s progress, along with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and several other community and governmental organizations. The lab also cooperates with Cloverland, the city of Sault Ste. Marie, and the community in maintaining and stocking the Sault’s Kids Fishing Pond at Rotary Park.
LSSU is currently working with the state of Michigan and Cloverland to renovate a 16,000 sq. ft. annex building on the west end of the power plant to serve as a new home for the lab, which will be renamed the LSSU Center for Freshwater Research and Education. This expansion and relocation of the lab will significantly enhance the university’s research, education, and outreach capabilities.
Barch, an avid hunter, fisherman and traveler, discovered the LSSU Aquatic Lab during his pursuit of Atlantic salmon. He said he has hunted and fished in more than 60 countries on seven continents, and in his travels has found the fishing for Atlantic salmon in the St. Mary’s River to be the best he has seen anywhere.

Barch served in the U.S. Army and the British 17/21 Lancers before beginning his career in finance with Kenower, MacArthur and Co. Investment Bankers in 1964 and eventually founding his own business, Stauder, Barch and Associates, in 1968, which grew to be the largest municipal consulting firm in Michigan.

For more information on the LSSU Aquatic Research Lab, visit lssu.edu/arl.
The commemorative wine for the 30th anniversary event is being produced by Sault Ste. Marie’s Wildwood Vineyard and Winery, part of Karl’s Cuisine, which is catering the June 3 event with the Antlers Restaurant and LSSU.