Niagara Springs Hatchery is located in southern Idaho’s Hagerman Valley. Idaho Power built the hatchery in 1966 to serve as a rearing facility for steelhead. With a capacity to raise nearly two million steelhead smolts annually, it is one of America’s largest privately-owned steelhead rearing facilities.
In 2013, Idaho Power completed a two-year renovation of Niagara Springs Hatchery. The project included construction of a 23,000-square-foot indoor rearing facility, modern water filtration system, improved feeding apparatus and predator exclusion equipment.
An observation room allows visitors to get a good look at the operation. Special windows and modern lighting, designed in consultation with University of Idaho experts, mimics natural daylight for the young fish.
Named after the spring that feeds it, the hatchery’s water is clean, clear and, most importantly, warmer than that in which naturally spawned steelhead grow up. This ideal environment allows the fish to achieve the equivalent of two years growth in just one year’s time.
Eggs arrive here each May from adult steelhead spawned by crews at Idaho Power hatcheries in the Snake and Salmon river basins. In March of the following year, crews begin hauling the year-old fish back to the Snake, Little Salmon, and Pahsimeroi rivers, where they will begin a journey of more than 500 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The spring fish haul takes about six weeks.
Niagara Springs Hatchery has proven to be a tremendous asset in the rearing of steelhead. In the wild, less than 5% of eggs hatch and become smolts that survive to being the migration to the ocean. At Niagara Springs Hatchery, more than 80% of eggs received from Pahsimeroi and Oxbow hatcheries ultimately become fish that embark on their ocean journey.
The hatchery is currently closed to visitors. Learn more about the hatchery at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s website.