The history of the Durant State Fish Hatchery

Addison Martin, Staff Writer

There are many facts about Durant that make it unique and special – it is known as the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma, shares a monument with two other cities in America for the “World’s Largest Peanut” and serves as the capital of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. Besides these facts, Durant is also home to the biggest fish hatchery in the state of Oklahoma.

The Durant State Fish Hatchery was constructed in 1916 and was the second fish hatchery to be constructed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. It shut down temporarily, then reopened in 1926. The hatchery now equals to be around 350 acres.

In the past, there were around 210 fish culture and research ponds of various shapes and sizes and one small water supply reservoir, which in total added to only be around 274 acres of land. Now, the Durant Fish Hatchery has 83 ponds and two interlinked water supply reservoirs.

These reservoirs are significant in the hatchery process because the water used for fish culture activities are continually recycled and pumped into the reservoirs for the purposes of storage and repeated use.

Throughout the years, the hatchery has undergone various changes regarding their property. They have renovated the ponds used for fish production and other structures such as office space, fish housing, construction of phase ponds on the property and storage for feed, chemicals and boats. This allowed personnel to have more space and it allowed more organization.

In the 1990s, the hatchery then underwent two more major renovations. In 1993, approximately $1.66 million went into renovating both the Phase One and Phase Two ponds. This allowed for the remodeling and for reconstruction of the existing ponds, the installation of a new turbine water supply pump, new PVC water supply lines, new constructed harvest basins and finally the installation of aeration to both the ponds and the harvest basins.

From 1990 to 1996, the ponds that were known as Phase 0 were not able to be used for any fish production due to their poor condition and water supply problems. In 1996, $2.7 million was used to renovate Phase One ponds which paid for the reconstruction of the ponds, water supply, harvesting areas, a new aeration system for the ponds and harvest basins and a new turbine pump for the additional water supply demand.