AMHERST - A group of outdoor enthusiasts has big plans for the long-abandoned fish hatchery in Williamsdale.
The Cumberland County River Enhancement Association is holding its first ever fundraising dinner and auction on Saturday at the Amherst Fire Department with the proceeds going to support its plans to breath new life into the hatchery.
"Once the dinner is done, we hope to get the building fixed up and maybe even get fish in there later this year," Danny Ripley of the association said.
Ripley said the group hopes to raise Atlantic salmon and brook trout at the hatchery and then release them into local rivers and streams.
"Initially we plan to stock the River Phillip, but eventually we hope to be able to expand to the Wallace River and the French and Waugh rivers in Tatamagouche," Ripley said. "We maybe able to do a number of small rivers and streams as well in conjunction with the provincial and federal fisheries departments."
The hatchery hasn't been used since 2000 and now on land owned by Wendell Purdy and Sons Blueberries Ltd. Ripley said the river enhancement association has been doing some stream restoration work on lands owned by the Purdys and they knew the group was interested in the hatchery.
"They offered us the use of one of the properties. We just have to get the building fixed and get it up and running," Ripley said. "We had to rewire the building and get the plumbing operations. Once we get the power reconnected we'll be ready to go."
The hatchery will include nine tanks and an egg room. Potentially, he said, they'll be able to move to a number of outdoor ponds.
Brian Gairns said he got the idea for a dinner from his work with Ducks Unlimited over the years.
The fundraising event begins with a social at 6 p.m. followed by a turkey dinner dessert as well as live and silent auctions and various raffles of prizes suited to the outdoorsman.
Tickets for the event are $20 each or $30 per couple. Tickets are $15 each for youth under age 15.
For further information, contact Brian Gairns at 667-3772 or Danny Ripley at 667-3563.