‘A Day of Recognition’ at DC Booth Fish Hatchery

Steve Shuck, president of the Booth Society, spoke during “A Day of Recognition” Thursday at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish. Pioneer photo by Kaija Swisher

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SPEARFISH – In addition to the visitors touring the grounds, a group gathered near the historic icehouse at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives Thursday for “A Day of Recognition.” 

Community members, families of those involved at the hatchery through the years, and representatives from the Booth Society, the nonprofit friends group that supports the hatchery; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); and American Fisheries Society-Fish Culture Section were present, and the first order of business was to recognize the 30th anniversary of the Booth Society.

“Thank you for 30 years of partnership, support, and contribution to the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives,” Mayor Dana Boke said. “Through your guardianship … and commitment to conservation and education, you have really built a legacy that we are truly grateful for, and your ongoing diligence and servanthood has made a huge impact on our community.”

The original board of the organization – some of whom were in attendance – was also recognized: Arden Trandahl, Don Aaker, Herb Aslesen, Larry Capp, Madaline Custis, Lillian “Lee” Ervin, Rich Harr, Paul Higbee, Jim Kelly, Patricia Larson, David Miller, and Ruth Quinn. 

Gregory Gerlich, USFWS assistant regional director, fisheries, said that the Spearfish hatchery is one of his favorite facilities in the region.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a lot of friends groups … but the Booth Society is probably the most robust of the friends groups that I’ve had the pleasure to work with in the service,” he said. “The dedication and commitment and continual recruitment and innovation and coming up with new ideas about how to continue to improve this facility but also lend a hand … can’t be overstated.”

He presented a plaque to Steve Shuck, president of the Booth Society, which reads, “The United States Fish and Wildlife Service expresses grateful appreciation to the Booth Society, Inc., for 30 years of continued dedication and support to the D.C. Historic National Fish Hatchery and the National Fish and Aquatic Conservation Archive. Incorporated April 11, 1989, the Booth Society’s extraordinary efforts and contributions to promote, preserve, and enhance, educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities at the Spearfish complex have established them as a national and exemplary model for stewards of public lands.” 

Shuck said it was special to be recognized and to have so many people instrumental to the history and continued preservation of the hatchery present to share in the recognition.

“Thank you very much for 30 years. We’ve got a great past, and I know we’ve got a great future, as well,” he said.

The program included a history of North American fish culture, by Dr. Steve Lochmann, president of the American Fisheries Society-Fish Culture Section; the induction of Dr. Claude Boyd into the National Fish Culture Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals who have made signification contributions to the advancement of fish culture in the U.S.; and a tribute to the late Arden Trandahl, described as a “founding father of the Fish Culture Section and D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery.”

Boyd, considered a world authority on water chemistry and soil management in pond-based aquaculture production systems, applied engineering principles to optimize use of paddlewheel aerators, now used widely in catfish and shrimp farming enterprises. His research has been published prolifically, and he has mentored 228 graduate students, traveled to 38 countries as an aquaculture consultant, and received numerous awards and honors.

“These accomplishments have been made possible by his innate curiosity, unusual problem-solving skills, his genuine interest in serving the research needs of the industry and his ability to work with others toward a common goal. Dr. Boyd is a true gentleman as well as being a highly accomplished pioneer in fish culture,” the hall of fame program reads.

Trandahl, considered a founding father of the Fish Culture Section within the American Fisheries Society and first president of the section, died on Feb. 10, and members of his family were in attendance for a tribute. Trandahl served the USFWS over a 30-year career, including time as director of the Spearfish fisheries. When budget cuts in 1983 forced the closure of numerous hatcheries nationwide, Trandahl chose to take an early retirement and dedicate his efforts to advocate for the Spearfish facility. He was hired by the Spearfish parks department, “where Arden proved instrumental in establishing partnerships and agreements that allowed the use of the Spearfish hatchery as a draw for tourists while maintaining the historic structures, cultural resources and a trove of fisheries artifacts,” the presentation program states. “The Booth Society was established and City Hospitality Tax (which supports the hatchery) was passed because of his efforts.”

Trandahl was hired as director and curator at the hatchery when operations were resumed in 1989.

“In his new role he created and promoted a strategic plan for restoration and modernization of the facility. After countless visits with agency heads and congressional delegations, nearly $4 million were allocated and appropriated to restore, retrofit and upgrade the facility … In 2002, for his contributions in making D.C. Booth what it is today, a bronze statue was commissioned at D.C. Booth in Arden’s likeness titled ‘Spring Stocking,’” the program states.

In 1996, when Trandahl retired, the following tribute was entered into the Congressional Record: “High praise to a man who has dedicated his life to government service and the management of fish hatchery operations.”

Following the presentations, participants enjoyed a reception in Ruby’s Garden, and Shuck reminded everyone to visit the hatchery Saturday for “Booth Day,” which includes activities and refreshments.

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