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About the Welaka National Fish Hatchery

The Welaka National Fish Hatchery is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located in north central Florida on about 500 acres situated near the St. Johns River and the Welaka National Forest. Not only are they involved with intense efforts to restore fish species that are vital to the fishery resources of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, WNFH is engaged in protecting endangered species, including the Eastern Indigo Snake and the Grasshopper Sparrow.

Eagle Cam Installation

In September 2019, a partnership developed between the Welaka National Fish Hatchery and the American Eagle Foundation. This resulted in the installation of cameras to livestream a Bald Eagle nest located in a Long leaf pine tree situated on WNFH property. For three seasons the same Bald Eagle pair has raised and successfully fledged eaglets, and to facilitate viewing these eaglets in their nesting season, two high-definition video cams were installed in the eagles’ nest tree.

In November 2019 Welaka staff observed that Mom and Dad eagles decided to relocate their nest to another tree approximately one half mile away from their previous nest (where the cams had been installed). Two eaglets hatched from eggs that were laid in the newly-built nest, and a third cam was installed closer to the nest so that viewers could still have views of the eaglets, as well as their parents coming and going to and from the nest. This cam will also be able to show wildlife in the area around the fish ponds as they frequent the pond during the course of their daily lives.

New nest is shown by red arrow. One of the parent eagles is seen in the sky above the nest. Photo by Shari Pfannenstein.

Conservation Efforts at Welaka

Protecting endangered species and restoring their populations has been an important mission of WNFH. Not only are they involved with intense efforts to restore fish species that are vital to the fishery resources of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the coastal United States, they are also an important partner in restoring the endangered Eastern Indigo Snake to Northern Florida and other areas where the population is seriously compromised. In addition, Welaka is involved with conserving and repopulating the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow to the prairies of Florida.

For more information about the outstanding conservation work being done at the Welaka National Fish Hatchery (great photos and videos), visit Welaka’s FaceBook page.

Public Access to Trails and the Aquarium

Welaka National Fish Hatchery has an active public use program. The hatchery maintains a 25-tank public aquarium, a nature observation tower, and a 3/4-mile nature trail. All facilities are open to the public for self-guided tours. Large groups are given tours to learn about fish and hatchery operations by station personnel if arrangements are made in advance.

The ponds on the property attract a wide variety of birds including Wood Storks, Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egrets, and White Ibis, which are regularly observed from observation towers at the hatchery, constructed for the enjoyment and education of the visitors who come to WNFH. Other wildlife, such as deer, are also native to the area and are often spotted by the new cam.

Observation tower at the Beecher Unit of the Welaka National Fish Hatchery. Photo by Ebyabe.

About the Welaka National Fish Hatchery

The Welaka National Fish Hatchery is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located in north central Florida on about 500 acres situated near the St. Johns River and the Welaka National Forest. Not only are they involved with intense efforts to restore fish species that are vital to the fishery resources of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, WNFH is engaged in protecting endangered species, including the Eastern Indigo Snake and the Grasshopper Sparrow.

Conservation Efforts at Welaka

Protecting endangered species and restoring their populations has been an important mission of WNFH. Not only are they involved with intense efforts to restore fish species that are vital to the fishery resources of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the coastal United States, they are also an important partner in restoring the endangered Eastern Indigo Snake to Northern Florida and other areas where the population is seriously compromised. In addition, Welaka is involved with conserving and repopulating the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow to the prairies of Florida.

For more information about the outstanding conservation work being done at the Welaka National Fish Hatchery (great photos and videos), visit Welaka’s FaceBook page.

Eagle Cam Installation

In September 2019, a partnership developed between the Welaka National Fish Hatchery and the American Eagle Foundation. This resulted in the installation of cameras to livestream a Bald Eagle nest located in a Long leaf pine tree situated on WNFH property. For three seasons the same Bald Eagle pair has raised and successfully fledged eaglets, and to facilitate viewing these eaglets in their nesting season, two high-definition video cams were installed in the eagles’ nest tree.

In November 2019 Welaka staff observed that Mom and Dad eagles decided to relocate their nest to another tree approximately one half mile away from their previous nest (where the cams had been installed). Two eaglets hatched from eggs that were laid in the newly-built nest, and a third cam was installed closer to the nest so that viewers could still have views of the eaglets, as well as their parents coming and going to and from the nest. This cam will also be able to show wildlife in the area around the fish ponds as they frequent the pond during the course of their daily lives.

New nest is shown by red arrow. One of the parent eagles is seen in the sky above the nest. Photo by Shari Pfannenstein.

Public Access to Trails and the Aquarium

Welaka National Fish Hatchery has an active public use program. The hatchery maintains a 25-tank public aquarium, a nature observation tower, and a 3/4-mile nature trail. All facilities are open to the public for self-guided tours. Large groups are given tours to learn about fish and hatchery operations by station personnel if arrangements are made in advance.

The ponds on the property attract a wide variety of birds including Wood Storks, Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egrets, and White Ibis, which are regularly observed from observation towers at the hatchery, constructed for the enjoyment and education of the visitors who come to WNFH. Other wildlife, such as deer, are also native to the area and are often spotted by the new cam.

Observation tower at the Beecher Unit of the Welaka National Fish Hatchery. Photo by Ebyabe.