by Tim Church
BRANSON, Mo. – After years in the same small building the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is getting a new facility.
Built in the 1980’s, the hatchery’s Visitors Center was meant to be a self-service facility offering tourists a look into a 3500 gallon fish tank, a few displays, a slide show, and restrooms. Since that time the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery has become something much more.
Now bringing in over 300,000 visitors a year, the hatchery still remains the smallest facility in their organization. After surveys were conducted, in 2012 and 2013, it was determined a larger venue was the only way to go according to Visitors Center Manager John Miller.
Currently the timeline for the new facility is very flexible, but Miller says he hopes to have a ground breaking ceremony by the beginning of 2016 and a full running establishment by fall 2017.
Miller says the funds to create this facility are coming from a number of sources including the Missouri Department of Conservation and the result of a recently passed sales tax:
Miller says this new facility could provide future job opportunities and will make additional room for new fish and other animals. The current Visitors Center will remain open during construction and will still be used alongside the new facility.