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Group says Spearfish's D.C. Booth hatchery targeted for closure

SPEARFISH (AP) — A nonprofit group that supports the 117-year-old D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery in Spearfish hopes to head off what it says are plans to close the facility in less than two months.

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The Booth Society Inc. issued a statement this week saying the hatchery is one of several across the country targeted for closure due to federal budget cuts. The facility that has been a landmark in Spearfish since 1896 is due to close Oct. 1, according to the group. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not confirmed that, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The hatchery still produces fish — as many as 30,000 rainbow trout from the facility are stocked in lakes and streams in the Black Hills each year. It also serves as an American fisheries archive, preserving records and artifacts for educational purposes. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

More than 150,000 people visit the hatchery each year. Nearly 30 jobs in the area are tied to the hatchery, according to the Booth Society, and volunteers donate about 14,000 hours each year.

"We need people to write to our senators and let them know how much D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery means to the community, both as a place that families enjoy, but also as a cultural treasure that has a huge economic impact on the Black Hills region," Executive Director April Gregory told the Journal.