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Few Employees at Dundee Fish Hatchery

<p>For nearly a year Dundee's fresh water fish hatchery produced no fish.</p> <p> The state suspended operations because of the lack of sufficient water, but as Mechell Dixon found out, it is not just water that is drying up at the hatchery.</p>

Since fresh water is needed to hatch fish, employees at Dundee State Fish Hatchery hit the road to lend a hand at other hatcheries across the state.

But now, managers say the number of employees there is drying up.

For Tom Wyatt it is not longer an option at Dundee State Fish Hatchery.

The facility's 96 ponds were once filled with water and fish but now they are empty.

Because of lack of sufficient water Texas Parks and Wildlife officials suspended operations last March but water is not the only thing that dried up here.

"One of my biologists took a position with the City of Wichita Falls. One of my technicians took a position with Midwestern State. Those were the two most recent ones. We had one technician retire and it's just been a matter of attrition. People moving on.. people retiring," says Dennis Smith, manager at the hatchery.

For now just three employees are manning operations at Dundee-- operations consisting mostly maintenance work to vehicles that are logging a lot of miles on the highway.

"We've been, for the past several months, making a lot of Rainbow Trout deliveries and most of our deliveries are up toward the Panhandle. Our average trip is probably over 500 miles round trip," explains Smith.

But Smith says even if the area received enough water to restart operations hatching fish here is no longer an option this year.

"It's basically too late for us to go into production for this year. I've lost so many good people and so much experience and our hiring process is kind of slow. I would not be able to bring in new people and go into our typical springtime production," Smith says.

Smith say this season at dundee state fish hatchery is a bust.

So he and and other workers are just keeping their fingers crossed that enough rain falls so the hatchery can start up production next year.

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