(Above) An artist’s rendering of the standalone riverfront building named in honor of Dick and Theresa Barch. It will house research, teaching, and public outreach facilities while the hatchery component of CFRE in the east side of Cloverland’s hydro plant is expanded and modernized.
Since 1977, Lake Superior State University’s Aquatic Research Lab (ARL) has been housed in a small two-story section of the east end of Cloverland Electric’s hydro plant. Cloverland and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have supported the lab as students handle the day-to-day operations while receiving hands-on experience in freshwater research and fish culture. These LSSU graduates obtain jobs in fish and wildlife management, hatchery operations, ecology and other biological sciences. The hatchery raises and releases approximately 40,000 Atlantic salmon into the St. Marys River each year.
Edison Sault, the previous owner of the hydro plant, donated office space to LSSU on the west end and for years, LSSU had plans to renovate the space to house the new Center for Freshwater Research and Education (CFRE). Recently, Cloverland and LSSU agreed that Cloverland would purchase the west end office space and LSSU would use that money to renovate the hatchery and lab currently located on the east end. Cloverland benefits by having full control of the hydro plant facility and LSSU benefits from the renovated research lab.
The plan also announces construction of the new CFRE building along the St. Marys riverfront near Alford Park. The facility, co-named in honor of Dick and Theresa Barch who donated $1 million dollars, will provide research space for fish culture and fish health, space dedicated to public outreach, a K-12 discovery room, office space for researchers, and an outdoor educational park. Other local businesses such as Central Savings Bank and LSSU alumni have made sizeable contributions towards the $3 million fundraising campaign. The new site, as LSSU President Peter Mitchell has told community leaders participating in “visioning” sessions, will allow the university to be creative in the design, but keep to the CFRE’s core mission. Construction is expected to begin this summer and the building should be ready by 2021.