BURNET, Texas (KXAN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with maintaining habitats for animals in the wild. But because of the government shutdown, many of their employees have been told to stay home.
Because of the closure, one man has been put in charge of covering for several staffers while they're out of work. Without that last remaining employee 75,000 fish would perish.
That's why Paul Dorman starts early and goes home late. He normally has three other workers to help him each day. As project leader of the 140-acre Inks Lake area fish hatchery, he's wearing a lot of hats to keep the facility and fish alive.
"Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery gets all it's water from Inks Lake," Dorman said as he walks around his commercial filter system. "It comes through the main pipeline here and it's diverted through the pump into the filter system and passes through a 50 micron screen."
After the early morning filtering process, he checks water quality levels. Then, it's feeding time. After a short ride to the pond, thousands of adult channel catfish, used for recreational fishing, are waiting for breakfast.
"I'm trying to do as much work as I can to keep up with not only the infrastructure, but with the species that are within our care," Dorman said.
But the task can be daunting, feeding 75,000 channel catfish spread around dozens of ponds, plus monitoring 100 or more clear creek Gambusia, an endangered Texas fish, each day.
The 75-year-old, usually alive with children and tourists, is now struggling to stay afloat.
"These fish are under out care," Dorman said. "The species that we have on station have been entrusted to us..we will make it happen one way or the other."
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