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Judge to hear arguments on permit for Au Sable fish hatchery


Environmental groups are challenging a state agency's decision to allow commercial aquaculture in a branch of the Au Sable River in northern Michigan.

Opponents and supporters of a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality to Harrietta Hills Trout Farm will begin presenting evidence to an administrative law judge Monday in Lansing.

The hearing is scheduled to conclude March 3.

The farm raises about 20,000 pounds of rainbow trout a year in a century-old hatchery leased from Crawford County.

Owner Dan Vogler wants to boost production to as much as 300,000 pounds, which he says is necessary to turn a profit.

The Sierra Club and Anglers of the Au Sable contend the farm would pollute the prized river with fish excrement and phosphorus.

Vogler says the concerns are overblown.

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