Domtar Sustainability: A 10,000 Tail Fish Tale

Nov 7, 2017 9:15 AM ET

Domtar 2017 Sustainability Report

Domtar uses water for more than making paper. In our mill in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, we also hatch and rear fish—thousands of brook, brown and rainbow trout every year.

About 25-30 volunteers feed the fish twice a day and keep an eye on their health. Some are current mill employees; others are retirees who enjoy coming back to lend a hand.

When the trout reach an appropriate size, they are released into area streams. About 10,000 are released each year.

“Our fish are talked about all over the region,” said Rick Zelehoski, who is retiring from the mill’s maintenance department in 2017 and plans to volunteer in the hatchery when he is no longer working. “Ours are bigger. People know they came from our nursery.” The nursery has received awards from the state for its success.

It was Rick who got the idea for the hatchery in the first place. Twentyfive years ago, he asked his boss if a century-old filtration building no longer in use could be turned into a fish nursery. And it came to be.

Numerous building renovations have been made over the years, including the addition of two raceways—88 feet long and 4 feet wide—that sit above the floor, where the young trout flip and flop and swim. More recently, the hatchery was upgraded to facilitate visits by students from area schools.

For some children, a Domtar trout may be the first fish they catch. In each of the past several years, the fish nursery has hosted a family day and spring fishing event for children of employees.

Charles DeWitt, technical manager for converting and technical papers, said the nursery is a highlight when groups visit the mill for tours, and it opens the door to conversations about Domtar’s commitment to sustainability and to communities.

“People take great pride in it,” he said. “Everyone enjoys seeing it, and it can help them see our mill and our industry in a different light.


Domtar’s 2017 Sustainability Report details the company’s endeavor to take a longer term view of creating and preserving value for our shareholders, customers, employees and communities.  For more inspiring stories about Domtar's sustainability efforts, visit the Domtar Newsroom. To view the full 2017 Sustainability Report click here.