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Located a short 20-minute drive from downtown Hardy, the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery and Aquatic Conservation & Education Center is a must-see for those visiting the Spring River area.

Established in 1903, Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery is one of the oldest in the hatchery system. The hatchery was built in the Ozark foothills of northeast Arkansas due to the availability of water from one of the world's largest springs and the access to the railroad.

Some of the species the hatchery works with include: paddlefish, sturgeon, Gulf Coast Striped Bass, walleye, and smallmouth bass. It has also partnered with universities on projects with a number of freshwater mussel species, the alligator snapping turtle and Ozark Hellbender. Currently, the hatchery is predominantly working with threatened and endangered species.

The hatchery has been involved in fish production, endangered species research and education and outreach for years. The newly constructed "green" Aquatic Conservation and Education Center allows additional opportunities for research and education.

The new facility, completed in 2014, houses a 10-tank aquarium full of native species, as well as other species raised at the hatchery. The center also includes a classroom with direct access to the river for hands-on learning experiences.

The Aquatic Conservation & Education Center is open Monday through Saturday 8 am to 5 pm.

For more information on the hatchery and aquatic center, visit the website or check out the center's Facebook page.