Facilites at the Saline Fisheries Research Station

The Saline Fisheries Research Station is a field station of the Institute for Fisheries Research and is located on 60 acres in Saline, Michigan. Facilities include: 18 drainable experimental ponds (ranging in size from 0.14 to 0.77 acres), six raceways, a wet laboratory, a residence, offices, meeting space, and storage space. The station is used by Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Research Biologists to address a variety of questions about warm-water fisheries and fish ecology. In addition, the station supports the research and teaching activities of biologists from the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Michigan State University. The station also conducts a small number of outreach activities to school and scouting groups each year.

Saline Fisheries Research Station
8910 Saline-Milan Rd.
Saline, Michigan 48176

Current staff: Alan Sutton, Technician Supervisor

List of Publications


The Saline Fisheries Research Area, a 60-acre Department of Natural Resources outpost, is located just south of town on the Saline-Milan Road. The Fisheries have evolved from many owners, but for the sake of this article let us begin with the late 1800s. After Mr. S. M. Bixby purchased the old York Mills, he made numerous improvements. An 1891 Saline Observer article states that after Mr. Bixby's renovations he renamed the area, The Spring Brook Mills. However, there is no mention of this change in the abstract. Abbie Bixby, survivor, and Edward Bixby sold the property in 1910 to Charles Payfer. In 1930, Edward and Lydia Alber purchased The York Mills from Jacob and Clara Theurer and they named it Alber Mill. The Albers sold their Mill in 1944 to Gerhardt and Clara Cekau who went into the meat business and the buildings became known as Cekau's Slaughter House.

In 1952, George and Elizabeth Washburn, in partnership with the Ozark Fisheries in Missouri where George worked, purchased the Slaughter House and 55 acres. The development of the 18 ponds which are all gravity flow, began. The Slaughter House became the Bait House. Gradually the swampy land was transformed into the Springbrook Minnow Farm. The Washburns returned to Saline in 1958. By 1960 George and Elizabeth were the sole owners of Springbrook Minnow Farm and changed the name to Springbrook Fisheries.

The Department of Natural Resources purchased the Fisheries in 1966. In 1971 six artificial streams were completed. In 1982 the old sod dam was replaced with the dam that is there today. The DNR replaced the Bait House with the present laboratory and workshop. This area, which straddles Saline and adjoining York and Saline Townships is only open to the public for pre-arranged group tours. The Saline Fisheries Research Station, along with other State-operated fisheries research locations, continues to study the feeding, growth and reproduction habits of a variety of warmwater fishes.