Hermosa Creek project improves habitat for cutthroat trout

Img ?1512216803

CLOSE TO HOME: RESPONDING TO SEXUAL ASSAULT IN OUR COMMUNITY

Hermosa Creek project improves habitat for cutthroat trout

Clay Kampf, fisheries biologist for the San Juan National Forest Columbine District, directs Grady James, equipment operator for AJ Construction of Durango, as James maneuvers a log into place to be buried along the banks of the East Fork of Hermosa Creek.
Clay Kampf, fisheries biologist for the San Juan National Forest Columbine District, shows how placing rocks along a corner of the East Fork of Hermosa Creek followed by a small pour-over can increase stream flows in the winter to keep the water from freezing.
Grady James, equipment operator for AJ Construction of Durango, maneuvers a log into place to be buried along the banks of the East Fork of Hermosa Creek.
Stabilization efforts along the East Fork of Hermosa Creek include retaining any disturbed vegetation and replanting it nearby.
Hermosa Creek headwaters ideal for native fish reintroduction

DURANGO – Long ago, after the glaciers retreated from Southwest Colorado, native Colorado River cutthroat trout graced streams high in the San Juan Mountains; that is, until the late 1800s, when European settlers took one cast too many and virtually wiped them out.
The answer for restocking Colorado’s streams has been to introduce non-native game species, such as rainbow, brown and brook trout. In many streams, cutthroat were either out-competed or hybridized by the non-natives, or their habitat was altered to the point of no return.
In the 1990s, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service began looking to the Hermosa Creek drainage north of Durango as an ideal location for recovery of the Colorado River cutthroat. The Hermosa and its tributaries cross through national forest lands recently designated by Congress as a Special Management Area and Wilderness.
“The headwaters of Hermosa Creek offer excellent habitat for Colorado River cutthroat trout,” said Jim White, CPW aquatic biologist. “The water is clean, cold, abundant and interconnected with numerous tributary streams.”
Since then, the state has been removing non-native fish from Hermosa Creek’s east fork and main stem and reintroducing native cutthroat in stretches protected by fish barriers constructed by the Forest Service.
About 17 miles of those waters now host genetically pure cutthroat raised from local native brood stocks gathered from the East Fork of the Piedra River. Concurrently, the Forest Service is working to improve water quality and fish habitat.
“These reintroduction projects are critical to conservation of the species,” White said. “We are one of several states working with federal agencies and non-governmental organizations to expand the range of cutthroat trout.”
One of the goals of this wide-ranging partnership has been to improve the status of the cutthroat so that a federal listing under the Endangered Species Act is not necessary.
“There are plenty of places to catch non-native species, but precious few places to catch native cutthroat,” said Buck Skillen with the Durango Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “Our efforts in the Hermosa will result in a 20-plus-mile meta-population that could survive a large disturbance, like a forest fire, where small isolated pockets of fish might not.”
Trout Unlimited volunteers have donated hundreds of hours of volunteer labor to help with revegetation of streambanks.
“We also pushed for and helped implement a fish-salvage project,” Skillen said. “We were able to catch more than 600 non-native fish prior to earlier electroshocking operations and carry them in aerated tanks to be relocated in nearby waters.”

Hermosa Creek project improves habitat for cutthroat trout

Clay Kampf, fisheries biologist for the San Juan National Forest Columbine District, directs Grady James, equipment operator for AJ Construction of Durango, as James maneuvers a log into place to be buried along the banks of the East Fork of Hermosa Creek.
Clay Kampf, fisheries biologist for the San Juan National Forest Columbine District, shows how placing rocks along a corner of the East Fork of Hermosa Creek followed by a small pour-over can increase stream flows in the winter to keep the water from freezing.
Grady James, equipment operator for AJ Construction of Durango, maneuvers a log into place to be buried along the banks of the East Fork of Hermosa Creek.
Stabilization efforts along the East Fork of Hermosa Creek include retaining any disturbed vegetation and replanting it nearby.
Reader Comments
click here to add your event
Durango ~ Events
click here to add your event
Durango ~ Events