Colorado Parks and Wildlife is set to start a multiyear project to expand the range of one of the states subspecies of native fish.
Agency officials next month will start preparing habitat for the Colorado River cutthroat trout in the vast Hermosa Creek drainage 20 miles north of Durango.
Officials from Parks and Wildlife the recently combined state parks and wildlife divisions and the U.S. Forest Service will explain the project at an open house from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Windom Room at the Durango Community Recreation Center.
The message is that while fishing in Upper Hermosa Creek and the East Fork of Hermosa Creek will be interrupted for a time, the long-term prospects for angling will be better, Parks and Tuesday.
These metapopulations provide a defense against disease and other threats such as wildfire, White said. A small population can be wiped out.
Officials also hope that the project will make it unnecessary to list the cutthroat under the federal Endangered Species Act, as proposed by environmental groups.
Trout Unlimited heartily supports the cutthroat restoration plan, Ty Churchwell, the organizations backcountry coordinator, said Tuesday.
Few locations are as perfect for such a program as the headwaters of Hermosa Creek, Churchwell said. Its important to note that the mainstem of Hermosa Creek below Hotel Draw will remain a multispecies, catch-and-keep fishery for 20-plus miles to its confluence with the Animas River.
In early August, biologists will apply Rotenone to Upper Hermosa Creek and its main above a fish barrier near Hotel Draw. The goal is to kill nonnative fish, mostly brook trout.
Some nonnative fish will be moved below the treatment area before Rotenone is introduced.
ThsRotenone, derived from the root of a tropical plant, is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency as a pesticide. It acts and degrades quickly and leaves no residue.
The pesticide isnt new to the area. In 1992, Rotenone was applied above a waterfall on the East Fork of Hermosa Creek near Sig Creek.
In 2013, the restoration project will move downstream. The Forest Service, which built the barrier at Hotel Draw, will install two more one on the East Fork slightly west of the waterfall, the other below the confluence of the Hermosa Creek main stem and the East Fork.
Rotenone will be appied in those areas that year and again in 2014 tomake sure no nonnative fish survive.
After the treatment, cutthroat will be stocked.
The project will interruptangling , but many fishing holes will remain, White said. Anglers can be assured that of Hermosa Creek and its east fork, he said.
The Colorado River cutthroat is one of three trout subspecies isolated in what is now Colorado by glacial movement eons ago.
In 1990, biologists statewide, fearing the species would be listed as threatened or endangered, located pure strains of the subspecies in streams with an insurmountable barrier on the lower end and no lake at the top of the drainage.
The biologists collected eggs and milt from the pure-strain cutthroat to build populations of the subspecies in hatcheries.
Descendants from the early generations will be stocked in the Hermosa Creek drainage.