Restoration project on Swan River involves mitigating the effects of dredge piles and the introduction of cutthroats


From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

Because the Swan River is “a pretty good opportunity to restore a metapopulation of native Colorado cutthroat trout,” the Forest Service is tackling the project with its partners. Summit County and Breckenridge have been working on their Swan River properties since 2007, but with Forest Service technical support, they and the other partners aim to hire a project design firm and begin implementation as soon as possible — but there’s a long way to go. The idea is to re-introduce the cutthroat in different, but connected, habitats.

“We want them to mingle and mix and from a genetic perspective, that’s good,” [Forest Service district fisheries biologist Corey Lewellen] said, adding that part of the reintroduction effort includes relocating as many brown trout as possible and eliminating the rest to prevent them from again out-competing the cutthroat.

The project will likely be expensive, at several millions of dollars funded by grants and other revenue managed by the Blue River Watershed Group, but it will be worth it, Lewellen said.

“There are 17 miles of habitat we can reconnect if we fix this two miles of dredge,” he said, later adding, “We want to promote healthy fish populations on all our lands… We can’t do that without restoring this.”

But that’s just part of it. The Forest Service is involved in the stream project because it’s part of a broader look at the Swan River watershed — an area covering roughly 20,000 acres. It’s also associated with the agency’s revised mission to get “better bang for our buck,” Lewellen said, by focusing resources more directly instead of haphazardly across the national forest.

More Blue River watershed coverage here.

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