Bonny Lake Fish Salvage Authorized

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists have begun salvaging sport fish from Bonny Reservoir in Yuma County in preparation for the draining of the lake over the next two months.

The State Engineer began releasing water from the reservoir on September 21 to satisfy a legal obligation to release all the water to Kansas and Nebraska. The result will most likely be the loss of the entire fishery.

As long as conditions allow, biologists will trap as many fish as possible and relocate sport fish to other public fishing waters. Anglers can continue to remove fish provided the shoreline remains stable and access is safe.

“Right now it looks like it might take as little as 90 days to drain the lake,” said Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Cory Chick. “We encourage anglers to harvest as many fish as possible before the water is gone.”

Under the salvage order signed by Southeast Regional Manager Dan Prenzlow, all legal methods of fishing will be allowed including the use of trotlines, jugs and seines. Commercial angling is prohibited. There are no limits on the number or species of fish anglers can keep, but everyone must have a valid Colorado fishing license to be in possession of fish and must complete an angler survey card available at the reservoir.

Access may be closed to boats and/or anglers if the receding lake creates unstable banks or other hazards.

“I grew up hunting and fishing at Bonny Lake State Park,” Prenzlow said. “This is difficult to watch.”

Bonny Reservoir was created in 1951 when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built a flood control dam on the South Fork of the Republican River. Shortly after the completion of the project in 1951, the former Colorado Division of Game Fish and parks negotiated an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation to manage fish, wildlife and recreational assets of the reservoir and the federal land around the lake.

As a result of draining Bonny, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will transition Bonny from a State Park into a State Wildlife Area beginning Oct. 1, while simultaneously exploring other potential options with a variety of partners. Public hunting access areas will remain open to the public.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working with Yuma County Commissioners, Three Rivers Alliance, and Yuma County Economic Development Council to determine whether management of 56 acres, including the Visitor Center and Wagon Wheel Campground along with other facilities in Bonny Lake State Park, can be transitioned to Yuma County.

Pending completion of discussions with these local groups, the North Cove and East Beach Campgrounds will remain open in October, although without potable water sources. The Foster Grove campground facilities, however, will be shut down and winterized until a final resolution is reached with Yuma County and local groups. Tables and grills will be removed from isolated picnic sites on the north and south side to be distributed to other Parks and Wildlife areas in critical need of such items.

For more information on the South Republican State Wildlife Area, please see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/LandWater/StateWildlifeAreas/.

More coverage from KOAM TV:

The eastern Colorado reservoir is being drained to send some 4 billion gallons of water to Nebraska and Kansas under a 1942 agreement among the three states. Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced Friday that it will take about two months to drain Bonny Lake.

Colorado biologists say they’ll trap as many fish as possible and relocate sport fish to other public fishing waters. Anglers can continue to remove fish provided the shoreline remains stable and access is safe.

More Republican River basin coverage here and here.

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