West Slope stakeholders are voicing concern about releases from Ruedi Reservoir for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Some stakeholders in Eagle and Pitkin counties said they are concerned that the planned releases from Ruedi Reservoir could threaten the economically valuable trout fishery in the Roaring Fork.

But if the various stakeholders can make all the pieces fit together, it could be a win-win, with less water coming out of Ruedi and some additional flows from Granby Lake and Green Mountain Reservoir, according to Dave Nickum, director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Most trout species (with the exception of cutthroats) are not native to Colorado, but angling has become a huge part of the recreational economy. As such, the plan to recover the native fish sets up an interesting conflict between protection of endangered native species and potential impacts to non-native fish that are a big part of the culture and economy of the West Slope. Learn more about the recovery effort at this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

At issue are the Colorado pikeminnow, the bonytail and humpback chub and the razorback sucker. The four species are native to the Colorado River, but dam-building and diversions reduced their habitat to just a few pockets.

Under a 1999 programmatic biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that addresses impacts to the four endangered species, Front Range and West Slope water users agreed to provide equal amounts of water for the recovery effort.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here and here.

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