Old Dillon Reservoir enlargement update: Is a Golden Trout fishery in the future?


From the Summit Business Journal (Bob Berwyn):

The enlargement has been in the works for years as a partnership among local water users and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the public lands around the reservoir. When water starts flowing into the new impoundment, it will help bolster water supplies for the town of Dillon, which depends in large part on stream flows from Straight Creek, running down along I-70 from its source along the Continental Divide. The stream is vulnerable to pollution threats from I-70. During the 2002 drought, Straight Creek flowed at perilously low levels, sending Dillon officials scrambling to develop a backup water plan that included direct diversions from Dillon Reservoir, as well as water-sharing with Silverthorne.

Other local water users will also benefit, and some of the water could go toward helping boost streamflows in dry years. According to a county fact sheet, the water will be used to meet demands from new growth in Summit County and a variety of other purposes, potentially including ball fields and other recreational open space, wetlands restoration, new community facilities and augmentation of well water usage in the Blue River Basin…

For the long-term, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jon Ewert said that, since Old Dillon Reservoir presents a clean slate, he’s considering try to develop a golden trout fishery — the first in the state. Golden trout are native to a drainages in California like the Kern River. They look a bit like cutthroat trout but with more of a golden color…

Ewert said successful establishment of a golden trout fishery could give a little boost to Summit County’s fishing economy, drawing people from as far as Denver to try and catch a new species. Since golden trout aren’t native, they are subject to any special protections, and Ewert envisions a put-and-take fishery, enabling anglers to take their catch home for dinner.
Ewert said there are quite a few challenges associated with establishing the fishery, starting with getting the eggs from California, which isn’t a sure thing. The goldens mostly live in high mountain lakes and biologists have to hike in during spawning season to get the eggs, then pack them out.

More Old Dillon Reservoir coverage here and here.

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