Fish Count In Poudre River 1 Year After Destructive #CameronPeakFire Brings ‘Shocking’ News: “Not one single fish was found near Kelly Flats” — CBS #Denver #PoudreRiver #SouthPlatteRiver

From CBS Denver (Dillon Thomas):

For the first time since the historic Cameron Peak Fire charred a record breaking 208,000 acres in 2020, and since the rain on the burn scar caused fatal flooding in the Poudre Canyon in July of 2021, wildlife officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife are seeing the detrimental impact the blaze had on the fish in the Cache la Poudre River. As feared, recent surveys of the river showed thousands of fish were killed as a result of the fire and its lasting impacts.

Cache la Poudre River. Photo credit: Allen Best

“The runoff events we saw this summer, post fire, have had a detrimental impact on the fishery,” said Kyle Battige, Aquatic Biologist with CPW…

CBS4’s Dillon Thomas was invited to join CPW staff as they conducted their first fish testing of the year along the Poudre River.

Battige and his team conducted Standardized Electrofishing Surveys along the Poudre River in mid-October, their first time surveying the region since the fatal flooding and Cameron Peak Fire…

The fatal landslide in July claimed the lives of four people near the Black Hollow Road area. CBS4 was invited to join CPW as they surveyed their two nearest stations, one upstream and one downstream from the slide.

Kelly Flats is a campground and recreation area just downstream from the landslide.

“Last year we caught approximately 200 fish,” Battige said of the roughly 40-yard stretch of the river they survey at Kelly Flats. “(This year) we caught zero trout.”

Not one single fish was found near Kelly Flats, just one year after hundreds were located there. Battige said he expected there to be fewer fish due to the impacts of the past year. However, he said he was shocked to not catch one single fish…

Though the results of the electrofishing were upsetting for the staff at Kelly Flats, greater signs of hope were unveiled a mile upstream from the landslide.

Within 30 seconds of entering the Poudre upstream from the slide and turning on their electrofishing system, multiple fish were being caught for counting…

At the survey station upstream more than 50 fish were caught during one pass. More were caught during a second pass. CPW staff were thrilled to see the fish were still in the region, even if not at the same population of previous years…

Battige said the Poudre River is typically not stocked with trout. The ecosystem has long thrived on its own even after natural disasters. The fish have historically repopulated and redistributed along the river without human intervention.

Battige said he was hopeful the fish would soon make their way toward the Kelly Flats area, repopulating that region…

The fish that are caught in the electrofishing process are weighed, measured, listed for species and then returned to the same waters.

Now, with stats in-hand, CPW will weigh their options for the future. Either let the river bounce back on its own, or try and shock the system by stocking the river with fish.

Natural resources experts who surveyed the fire’s impacts on the watershed, which [northern Colorado relies] on for drinking and irrigation water, believed the Cameron Peak Fire will have impacts on the Poudre River for at least 10 years.

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