The most famous river in Colorado is the Colorado River, the focus of high profile fish habitat conservation efforts through the years. But there are many other bodies of water in the state that have received attention, including Clear Creek in Golden, where a stream restoration project led to improved fish habitat and recreational access, and across the state, where the devastating impacts of whirling disease on wild rainbow trout populations has been curtailed significantly through research, fish management, and hatchery improvements.
Golden Mile Riparian and Fish Restoration Project, Clear Creek, GoldenThe Golden Mile Riparian and Fish Restoration Project was initiated to enhance the stream habitat and support a sustainable cold water fishery on a one-half mile stretch of Clear Creek. Prior mining, road building and development, sediment from winter road treatment, and other activities have plagued this specific stretch of river for some time.
Stream restoration work included improving habitat for coldwater wildlife and fishing access for the physically handicapped. The project now also serves as an educational resource for area youth.It has also helped improve the carrying capacity and quality of the habitat for resting and spawning of trout species and other aquatic species and translated into better close-to-home fishing opportunities for the citizens of Golden and other surrounding communities.
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Whirling Disease Research and Resistant Rainbow TroutStudies, Bellevue and acrossColoradoThe dramatic decline in many wild rainbow trout populations in Colorado and other Western States in recent years has been attributed to whirling disease, first introduced to the U.S. in the 1950's through imported European trout that carried a disease-causing parasite known as Myxobolus cerebralis.The loss of economic, recreational and intrinsic values associated with these wild trout fisheries makes whirling disease a management issue of high importance.
Significant strides by the Colorado Division of Wildlife have been made in recent years in controlling the further spread of whirling disease. These efforts include capital investments to protect the state's hatchery system. In 1998, 11 of Colorado's 16 hatcheries were contaminated by the parasite; currently just three trout rearing facilities are considered positive for the parasite. Sport Fish Restoration funding will continue to be used for studies to identify management techniques that ensure healthy wild populations of rainbow trout in Colorado.
Restoration of the Native Fish Community in the Rio Costilla Watershed, Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado In Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, several partners including the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Colorado Division of Wildlife have teamed up to restore Rio Grande cutthroat trout (RGCT) and, where feasible, Rio Grande sucker and Rio Grande chub populations in the Rio Costilla watershed on Turner Enterprises, Inc. and U.S. Forest Service lands. The project will restore the native fish community to approximately 100 stream miles, 15 lakes, and Costilla reservoir. Rio Grande cutthroat trout once inhabited greater than 6,000 miles of coldwater streams and rivers in southern Colorado, New Mexico,and possibly west Texas. This southern-most sub-species of cutthroat trout now inhabits approximately 10% of historically occupied habitats. As of 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added RGCT to the Endangered Species Act candidate species list.Primary reasons for candidate status include habitat fragmentation,small populations, and climate change.
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