River fish monitoring to begin

Biologists working to save endangered fish in the Colorado River Basin will try to listen in as the fish navigate the new passage past the Price-Stubb Dam across the Colorado River.

Plans call for the installation of an antenna at the fish passage that can track the movements of fish tagged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Tom Chart, the new head of the Upper Colorado Basin Endangered Species Recovery Program.

Monitoring the fish that way gives more information about the movements and is preferable to electro-shocking or other methods of counting the fish, Chart said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has stocked endangered razorback suckers in the river, and Chart said he is planning to do more.

“We’re still in full force with the stocking program” and will build more ponds in Horsethief Canyon to grow additional razorbacks, Chart said.

Chart is based in the Lakewood office of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

A fisheries biologist, Chart joined the recovery program staff in October 2007 as instream-flow coordinator.

The Grand Valley is considered to be particularly important to the recovery of both species of fish. The program also is aimed at recovering the humpback and bonytail chubs.

Pikeminnow populations are steady or increasing, and the fish now has access via the Price-Stubb passage and Grand Valley Canal fish ladder to the upper reaches of its historic domain.

Chart said he will continue working with irrigators and other water users to make sure enough water flows through the Grand Valley for the endangered fish. He said he hopes to maintain good relationships with irrigators who clean and maintain screens that keep endangered fish in the river.

The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program is a cooperative partnership of local, state and federal agencies, water developers, power customers and environmental groups. It was established in 1988 to recover the endangered fish while water development proceeds in accordance with federal and state laws and interstate compacts.


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