A pikeminnow’s progressThe report last week that a Colorado pikeminnow had been captured in th

The report last week that a Colorado pikeminnow had been captured in the Colorado River in De Beque Canyon may not have been the most closely monitored bit of news in a week of high school graduations, Denver Nuggets victories and the usual gloomy economic stories.

But it was important, nonetheless.

It means that the pikeminnow, long known as the Colorado squawfish, is now traveling to upper portions of the Colorado River that had been closed off to it for nearly 100 years.

It means that a $10 million, 900-foot-long fish passage built so endangered fish species could circumvent the 1911 Price-Stubb dam is doing its job.

But most important of all, it means that the collaborative effort between federal, state and local authorities to re-establish populations of endangered fish in the Colorado River and its tributaries is continuing to prove successful.

Other fish passages on the Gunnison River and on the Colorado River in Palisade have already demonstrated they can assist endangered fish such as the pikeminnow to return to portions of their historic habitat. And the Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery
Program is demonstrating that can be done without eliminating or putting a significant crimp in human uses of the same water sources.

That’s a significant difference from many other parts of the country, where endangered species concerns are often used as a cudgel to halt or significantly alter human activities. In regions where that is occurring, federal wildlife and water experts are often pitted as adversaries against local governments, landowners and water users.

That, thankfully, has not been the case in the Grand Valley, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation have worked with state wildlife and water agencies as well as local water users.

The discovery of a pikeminnow in De Beque Canyon recently is further evidence that the cooperative effort is working.


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