Federal biologists partner with Utah pipeline company to install electronic monitoring antenna in the White River
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Biologists working to recover native Colorado River fish are going high tech this summer with installation of a thermoplastic antenna on the bottom of the White River in Utah. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently outlined the status of the recovery program in an annual report.
The antenna will register signals when specially tagged fish pass by, helping biologists with the recovery program gain a better understanding of how the fish are using the river. it also eliminates the stress associated with repeated capture and release.
The antenna will detect any endangered Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail and humpback chub that have a PIT tag,, (like those placed in a dog or cat at a veterinary clinic for individual identification).
Researchers can use the data to document fish movement, calculate population size and obtain weight, length, and age data. In addition to the endangered fishes, the White River is home to large numbers of native flannelmouth and bluehead suckers, and roundtail chub, some of which have also been tagged.
“The White River, the second largest tributary to the Green River, is designated critical habitat for endangered fishes,” said recovery program Director Tom Chart. “Having the ability to monitor their movement will help us measure the effectiveness of our management actions as we work to recover them.”
Utah’s Questar Pipeline Company will fund the $125,000 project to help monitor potential impacts to endangered fish and their habitat from construction of a pipe across the White River. This project will replace about eight miles of older pipe with new 20-inch diameter pipe through a remote section of Weaver Canyon near the Utah/Colorado border.
“Questar Pipeline showed a strong environmental stewardship ethic during the discussions concerning the Mainline 103 pipeline project and the PIT tag reader,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ecologist Kevin McAbee. “We commend Questar Pipeline for looking for new, innovative ways to help native fish conservation, and for their financial support. As more PIT tag readers are installed and operated throughout the Upper Colorado River Basin, our knowledge of native fish will be greatly bolstered.”
“Questar Pipeline is committed to conducting all of its operations in an environmentally responsible manner” said Questar Pipeline president and CEO Allan Bradley.
The Recovery Program previously installed similar detection devices at the Maybell Ditch, a 12-mile-long irrigation canal on the Yampa River in northwest Colorado and at the Price-Stubb Diversion Dam on the Colorado River in western Colorado.
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, rivers Tagged: | Colorado Pikeminnow, Colorado River, endangered fish, endangered species, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Yampa River