Annual fish survey shows hopeful signs of recovery, but mine cleanup needed; check the slideshow at the end of the story!
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Brook trout could be making a comeback in the Snake River after a wave of poisonous heavy metals from abandoned mines surged down the valley in 2007, nearly wiping out the trout population.
Along with a couple of wildlife technicians and a team of volunteers, Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist Jon Ewert this week surveyed a 600-foot section of the Snake at Keystone. The annual assessment yielded more than a dozen small brookies, along with a handful of large rainbow trout that are stocked by the resort each year.
“It’s a hopeful sign,” Ewert said. “Maybe the river is rebounding slowly.”
Watch a short video about electroshocking the Snake River here.
The section in question is below the confluence with the North Fork, a clean tributary that dilutes the heavy metals. Above that point, the Snake River is heavily fouled by the acid mine drainage for several miles. Biologists have sampled the reach between Peru Creek and the North Fork several times without finding fish.
The brookies ranged in size from two to five inches, suggesting that the population is reproducing naturally in the section of the river near the heart of the resort. Ewert said it’s the first time he’s found a significant number of brook trout there since the storm event of 2007, when a cloudburst near the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine caused a spike in concentrations of zinc and other metals toxic to fish.
Much more, including a slideshow, after the break … (more…)
Filed under: Colorado Division of Wildlife, Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: acid mine drainage Colorado, electroshocking Snake River, Environment, Pennsylvania Mine, Snake River, Snake River fishing Colorado, Snake River trout, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, water quality | 2 Comments »