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Saturday, November 5, 2011

CO Woods Lake Native Trout Project Scheduled

MONTROSE, Colo. -- The first phase of a native Colorado cutthroat trout restoration project at Woods Lake will take place from Sept. 6-12, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced.

The Woods Lake State Wildlife area will be closed during those days, and the public is asked to avoid recreating nearby in the surrounding Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest during those days. Woods Lake is located in southeast San Miguel County, just off U.S. Forest Service Road 618.


"This is an outstanding area for the native cutthroat," said Dan Kowalski, aquatic biologist in the Montrose area."There are only a few spots in western Colorado suitable for restoration. This will help give the cutthroat a long-term foothold in southwest Colorado."

Woods Lake was chosen as a location because the area is isolated and the waters are pristine. The barrier of the dam at the small reservoir will prevent non-native fish from swimming into the lake and tributaries.

The lake and surrounding small tributaries will be treated with an organic chemical that will kill non-native fish. The chemical, Rotenone, is derived from the root of a tropical plant and is used throughout the world for fish management projects. Rotenone is fast-acting, only affects aquatic species, leaves no residue and quickly degrades in the environment. The lake is expected to be completely free of the chemical and suitable for fish less than a week after the treatment. Native fish will be re-stocked once it is confirmed that all non-natives have been removed, probably this fall. Fish should reach catchable size -- 10-12 inches -- by summer of 2013.

Until Sept. 6, the area is open for fishing. Licensed anglers can keep all the brook and brown trout they catch--bag limits have been temporarily lifted for these species. Fish must be taken by hook with flies, lures or bait. Netting is not allowed.

Planned for several years, the Woods Lake project is part of a cooperative effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service to restore native cutthroat trout to waters on the West Slope. Due to habitat loss, water quality impacts and the introduction of non-native fish over many years, the Colorado River cutthroat has been eliminated from most rivers and streams in western Colorado. The fish, which has been petitioned for listing as an endangered species, can now be found in only a small percentage of its historic range in Colorado and in the Rocky Mountain West.

To learn more about efforts by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore native trout, see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Research/Aquatic/CutthroatTrout/Pages/CutthroatTrout.aspx

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