ALL NEWS

Fish-friendly changes at Nevada dam to help threatened trout

Sep 12, 2019, 5:56 AM

WADSWORTH, Nev. (AP) — Federal officials are making fish-friendly modifications to a northern Nevada dam that for more than a century has blocked off native spawning grounds for a threatened trout species that once migrated 120 miles (193 kilometers) upstream from a high-desert lake to the alpine waters of Lake Tahoe.

Officials for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe broke ground Tuesday for a $23.5 million fish-passage project to help Lahontan cutthroat trout navigate the Truckee River’s Derby Dam about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Reno.

As soon as next fall, fish screens in a bypass canal longer than a football field will allow the trout — once believed to have gone extinct — to get past the dam for the first time since it was built in 1905.

Commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt, the dam was part of the first major irrigation system established in the West to “help make the desert bloom,” diverting water to farmers and ranchers in a region where only about 5 inches of rain falls annually.

“This day is 100 years in the making,” said Jody Holzworth, deputy regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The fish screen will allow this iconic species to travel beyond Derby Dam, from Pyramid Lake to their spawning grounds, for the first time in more than a century.”

Lahontan cutthroat trout, the state fish of Nevada and largest trout in North America, used to grow as large as 60 pounds (27 kilograms) when they would climb 2,500 feet (762 meters) through mountain river canyons to Lake Tahoe, elevation 6,228 feet (1,898 meters).

Tribal leaders and state and federal wildlife officials have been working for two decades to restore the fishery in Pyramid Lake — a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan, an inland sea that covered 8,450 square miles (21,885 sq. kilometers) of western Nevada during the Ice Age. The Lahontan cutthroat trout also are native to parts of Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Dan Mosley, executive director of the Pyramid Lake Fishery for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, said the tribe has a long history of “fighting for the fish.”

“They are really important in our stories and our culture,” Mosley said.

In recent years, the fish have made their way several miles upstream from Pyramid Lake but haven’t been able to get past the Derby Dam.

The trout was thought to have gone extinct in the 1940s and was listed as threatened in 1970. But a remnant population later was discovered in a small brook on Pilot Peak along the Nevada-Utah border.

Beginning in 2006, that population has been used to successfully restock Pyramid Lake, where Holzworth said anglers now regularly catch cutthroats as big as 25 pounds (11 kilograms).

Cutthroats successfully spawned in Pyramid Lake in 2014 for the first time in 80 years and this year, 775 successfully spawned in the river between the lake and dam.

The bypass canal will include an 80-foot-wide, 390-foot-long horizontal fish screen — actually a metal plate with slots that pushes water down through the water system while sending the fish and other debris through the side channel.

The Farmers Irrigation District of Hood River, Oregon first developed what is now known as the “Farmers Screen” after severe flooding in 1996. The district licensed the patent to the nonprofit Farmers Conservation Alliance which since has completed 50 similar projects in several Western states.

This one is the largest and the first the Bureau of Reclamation has commissioned.

“It’s a milestone in the history of Reclamation,” Bureau Commissioner Brenda Burman said Wednesday, “a critical investment in modernizing our infrastructure to provide reliable water supplies in an environmentally sound manner.”

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Glass jar with coins on table, closeup. Money saving concept (Adobe Stock)...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Budgeting when you live below the poverty line

If you're living below the poverty level, it can be hard to buy the things you need. Here's how one school assignment is trying to give more insight.
14 hours ago
lake restoration...
Adam Small and Elizabeth Weiler

Lake Restoration Solutions in legal battle over Utah Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — The lake restoration company wanting to dredge and build islands on Utah Lake is filing an appeal after its request was shut down in October. Lake Restoration Solutions said it is fighting for another chance to restore Utah Lake.  The company submitted a proposal to Utah in 2017. LRS asked the […]
14 hours ago
...
Mike Valerio, CNN

Veterans and scientists fulfill ‘no man left behind,’ returning long-lost American remains from lonely Pacific WWII battlefield

Byrd said the average time to identify an individual is 2.5 years, but can be as quickly as two weeks.
14 hours ago
recession...
Elizabeth Weiler

Lessons to be learned from the UK’s recession

SALT LAKE CITY — “Recession” is a word that has not escaped the minds of Americans. When we observe some of the largest economies in the world like the United Kingdom, there are major takeaways we can learn from those overseas to help prevent economic disasters within our home.  Between inflation, living costs, the war […]
14 hours ago
a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
14 hours ago
a rendering of the WonderBlock that will be developed in downtown ogden...
Alexandrea Bonilla

Downtown Ogden expansion project begins finalizing plans

A downtown Ogden expansion project, Make Ogden, is taking its first steps to creating a new development called the WonderBlock.
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Fish-friendly changes at Nevada dam to help threatened trout