OUTDOORS + RECREATION

DWR to treat creeks in High Uintas with rotenone in effort to restore native species

Jul 2, 2024, 5:00 PM

A woman fishes in the High Uintas. Clouds are reflected by the surface of the water....

FILE - Megan Olsen hooks a brook trout while standing in Island Lake among reflections of clouds in the High Uintas. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)

(Ravell Call/Deseret News)

VERNAL, Utah — Later this summer, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will work with the Ashley National Forest to apply rotenone treatments to two creek drainages in the High Uintas. 

The goal is to restore the Colorado River cutthroat trout, a native fish species. 

According to the DWR press release, rotenone is naturally occurring and is a respiratory toxin for fish. However, it is not dangerous to people, pets, or other wildlife. 

The treatment will remove non-native fish from the area. Per the press release, brook trout, rainbow trout, and other species of cutthroat trout are non-native but currently living in the streams. 

“The activities will protect the species, while also providing people with great areas to fish for these native species,” said DWR Regional Sportfish Biologist Bryan Engelbert in a press release.

If action is not taken, brook trout could completely replace the Colorado River cutthroat trout in less than 20 years. 

While rotenone does not pose a threat, the press release said the U.S. Forest Service will be closing areas that are being treated.

Closures of two High Unitas areas

The public has been told to stay away from water being treated. There will be a large number of crews and equipment in the area during treatment. 

“The temporary closure of the treatment area only affects treated waters and prohibits the public from entering the water and obtaining drinking water from sources in the treatment area. All hiking trails and other access will remain open to public use,” said Tonya Kieffer-Selby, the DWR Northeastern Region outreach manager. 

First, the forest service will close the Oweep Creek drainage area. Located on the south slope, it will close on July 28. Treatments will take place until July 31, according to the DWR

The Oweep Creek drainage area is expected to reopen to the public on Aug. 2. 

Next, the South Fork Sheep Creek drainage area, on the north slope, will close on Aug. 28. It is expected to be reopened on Sept. 2. 

“The treatment areas will be well signed and will reopen after the treatment process is over and rotenone levels are no longer detectable in the streams,” said Kieffer-Selby. 

Following the treatments, the DWR said that the creeks will be re-stocked with native species. However, that can not be done until all treatments are complete. 

Related: Police release identity of hiker found dead near Sundial Peak

 

 

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DWR to treat creeks in High Uintas with rotenone in effort to restore native species