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Biologists' fears confirmed on the foot Colorado River

Biologists' fears confirmed on the foot Colorado River

DENVER (AP) — For National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Arnold, it was a little while he'd been dreading. Bare-legged inside sandals, he was pulling inside a netting inside a shallow backwater of the foot Colorado River last week, when he spotted trio young go fishing that didn't belong there. "Give me a call when you obtain this!" he messaged a colleague, snapping photos.

Minutes later, the park work confirmed their worst fear: smallmouth bass had inside fact been found with every one other accompanied by were probable reproducing inside the Colorado River beneath Glen Canyon Dam.

They may exist a beloved (competitive) game(s) fish, nevertheless smallmouth bass feast on humpback chub, an ancient, threatened go fishing that's native to the river, with every one other accompanied by that biologists exist fond of Arnold have been employed firm to recover. The predators wreaked havoc inside the upper river, nevertheless were held at bay inside Lake Powell where Glen Canyon Dam has served while a fence for years — until now. The reservoir's recent sharp decline is enabling these introduced go fishing to obtain past the dam with every one other accompanied by closer to where the biggest groups of chub remain, farther downstream inside the Grand Canyon.

There, Brian Healy has worked accompanied by the humpback chub for additional than a decade with every one other accompanied by founded the Native Fish Ecology with every one other accompanied by Conservation Program.

"It's attractive devastating to see all the firm labour with every one other accompanied by attempt you've place into removing other invasive sort with every one other accompanied by translocating populations around to retain protected from danger the go fishing with every one other accompanied by to see all that attempt overturned really quickly," Healy said.

As reservoir levels drop, non-native go fishing that exist inside hot outside waters inside Lake Powell are edging closer to the dam with every one other accompanied by its penstocks — submerged steel tubes that convey aqua to turbines, where it generates hydroelectric ability with every one other accompanied by is released on the other side.

If bass with every one other accompanied by other predator go fishing carry on accompanied by to obtain sucked into the penstocks, survive with every one other accompanied by reproduce beneath the dam, they will have an not shut lane to assault chub with every one other accompanied by other natives, potentially unraveling years of restoration labour with every one other accompanied by upending the Grand Canyon aquatic ecosystem — the only stretch of the watercourse still dominated by native species.

On the brink of extinction decades ago, the chub has go nearer spine inside self-effacing numbers gratitude to go fishing biologists with every one other accompanied by other scientists with every one other accompanied by engineers. Agencies pay not here millions of dollars yearly to retain intruders inside inspect inside the upper part of the river.

Under the Endangered Species Act, management agencies are required to operate inside ways that will not "jeopardize the continued existence" of listed animals. That includes infrastructure.

Even earlier to the finding of smallmouth bass spawning beneath the dam, agencies had been bracing for this moment. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation not long ago enlisted a team of researchers at Utah State University to scheme the nonnative go fishing inside Lake Powell with every one other accompanied by try to determine which could go into and not here of the dam first.

A position of employment strength fast assembled earlier this year to address the urgency the low aqua poses for native fish. Federal, condition with every one other accompanied by tribal leaders are expected to release a preliminary version scheme inside August containing solutions for policymakers who intend to delay, slow with every one other accompanied by respond to the threat of smallmouth bass with every one other accompanied by other predators beneath the dam.

There are a variety of solutions, nevertheless numerous will need significant changes to infrastructure.

In the meantime, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey with every one other accompanied by Arizona Game with every one other accompanied by Fish Department are moving fast to try to include the issue. During an crisis meeting, they decided to grow their monitoring efforts inside other shallow areas with every one other accompanied by chunk off the entire backwater where the smallmouth bass were found so they can't bathe not here into the river.

"Unfortunately, the only chunk nets we have are attractive large mesh, so it will not place an extremity to these smaller go fishing from going through, nevertheless it will retain the adults from going spine out," Arnold said, noting it's the finest they tin do accompanied by available resources.

Experts speak leaving additional aqua inside Lake Powell would exist the finest answer to build sure cool aqua tin exist released into and not here of the dam, although it's durable to do inside a watercourse under so a a large amount of stress.

Last month, the Department of the Interior notified the septet western states that be contingent on on Colorado River aqua that they must devise a way to conserve up to 4 million acre-feet of aqua inside 2023 — additional than Arizona with every one other accompanied by Nevada's portion combined -- or face confederate intervention. It is unclear where that conserved present with would exist stored, nevertheless Healy says he hopes Lake Powell is actuality considered.

"If we want to retain protected from danger some of the values for which Grand Canyon National Park was established, we need to really believe concerning how aqua is stored," Healy said. "That matter needs to exist at the table."

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The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of aqua with every one other accompanied by environmental policy. The AP is solely in charge of for all content. For all of AP's environmental coverage, pay someone a call https://apnews.com/hub/environment

Biologists' fears confirmed on the foot Colorado River

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