Fruita's new grow-out ponds to help four endangered fish species

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

Ponds are popping up near Fruita, all in an effort to save endangered fish. Know More about the newly constructed grow-out ponds for these four species.

The ponds are part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and the San Juan River Basin Recovery Program. The ponds are located at the Horsethief Canyon Native Fish facility near Fruita, and they'll be used for holding and raising endangered fish until they can be released back into the wild.

Twenty-two ponds now sit just outside of Fruita, where four endangered fish species will be calling these new waters home. Experts are hoping these fish will have a better chance of making it in bigger waters.

"[The fish] can get a little bit larger before we release them into the river just so they have more of a survival rate," Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson Justyn Hock said.

The pond project was designed by the Bureau of Reclamation, with the goal of growing and releasing the endangered razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow and bonytail and humpback chub back into their native waters.

"[The] razorback sucker, they're really one of the easiest to propagate and the one that we're concentrating on mostly through the recovery process with stocking right now," Colorado River fishery project leader Dale Ryden said of the current species using the ponds.

The ponds were engineered to pull ground water from the Colorado River, so the fish can be in clear, clean water similar to their natural habitat. These fish will be re-released into the Colorado, Gunnison, Green and San Juan Rivers once they’re grown and healthy.

"We’re making it [possible] to provide water to a facility such as this even in a low-water year like we're having," Ryden said of filling the ponds in a drought year. Ryder says the ground water is also beneficial, because the soil and rocks act as a natural filter. The ponds are less likely to have debris and other diseases.

Fish will grow for about a year in the ponds. Small fish will be taken from a hatchery before being put into a pond so they can grow larger. Eventually, some fish will live permanently in the ponds to breed others, and experts hope the fish will continue to grow in numbers. They say these fish have become endangered due to a number of reasons including from water contamination and non-native predator fish.

"We have lots of diversion dams, and so we basically cut their populations into lots of little itty-bitty pieces," Ryden said.

But now, thanks to these ponds, the fish have a second chance at survival, and we have a chance to save them from extinction.

"In an ecological niche, each of these animals has a purpose," Ryder said of the endangered fish. "When you lose one of those animals out of a system, that tends to cause a pinball effect that affects all other species."

The fish from these ponds will be tagged once they're released back into the rivers. This way, fish and wildlife specialists will be able to track their growth and movement.

The $5.3 million project was constructed by a local company based out of Cedaredge. It was funded by a number of federal, state and water use entities.


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  • by Anonymous on Sep 5, 2012 at 02:20 AM
    The reason the feds AND CPW are still shocking is SIMPLE. It is hard to get the message out to the public about what is REALLY going on, plus the shockers are answerable only to an appointed group of rubberstamp hacks. The policy and direction of the program is done by decree, congress has no oversight.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 5, 2012 at 02:18 AM
    The problem is the general public doesn't know whats going on, all they see is the biased coverage and the photos.
  • by IanMc on Sep 3, 2012 at 04:55 PM
    One of the best arguments that can be made is there has been very little progress in endangered fish numbers in most stretches of river, despite over 100,000 dead gamefish at the hands of the CPW, CSU, and the USFWS. In fact in the Yampa River, where most of the killing takes place, there has been no progress in native fish numbers at all. Also, when most of the Colorado River downstream of Rifle is native fish and not sportfish, why do you have to have removals at all. Removals have not been proven to increase numbers of endangereds, and they have had 15 years to show results, but they cannot.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:20 PM in reply to IanMc
      Excellent, I detect a hint of a rational argument here: that non-native removal is not neccisary. I do not have the knowledge to argue against this, but perhaps I will do some reserch if I have time. Do you have any reliable sources you could share to document this? Once again, thank you for making a clear point in a sea of heresay and emotion. I would point out though that the presence of native fish does not necessarily mean that endangered native fish are abundant. Also, I am curious, if non-native removal is not effective, then what do you think their motive is for doing it?
      • reply
        by IanMc on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:43 PM in reply to
        This was from Recovery Program documents themselves from the last 10 years. I know endangered fish are not abundant, but if the other natives can thrive and outnumbers sportfish, so can the endangereds. The motive for them doing it is because they cannot blow up the dams, so they are trying an alternative approach, and it is not working.
    • reply
      by matt on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:46 PM in reply to IanMc
      You should see them kill catfish by the train load in the White River below Kenny. It's incredible and insane. What a waste. If they are not going to relocate these fish they could give them to food banks and the hungry. It has to be literally tons of fish they waste. If joe citizen did what these people do they would get ticketed or worse.
  • by Sawyer Location: Redlands on Sep 3, 2012 at 04:52 PM
    The only thing endangerd in that river is game fish. These loons have such a blind hate for what is right, sportsmen, and imploding their own ego's at others expense it is rediculous. They all must have come from the same class of people that believe they can stop the oceans from rising. This program is as rediculous as studying shrimp on a treadmill. Somewhere in someone's little mind.. with a rubber stamp... they are getting away with fraud and embezzlement.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:22 PM in reply to Sawyer
      Fraud and embezzlement are serious accusations to make with out any proof.
      • reply
        by IanMc on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:44 PM in reply to
        They have been caught in many contradictions, such as trout don't eat fish, saying nonnative fish removal is working and then back tracking on that, and paying $48 per diem per shocker per day and $75 for lodging.
        • reply
          by anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:51 PM in reply to IanMc
          That's not even half of it. They have been lying for decades and even telling the public they haven't been shocking while they were hiding behind the tamarisk. Their own documents state where to throw them on shore on certain stretches out of public view, amount of trips to the landfill etc...hard to hide and get away with lies this day in age!
  • by Larry Location: Rifle on Sep 3, 2012 at 02:29 PM
    I don't know how much the public knows but the USFWS dictates what fish we can put in what reservoir and our DPW has to seek permission from them before they do it. Because a fish might escape and eat a squawfish in the Colorado. Isn't it past that point? These squawfish are an apex predator and eat their own, the trout, and everything else that swims. This is nuts beyond belief.
    • reply
      by IanMc on Sep 3, 2012 at 05:08 PM in reply to Larry
      Just like in Idaho, the state could tell the feds to go pound sand. The CPW voluntarily agrees to the stocking restrictions, and could unsign at any moment.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 06:56 PM in reply to IanMc
        Maybe if they spent 1 day at their jobs helping fix our sub par fisheries here in our back yard instead of killing our fish maybe half the State wouldn't go to Utah to fish.
  • by Dallas Location: Fruita on Sep 3, 2012 at 01:51 PM
    I wonder how are local ponds would do if they took all these fish they throw at the bottom of the shock boats and on shore were put in our reservoirs instead of throw out like the morning trash. These are suppose to be the "keepers" of our natural resources and work for the people and the fish and game we all fight to protect. If they can spend millions of dollars on ponds, dams, equipment etc...they can spend a few thousand to uphold their oath and transfer all these fish they are killing to our local reservoirs and ponds. Better yet..make some more. They sure seem to be able to do it for these fish people don't want!!
  • by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM
    Does anyone have a coherent argument against this program? What specifically don't you like about it? Do you have any evidence that your preferred methods would work better to save these rare fish? Or are you just against these fish altogether?
    • reply
      by Cindy on Sep 3, 2012 at 12:28 PM in reply to
      Oh yes these fish are so rare. What use to be a bountiful river of gamefish you can't throw a line in without catching these dinasaurs all day long. Try to catch a catfish or anything else is now nearly impossible because they have killed them to the point it is virtually impossible and these so called rare suckers are so prevelant. There is no arguement but greed and waste handed to a select few enviro-extremists for these fish that can be bred by the hundreds of thousands. The rarest one in their opinion has a difference of a couple scales that the Northwest pays the public to kill with bounties because they have destroyed their fisheries once they have taken hold. There is a reason man cleaned out the wolves as well. The destruction of all other species and the money wasted that is handed to a few people that want to play Jurasic Park and feel good about themselves at the expense of man kind. Maybe they can find their own Jurasic Park. Buy themselves and Island and bolster their already inflated ego's. But do it with Private money. Not Tax Payer money.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 01:10 PM in reply to Cindy
        I don't know where you are fishing, but last weekend I was catching catfish as fast as I could bait my hook and I never saw a native fish or an endangered fish. Furthermore, I don't think you know the difference between the endangered fish and the non-endangered native fish. I have been fishing the Colorado river for over a decade and have only caught 2 or 3 endangered fish. Once again you are attempting to claim that your limited knowledge is more important than the extensive research that has taken place on the subject. Please come back with facts.
        • reply
          by Cindy on Sep 3, 2012 at 01:41 PM in reply to
          You obviously don't know how to fish without using a generator and an electrical probe. If you have been here only a decade you don't have a leg to stand on like the rest of us that have lived here all our lives. You are obviously part of the recovery program with made up baseless facts that you write to suit your needs and continue the program. Try again. Your not fooling anyone. Those that live here know the facts. We have lived on that river all our lives and don't try to insult the locals anymore than you have. We have fished that river and know it like the back of our hands. Your not welcome here.
      • reply
        by GJ Old Timer on Sep 5, 2012 at 08:32 AM in reply to Cindy
        I lived here in the valley long before you were a glimmer of dna son. Don't talk like you're the only local with an opinion !!
        • reply
          by Steve on Sep 5, 2012 at 03:01 PM in reply to GJ Old Timer
          Your just a recovery program stooge, they always pretend to be "old timers."
  • by trout on Sep 3, 2012 at 07:26 AM
    How many other articles get this type of response? This program needs to end in its current capacity. Everybody wants to save species and help our officials manage our wildlife correctly. It is insensible when folks try to say if you are against the current design of the current program that we hate all trash fish and want them gone. It is a long time smoke and mirrors game that shifts the focus off of reality and science and places it in the kindergarten room. Please know the facts of this long running program or do not chime in.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 09:18 AM in reply to trout
      Articles get this type of response when the same 3 loons keep logging in weeks after the story pretending to be multiple people.
      • reply
        by trout on Sep 3, 2012 at 09:35 AM in reply to
        However you can mismanage the truth to make yourself feel better about waste and abhorrently incorrect policies of this failed program. Please show up at the meetings and you can then bring your points forward for discussion. Like all folks who find them selves on the side of an issue that you can only try to win with false hoods, I feel you will not only NOT show but you could not make an argument for your side. I will not respond to you as you are alone and we are many and your points have no basis of fact or reason.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 09:51 AM in reply to trout
          I'm sure the 5 WSA members will be at the meeting
    • reply
      by Cindy on Sep 3, 2012 at 10:37 AM in reply to trout
      Funny how these meetings this Government Official is trying to make light of try's to laugh it off. Last one I was at they had to bring in more chairs and they had armed law enforcement standing at all the entry and exits trying to intimidate the public from voicing their concerns and revealing facts that completely crushed any of these guys statements and lies. There is a reason they don't announce any public meetings and if they do they sneak it in the day before in some small print somewhere where it won't be noticed or the most inappropriate time they can think of. So now they have "kiss a sucker day", they have tried to glorify and tilt the public and the nieve into something this is not by changing the name of these fish to "white salmon". How low and pathetic can you get. Do me a favor fish killers..and stay away from my kids and grand kids and quit trying to make this corrupt,unethical, and immoral program into something that it is not.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 5, 2012 at 08:34 AM in reply to Cindy
        SIMMER DOWN TYLER. YOUR NAME IS NOT CINDY.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 11:16 AM in reply to trout
      From all these WSA posts, all I can discern is that you guys hate native fish and any thing that state or federal wildlife agencies do. If you have some coherent argument about what this program is doing and how it could be run better, then please relate it to me. Also please provide evidence and sources that pertain to the specific aspects that you disagree with.
      • reply
        by trout on Sep 6, 2012 at 06:27 AM in reply to
        You are blind with hatred and have no concern for real science or argument. Learn a little first and do not expect people to just roll over and try to teach you something after making such rude and ridiculous comments. I am not new to this situation and have seen and heard a handful of you folks come and then go. Good riddance.
  • by Pway on Sep 2, 2012 at 09:58 PM
    I think it's pretty sad that the government has to recruit it's forces to come onto boards like this in a vain attempt to make it look like support exists for this ridiculous and widely disliked program, and they STILL fail!
  • by Nathan Location: Grand Junction on Sep 2, 2012 at 02:43 PM
    Give us our fisheries back, our economy back, our heritage back, our culture back, our river banks back,our habitat back, OUR MONEY back, go ahead and breed those stupid suckers by the hundreds of millions like you are doing if you want... BUT QUIT KILLING OUR GAME FISH and wasting our Tax Payer Money! Enough already! Get out of town!!!
    • reply
      by Coulter on Sep 2, 2012 at 08:00 PM in reply to Nathan
      Can someone please explain to me why we are paying these people with our licenses dollars?? Aren't they suppose to be taking care of our waters in the State? Last I looked they were our employees and should concentrate their efforts at home instead of pandering to these clowns with the USFWS. These guys have to be laughing all the way to the bank.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2012 at 08:36 PM in reply to Coulter
        Well first off, we are not paying for this program with our licence dollars. A quick search on the recovery programs website shows that the funding comes mostly from hydroelectric revenues. Second I would say that they are taking care of our waters by removing non-native invasive species and promoting a healthier river. They are just as much my employees as they are yours, and I support what they are doing. Not everyone in Colorado is as narrow minded as you guys.
        • reply
          by Lumiya on Sep 2, 2012 at 08:49 PM in reply to
          They are not removing invasive species, they are killing gamefish stocked by we the people of the United States Of America. We chose the species we want, and the government needs to fall in line. To claim that license fees are not used in the program is to tell a bold faced lie. Being a federal program, it also is taxpayer funded. The main reason the CPW likes it is because it is an additonal source of money (taxpayer and water users).
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2012 at 08:52 PM in reply to
          Due to what you are doing, illegal stocking and also the killing of native trash fish has become much more widespread, and it's all on your head. You caused it, you are the extremists.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2012 at 01:02 PM in reply to
          A quick look at who is on the rivers by physically seeing it is Colorado employees that's salaries are paid by the State, shocking our rivers and killing fish the people of the State want. A heathier river you say. A river of silt that was caused by these people by birming our backwaters so game fish can't breed. A rivers natural filtration system that naturally cleans our water. By doing so eliminates the habitat for not only fish but waterfowl and thousands of other aquatic species. Ther is no arguement here. Everything they have done is destructive and counter productive. Hydroelectric companies pay these guys to get them off their backs and to shut up. Pure and simple. All the kings horses and all the kings men. It is no different than the oil companies giving money for wildlife easments etc.. Case Closed..another scenerio that big money enviro-extremists won't pull out their brigade of lawyers unless they get their money in return to shut them up and prevent progress.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2012 at 09:22 PM in reply to Nathan
      Give us our endemic wildlife back.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2012 at 09:57 PM in reply to
        You mean what no one cares about? The Colorado River main stem is primarily still native fish, not sportfish.
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