New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 11, 2009:

GILA TROUT RESTORATION PROJECT SCHEDULED JUNE 16-24

SILVER CITY -- The Department of Game and Fish will remove non-native brown and rainbow trout from the Gila River's upper west fork and its tributaries June 16-24 as part of an ongoing effort to restore pure-strain Gila trout to the southwestern New Mexico watershed.

Similar efforts resulted in the Gila trout being downlisted from endangered to threatened on federal species lists. Limited angling for Gila trout opened in 2007 for the first time since the 1960s.

The object of this summer's treatment is to add more stream miles to the expanding habitat that supports pure-strain native Gila trout, and to keep the fish off the endangered species list. To accomplish that, highly trained crews with the Department of Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service will treat the headwater streams with rotenone, a substance that kills gilled organisms in the treatment area.

Rotenone is a naturally occurring substance derived from the roots of tropical plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that use of rotenone for fish control does not present a risk of unreasonable adverse effects to humans and the environment. It is very effective at killing fish and degrades rapidly after treatment. Treatment crews on the Gila west fork project will use potassium permanganate to neutralize the rotenone immediately below the treatment area.

For public safety, the Wilderness Ranger District of the Gila National Forest will close a 20-mile stretch of the West Fork of Gila River from June 17 through June 29. The temporary closure begins about 10 miles above the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (Pine Flat) and extends along approximately 20 miles to the West Fork headwaters.  The closure applies to 600 feet on either side of the river.

The Gila River treatment will be June 16-24 in the upper west fork and lower White Creek upstream from the waterfalls near White Creek Cabin, approximately 20 miles upstream from the Gila River forks area and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. People in the area are advised not to disturb any containers found along the stream, not to pick up or consume any dead fish, and not to drink water from the west fork of the Gila River above the waterfalls at White Creek during the treatment period.

For more information about the Gila trout renovation project, please call the Department at (505) 476-8101.

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