Delay removing Colorado fish from endangered list

The Associated PressAspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – One of four imperiled fish on the Colorado River will stay on the endangered species list at least another five years to ensure its numbers are rebounding.Colorado pikeminnow, once known as squawfish, are now most common in the Green and Yampa rivers, though the 15-mile stretch of the Colorado River through the Grand Valley is considered critical to survival of the fish.Predators have feasted on pikeminnow, holding down the population, and it will take until 2018 to determine if the species has recovered, biologists said.”We were hoping we were seeing a rebound” in the pikeminnow population of the Yampa River, said Tom Chart, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program director.The Upper Colorado River Recovery Program reviewing the process is a joint effort among the Fish and Wildlife Service, the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, tribes, conservation organizations and other groups that work to manage the river to recover four species of endangered fish while allowing development of the river.In addition to the Colorado pikeminnow, the razorback sucker, humpback chub and bonytail are also endangered.The fate of the pikeminnow has implications for Fryingpan River flows above Basalt. The Fish & Wildlife Service has a contract for water from Ruedi Reservoir and can “call” that water when it is needed for the endangered fish.According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ( ), the pikeminnow population in the Green River has fluctuated between 2,200 and 4,500 and most recently has been on the increase, said Chart, a fisheries biologist, but problems persist on the Yampa River.Chart said there has been a recent decline in the Colorado River population, but information gathered since 1992 indicates a fairly stable population.