Results from sampling Parachute Creek still months away |

Results from sampling Parachute Creek still months away

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE, Colo. ” The Colorado Division of Wildlife is getting closer to finishing sampling of fish and the insects they thrive on in Parachute Creek in the wake of four oil and gas industry spills earlier this year.

It may take another three months for that data to show whether fish populations in the creek may have been affected by the spills, said Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the DOW.

The agency began analyzing the current population and species distribution of the creek’s fish ” which include native Colorado cutthroat trout and brook, brown and rainbow trout ” after four spills of water used in drilling operations occurred near Garden Gulch, which is northwest of Parachute. Runoff from melting snow in Garden Gulch flows into Parachute Creek.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Water Quality Control Division sampling of the area, which occurred about two months after the last release occurred, revealed that the spills did not cause any lingering environmental impacts and did not violate state drinking water standards.

Hampton said DOW officials sampled three sites on Parachute Creek in mid-April and two sites in Garden Gulch. Both fish and the insects they feed on were sampled in Parachute Creek, but in Garden Gulch, agency officials conducted insect sampling.

The agency conducted additional fish and insect sampling on July 2 and July 3 in both Parachute Creek and Garden Gulch. The DOW is also planning on further sampling closer to the town of Parachute next week, Hampton said.

It will be sometime in September or October before the agency can make a determination about whether the fish population in Parachute Creek now is different compared to historic levels in the wake of the four spills, he said.

The DOW analyzed fish populations in the creek by “electro-fishing,” where an agency employee uses a long probe that that sends “an electrical stimulation” that stuns fish momentarily. The fish then float to surface and can be measured and classified.

The fish revive from the shock and are released back into the water. The DOW employee is protected from the shock by wearing specially-made waders ” waterproof boots fishermen use while fishing in a river.

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