Volunteers help Roaring Fork Conservancy track river temps | AspenTimes.com
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Volunteers help Roaring Fork Conservancy track river temps


Staff report
Courtesy photo

Due to continued drought, low flows and warming river temperatures, Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC) will be engaging community citizen scientists for a second year of the Hot Spots for Trout program.

The Hot Spots for Trout program is a valleywide stream temperature monitoring initiative. In order to adequately monitor the rivers throughout the watershed, RFC invites all citizens to help by recording stream temperature and weather conditions during the warmest time of the day and then upload the data at http://www.roaringfork.org/hotspotsfortrout. Roaring Fork Conservancy is seeking citizens interested in monitoring temperature at least once a week. The data collected will be shared with Colorado Parks and Wildlife fisheries staff, White River National Forest and other interested parties.

“The rising water temperatures that accompany low flows can be extremely taxing for fish. In the past week, temperatures of the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs have been hovering around 70 degrees, which is warmer than trout can thrive,” said Rick Lofaro, Executive Director of Roaring Fork Conservancy. “Help from local fisherman and other interested citizens will be invaluable in the effort to minimize stressful conditions for our local fish populations during the current drought.”

Aquatic species have evolved to live at certain temperatures ranges. For example, brown trout adults thrive at temperatures from 54-66 degrees. In the upper and lower limits of that range, organisms become stressed, meaning it could be at a competitive disadvantage for food and more susceptible to disease or, in extreme cases, death. In addition, temperature influences both water biology and chemistry. For example, temperature affects how much oxygen is in the water, and elevated temperatures lead to decreased oxygen levels, which in turn negatively impact aquatic plants and fish. Increasing temperatures also promote growth of bacteria and algae, which can increase pH and use even more of an already depleted oxygen supply.

The state standard for temperature in the Roaring Fork Valley is a maximum of 68 degrees. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is authorized to close sections of the river if daily maximum temperature exceeds 74 degrees, or if average daily temperature exceeds 72 degrees.


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