Water managers flushing the ‘Pan | AspenTimes.com

Water managers flushing the ‘Pan

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT The release of from Ruedi Reservoir to benefit endangered fish on the Colorado River near Grand Junction starting Friday also was designed to help trout on the lower Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers.The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation boosted releases from Ruedi by 40 cubic feet per second to a total of 300 cfs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested the additional water for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. That program improves habitat for endangered fish by increasing the flow of the Colorado River in a 15-mile section of the river in the Grand Valley.Ruedi, above Basalt, is one of four mountain reservoirs used to boost flows for the endangered fish. Water managers picked Ruedi as the source for additional water for the program because sediment continues to clog the lower Fryingpan River after an Aug. 6 flood, according to Kara Lamb, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.The goal is to flush the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers, as well as increase the flow of the Colorado River.”It was a two birds with one stone kind of thing,” Lamb said.The lower Fryingpan and Roaring Fork still look like milk chocolate one week after a washout on Seven Castles Creek. A microburst turned the creek into a torrent that pumped red soil and rock into the Fryingpan, which converges with the Roaring Fork in Basalt. Mud sticking to the rocks is still washing off, so the streams are running dirty.The flow of 300 cfs is a level that makes fishing difficult, but muddy water degrades the bug habitat to the point where the fishing is no good anyway. Water managers hope that a short period of high flows flush the rivers and allow bugs to re-establish themselves before winter, according to a press release from the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.Meanwhile, anglers have been seeking alternatives to the Fryingpan River below Seven Castles Creek and the Roaring Fork River below the confluence with the ‘Pan.The Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado River District are working with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to determine if the higher flow would provide a long-term benefit for the trout.Lamb said Monday that it was uncertain how long the higher releases will continue from Ruedi Reservoir.