Media invited to observe Elkhead Reservoir spillway net installation
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
The net - only the second of its kind in Colorado - is an important milestone in the ongoing effort to maintain recreational opportunities for the public, preserve the ability of all water users to access the resource as needed, and bring Colorado's endangered native fish - the pikeminnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker and bonytail - back from the brink of extinction. The four fish are unique to the Colorado River basin and do not exist anywhere else in the world.
According to the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, the presence of aggressive non-native fish - primarily smallmouth bass and northern pike in Colorado River basin waters - continues to be a major impediment to the recovery of the four endangered native fish.
In the stretch of the Yampa River below Elkhead Creek, a stream impounded by Elkhead Reservoir, a large number of non-native predators escaped from the reservoir and eventually made their way into the river. The presence of the non-natives has been identified as the primary reason the population of native pikeminnow in this area have experienced a sharp decline over the past several years.
Manufactured by Pacific Netting Products of Kingston, Washington, the net is 25 feet deep, 600 feet long and attached to anchors in the bottom of the reservoir. The design creates a complete seal across the reservoir's spillway, helping prevent the further escapement of fish while allowing water to flow through. It is made of Dyneema, the same material used to make bulletproof vests and body armor.
In cooperation with an engineer with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the net and associated infrastructure have been designed from the ground up specifically for this application.
The lifespan of the net is approximately 10-15 years. It is considered the most effective method of stemming large-scale escapement of non-native fish from the reservoir, giving officials time to implement a more permanent solution.
Additional information about the effort to recover Colorado's native fish, including photos, can be found on the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program's Facebook page.
A variety of photograph and video opportunities, including shots of crews installing the net
Media can inform the public about:
An important program working to recover Colorado's endangered native fish
Ongoing efforts to remove non-native fish from Colorado River basin waters
The potentially significant impacts to all water users if native fish populations decline further
The history of the effort to install the net, including design, costs, public outreach efforts, engineering challenges and why it is being installed
Learn more about the net and associated infrastructure during a briefing and demonstration of the products to be installed
Media that attend will also have the opportunity to interview key representatives of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, engineers, representatives of Pacific Netting Products, Colorado River Water Conservation District, local anglers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and several other entities involved in the recovery of the state's native fish
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEDIA
Arrive by 8:00 a.m at Elkhead Reservoir (see directions below)
Dress appropriately for outdoor conditions. Sandals or similar footwear is not recommended.
Bring sunscreen and insect repellent.
Dress for cool conditions
Media will not be required to pay a park entrance fee while covering this event
IF there is any kind of weather delay the net install will occur Saturday Sept. 24, at the same time.
DIRECTIONS TO ELKHEAD RESERVOIR
Elkhead Reservoir is located in Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Elkhead State Park, approximately nine miles east of Craig.
From the intersection of Yampa Avenue (Highway 13) in Craig, drive east approximately 6.4 miles on Highway 40 to County Road 29 and turn left (N).
Travel approximately 3.9 miles to the intersection of County Road 28 and turn right.
Follow the signs to the Bear's Ears Campground located at the southern end of the reservoir. From there, media will be directed to the staging area.