05 June 2007

Big Hole Watershed Committee Kills Grayling

Well, here we go again. Once again, it's an above average precipitation year. Furthermore, the past month has been wetter than average.

And yet, the Big Hole Watershed Committee -- the group supposedly responsible for maintaining minimum flow levels -- is killing Big Hole River grayling. Fisheries biologists recommend that flows be at the upper inflection point on the wetted perimeter in order to maximize a fish population. At Wisdom, that flow = 160 cfs. A survival flow is defined as the lower inflection point. At Wisdom, that flow = 60 cfs. At any flow below 160 cfs, fish are lost.

Here is the current flow at Wisdom (from http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mt/nwis/uv?06024450):

As everyone can see, river flows have plummeted as ranchers opened the floodgates to irrigate their fields. In some places, cattle are standing in water on the pastures. Once again, the Big Hole Watershed Committee is demonstrating its negligence with regard to grayling recovery. Though the Watershed Committee has of late been blowing its horn about costly stream habitat restoration projects, the finest habitat in the world is worthless for fish if there ain't no water in it.

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