All fish killed in eastern Colo. reservoir
Cold winter temperatures and very low water levels at Nee Gronde reservoir in eastern Colorado have killed off all fish in the water body, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
“There were several weeks of thick ice cover on the lake last winter, said Doug Krieger, a senior aquatic biologist with the agency. “Such ice cover is rare in the southeast quadrant of the state. Capping the nutrient-rich lake under a cover of ice exhausted the oxygen supply.”
Unfortunately for anglers, there are virtually no fish left.
“It seems to be unprecedented. Our biologists have never seen this kind of loss at Nee Gronde before,” Krieger said.
DOW employees noticed dead fish along the shoreline shortly after ice-out last month. Aquatic biologist Jim Ramsay set 18 nets in the last two weeks but only captured five carp that were barely alive.
The DOW is currently devising a strategy to rebuild the fishery by stocking gizzard shad to develop a forage base.
Nee Gronde Reservoir has the capacity to hold more than 100,000 acre feet of water at depths of more than 70 feet. Nee Gronde has not received any irrigation water during the past decade. Today, the reservoir is at less than half its capacity.
As water levels decline, salinity increases, and oxygen levels decrease. With no fresh water to Nee Gronde for many years, the water quality was compromised.
The DOW is looking for the right opportunity to purchase water for both Nee Gronde and Nee Noshe.
“This is a high priority for us,” said southeast regional manager Dan Prenzlow. “This reservoir complex is an extremely popular place for our constituents to recreate. Ultimately the best solution is to put more water into both of these reservoirs. Otherwise, a potential exists for this to happen again with the same negative impacts on recreation, the local economy and the wildlife habitat the reservoirs provide.”
The prospects for fishing are not very good for nearby Nee Noshe either. Once considered by many to be the best warm water fishery in Colorado, Nee Noshe also suffers from low water levels that have steadily declined since early in the decade as irrigation companies have stored irrigation water in other reservoirs.
– Daily News staff report
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