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August 15-18, CPW begins non-native fish removal activity in the area
The U.S. Forest Service’s Canyon Lakes Ranger District is temporarily closing the area around upper George Creek August 15-18, as Colorado Parks and Wildlife begins non-native fish removal activity in the area.
CPW is conducting the third phase of a project to reintroduce greenback cutthroat trout to George and Cornelius Creeks, located on the Roosevelt National Forest in Larimer County. The removal of non-native species is being done in preparation for the reintroduction of greenback cutthroat trout to the creeks. The greenback cutthroat trout is Colorado’s State Fish and is listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
George Creek and its tributary stream Cornelius Creek were the sites of a previous greenback cutthroat trout reintroduction in the early 1980s. The stream has since been reinvaded by non-native brook trout and brown trout, as well the parasite that causes whirling disease, a deadly disease for greenback cutthroat trout. For the re-establishment of greenbacks to succeed, all other fish currently in the stream population must be removed. This removal is done using rotenone, an Environmental Protection Agency-approved organic compound used for decades to control fish populations. The stream must then be left fishless for several years for whirling disease to vacate the system.
As part of the reintroduction project, the U.S. Forest Service is temporarily closing the area around portions of George Creek for public health and safety during the non-native fish removal activities. The closure includes a quarter-mile buffer around George Creek and segments of Forest System Road (FSR) 188 and FSR 219 where they fall within that buffer. Additionally, access will be restricted into the George Creek watershed through CPW’s Upper Cherokee State Wildlife Area.
This third phase of the George Creek reintroduction only involves eradication of non-native trout from seven miles of George Creek, but 14 miles of stream will be restocked with greenbacks when all three project phases are completed, drastically improving the conservation status of the species.