Dam Release Threatens Grand Canyon Chub

A dam release meant to protect the Grand Canyon's endangered humpback chub has an unintended consequence: releasing more chub-eating rainbow trout
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A dam release meant to protect the Grand Canyon's endangered humpback chub has an unintended consequence: releasing more chub-eating rainbow trout

In a move that drew deep on its inner Homer Simpson, the Bureau of Federal Reclamation caused an artificial flood in 2008 by releasing water from the Glen Canyon Dam with the purpose of restoring habitat for the imperiled humpback chub, a minnow-like fish endemic to the Colorado river. But the flood also increased the rainbow trout population by 800 percent. The bad news? Rainbow trout eat humpback chub.

Cue the forehead-slap.

Now, officials are pressing for a multimillion-dollar program to electroshock the invasive trout. But fishing guides worry that it will create bad publicity for their trips (though electroshock operations wouldn't occur in areas near typical fishing areas). Even worse, it might not work.

"It almost certainly has some beneficial effect, but the truth is it could range from being a minor part of the overall picture to being almost all of it," said Glen Knowles, of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Idea: It's time to mobilize the nation's fly-fisherman in a call to immediate action. Get thee to the Grand Canyon, start casting, and don't stop until you've racked up 23,000 rainbows. I think BACKPACKER staffers alone could take 1,000. Who else out there is game?

—Ted Alvarez

via Associated Press