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The return of the giant cutthroat trout: Anglers and conservationists celebrate as Nevada's state fish returns to ancient spawning ground

Summary: 
For the first time since it was declared extinct in the 1940s, a giant cutthroat trout native to northwest Nevada’s Pyramid Lake has spawned naturally this year in its historic home. ... In the early 1900s, the lake produced the world-record cutthroat trout: 41 pounds. But due to decades of industrialization, the Pyramid Lake strain of Lahontan cutthroat trout — thought to be the largest on earth — gradually disappeared. In 1975, a fish biologist discovered surviving specimens in a mountain creek on the Utah border, and for the past four decades, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have worked to bring the trout back to Pyramid Lake and to the Truckee River, where they once spawned. “People didn’t realize what they were losing,” said John Barnes, a biologist for the conservation group Trout Unlimited. “We live in a time when people are always talking about ‘Do you remember how good it was? Do you remember how great this place used to be?’ ” said fisherman and guide Ernie Gulley. “We can flip that around for Pyramid Lake and say, ‘The best is yet to come.’ ”
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2014-07-21

Conservation of historical fishes in Pyramid Lake are showing fantastic signs of success. Read article below.
July 10, 2014 5:00AM ET
by Nate Schweber @nateschweber
for Aljazeera America

Landmark agreement settles long-standing river dispute

By MARTIN GRIFFITH,
Associated Press Writer and published online by Lahontan Valley News
September 6, 2008

RENO, Nev. (AP) - With the scenic stream flowing behind them, officials from Nevada, California and the federal government signed a landmark agreement that settles a century-plus-old dispute over the Truckee River's water.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne joined local and state officials at the signing ceremony Saturday for the Truckee River Operating Agreement. The complex document allocates the river's waters between the two states, and balances the interests of urban users, downstream farmers and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

"I'm so happy that President Bush signed off on it," Reid told a crowd of about 400 at a downtown Reno park. "It's an example of what teamwork and bipartisanship can accomplish."

The Truckee flows more than 100 miles from the California side of Lake Tahoe to its terminus at Pyramid Lake on Nevada's high desert, about 30 miles northeast of Reno.

Under the agreement, California will get two-thirds of Lake Tahoe's water to Nevada's one-third, while Nevada will receive 90 percent of the Truckee's water to California's 10 percent. It also calls for Nevada to get 80 percent of the Carson River's water to California's 20 percent.

The two states approved an interstate compact on the Truckee's waters in the early 1970s, but it was never ratified by Congress. Kempthorne hailed the new agreement, saying it was similar to ones reached in recent years over the Colorado and Snake rivers. He stressed that no one surrendered any water rights under the latest deal.

"This day is part of a new day in the West - a day when step by step, agreement by agreement we resolve all the bitter water disputes in the new spirit of cooperation and partnership," he said.

The deal stemmed from Reid-sponsored legislation passed by Congress in 1990 that directed both states, the U.S., the tribe and the Reno area's water purveyor to settle their differences over the river.

Lawsuits over the Truckee spanning back to the 1800s gave it a reputation for being one of the West's most litigated rivers. Under the settlement, the amount of drought water storage for the Reno area will triple, and Reno, Sparks and Washoe County will provide water rights to improve water quality in the lower Truckee. The river system is the Reno area's only water source.

Officials said the agreement will improve conditions for the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and endangered cui-ui fish, as well as for Nevada wetlands. It also will enhance recreational opportunities in both states.

A final environmental study by the U.S. Department of the Interior and California Department of Water Resources found no significant adverse impacts from the agreement. The document concluded the settlement would provide a major boost to the river's water quality and fishery.

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Squaw ‘Friends’ receive conservation grant, Group aims to restore degraded stream

By Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun, acristancho@sierrasun.com
December 27, 2007

For more information regarding the efforts of the Friends of Squaw Creek, call Ed Heneveld at 583-1817. The group will be planning future workshops and meetings.

They are an informal group of residents and citizens that has organized to express concern about the health of Squaw Creek.

They like to ski and hike along the banks of the Truckee River tributary.

They are curious about the effects of well pumping on the creek and aquifer in Squaw Valley.

Some care so much for the stream’s aquatic life that they relocate trout into deeper pools as the stream dries up in the summer.

The Friends of Squaw Creek received a grant for $49,900 this month from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a California agency established in 2005 to allocate funding for environmental preservation.

The group will use the grant to create a strategy of how to “make it a better stream,” said Friends Chairman Ed Heneveld.

The strategic opportunity grant contains two elements, Heneveld said.

“We need to define the goal of our creek restoration efforts,” he said in a phone interview. “[And] try to get a handle on well pumping and aquifer interaction.”

Well pumping has been targeted by as a possible cause of the creek’s tendency to run dry in the summer and fall months.

A founding member of the Friends and a long-time Squaw resident, Pam Rocca believes three conditions are fouling and drying up the creek waters: The loss of snow storage because of tree cutting, well pumping for municipal and commercial use and the loss of many of the creek’s tributaries during past development in the valley.

The director of the Truckee River Watershed Council called the stream’s poor condition the result of previous decisions.

“From the perspective of a fishery, Squaw Creek is not a healthy fishery, and not a healthy [vegetated stream bed], we are seeing 100 years of land-use decisions,” said Executive Director Lisa Wallace of the watershed council.

For complete article, please visit website.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Evaluating Water Quality in the Lower Truckee River

Summary: 
Results of this investigation revealed that trout in the Truckee River are being exposed to significant levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) within the urban area of Reno and Sparks. Trout downstream of the urban area of Reno and Sparks also have elevated concentrations of arsenic, mercury, and selenium.
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December 12, 2005

Results of this investigation revealed that trout in the Truckee River are being exposed to significant levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) within the urban area of Reno and Sparks. Trout downstream of the urban area of Reno and Sparks also have elevated concentrations of arsenic, mercury, and selenium. Based upon these results, the Service is working in conjunction with the cities of Reno and Sparks to develop and implement strategies to reduce non-point source (NPS) pollution to the Truckee River. The Service is also working directly with the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility to reduce potential impacts from their point source (PS) discharge to the Truckee River. Working with the Cities of Reno and Sparks, along with Washoe County, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, U.S. Geological Survey, Desert Research Institute, University of Nevada- Reno, and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) standards for several constituents are being assessed and will be revised. The City of Reno also recently issued new storm-water engineering guidelines and best management practices to reduce non-point source pollution to the Truckee River. In addition, approximately 8 acres of riparian habitat were improved on McCarran Ranch to help reduce point and non-point source pollution in the lower Truckee River. Further restoration of the McCarran Ranch is planned along with planned additions of riparian and wetland habitats in the floodplain throughout the Truckee Meadows area for purposes of improving flood control.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Fish Passage Program: Truckee River

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Fish Passage Program
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The Numana Diversion Dam was constructed in 1971 to divert Truckee River water for agricultural purposes to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation. The dam is located about 12 miles upstream from the Pyramid Lake shoreline. The dam is a lowhead diversion and includes a fish ladder on the east abutment. On the opposite side of the river, water is diverted through a headgate and is filtered through three electrical powered revolving screens. This screen system is designed to prevent entrainment of adult fish and debris into the irrigation system, and conveys fish back to the river via a culvert. The fish ladder and screens were retrofitted in 1976 to facilitate fish passage. By 2000, the screens were badly corroded and not functional.

Project Status: In 2001, the Service partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation to assess the integrity of the screens. The structural frameworks of the screens were found corroded beyond repair and it was recommended to rebuild the screen system with stainless steel rather than high carbon steel. Currently, funds have been expended to replace a hoist, cables, and the trolley framework, and bids are being circulated to estimate the cost for complete renovation.

Benefits: Renovating the fish screens will maintain the endangered cui-ui lakesucker and threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout within 24 miles of its native habitat.

Wikipedia: Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

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Wikipedia entry for the Lahontan cutthroat trout (<em>Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi</em>).
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Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi) is the largest cutthroat trout subspecies, and the state fish of Nevada. It is native to the drainages of the Truckee River, Humboldt River, Carson River, Walker River, Quinn River and several smaller rivers in the Great Basin of North America. Irrigation developments along these rivers have severely disrupted its habitat. It was classified as an endangered species between 1970 and 1975, and is currently listed as a threatened species.

Pyramid Lake Fisheries

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Primary website for the Pyramid Lake Fisheries
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Pyramid Lake, famous for its Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) fishery, is located about 35 miles northeast of Reno on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. Pyramid Lake covers approximately 112,000 acres on land and is 350 feet at its deepest point. Pyramid is a "high desert" lake (elevation 3,817 feet), and after travelling through the desert to its end, the water is about 1/6 as salty as sea water.

Pyramid Lake contains two fish species on the federal threatened & endangered species list: the Lahontan Cutthroad Trout, and the ancient Cui-ui. The lake is flanked on the east and west by rugged mountain ranges, and around the lake shore there are many large "tufa" rock formations (formed by calcium carbonate deposits).

The Tribe's interesting wildlife website is accessible at:
http://www.plpt.nsn.us/wildlife/index.html

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