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Establishment of Native Fish Sanctuary on Three Fingers Lake in Cibola National Wildlife Refuge
Southwest Region, January 22, 2007
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Three Fingers Lake is an historic oxbow of the lower Colorado River located on the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR).  Following the closure of Hoover Dam, the oxbow gradually filled in and became overgrown by vegetation.  The site was dredged in the early 1990's by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) as part of their native fish program.  Even though Three Fingers Lake was created by USBR with the intention of being managed for native fishes, no active native fish management occurred by either CNWR or the Arizona Fishery Resources Office (AZFRO).  Instead, Three Fingers Lake became a popular largemouth bass fishery for a number of years after initial creation, and today has simply become a water feature of CNWR.

In 2005, biologists from Arizona State University surveyed Three Fingers Lake and reported no fish being captured, although mosquitofish were observed, suggesting that Three Fingers Lake may have experienced a fish kill.  Three Fingers Lake was electro fished thoroughly during the summer of 2006 by AZFRO, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), and USBR and no fish were collected further suggesting this. 

A Native Fish Management Plan was developed in cooperation with CNWR, USBR and AZFRO to develop a repository for large razorback suckers, allowing for continued survival and growth before being returned to the wild at a larger size or used for establishing future "populations" in other native fish habitats.

In mid December 2006, 185 razorback suckers were stocked in Three Fingers Lake by USFWS and USBR.  Beginning January 22nd staff from CNWR (Biological Science Technician Barnett, volunteer Powell, SCA Biological Intern Welytok, and SCA Biological Intern Walters) assisted Dr. Mueller from USBR and Dr. Minckley from AZFRO with installation of solar-powered aerators on Three Fingers Lake.  The aerators will be used to prevent a critical drop in dissolved oxygen levels in Three Fingers Lake during summer.

In addition, the success of this plan will require ongoing monitoring for survival, growth, relative condition and possible reproduction of razorback suckers within Three Fingers Lake for the next few years by CNWR, USBR, and AZFRO.


Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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