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San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge Staff Work to Salvage Native Fish from Chiricahua Mountains
Southwest Region, June 30, 2011
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(left to right) Larry Brasher, Chris Lohrengel, and Reggie Perkins electro-fishing in Rucker Creek.  Photo by Humberto Rodriguez, 6/7/2011, Rucker Canyon, Coronado National Forest, Cochise County, AZ
(left to right) Larry Brasher, Chris Lohrengel, and Reggie Perkins electro-fishing in Rucker Creek. Photo by Humberto Rodriguez, 6/7/2011, Rucker Canyon, Coronado National Forest, Cochise County, AZ - Photo Credit: n/a
Kacey King and Reggie Perkins electrofishing in Cave Creek for speckled dace.  Photo by Christopher D. Lohrengel, 7/7/2011, Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ
Kacey King and Reggie Perkins electrofishing in Cave Creek for speckled dace. Photo by Christopher D. Lohrengel, 7/7/2011, Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ - Photo Credit: n/a

San Bernardino NWR staff and volunteers spent several days during June and July in the Chiricahua Mountains salvaging native fish from creeks and wetlands within the Coronado National Forest and on adjacent private private lands.  The salvage effort was in response to low water levels in wetlands and streams, as well as the real possibility of water quality issues in relation to the Horseshoe 2 Fire, which burned over 220,000 acres. 

One of the areas salvaged was on El Coronado Ranch, owned by Josiah and Valer Austin, and is located on a section of West Turkey Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains.  The Austins have played a major role in the recovery of the federally listed Yaqui chub, and have also provided a safe haven for other native fish in the region, the Mexican longfin dace and the Mexican stoneroller.  The Austin's have worked to remove all non-native fish species from the waters on their ranch and have partnered with the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the above mentioned species. Therefore, it is very important to ensure their work continues.  On two different occasions, refuge staff and volunteers salvaged fish from ponds and the creek.  Some of the chub captured from the ranch were placed into a large pond on another of the Austin's Ranches, the Bar Boot Ranch.  Other chub, as well as some of the dace and the stonerollers, are being held at the refuge headquarters, while the remaining are being held by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 

Rucker Canyon on the Coronado National Forest was also salvaged for Mexican longfin dace and Mexican stoneroller.  These fish are also being held in different locations.  The reason to have multiple holding sites is to prevent the loss of a population of these fish, should something happen to fail at one of the locations.  The final site that fish were salvaged from was Cave Creek on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains.  This site is special in that it holds an isolated population of speckled dace.  A stretch of Cave Creek on the grounds of the Southwest Research Station (SWRS) was the chosen salvage area due to ease of access and the willing cooperation of the SWRS. 

Approximately 3,100 fish have been salvaged from the Chiricahua Mountains.  The majority of those fish are chub (1,600), with 600 stoneroller, 500 speckled dace, and 400 longfin dace.  The fish will be returned to the ponds or creeks where they were captured when adequate water is available with the proper quality to support the fish. 


Contact Info: Christopher Lohrengel, 520-364-2104 x.106, chris_lohrengel@fws.gov



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