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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

January 20, 2006

Contact:  Eddie N. Bennett, 303-236-8165

 Service Seeks Public Comments on Proposal to Enhance the Fishery at Panguitch Lake through Chemical Reclamation

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment for the State of Utah’s proposed “Panguitch Lake Fisheries Enhancement in Garfield County, Utah.” Public comments are welcome for a 15-day period.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Division) is proposing to create a viable sport fishery in Panguitch Lake by treating portions of three inlet streams, the upper reaches of Panguitch Creek and two small ponds with the fish toxicant rotenone.  The treatment is expected to occur in Spring 2006.  In 2005, the Division began a scoping process to develop a proposal and alternatives for the project with newspaper articles and the creation of the Panguitch Lake Advisory Committee.  A total of 8 public meetings were held, beginning in May 2005, at which comments were taken and management alternatives discussed, selected, and formed into a management plan.  An application for chemical use, describing the proposed action, was sent to the State Resource Development Coordinating Committee, which includes review by the Utah Five County Association of Governments.  This association includes representatives of the counties included in the project area as well as counties in the surrounding areas.  In addition, a presentation of the proposed action was made to the Garfield County Commission by the Division in November 2005.

 A legal notice describing the project was published in the Spectrum (St. George) on September 22, 2005 and in the Richfield Reaper on September 28, 2005.  These notices invited suggestions for issues to be addressed in the project analysis.  Public comments were requested by October 9, 2005.  In addition, a scoping letter was sent to over 140 individuals whose names were provided by the Dixie National Forest.  Documentation of these publications and a record of responses are in the Project File located at the Southern Region Office, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. 

 The draft environmental assessment, prepared by the Division and the Service, analyzes the Division’s proposal to chemically treat and eradicate all fish within the Panguitch Lake fishery.  This treatment is required to remove non-native Utah chub (Gila atraria) populations from the fishery and establish a viable sport fishery through stocking.  Rotenone was selected as the chemical of choice because of its effectiveness in controlling fish populations and its lack of long term effects on the environment.  Rotenone has been used successfully in similar projects and application techniques have been refined to minimize adverse side effects to the environment.  Prior to treatment, bag limits will be liberalized to allow anglers to harvest surplus trout.  Following treatment all fish will be left to decompose and return, in the form of nutrients, to the lake.  These nutrients will stimulate the recovery of aquatic insects and zooplankton that will help re-establish the fishery.  The toxicity of the treatment will be active for about 3-4 weeks.  The Division will monitor the effects of the treatment throughout this period, including the use of sentinel fish to determine when the chemical has been completely oxidized and rendered completely safe.  Upon completion of the chemical treatment and monitoring program, the Division will restock the lake with catchable rainbow trout to provide a summer fishery.  In the following season, the lake will be restocked with fingerling rainbow trout, Bear Lake Bonneville cutthroat trout and tiger trout.  Treated reaches of inlet streams will be restocked with native Bonneville cutthroat trout.  The treatment and stocking events will be preceded by news releases in various media outlets in Utah and surrounding states, to notify the public.

 The estimated total cost of the proposed project would be about $252,000.  The Division proposes to provide 25% of the cost as a match for the 75% to be provided by a federal grant under the Sport Fish Restoration Act. The federal funds are administered by the Service and come from an excise tax on fishing equipment, import duties on tackle and boats, motorboat fuels, and small engine fuel.

 Copies of the draft environmental assessment, which include details of the Division’s proposed action seven alternatives to consider for addressing the enhancement of Panguitch Lake and inlet streams are available online at by clicking on the title of the document at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/federalassistance.  Those without internet access may request copies by calling the Services’s Division of Federal Assistance at 303-236-5420.  Comments should be sent by February 3, 2006, to: Chief, Division of Federal Assistance, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO   80225

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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