Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge Staff Moves Fish Prior to Monsoon Rains and Potential Flooding
Southwest Region, June 25, 2012
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Once again, refuge staff spent some time in the Chiricahua Mountains salvaging fish prior to the monsoon rains. This year however there was not the threat of fire in the immediate area that they were working in. Last year the refuge salvaged over 3,000 fish from the three main drainages in the Chiricahua Mountains, West Turkey Creek, Rucker Creek, and Cave Creek. The salvage was necessary due to damages top the upper parts of the drainages from the Horseshoe 2 Fire. Last year’s monsoon rains along with the heavy ash loads in the upper canyons and the complete lack of any ground cover produced sludge driven floods in every drainage in the mountains. While this year there is no fire, there is still a possibility for the same type of flooding to occur. With below normal precipitation for the third year in a row in the Chiricahua Mountains, little vegetation came back this spring. So if any heavy rains occur, it is expected that there will be heavy erosion on the upper slopes of these drainages.


Since the refuge, along with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, is still holding some fish from last year, it was not necessary to salvage every individual encountered. In addition, these fish are adapted to events such as this and there will be survivors, but staff are operating on the side of caution in this effort. However, in W. Turkey Creek there were very few fish captured so the few that were have been relocated to safe ponds away from potential sediment laden floods. Rucker Creek and Cave Creek had good representative numbers salvaged and these fish are being held at the refuge headquarters. Hopefully these fish, as well as the remaining fish from last year that are still being held, can be released this fall if conditions allow.

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