Volunteers needed for VCNP Fish Study

Los Amigos de Valles Caldera News:

A study of the movements of trout in the Valles Caldera National Preserve will be conducted from about 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Oct. 23 and 24. 

Dave Menicucci of the University of New Mexico is conducting the study as principal investigator. 

Colleen Caldwell of New Mexico State University is an expert on fisheries and co-principal investigator and technical advisor on the project.

Members of the public interested in participating in the project should contact Volunteer Coordinator Jim Counce of Los Amigos de Valles Caldera at jcounce1111@gmail.com or 575.829.3885.

Younger volunteers capable of carrying five-gallon buckets of tagged fish a few hundred yards along the stream weighing about 20 pounds are especially needed for this project.

On the first day, volunteers will tag on the upper end of the East Fork and the second day will work on the lower end.

About a dozen volunteers are needed each day. Anyone traveling from afar and interested in working both days but has nowhere to stay overnight, Menicucci will offer his Los Alamos B&B with two rooms – one with a double bed and another with a King.

Box lunches will be provided both days to the volunteers. Volunteers with waders are encouraged to bring them. It could drop below freezing in the morning. Snow is possible as an El Nino is shaping up, but it probably won’t be deep.

Project Description

The floods of 2011 and the subsequent ash flows into the streams have disrupted fish populations, leaving some sections and reaches virtually devoid of trout while others are seemingly untouched.

These disparities have created uncertainties about the management of the fishing program. Specifically, it is unclear whether fishing should be allowed in the areas with lower populations and whether some taking should be allowed in areas of high populations.

It is unknown if human intervention would be effective in distributing the trout from higher density areas to lower density areas for the purpose of repopulating these areas to previous levels.

Previous studies at the preserve found that trout do not readily move from high population, suggesting that repopulation of the low density areas may be a very slow process.

However, the flood created a unique situation, which is outside the field conditions during the Anderson study.

A significant question is whether trout movements under these conditions will be greater than those observed by Anderson.

A second question is whether trout that are extracted from higher density areas and planted a kilometer or more from the extraction area will migrate to their originally domiciled area.

In this effort, fish will be removed, tagged and then replaced upstream and downstream from the takeout locations.

In the spring, the put-in and takeout locations will be electro-shocked and any tagged fish will be recorded.

The stream will also be intensely fished by expert fishers who will record the locations of the tagged fish that were caught. The data will be analyzed and the results will be reported.

This study will provide improved understanding of trout movements following a catastrophic fire. It will help management to decide how and to what extent intervention might be warranted to improve fishing conditions.

The study will also provide information to add to the body of scientific knowledge on trout behavior.

Los Amigos is dedicated to supporting the preserve and involved in dozens of real boots-on-the-ground projects throughout the year.

For more information, to join or to make tax deductible contributions, visit http://losamigosdevallescaldera.org/.


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