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Diversion dam removal aids in migration of native fish species

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Cary Denison of Trout Unlimited guides the operator's boom to secure and lift a piece of diversion dam from Roubideau Creek thus allowing three species of native fish to migrate upstream.

A Delta area family with a concern for the health of a neighboring stream is being credited by wildlife officials for helping reopen Roubideau Creek to native fish populations.

Scott Dillon and his son, Doug, have a water right that comes out of Roubideau Creek for the ranch they have owned about three years. The water has long been accessed with a diversion dam near the mouth of the creek.

In spawning season, native fish have been observed stacking up in a flopping, slippery pile at the diversion dam in a futile struggle to swim past the structure -- "a diversion dam that has been a barrier to native fish," said Cary Denison of Trout Unlimited in an email -- and spawn further upstream. "The landowner was concerned about the health of the creek and the fish."

The Scotts got into a conversation about the situation with a wildlife official. Denison said that led to formation of a coalition comprised of Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, Nature Conservancy and the Scotts. Funding was arranged to for a new water diversion route which did not disturb upstream migration of three species of native fish in the Gunnison Basin that most don't know about or think about -- the flannel mouth sucker, the blue head sucker and the round tail chub.

The Scotts' fields will still get their water. On Tuesday, Feb. 28, workers assembled with an excavator at the site of the diversion dam and removed it.

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Fish, Trout Unlimited, water
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