Drought prompts rescue of fish from Reno ditches

Dealing with drought is wet work.

Wading knee deep beneath drizzling skies, wildlife officials and volunteers worked Tuesday to rescue fish running out of water.

The operation by the Nevada Department of Wildlife was staged to save fish from Reno diversion ditches that will soon go dry after the flow of water from a diminished Truckee River was cut off due to the drought.

“We’re trying to make sure the fish in there get a second chance,” said Chris Healy, spokesman for the Department of Wildlife. “Nobody likes to see a natural resource go to waste. We would have seen a lot of fish go to waste.”

Some 25 wader-clad rescuers splashed through ditches used to divert river water for power generation at hydroelectric plants operated by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, which recently shut off flow into the ditches from the river.

Fish – including some pretty sizable brown and rainbow trout – mountain whitefish and minnows were shocked by backpack “electro-fishers,” scooped out of the water by net and deposited into truck-borne fish tanks. Some 3,000 fish salvaged Tuesday will be put in the Truckee River near Verdi, in part because recent rains have benefitted river flows. Others will likely be planted in Marilyn’s Pond at Galena Creek Regional Park.

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