Public meeting: Virgin River treatment proposed to remove red shiner

Red Shiner | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Virgin River Program will hold a public meeting about a planned rotenone treatment to remove invasive red shiner from the Virgin River in northwest Arizona and restore habitat in the Virgin River for native fishes.

The meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m., on March 19, at the Virgin Valley Water District Office, 500 Riverside Road., in Mesquite, Nev.

The treatment is tentatively planned for sometime between mid-June into July. During treatment, access may be restricted to the project area, including the Cedar Pocket campground.  Approvals by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the Bureau of Land Management are pending.

Virgin River Program partners are working on the project to meet recovery goals for the endangered woundfin, one of the rarest species of fish in the Southwest. Woundfin are threatened by red shiner, a non-native bait fish that thrives in the project area’s 17-mile stretch of the river between Utah’s State Line Fish Barrier and Arizona’s Virgin River Gorge Fish Barrier.

During the week of June 9, motorists along Interstate 15 and residents in the towns of Littlefield, Ariz., and Mesquite, Nev., may notice the Virgin River colored red from a nontoxic, biodegradable dye. Arizona Game and Fish biologists will conduct a temporary dye flow test of the Virgin River to determine the flow rate of the river through the proposed treatment area.

Prior to the rotenone treatment, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and its Utah partners will salvage native fish from the treatment reach and move them to safe refuge habitats and holding facilities. Partners will then eradicate remaining fish within the reach, targeting the invasive red shiner, which has moved up from Lake Mead into the upper watershed of the Virgin River.

Rotenone use is regulated by several State and Federal laws and is registered for use to remove undesirable fish by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are no known side effects to humans, birds or other mammals when rotenone is used according to the product label.

Potassium permanganate, a water purifier, will be used to deactivate the rotenone once the treatment is complete. Water may be temporarily discolored by the permanganate throughout the Virgin River Gorge.

Submitted by Arizona Game and Fish Department

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  • Paul Webb March 18, 2014 at 8:21 am

    It’s sad that the river is held hostage by the woundfin. At least the red shiner is useful for something.

  • Bub March 18, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Usually when they use poison like this they manage to screw things up and make them worse…

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