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Owens-Hall Fish Passage Structure Evaluation
Owens-Hall Fish Passage Structure Evaluation

Led By

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Project Status

Ongoing

Research Objective

Determine the amount and timing of native fish movement through the Owens-Hall fish passage structure.

Collaborators

Paul Foutz, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; David longrie and Kirsta Scherff-Norris, Colorado Springs Utilities

Project Description

Fountain Creek, Colorado, has a relatively intact native fish community that is dominated by the Species of Concern Flathead Chub, Platygobio gracilis and is also home to the state threatened Arkansas Darter, Etheostoma cragini. The native species community is strongest in the lower section of Fountain Creek, which is also the longest stretch of stream without a barrier (58-km). The first barrier that fish can encounter in this reach is the Owens-Hall diversion. To increase the stream reach available to native plains fishes, Colorado Springs Utilities installed a rock ramp fish passage structure on the diversion. This fishway was designed to act as a template to be used for barriers farther upstream. If this structure is effective at fish passage, it can be used as a relatively inexpensive template to increase connectivity within Fountain Creek and along the Front Range of Colorado. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Owens-Hall fish passage structure.

Three PIT tag reading arrays were used to be able to detect partial movement and direction of movement (Figure 1). Flathead Chub were collected by electrofishing below the fish passage structure. All fish were checked for a PIT tag. Deploying of PIT tags consisted of sanitizing all scalpels, tags, and sutures in ethanol. An incision was made ventrally into the fish’s body cavity just posterior to the left pectoral fin. The 12-mm half-duplex Oregon RFID PIT tag was inserted and one suture was applied with two half-hitch knots (Figure 2).

Evaluation of the fish passage structure is ongoing, but Flathead Chub have been documented swimming through the fish passage structure. Future research will PIT tag additional species of fish focusing on the area directly downstream of the fish passage structure.