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Forest Service Approves Hermosa Fish Barriers

DURANGO -The San Juan National Forest Columbine Ranger District has released a decision and final Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Hermosa Creek and East Fork Hermosa Creek Fish Barriers project. The decision approves installation of two fish barriers to assist in the recovery of native Colorado River cutthroat trout in the Hermosa Creek watershed. This project will implement the next phase in the recovery of the Colorado River cutthroat trout, formalized in the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout Conservation Agreement and Strategy, which was adopted in 2001 by the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Recovery efforts are aimed at preventing the federal listing of the species as threatened or endangered.

Key points of the decision are:

·         One barrier will be constructed just downstream from the confluence of the main stem of Hermosa Creek and the East Fork of Hermosa Creek.

·         The second barrier will be constructed on the East Fork of Hermosa Creek about ¼ mile upstream of the upper Hermosa Trail trailhead.

·         The Hermosa Trail will be used temporarily by equipment to reach the confluence site. Short-term trail closures may occur (half-day maximum).

·         The first 3/4 mile of the trail will see some spot-widening and removal of a few trees to allow equipment to pass.

·         Some dispersed campsites near the trailhead may be closed during the duration of construction to allow for equipment and material storage and for public safety – estimated at about 60 days per barrier.

·         Impacts to recreationists will be minimized by limiting construction to weekdays, by employing flaggers instead of total trail closure, and by informational signing.

·         Temporary construction zones at both barrier locations will be used and then rehabilitated. Final rehabilitation will occur after cutthroat reintroduction (could be several years).

·         Beaver dams will be removed from upstream of the barrier sites prior to cutthroat re-introduction.

Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2013. The second barrier may be built in a later year, depending on funding.

A copy of the Final Environmental Assessment and the Forest Service Decision Notice detailing the decision, rationale, required design criteria and required monitoring are available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/sanjuan/projects  .

For more information, please contact Clay Kampf, 970 385-1220.