ELKO, Nev. – The Elko District, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently completed the construction of a fish barrier on Maggie Creek, part of a 20-year overall collaborative effort between the BLM, Newmont Mining Corporation and other local organizations and agencies in watershed restoration. The barrier is to prevent non-native fish from accessing native Lahontan cutthroat trout populations.
In 1993, the BLM and Newmont developed the Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project which focuses on improving stream and riparian habitat conditions as mitigation for the South Operations Area Project.
The Maggie Creek fish barrier, part of the Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project, is designed to protect Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) habitat, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. LCT occur both in the mainstream of Maggie Creek and in a number of its tributary streams. The barrier cost approximately $270,000 and took two weeks to complete.
“Although restoration efforts have been very effective,” said Carol Evans, BLM fisheries biologist, “state and federal biologists are concerned that improved water quality and habitat conditions in upstream reaches are making Maggie Creek increasingly attractive to non-native fish species present in the Humboldt River. Non-native fish could potentially destroy or reduce native fish populations through crossbreeding, predation and competition.”
The Maggie Creek fish barrier was constructed with funding provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Ruby Pipeline Mitigation Fund for Lahontan cutthroat trout. Newmont Mining Corporation provided more than 800 cubic yards of rock used as riprap to prevent water scouring below and above the structure.
“The Maggie Creek fish barrier is a great example of the power of partnerships in natural resource management,” noted Jeff White, Environmental Stewardship Director for Newmont. “The success of the Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project in restoring and enhancing riparian and upland habitat is a direct result of these partnerships.”
The Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project has included the construction of fences and water developments, replacing culvert barriers, applying prescriptive livestock grazing programs on vital riparian areas and initiating studies monitoring the response of LCT to improved habitat conditions. Partners of the Maggie Creek Watershed Restoration Project are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Newmont Mining Corporation, Trout Unlimited, and the TS Ranch.