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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Fish salvage at Harvey Gap

Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is encouraging anglers to catch and keep as many fish as possible at Harvey Gap State Park near Silt.

The Silt Water Conservancy District says it will need to drain Harvey Gap Reservoir to inspect the dam outlet structure, which is over a hundred years old. In an emergency fish salvage, all limits on bagging, possession and size have been lifted for anglers.

The reservoir is a popular spot for anglers, including ice fishing in December and January, which is unlikely this season. It is home to a variety of fish, including trout, yellow perch, pike, bass, and channel catfish.

Mike Porras with Colorado Parks and Wildlife explained that two of those species — the northern pike and the smallmouth bass — are desirable to fishermen, but are aggressive predators who eat some native fish.

“They’re not compatible with our recovery efforts, and so they’re not a species that we would  restock,” Porras said. “But they are there now, and we certainly encourage anglers to go out and catch as many of those as they can.”

The water from Harvey Gap has been slowly draining throughout the summer for irrigation and is not being backfilled. It should be low enough to complete the inspection late this fall, and Kelly Lyon, president of the Silt Water Conservancy District, said he hopes the water will be back in the reservoir next spring.

Porras said it is likely that some of the tougher fish, like the catfish, may survive the winter in low water.  After inspection and any necessary repairs, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will decide which species will be used to restock the reservoir.

Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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