Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
Silver Creek Preserve Closed to Fishing for First Time in History
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Silver Creek Preserve, which attracts fishermen from all over the world, is currently closed to fishing to protect the fish.
   
Sunday, July 4, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

There’ll be no fishing at Silver Creek Preserve this Fourth of July.

The Nature Conservancy is restricting access to the preserve to fishing for the first time in history to reduce stress on fish caused by unprecedented heatwave and drought.

Current low flows, high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels caused by extreme heat and drought led to the decision, said Claire Cornell, communications manager for The Nature Conservancy. Such conditions can lead to fish mortality.

The Nature Conservancy will monitor stream temperature and dissolved oxygen levels on a biweekly basis and reopen access to fishing if conditions improve.

Such precautionary actions are taken only when stream temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit and dissolved oxygen levels are below 4 mg/L. Recent tests have shown stream temperatures of 73 degrees and oxygen levels of 3 mg/L for extended periods.

“The Nature Conservancy is actively focused on long-term solutions, such as stream channel restoration and aquifer recharge projects, that will improve habitat resiliency at Silver Creek in the event of significant heat waves and droughts like the ones we’re currently experiencing,” says Erika Phillips, Watershed Manager for TNC. “In our immediate situation with low flows and elevated water temperatures, we need to be proactive and responsible in our stewardship of the Preserve by taking these necessary steps to protect the health of the fish.”

While extreme temperatures make it tempting to go canoeing or paddle boarding, boating and floating are strongly discouraged right now due to extremely low levels. Such activities could damage the streambed and surrounding habitat.

The preserve remains open, however for hiking, birdwatching and other landlubber activities.

Fishermen may still fish Silver Creek outside the preserve. A fishing closure on the creek would require action by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, according to Fish and Game spokesman Terry Thompson.

Those wishing to locate alternative places to fish Idaho’s 26,000 miles of streams and rivers should visit https://idfg.idaho.gov and click on “Fishing.” Fishermen can keep abreast of developments at Silver Creek Preserve by visiting facebook.com/SilverCreekPreserve, emailing silvercreek@tnc.org or calling 208-788-7910.

Members of the Hemingway Chapter of Trout Unlimited staged a fish rescue last Sunday. Last year the chapter rescued 14,000 fish.

Idaho Fish and Game and anglers earlier gathered all the fish they could in the Richfield Canal, taking them to the Snake River’s Bell Rapids after the water in the canal became too hot for cold water fish like rainbow trout.

The Big Wood Canal Company shut off the water after just 27 days of irrigation.

Conditions have prompted no limit fishing on parts of the Big wood River.

The extreme temperatures and drought are not limited to Idaho. Utah’s governor has asked his citizens to pray for rain as experts say Utah is experiencing conditions as bad as the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The possible saving grace: Farmers today have better practices in place, such as cover crops and irrigation systems that use less water.

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