Snow College students set out on a chilly descent into Bullion Canyon early Saturday morning carrying buckets of fingerling Bonneville cutthroat trout.
At the trailhead, the group of students divided up 2,000 live trout into a dozen five-gallon buckets of water, added some compressed oxygen and a scoop of ice to each bucket, and strapped them onto aluminum frame packs. The students strapped on the 50-pound assemblies over their jackets and started down the trail.
The trail was steep and covered with small, loose rocks. It followed a small stream, Pine Creek, to the mouth of the canyon. At several locations along the trail, the group stopped to release two or three bucketful’s of tiny Bonneville cutthroat into calm pools in the stream.
In many locations in Utah, native Bonneville cutthroat trout (BVCT) compete with nonnative game fish for food, habitat, and spawning locations. This has led to smaller BVCT populations in fewer locations throughout the state, and it has been petitioned that BVCT be listed as a threatened or endangered species.
To protect native species, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources treats waters with rotenone, a chemical fatal to fish, to kill the entire fish population. Native fish are then restocked into their natural location, which is then free of competitive species.
This process was recently used in Pine Creek, a remote stream in Bullion Canyon near Marysvale, Utah. Snow College’s natural resource club had the opportunity to restock the stream with Bonneville cutthroat. “It’s a pretty canyon, and we’re doing something to contribute,” said Forrest Jensen, an environmental science major.
More BVCT will be stocked in Pine Creek every year for the next two to three years to ensure a healthy population of different sizes of fish. “This project benefits anyone who fishes or uses the water or the land, because if native fish populations are down, it will put restrictions on those things,” said Mike Hadley, a fish biologist for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
“I like the beautiful scenery, getting to play with the fish, and seeing animals,” said Ben Ostler, a natural resource student. The NR club has participated in many outdoor activities and service projects, including relocating mountain goats, searching for bear cubs, and re-seeding native plants. “We’re always doing stuff outdoors, and some of it’s stuff you might not ever get to do again—once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” Ostler continued.
NR club and class activities let students apply what they learn in the classroom and gives them insight into various careers associated with natural resources. “Sometimes students get so bogged down with all of the schoolwork that they forget what they’re doing all this for,” said Chad Dewey, the Director of Natural Resources. “This lets them apply things from class and helps them see the big picture.”
For more information on the Natural Resources club, classes, and activities contact Chad Dewey at
(435)283-7337 or email@example.com.