Pike escape over dam feared

May 13, 2006

A heavier-than-normal snow melt could help the voracious non-native northern pike escape from the Plumas County, Calif., reservoir.

Spilled water at Lake Davis would almost certainly send pike into the Feather River and downstream to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, said George Heise, a senior hydraulic engineer with the California Department of Fish and Game.

State fisheries biologists fear the Midwestern species, once released, would decimate the state native fishery, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The lake reached its highest point May 5, when it rose to within 27 inches of spilling over the dam, said Doug Rischbieter, an environmental scientist with the Department of Water Resources, which manages the water in the reservoir.

In 1999, Fish and Game Department officials asked the Department of Water Resources to manage Lake Davis more aggressively to avoid any spilling. They had again found northern pike that summer, two years after completing a controversial chemical treatment designed to eradicate the invasive species.

For the Fish and Game Department, a significant spill of pike represents the environmental equivalent of a break in the dam, said Heise.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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