Local students help reestablish Lahontan cutthroat trout into Tahoe
Special to the Bonanza
It was a perfect spring day on June 6 as 60 fourth-graders circled up at Incline Beach to discuss their important role in reestablishing the endangered Lahontan cutthroat trout into Lake Tahoe.
Ms. Webber and her fourth-grade students spent the last month raising these special fish from pea-sized, delicate, orange eggs. At the time of their release they had grown into strong, 1-inch long trout fry, ready to take on waters much greater than the tank in which they spent their first days.
Student took a turn dipping their clear plastic cups into a bucket full of trout fry, and carefully walking to the water’s edge to gently set them free. Everyone was able to release one fish.
A few days earlier, Mr. Harssema’s class released the trout that his third-graders had raised into Incline Creek. His class made the short walk to the lake with their kinder buddies from Mrs. Pandola’s class to release the fish together. Twelve students from Ms. Miller’s pre-k class also joined in on the exciting release.
There were a total of three tanks at IES this year in different classroom, but much of the school was involved in the program. The largest tank was held in the science lab and had a daily stream of classes cycling through to observe the trout as they developed.
All three classrooms had great success with their tanks. The majority of the eggs reached the fragile alevin stage, survived into the fry stage, and were finally set free. It is our hope that many of these fish will return to their release site in years to come to spawn and help to increase their population without the help of humans.
We are all very excited with the result of the Trout in the Classroom program. The students at IES took part in a very important project that has a positive impact on our community and the environment.
The teachers who raised the trout opened their doors to the rest of the school and older students were able to educate younger grade levels on the history of the trout, their biology, habitat, life cycle, and the impact that humans have had on this vital species.
Through this process we have learned how to be stewards of our environment in order to leave Tahoe in better shape than when we found it.
The Trout in the Classroom Program at Incline Elementary School was made possible because of a collaborative effort among the Department of Wildlife, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and The Sierra Watershed Education Partnership.
Also, a special thanks goes out to Marshall Gratin, owner of the Pet Station, who generously supplied IES with the aquariums, filters and chillers needed to run the program.
Marshall also led a training hosted at TERC for anyone interested in taking part in the program to teach everyone the proper way to set up a suitable tank habitat in the classroom.
This network of scientists, teachers, government employees, and community members were available throughout the entire program to support anyone who needed it.
Olivia Cushing is Science & Outdoor Education Coordinator at Incline Elementary School.