Davis pike eradication project to begin after Labor Day | SierraSun.com

Davis pike eradication project to begin after Labor Day

Bruce Ajari

Ever since the failed attempt in 1997 to eradicate the non-native northern pike from Lake Davis, which drew angry protests from the local population in Portola, there has been ongoing attempts to control the predatory fish.

Pike are voracious predators that consume other game fish such as the trout in Lake Davis, which was once a renown trophy trout water in California.

Since the failed treatment of the lake, the pike’s numbers have skyrocketed in spite of the best efforts of the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to control them.

After all the planning and countless meetings, the project is set to begin as planned sometime after Labor Day weekend. The DFG will use CFT Legumine, a new liquid formulation of rotenone, which is a common piscicide used for eradication projects.

The plan called for the lake level to be between 45,000 and 48,000 acre feet. Davis currently sits at 43,665 acre feet. The original thought was to draw the lake down to around 15,000 acre feet, but the DFG decided on a level above that due to recreational and other environmental and associated economic impacts on the local economy.

Ed Pert, the project manager, said that there are a number of factors that differ from the 1997 project. These include better communication with the local community, a better working relationship and cooperation with the USFS and other agencies, the wide range of options considered and better planning. In addition, the rotenone formulation does not contain piperonyl butoxide, which persisted in the reservoir in 1997.

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Because the lake is below 45,000 acre feet, the DFG will have to use its contingency plan. The current level is still pretty close to the target 45,000, so things should proceed smoothly.

Cost of the eradication was estimated at $12 million, which was to come from the Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) funding from CalFED to implement the project.

A February 2007 news release indicated that he DFG had spent approximately $3 million controlling and containing pike in Lake Davis. The planning and feasibility phase of this project was funded primarily by a CalFED ERP grant totaling nearly $6 million.

The CalFED ERP has identified halting the unauthorized introduction and spread of potentially harmful non-native species of fish, such as pike in Lake Davis, in the Bay Delta and Central Valley as a strategic objective (CALFED 2000).

When you total up the cost of this project, not even including the economic impact to the area, it is easy to see why the illegal introduction of fish and invasive species is such a great concern for those charged with the responsibility of caring for our natural resources.

All of us should be equally concerned. This is money that could have been better spent for other purposes.

After the lake is successfully treated, it will be up to every individual in the local community and visitors to make sure that this never happens again. Those guilty of illegal introductions should be caught and the punishment should be swift and severe. Judging from the sentiment among anglers who had regularly fished Lake Davis when it was a trophy fishery, it is a good thing that we no longer live in the Old West.

Remember you can call the local sheriff or the Department of Fish and Game CalTIP number at 1-888-334-2258 if you see someone doing something illegal. Getting a car license number is extremely helpful, as well.

Local sheriffs do not always enforce Fish and Game violations, but they are probably more likely to respond quickly if they do. DFG wardens are spread so thin that they may not be able to get there quickly. Many local sportsmen will carry the telephone number of the local warden with them while they are in the field and can call him directly.

Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.