Nevada Rescue Squads Scramble to Save Fish From Drought

National Journal
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Clare Foran
Aug. 7, 2014, 1 a.m.

Nevada is tak­ing drastic meas­ures to keep wild­life alive. 

The state De­part­ment of Wild­life as­sembled a team of res­cuers on Tues­day to pull fish out of wa­ter-filled ditches in Reno that are ex­pec­ted to dry up amid the dev­ast­at­ing drought.

A 25-per­son team — made up of de­part­ment of­fi­cials and vo­lun­teers — used nets to scoop up the im­periled creatures, which in­cluded rain­bow trout, white­fish, and min­nows.

“We’re try­ing to make sure the fish in there get a second chance,” de­part­ment spokes­man Chris Healy told the Reno Gaz­ette-Journ­al. “Nobody likes to see a nat­ur­al re­source go to waste. We would have seen a lot of fish go to waste.”

After pulling the fish from the stead­ily shrink­ing pools of wa­ter, the team loaded them in­to massive fish tanks hauled by a fleet of trucks. Most of the roughly 3,000 fish saved this week will be re­leased in­to the nearby Truck­ee River.

In re­cent weeks, loc­al wa­ter au­thor­it­ies di­ver­ted the flow of wa­ter in­to the ditches from the river, which has slowed to a trickle in some areas as a res­ult of per­sist­ent wa­ter short­ages.

The Amer­ic­an South­w­est is suf­fer­ing through a 14-year drought that has wreaked hav­oc on rivers, lakes, and streams. 

Nevada has been par­tic­u­larly hard-hit. Last month, the wa­ter in Lake Mead, the largest reser­voir in the coun­try, dropped to its low­est level seen since it was first filled in the 1930s. 

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