Waterway poisoning set for this week | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Waterway poisoning set for this week

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO – Crews will pack into the Carson Iceberg Wilderness and use rotenone to poison fish in the middle section of the Silver King Creek after a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a state plan to preserve a rare species of trout by poisoning the waterway should not be delayed.

Judge Lloyd G. Connelly Jr. ruled against conservationists who have tried to keep wildlife officials from pouring fish killer in 11 miles of watershed south of Lake Tahoe. State officials hope to recover the native Paiute cutthroat trout by eliminating its competitors for food.

Conservationists argued that the poison would destroy other organisms critical to the ecosystem, as well as endanger humans.

After a lengthy hearing, Connelly ruled that a temporary stay of the project “would be against the public interest.”

The judge said there was not enough evidence before him to decide that the “degrading impacts” on the watershed and its ecosystem outweigh the public’s interest in preserving the Paiute.

The Paiute is on the federal list of threatened species. According to California and federal officials, unless fish that are not native to its habitat are exterminated, the trout will have to be upgraded to endangered.

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The California Department of Fish and Game plans to start applying rotenone, an aquatic insecticide, to the stream system on Wednesday.

Rotenone has been particularly controversial in the Sierra Nevada since the state used it in an unsuccessful effort to eliminate voracious northern pike from Lake Davis north of Lake Tahoe in 1997.

Conservationists, led by the Eureka-based Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, challenged the Paiute project with lawsuits in federal and state courts in Sacramento.