MOSCA – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the National Park Service (NPS), and Trout Unlimited (TU) have been working to restore Rio Grande cutthroat trout to its native waters since 2004. The area of focus for this fish restoration project is the Sand Creek drainage in the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, including the Upper and Lower Sand Creek Lakes as well as the Sand Creek.
This summer, partners continue to progress on this important conservation project through field analysis, stream flow characterization, and removal of fish populations. In late August, the Upper and Lower Sand Creek Lakes and the upper reach of Sand Creek in the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve will be treated to remove all fish from the drainage.
CPW will be treating the waters within the lakes and a section of the creek with a natural chemical to remove the current population of fish. CPW will use boats and work along the creek and lake shorelines to apply this chemical. As a result, the water will temporarily be non-potable to drink or use. To allow them unimpeded access and the ability to complete this project, the following closure is established under the authority of Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, § 1.5 (a)(1) Closures and Public Use Limits.
The following locations shall be closed to public entry:
• 100 yards surrounding Upper and Lower Sand Creek Lakes.
• 100 yards on both sides of Sand Creek from where it exits each of the lakes and extends 5 miles downstream.
These restrictions go into effect at 12:00 a.m. on August 30th, 2020 and remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on September 5th, 2020.
Trails in this area will remain open and signage will be posted at trailheads and along trail junctions to ensure visitors are aware of these restrictions. Great Sand Dunes asks visitors to plan accordingly to ensure they are carrying enough potable water during this timeframe as filtering from creeks and lakes in the closure area is not an option.
If all goes as planned, the fish restoration project will conclude in the fall of 2021 when Rio Grande cutthroat trout will be stocked in their native waters. For more information on this multi-year partnership restoration project, contact Resource Management Specialist, Fred Bunch at [email protected] For more information on the closure, contact the visitor center at 719-378-6395.