Sad news coming out of the Vail Valley today. Over the weekend a large-scale fish kill hit two beloved tributaries in the valley, Gore Creek and Mill Creek. The kill’s suspected cause is a snowmaking solution holding tank that accidentally discharged into the two streams affecting 1,500 feet of both streams, leaving death in its wake.
After noticing the spill, Colorado Parks and Wildlife sent a team to investigate and they found a blue-grey tint to the water amongst the dozens of dead fish, some of which measured over 16-inches.
According to Vail Daily News, “Parks and Wildlife officials took water samples and recorded the totals of dead fish found, which included 85 mottled sculpins, one cut-bow, 16 rainbow trout, one brook trout, and 17 brown trout.”
Gore Creek has long been hailed as one of the Vail Valley’s most revered wild trout streams after many years of restoration efforts, and it’s a shame to see so much aquatic life lost in such a short window of time.
Holly Loff of the Eagle River Watershed Council remarked that the confluence of Mill Creek and Gore Creek was previously a very healthy piece of water.
She further remarked, “We don’t have all of the facts yet, so it is hard to know what happened. However, the report that I read said 85 mottled sculpin, one cuttbow, 16 rainbow trout, one brook trout and 17 brown trout were found dead. That diversity of fish, particularly with the high number of our native sculpin, which are food for the trout, is a sign that Mill Creek was pretty healthy in that stretch. This is really a shame and extremely disappointing after all of the restoration work and community education to improve the health of Gore Creek.”
You can read more about the developing story, here.