Zion National Park Completes Management Plan For Virgin River And Its Tributaries In Park

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A management plan for the Virgin River and its tributaries in Zion National Park has been completed. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Zion National Park has completed a plan to guide management actions and visitor use on the Virgin River and its tributaries.

The plan was necessary as sections of the river in 2009 were added to the National Wild and Scenic River System. The Wild and Scenic River designation includes segments of the Virgin River, La Verkin Creek, Taylor Creek, and North Creek (including some tributaries) in Zion National Park and adjacent Bureau of Land Management wilderness.

The completed plan will provide a framework to guide future resource management and visitor use.

The plan provides protection for 144 miles of designated wild and scenic rivers within Zion National Park. The management and monitoring strategies found in the plan are designed to protect and enhance the rivers’ free-flowing condition, water quality, and other values that qualify these river segments for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System.

The management plan identifies:

* The kinds and amounts of visitor use that each river segment can accommodate while ensuring protection of river values;

* The types and levels of development allowed in each river corridor;

* Indicators that will be monitored to track changes caused by human activity;

* Adaptive management strategies to implement as changes occur;

* Actions to preserve the rivers free flowing condition; and

* Actions to protect and enhance water quality, ecological processes, scenic values, recreational opportunities, and fish and wildlife.

To read the details of the management plan, go to this page.

Comments

Could someone explain why we prefer the Virgin Spinedace over the Rainbow Trout in what looks like could be excellent fishing waters?

Rainbow trout aren't native to this fishery. The Spinedace is.

This from the park's website:

The rivers of Zion National Park retain their full complement of four species of native fish in healthy populations. Such a statement cannot be made for any other comparable river system in the southwest U.S. This rare and desirable condition is only possible because stream flow in the park is essentially natural, with all of the floods, sediment transport and periods of low flow that have always occurred.

The fish of the Virgin River drainage have evolved adaptations to the unique local conditions, including heavy silt loads, frequent floods, and wide fluctuations in water temperature and discharge.

Unfortunately, outside of the park the native fish of the Virgin River have experienced population declines due to habitat fragmentation and the introduction of non-native species. Efforts are currently underway to protect rivers that provide good habitat, and restore areas of lost or degraded habitat to provide for the recovery and protection of the native fish.

So?

Soooo, in national parks they actually try to preserve the native species over the non-native species....but you know that.

I will ask the question again. Why? There are billions of species that have naturally (and in some cases unnaturally) disappeared from this earth. Nobody misses them. Who, other than a few ichthyologist, would miss the Spinedace. I know many a fisherman that would like to see the Rainbow Trout.
"nobody misses them" interesting comment...Let me guess, you subscribe to the biblical notion that it is man's duty to subdue the earth and craft it towards man's own needs...
Rambler I subscribe to the notion that the earth will do what it will do and in the grand scheme of things, man will craft nothing - intentionally or unintentionally. BTW I am unaware of biblical notion you refer to. Can you document that?
EC- I appears as though you have failed to realize that all parts of an ecosystem are interconnected. This is the reason we are working hard to save the delta smelt in northern California. But giving it a second thought, I actually dont know why I am engaging you in conversation... Let me know when you start to believe in modern science...
I didnt want to respond but I couldnt help but take your bait. Here you go EC- Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[a] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” This represents 19th century (and some current) environmental attitudes perfectly. I know you dont see what I see when you read this. You and I will never change each others minds, so I do not see the point in engaging the president of the Glenn Beck fan club in further conversation. Lets both get out and enjoy nature.
Beautiful photograph of Zion NP.
And Rambler, you seem to have failed to realize that man has moved species throughout the world, much to the betterment of man. There may be a reason to save the delta smelt, if so I would love to hear it. Please enlighten me also to the dire consequences that would occur should the Virgin Spinedace be displaced by the Rainbow Trout.
Rambler - thanks for the documentation. But, as you can see, I don't subscribe to that notion that man can subdue earth, nor am I particular fan of Glenn Beck. Now back to the Spinedace in Zion - what would be the dire scientific consequences of its demise in the Virgin River?
Agree about the picture Justin. In fact it was that picture that led me to the question. I saw that river and what appeared to be a beautiful spot to place a prince nymph. It prompted me to look up fishing opportunities in Zion and I was disappointed to find that fishing the Virgin is quite unproductive, primarily because of efforts to prevent expansion of sport fish such as the Rainbow and Brown trout. That led to the question, why? Still waiting for an answer beyond,(paraphrased) "Because the Spinedace exist".

Thanks Justin. Took that last October during a visit. It was an overcast day, but that didn't seem to hurt the final photo.

EC,

what would be the dire scientific consequences of its demise in the Virgin River?

I wonder if anyone posed a similar question when quagga mussels showed up in the Great Lakes, or when the Ivory-billed woodpecker disappeared, or when the wolf was extirpated from Yellowstone. There always are consequences, though they might not always be apparent initially.

One possible consequence of creating rainbow trout fisheries as you would like could be anglers crowding the banks, or perhaps standing in mid-stream, of the Virgin River. That in turn could lead to unintended consequences -- bank erosion, litter, etc.

Speaking of quagga mussels, just received a release from Lake Powell (Glen Canyon NRA) that they've found "Thousands of adult quagga mussels" since lake levels dropped. That's a serious problem that will be hard to reverse. We'll have a story on it later today.

We've just heard another echo of the Great American Entitlement Mentality.
[quote]One possible consequence of creating rainbow trout fisheries as you would like could be anglers crowding the banks, or perhaps standing in mid-stream, of the Virgin River. [/quote] Doesn't seem to have hurt the Yellowstone or Madison or the Lamar. Though I will concede the introduction of Lake Trout into Yellowstone lake has been quite negative. But then, that wasn't an authorized introduction. Rainbows, Browns & Cutthroats have been successfully introduced in hundreds of rivers and streams, for the most part without material negative consequences. All I am saying here is that "because they exist" doesn't seem to be a good reason to favor the Spinedace over the Rainbow. If there are other reasons, I would love to hear them.
Gee Lee, I didn't realize a rational discussion of the relative merits of two fish reflected "Entitlement Mentality." I think I would put demanding free Wi-Fi in your hotel more in that category.
How about doing some serious homework, ec, and learning all you can about reasons of all kinds? Why expect someone else to do all the work so you can then simply dodge, twist, misquote and attack no matter what they may provide? I know virtually nothing about fish, but wonder if things like very warm water temperatures in the Virgin in summer might play a part in survival of trout? Here's your chance to actually contribute something worthwhile to the Traveler. Do some research and then produce an objective, scientifically based article for all of us to read. And do you really believe that wi-fi is free in any motel? Why pay extra? Should we pay extra for sheets on the bed? Now, let's see what you can produce that will educate all of us about trout, spinedace, and the Virgin River.
Lee, I have done a lot of research and have found no better explanation for protecting the Spinedace beyond that it exists. I am seeking others input that may shed further light. Sorry if that bugs you and that you think you are entitled to more. By the way, warm water does not appear to be an issue as trout do in fact exist in the Virgin despite not being stocked.
So share your research with us. And if trout already exist in the Virgin, what's your beef?
Just a note about the warm waters and Rainbow survival. In Eastern Oregon there are Red Band Rainbows that can live in a mud puddle having evolved over the years (many:). Just a scientific thought.
I know nothing about the spindace minnow and am not a trout fisherman. But it seems this discussion has raised the issue of the value of preserving native species. Since it is a question of values it is not very susceptible to reason. Might as well discuss the value of islam versus christianity. Time to quit wasting everyones time and ignore EC's comments on this issue.
[quote]So share your research with us.[/quote] I did. From what I have researched, there is no reason to favor the Spinedace over the trout. [quote]what's your beef?[/quote] Who said I had a beef. I asked a question to further my research. As to their existence, they do exist but are rare or uncommon(depending on species) as is the case in many unstocked waters. When stocked, however, many waters(including perhaps the Virgin) have the potential to be excellent fisheries. [edit] Stocking does occur in part of the Virgin without negative consequences. It is not allowed, however, in areas where it might threaten the Spinedace, including the Park.
[quote]Time to quit wasting everyones time and ignore EC's comments on this issue.[/quote} Of course. Lets silence the debate We certainly wouldn't want a reasoned discussion or dissenting opinions to be heard. And you wonder why people are becoming disassociated with the Parks and view "environmentalist" as elitist.
ec, so what your saying is you want to rewrite the Endangered Species Act so you can fish for trout in the place where an endangered species lives? This was on CBS Sunday Morning a few months ago http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-endangered-species-act-turns-40/ and I thought Joel Sartore put it best "In the eyes of the law(Endagered Species Act), all are as important, and magnificent, as a grizzly bear."
Why protect habitat for a species of fish only a very small minority of the environmentally elite care about? The issue of the conservation of non-resources has been explored in detail in a major publication in American Scientist, by Dr. David Ehrenfeld of Rutgers University in 1976. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/27847556?uid=2460338175&uid=2460337935&uid=2133&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=83&uid=63&sid=21103581370603 This issue boils down to whether or not mankind has a basic moral obligation to care for species and their habitat for which there are no identifiable financial or recreational interests, and no obvious ecological relationship related to the survival of other species for which humans derive economic, recreational, or aesthetic benefit. The moral obligation to protect endangered species and their habitat is present merely because the species exists. Others, which might include EC, might not share this view. They might say that in our present world with expanding human populations and expanding human recreational needs, the NPS, the FWS, and the Endangered Species Act should take a less assertive approach to the protection and conservation of non-resource species and not commit scarce Federal funds to the removal of non-native species that might otherwise serve the interests of recreational anglers, after all many species have indeed gone extinct in the past, most in the absence of humans on Earth. I personally agree with Dr. Ehrenfeld. I believe that we do have a moral obligation to protect and preserve wild habitat, even for species that have no identifiable use to human-kind. I guess that makes me, Dr. Ehrenfeld, and others like us environmental extremists? On the other hand, one might also take the point of view of an evolutionary cosmologist and do nothing at all. Given sufficient time there will be no permanent habitats. Either the Earth will once again experience a major extra terrestrial impact, or over the course of only a few billion years, the sun will slowly evolve into a red giant, expand outward, and totally vaporize our planet. So the question remains, what is it that we are morally obligated to do while we are still here?

Roger Siglin1 seems to have summed this up pretty nicely:

"It seems this discussion has raised the issue of the value of preserving native species. Since it is a question of values it is not very susceptible to reason."

And ec has provided a good answer to his questions when he said, "Rainbows, Browns & Cutthroats have been successfully introduced in hundreds of rivers and streams." Since that's the case, there are ample opportunities elsewhere for those who like to fish for them. There's no compelling reason (except in the mind of die-hard trout fishermen :-) that every stream in every park has to offer that opportunity, especially if it comes at the expense of another species.

And... that last sentence reflects another value judgment - that national parks should not be expected to be the same as everyplace else.

Back in the 1990's, I lived in Colorado along the Poudre River. They stocked it with trout once or twice a week. I watched them put in nice 10-12 inch trout. I could go over and catch one within minutes of trying. It was very enjoyable and good eating. I read an article back then that said these hatchery raised fish, school up an fight for food because this is how they were conditioned from their upbringing. I read that the native trout had died off in the stretch of river I lived on because they had could not compete. I also read the average stocked fish was pulled out within three days of being stocked. They basically were raised with no intention of creating a sustainable population. I think a rooky trout fisherman would love their success but a true trout fisherman would prefer to test their skill in a natural habitat with trout that do not school up and fight for food. EC, I agree when I see a stretch of river that looks like a perfect place to fish, I think it would be cool to fish. But I would rather fish in a spot where I must use skill and insight to challenge a native fish rather than the stocked trout. Just my thought anyway.
[quote] ec, so what your saying is you want to rewrite the Endangered Species Act so you can fish for trout in the place where an endangered species lives? [/quote] No not solely for that purpose. But I do believe the act should be rewritten in a way that the cost of protection is appropriately weighed against the benefits - if any. Again given there have been billions of species that have come and gone, the protection of a few more just for the sake of protecting them seems senseless to me.
[quote] And ec has provided a good answer to his questions when he said, "Rainbows, Browns & Cutthroats have been successfully introduced in hundreds of rivers and streams." Since that's the case, there are ample opportunities elsewhere for those who like to fish for them. [/quote] So I guess since we already have Wilderness, there are "ample opportunities elsewhere for those who like" Wilderness. Thus we don't need any more.
The Endangered Species Act was promoted and signed by that noted environmental elitist, Richard Nixon. Following is a quote from A FWS website: "When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct." A values statement I believe. Attempts have been made to weaken it by adding economic concerns, but have largely failed.
Owen You summed up the issue quite well. You have fallen on the side of "moral obligation". From where does that moral obligation emanate? How does it trump your obligations to your fellow man - say in the case of delta smelt. Farmers in California are being put to ruin to "save" this useless fish. Is that morally right?
Roger and Owen, I agree wholeheartedly. The Spinedace is a good in itself. (A synecdoche for wilderness.)