|FeaturesThe bull trout is
doing just fine by Ira Hansen
hen listening to local talk radio programs, one finds that about the only issue that generates any sympathy for the U.S. Forest Service closing the South Canyon Road has been concern over the supposedly threatened bull trout. Bull trout, also known by the name Dolly Varden, are common throughout Canada and the Northern United States. The Jarbidge population is unique only in that it represents the southern-most population of bull trout in America.
Because the trout are a non-migratory species, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Division of Wildlife, who have monitored this population closely.
I will now quote directly from their report, released March 30, 1999: [T]he Jarbidge River bull trout population is stable, distributed to the extent natural habitat conditions would allow, and free from imminent threat.
Not only are they doing just fine as well as occupying all the areas suitable for them, they are actually expanding in number: There is no historical evidence that suggests that the Jarbidge River bull trout population was ever more widely distributed than the contemporary distribution. The average density of bull trout in the west fork of the Jarbidge River below the wilderness boundary to the state line was 7.2 bull trout per mile in 1998, versus 2.9 per mile in 1985.
Does that sound like a fish on the verge of extinction to you? Perhaps the biggest blow to the deceivers of the U.S. Forest Service and their road- closing minions is the fact the bull trout are actually doing better on the west fork of the Jarbidge River, where all the supposed damage by the Elko County road crew occurred. Sampling failed to contact any bull trout in the middle and lower east fork of the Jarbidge River which is a relatively unaltered watershed that provides no better or worse habitat for native fishes than the reportedly impacted west fork of the Jarbidge River.
In other words there are more trout in the stream next to the road, that according to the Forest Service is threatening their very existence, than in the adjacent branches where there are no roads, of the same river system!
Clearly, the bull trout is being used as a phony front. NJIra Hansen, a Reno radio talk show host, also writes each week for the Sparks Tribune, where this column appeared in October.