- DWR discusses wildlife issues with county commissioners
By Rebecca Dopp
John Fairchild, manager of the Central Region for the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), came before county commissioners to discuss wildlife issues that are going on within the county.
One of the first items was the DWR, along with stakeholders, trying to come up with a fisheries management plan for Yuba Reservoir that provides for a more stable fishery.
"It's been going on for the last five or six months," he said. "Yuba Reservoir experiences the boom and bust cycles typical of a walleye perch fishery. Now we have pike, and northern pike in there in pretty good numbers. They've been in the drainage for years, but a combination of factors have led to a significant increase in that population and they are putting a lot of pressure on all the other fish."
Anglers have been catching pike out of Yuba through the ice.
To deal with the boom-bust cycle, a large group of stakeholders got together to ask basic questions and to share information that might give indication of why these cycles happen.
"We had representatives from IPP who control a lot of the water and water levels," Fairchild said. "the reservoir operators themselves, angler groups, Cheston Slater from State Parks."
The Utah State Parks is very interested in getting the fishery to a place where it attracts visitors, he said. Business owners who deal with the fishing industry were also involved in the discussion.
"It generates revenue for the county when there are a lot of people coming through to go fish," he said. "When the fishing is poor you don't see as much benefit from having a fishery at Yuba Reservoir. We really want to come up with a plan to improve that."
Timing is key. Fluctuating water levels impact spawning for some of the key species the DWR is dealing with.
He invited the commissioners to attend and participate in the ongoing discussion.
Another issue involves camping at Burraston Pond.
Jay Topham, DWR Conservation Officer, will be putting together an open house to be held at a future date to get public input about possible closed camping times at Burraston.
"We think a Fall/ Winter closure on camping would be a good place to start so we don't have the conflict with hunting and camping," he said. "It does attract a fair amount of duck hunting and pheasant hunting and even starts with the dove hunt."
Commissioner Rick Carlton asked if there was any place at Burraston that could restrict camping so it wouldn't interfere with the hunters and fishermen. Fairchild said the camping is fairly concentrated, but the use is throughout the whole area.
There have been some law enforcement related concerns associated to the camping and whether or not a coordinated effort can be made to enforce whatever plan the DWR comes up with.
Carlton asked if the plan will be reviewed on a yearly basis. Fairchild said they will see what works and adapt to the response.
Commissioner Byron Woodland said his concern with the camping restriction was the affect it would have on the Boy Scout troops that use Burraston for winter campouts. He would like to see the camping restriction be lifted sooner, right after the duck hunt.
Fairchild said there are options to work with on a case-by-case basis. He said these were things that needed to be discussed at the open house.
Fairchild said that the DWR had checked in approximately 3,600 coyotes through the coyote bounty program statewide. Specific numbers for Juab County were not available at this time.
Carlton said he had heard there were high numbers of coyotes coming in off the West Desert. Fairchild said the majority of the coyotes were coming off the West Desert.
"The strategy for targeting specific areas to remove coyotes at a time and place when it would be most beneficial for a deer herd is through contracting," he said. "A portion of the money that we have been allocated will be contracting with people who sign up and register to agree to target certain areas at certain times."
He said they had paid out close to $200,000 on coyote bounties.
A concern from landowners over the concentration of turkeys in Salt Creek Canyon has spurred the DWR to respond by putting hay bales out to draw away the turkeys and also to relocate them if need be.
"We're doing the best we can by putting out bales and also trapping," he said.
"We've got a few issues we can try to resolve. I'm hopeful that we can do so, so let's keep talking."