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Tribe working to preserve native fish speciesv

April 30, 2012

The Bishop Paiute Tribe will be celebrating the completion of its Native Fish Refuge program later this week. Utilizing federal funds, the tribe was able to construct drainage and water lines and build habitat ponds (above) for native species of fish. Photo submitted

After the fishing opener winds down this weekend, the Bishop Paiute Tribe will be celebrating a different kind of piscatorial to-do: the completion of its native fish habitat project.
Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Bishop Native Fish Refuge Project has been constructed within the Tribe’s 25-acre conservation area on the Bishop Reservation.
According to the Tribe, the idea for the project began more than seven years ago as an action to improve wetland habitat to help preserve several species of desert fish native to the Owens Valley, including the endangered Owens Pupfish and California-sensitive Owens Specked Dace.
“In addition to their protected status, these fish were once widespread throughout the Valley and now serve as links to the Tribe’s cultural past,” the Tribe reported via press release.
Because water diversions, competition and predation by non-native game fish have contributed to the near extinction of the pupfish and the decline of other desert fish, the Tribe said the refuge is critical to maintaining or augmenting the existing populations of these species.
The ARRA funds have helped complete several construction tasks associated with the project, including installation of new waterlines and drains, design and construction of the habitat’s ponds and channels and establishment of interpretive signs.
In addition to creating habitat, the project has also opened up opportunities for environmental education and recreation. More than a half-mile of walking trails have been constructed and a permanent interpretive display highlighting the benefits of the project is planned for the Tribe’s Cultural Center.
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is hosting an event beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center at 2300 W. Line St. in Bishop to celebrate the completion of the project.
The event is open to the public and will feature U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary of Water and Science Anne Castle, and officials from the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tribe as speakers honoring the project.
For more information about this event, contact Brian Adkins at (760) 873-3584.

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