A shortage of the chemical rotenone may put the Strawberry Reservoir treatment program on hold - again. Originally scheduled for the summer of 1986, it may now be 1990 before treatment can be carried out.
If delayed again, fisheries biologists may have to try one of the alternate plans to remove non-game fish species from the popular reservoir.Biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced back in 1985 plans to treat the reservoir to remove the high number of chub and suckers found there. Gill-net checks last year showed that there were 95 non-game fish to every five trout.
Two problems, however, have hampered the project: 1. the size of the water, and; 2. the amount of rotenone required.
The completion of the Soldier Creek dam in 1985 resulted in a union between Soldier Creek Reservoir and Strawberry Reservoir and a doubling of the reservoir's size. It was felt then that if total treatment didn't happen in the summer of 1986, continued filling of the new Strawberry would make it too large. In 1987, however, officials discovered that during August, reservoir waters stratify and force fish to stay near the surface.
Now, said Jim Johnson, fish-research biologist for the DWR, there is a 50-50 chance the project can be completed in the summer of 1990. Past then, he added, "It will be too late for treatment to be effective."
To complete the project, biologists figure it will take about 1.3 million pounds of rotenone. Rotenone is a natural substance that removes oxygen from water. Most of the world's rotenone is produced in Peru.
A New Jersey company that markets the chemical told state officials on Tuesday that it won't be able to supply the amount needed. Company officials report they are developing new sources and hope to be able to supply the state by 1990.
Bruce Schmidt, chief of fisheries for the DWR, figures it will cost about $1.8 million to complete the project.
Once Strawberry has been treated, Johnson said plans are to plant the reservoir with Bear Lake cutthroat, kokanee salmon and sterile rainbow trout. Biologists believe the cutthroat and salmon will control trash fish numbers should they make it back into the water.
Earlier this year, biologists practiced treatment procedures in treating Hyrum Reservoir and one of the bays at Strawberry. Those tests were called successful.