An endangered minnow and a chub that is a candidate for endangered species status were probably badly hurt by the Quail Creek dike break.
Denise Knight, non-game fish coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the Virgin River had 10 miles of high-quality habitat left for the woundfin minnow and the Virgin River chub. The woundfin is an endangered species while the the chub is a candidate for that special protection.The dike burst may have damaged 41/2 miles of this habitat, she said.
Channel changes may have hurt the underwater environment. Thousands of acre-feet of water blasting through the river could have dashed fish to death against boulders.
The heavy load of sediment "would clog gills or do gill damage that would kill fish," she said. "I'm sure that we lost fish.
Woundfin minnows and Virgin River chub have always thrived in a desert river subject to violent spring floods. However, Knight said, "this one's a little larger magnitude than is normal."
In addition to the physical damage, the destruction of the Washington Fields Diversion Dam below the dike wiped out a barrier to competition from the non-native red shiners.