Parker Water & Sanitation workers began stocking Rueter-Hess Reservoir with fathead minnows and bluegill last month as part of a phased fish stocking program.
By Lisa Crockett; photo courtesy of Parker Water and Sanitation District
Days of fun in the sun at the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a quick drive on Hess Road for most Castle Pines residents, is now one step closer to reality. The reservoir, slated to provide an environment of tranquil relaxation, will eventually be a place to take a peaceful hike or spend some time fishing.
The Castle Pines City Council has unanimously approved an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) establishing the Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority, which includes the towns of Parker and Castle Rock, the cities of Castle Pines and Lone Tree, and Douglas County. The purpose of the Authority is to work towards the completion of the Recreation Master Plan and create new recreation opportunities for the area.
As a member of the Authority, Castle Pines will contribute $25,000 in the 2015 fiscal year to be used towards the development of the Recreation Master Plan. This amount was included in the 2015 budget.
One of the activities at the reservoir will be fishing. The reservoir is now home to fathead minnows and bluegill fish that were introduced last month as part of a phased stocking program. The program was recently supported by the Parker Water & Sanitation District (PWSD) Board of Directors marking a milestone at Rueter-Hess Reservoir. The District’s initial purpose in stocking the reservoir was part of the aquatic vegetation management plan, required by the District’s Environmental Impact Statement.
“The reservoir’s volume has now reached a point that we are comfortable with implementing the stocking plan,” said Ron Redd, district manager for PWSD.
The approved fish stocking plan was developed by Aquatics Associates, Inc. with the initial plan to be implemented over the next five years, 2015-2019. The recommended phased approach is to first stock the reservoir with forage species including fathead minnows and bluegill. Each stocking phase, at an anticipated cost of $27,000 – $29,000 will span four consecutive years, with populations expanding on their own as the reservoir increases in size. Other game fish will be introduced in 2016 or later, including, but not necessarily limited to, channel catfish and rainbow trout. Stocking largemouth bass in 2017 will help to maintain a balanced and successful fishery.
“Stocking the fish in phases, over time, will provide an opportunity to establish a successful ecosystem for the reservoir, thereby increasing the success of an overall future stocking program,” said PWSD Director Bill Wasserman “And, will provide for outstanding recreational fishing opportunities a few years down the road.”
The goal of the stocking plan is to create a healthy recreational fishery that includes an appropriate balance of forage and game fish species. Most of the fish species stocked will be naturally reproducing, but to sustain this fishery under various levels of fishing pressure, fishing regulations and some future supplemental stocking will be required – all of which will be addressed further in the future. The fishery biologists at Aquatics Associates predict that in years to come, the reservoir will be able to support rainbow trout up to 20 pounds.
Rueter-Hess is an off-stream dam and reservoir on Newlin Gulch, a tributary of Cherry Creek. Presently, the reservoir holds nearly 20,000 acre-feet of water; an acre-foot of water is enough to sustain the annual use for two families.