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Trout saved in Minersville Reservoir

DWR joins with groups and individuals to save a fishery

BEAVER — Richard Hepworth couldn't stand the thought of seeing the big trout in Minersville Reservoir disappear. And neither could the organizations and individual anglers he approached for help.

A boat anchors near shore as divers work to remove a hydraulic ram at Minersville Reservoir.

A boat anchors near shore as divers work to remove a hydraulic ram at Minersville Reservoir.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

Located just west of Beaver, Minersville Reservoir is one of southern Utah's most popular Blue Ribbon fisheries. Every year, the reservoir attracts thousands of anglers from Utah and Nevada. They come to the reservoir to enjoy some of the finest trophy-sized trout fishing in southern Utah.

Recently, the hydraulic ram that controls the outlet gate at the reservoir needed to be repaired. The easiest way to make the repair was fairly simple: Expose the ram by draining the water out of the lake. This approach had a serious downside, though: It would severely threaten the survival of the reservoir's fish population, a population biologists had worked for years to establish.

Hepworth, regional aquatics manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, couldn't see that happen. He knew there had to be a better way. "I just hated to lose all of those big fish," he says.

Hepworth contacted the Rocky Ford Irrigation Company. He learned that divers could repair the outlet for about $30,000. If divers could make the needed repairs, the reservoir would not have to be drained.

But where would the money come from? Hepworth approached several groups and individuals to find out.

"I was very pleased," he says, "and impressed with the response I got. Several groups and individuals came together and provided the money to do the work."

Hepworth says a diving company was contacted and a contract was issued. In October and November, the large ram, weighing nearly 900 pounds, was removed from the lake, repaired and reinstalled.

In addition to private donations received from concerned anglers, Hepworth says several organizations came forward to provide funding and support.

"Without the help of these organizations and individual anglers," he says, "most of the fish in Minersville would have been lost."

Hepworth says several organizations stepped forward. They include the Beaver County Commission, the Las Vegas Fly Fishing Club, the Las Vegas chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Rocky Ford Irrigation Company, Southern Utah Anglers, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Utah's Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council and the Utah Habitat Council.

"The ram is back in place," Hepworth says, "and fishing at Minersville should continue without interruption."

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