Gore Creek camera helped fish kill probe
An underwater fish cam installed along Gore Creek by the town’s watershed education coordinator had been serving as an educational tool when it went live in July.
But an alert resident who had been observing the feed for several weeks in her quest to learn to fish took it a step further after noticing something unusual about the water on Sept. 19. She took a screenshot of the feed describing the water as “clouding up” that day and a few days later sent it to authorities who were already investigating a fish kill event at Mill and Gore creeks. The screenshot has been helpful to investigators as they work to piece together a timeline of activities to pinpoint the cause of the fish kill, which was identified Sept. 20 by members of the public.
Residents regularly contact the town with questions and observations about the creek, including recommended pesticides, planting materials, favorite fishing holes and more.
Vail Watershed Education Coordinator Pete Wadden, who has led the town’s Restore the Gore educational programming since 2016, said he’s been proud to see the community adopt the town’s initiatives to become passionate stewards of the creek.
“Gore Creek is an important part of this community,” Wadden said. “I am reminded all the time about how much people care about this resource. One way people show they care is by telling us when something is amiss, whether that is discolored water or something spilled or dumped down a storm drain, which ends up in the creek. Gore Creek is still a Gold Medal fishery and it will take work and vigilance from the entire community to protect that status.”
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The town budgets more than $1 million per year on water quality improvement projects that range from native vegetation to stormwater infrastructure. In addition, a Gore Creek hotline, 970-476-GORE (4673), was activated in 2017 to collect public tips about possible spills or other incidents involving the creek. Since then, the town has responded to dozens of calls that have resulted in the prevention of pollutants, including carpet cleaner and hydraulic fluid, from reaching the creek. It is unlawful to dump pollutants into waterways, according to provisions of the Clean Water Act.
Wadden says the new fish cam has been well-received since its debut and has generated numerous likes and shares on social media. The feed has also been added to a monitor in the hallway of the Vail Municipal Building.