Colorado River Suffers High Fish Deaths Due To Wildfire Ash

September 23, 2019
The 416 Fire burned about 54,000 acres in southwest Colorado in 2018. On Tuesday, the federal government filed a lawsuit accusing the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. of starting the fire.The 416 Fire burned about 54,000 acres in southwest Colorado in 2018. On Tuesday, the federal government filed a lawsuit accusing the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. of starting the fire. Courtesy of Dom Paulo
The 416 Fire burned about 54,000 acres in southwest Colorado in 2018. On Tuesday, the federal government filed a lawsuit accusing the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. of starting the fire.

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — Officials say fish populations in a Colorado river have been severely depleted due to suffocation caused by debris from a 2018 wildfire.

The Durango Herald reported Saturday that Animas River fish populations are down about 80% due to runoff filled with ash from the 416 Fire.

The fire burned an estimated 84 square miles (219 square kilometers) of mostly U.S. Forest Service land in the Hermosa Creek watershed in southwest Colorado.

State wildlife officials say heavy rains and flooding from July to September 2018 caused the runoff. The first full-scale Colorado Parks and Wildlife survey conducted since then found a 64% decline from the river's historical average amount of trout.

Officials say there was a 95% decline from the river's historical average of fish longer than 14 inches (36 centimeters).