By Bob Nelson, KUER
The Utah Lake Commission announced this week it has reached the halfway mark in its massive carp removal project. It’s part of an overall effort to restore the Endangered June Sucker, which is native to the lake.
Local cities also hope to restore the lake’s attraction as a fishery. Reed Price is the executive director of the commission. He says scientists and lake users are noticing improvements in the lake minus 17 million pounds of carp so far.
“When we jumped into this about 4 years ago, we kind of crossed our fingers hoping that this would be successful. It’s the largest removal program that’s ever been conducted in the world,” says Price. “So, you know, we kind of jumped in with a leap of faith.”
The goal is to remove 75 percent of the estimated 40 million pounds of carp in the lake. Michael Mills is the coordinator for the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program.
“Utah Lake is like carp heaven. The conditions are just perfect,” says Mills. “It’s shallow, it’s warm; it’s extremely productive.”
Mills says they thrive in the lake and destroy all the plant life on the bottom so there’s no cover to protect June Sucker as it hatches.
“And so the June Sucker has been able to hang on in the lake basically because they can live for so long and really only reproduce once every 10 to 20 years,” Mills says.
June Suckers are known to live as long as 40 years according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Utah Lake Commission raises its annual budget of $1-million from Utah County and a long list of cities, plus various state agencies including the Department of Environmental Quality and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.