Time to poison Phillips Reservoir?
To our knowledge, nobody is talking about killing the perch population in Phillips Reservoir so that a rainbow trout fishery can be re-established.
But maybe they should be.
Biologists believe someone planted perch in the reservoir around 1990.
The perch began to outcompete the rainbow trout fishery and then went to work against each other in the battle for scarce resources.
The result: trout are rare, and the perch are small, bony affairs numbering in the millions.
Idaho's program of trapping perch to plant in Lake Cascade draws attention to the problem. But capturing 120,000 or 150,000 fish a year won't begin to put a dent in the perch population in Phillips Reservoir.
That task may require a poison like Rotenone to clear out the perch and other fish and allow game managers to restock the lake with trout.
Again, to our knowledge, no agency has proposed doing this. But we think the prospect of wiping out the perch and reintroducing trout has the makings of a local/state/federal partnership.
The U.S. Forest Service owns and operates recreational facilities on the shore of the reservoir, including the developed Union Creek campground. But business there has been negatively impacted by water levels and the quality of fishing.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife isn't going to sell any extra fishing licenses thanks to bite-size trout.
And Baker County and the town of Sumpter share an interest in the quality of recreation at Phillips Reservoir for tourism purposes.
For certain, this is not a plan that could go into action tomorrow.
Maybe the crappie at Brownlee are all Baker County anglers need to be happy.
And Idaho may want another year or two's worth of perch for Lake Cascade.
But the fishing at Phillips detracts from the recreation investment the public has already made at the reservoir. Oregon and other states have used poison elsewhere to clear out an unwanted introduced species to make way for a wanted species.
That's a discussion worth having on Phillips.