Purging the perch

October 17, 2007 12:00 am

Yellow perch have polluted Phillips Reservoir for 20 years or so, and unfortunately, cleaning the mess might take just as long.

We're pleased, though, that Baker County officials seem committed to trying to at least partially purge perch from what was, during the 1970s and 1980s, the county's premier rainbow trout fishery.

Commission chairman Fred Warner Jr. said last week that commissioners will appoint a committee to study the matter.

Although some perch foes have promoted poison as the solution, we're not convinced it's a viable one.

It's true that rotenone would kill the perch — and all other fish — in Phillips. It's also true that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife used rotenone last year to rid Diamond Lake of tui chub.

But the Diamond Lake project took 10 years and cost $2 million. We doubt ODFW would invest so much time and money in Phillips, which attracts a piddling number of anglers compared with Diamond Lake.

ODFW already has tried a couple of tactics in Phillips that had tangible benefits — letting Idaho officials net 300,000 perch, and releasing larger trout that aren't so vulnerable to the voracious perch.

We hope the county's committee will come up with other worthwhile ideas.