Kayaking park poses fish threat, agency says

SPARKS — A new white-water park for kayakers could conflict with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s strategy to re-establish the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout in the Truckee River, agency officials warned.

Bob Williams, chief of the agency’s Nevada office, said the Sparks park was built in a largely undisturbed section of the Truckee that offered some of the area’s best fish habitat.

“We really don’t like to be opposed to things, but a continuation of this is going to put the Fish and Wildlife Service in a difficult position,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The $2.2 million project at Rock Park, expected to open next spring, includes five white-water features along more than 1,500 feet of river.

The project is designed to build upon the success of Reno’s white-water park, which enjoys a national reputation among kayakers and has given a boost to the city’s downtown revitalization efforts.

“They took a functioning piece of river and turned it into something pretty unnatural” that could interfere with the free passage of fish, Williams said.

“We view the entire river as important to the recovery of the fish,” he said, adding that changes could make the Lahontan cutthroat trout’s recovery “difficult, if not impossible.”

Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said that the project’s designers bent over backwards to address concerns expressed by federal and state regulators and that the city has complied with permit requirements.

“Sparks has always been a good steward of the river,” he said.

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