Navajo Dam, NM – A $300,000 fish habitat project on the trophy trout waters of the San Juan River will be in full swing Tuesday, Nov. 1, when crews move heavy equipment into a popular stretch of the river.
Water flow from Navajo Dam will be reduced to 350 cubic feet per second to accommodate the equipment needed to improve trout habitat in “The Braids,” a small section of the river above Texas Hole, approximately one mile downstream from the dam. Anglers will not be allowed in the construction area for about 30 days.
The project is designed to enhance fishing opportunities by creating deeper pools for fish during periods of low flow from Navajo Dam. The estimated completion date is Jan. 8. A separate part of the project will reduce silt deposits from flash-floods.
Habitat work in “The Braids,” will include digging holes in the sandstone riverbed to create deeper pools for trout. Structure such as large cottonwood trunks, big rocks and faux beaver dams will be strategically placed to redirect flows into the new pools. It will impact about a 300-yard stretch of the river.
The sediment control portion of the project will occur at the mouth of Rex Smith Wash, an arroyo that empties into the “Kiddie Hole,” a fishing spot just above Texas Hole. Flash-flood events carry silt into the river at that point, damaging trout habitat there and downstream. The project will include building a sediment retention pond that will slow the water flow during floods, catch sediment and redirect clean water back into the river. Silt in the retention pond will be removed periodically.
AUI Inc. of Albuquerque is the project contractor.
State funding will pay for most of the project, with some additional federal funds. The project was approved by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls the river operations; the State Parks Division, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.