Michael Gross, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program

April 5, 2022- Student fish culturists Charlotte Allen, Kale Potter, Kyle Roten and John Hoppe and science teacher/hatchery manager Pat Steele from the Palisade High School Endangered Fish Hatchery participated in the “Going Green” podcast on KAFM Community Radio with host Teresa Nees from the Mesa County Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. The podcast focuses on Environmental Sustainability issues in and around the Grand Valley of western Colorado. The aspiring fish culturists answered questions about their unique on-campus endangered fish hatchery at Palisade High School and their upcoming fish release of nearly 250 endangered razorback sucker. The fish will be released into the Colorado River at Riverbend Park in Palisade, Colorado during the first week of May.

Beginning in 2018, Palisade High School students raised an impressive $40,000 through various fundraising events and a slew of community donations. The funds were used to upgrade an old storage building at the edge of campus, equipping it with all the essentials needed to facilitate the indoor aquaculture operation. The 100% water-reuse aquaculture system itself was purchased by the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and Bureau of Reclamation, and consists of three 235 gallon circular tanks, dual bag filters, ultraviolet filter, auxiliary biofilter and a 150 gallon sump tank. Yearly, roughly 250 one inch endangered razorback sucker are transferred to Palisade High School from Ouray National Fish Hatchery-Grand Valley Unit in Grand Junction Colorado. Once in the on-campus hatchery, the young rare fish are cultured by students for roughly one year until they are released into their native habitat. 2021 was the first full year of operation at the student operated facility which went smoothly resulting in 250 more endangered razorback sucker living in the Colorado River.

While this isn’t the only endangered fish hatchery operated by high school students, it is one of a small handful in the United States and potentially the only non-salmonid endangered fish project of its kind. This partnership provides the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program a unique opportunity to interact with local community stakeholders while helping to inspire the next generation of fisheries scientists.

 The podcast was pre-recorded at KAFM radio station in Grand Junction and is scheduled to air April 13 on KAFM 88.1FM. Link will be posted here at air time.