ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Rio Grande in Albuquerque has officially run dry, something we haven’t witnessed in 25 years. But now it’s impacting the river’s ecosystem. A special native minnow, only found in the middle Rio Grande, is in jeopardy.
“I’m very concerned,” Debra Hill, the Branch Supervisor for the Large River Program with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. “We’re working with Bureau of Reclamation, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and the state because we’re not in a good place for the silver minnow right now.
But members of U.S. Fish and Wildlife are working to save them. Since Friday, crews in the Albuquerque region have been skimming the dirt and looking for puddles the minnows could still be in to rescue them. From there, the fish are taken to either a special facility or another body of water.
“I think the first step they will try to find habitat in the wild. We would prefer to keep those minnows in the wild unless there really isn’t anywhere to put them,” Hill said.
Although crews have saved an average of 130 minnows per mile, hundreds have been lost to the drought. Hill says crews will continue to rescue these endangered swimmers until every last drop of the river is gone. In the meantime, she hopes people are aware of our current reality.
“I think just having an understanding that the river and the ecosystem going right through the center of our city is important. It’s something that I don’t think people realize how important it is until it’s gone,” Hill said.
Bottom line, Hill says we need rain. There’s not much else that can help the minnows or the river at this point.