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Extra water helps minnows spawn

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Endangered Rio Grande silvery minnows are spawning in response to an increased flow in the river over the last few weeks, and cooperative weather means the environmental experiment can continue for a few extra days.

“We are definitely finding eggs,” said Kathy Lang, a curator at the Albuquerque BioPark and one of the leaders of the fish science team monitoring the environmental flow.

Lang and her colleagues have focused their minnow surveys in Socorro County, including collecting some eggs to return for use in hatcheries to help sustain populations of the tiny fish. Spawning fish also have been found in the Albuquerque area, in a fish habitat channel built in 2008 west of the Rio Grande Nature Center.

Water managers managed the extra spring flows in an extreme drought year by saving water that would have otherwise been moved down the river channel to Elephant Butte Reservoir last winter.

With weather cooperating, the experiment has been extended a day, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Mary Carlson. Flows will now be slowly reduced through the Albuquerque stretch of the river, but the gradual reductions mean the change likely will not be noticeable until early next week.

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