- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Part of Mill Creek took on a pink hue recently as wildlife officials removed non-native species to make way for fish that are native to the waterway.

A chemical compound called rotenone was released at levels affecting only species with gills along less than half a mile of the creek, the Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1QmnDLt) reported.

Potassium permanganate, a cleansing agent, was then added to neutralize the chemical compound, turning the creek a shade of pink. The effort wrapped up Thursday.

“This makes sure we don’t have any impact on those fish outside the canyon,” said Mike Slater, Division of Wildlife Resources regional aquatics manager.

The process should help officials replace the non-indigenous species with native species like the Bonneville cutthroat trout. The non-native species compete for resources and breed hybrids with local fish.

“I don’t like removing fish any more than anyone else, but it is a necessity,” Slater said.

The treated water is not harmful, Slater said. For the chemical to reach toxic levels, a human would have to drink 40,000 gallons of the treated water within 24 hours, and a bird would have to eat 40 pounds of dead fish within a day.

Restoration on Mill Creek is expected to be completed by September 2016. Native trout were released last year above the creek’s Elbow Fork. The fish are growing, and the area will be able to handle anglers by fall of next year.

The fish are expected to start reproducing by 2017.

“They’re doing exactly what we had hoped,” Slater said.

Mill Creek is not a source of drinking water, which allowed officials to treat it so that it contains an entirely native fish population. Slater said this is a unique opportunity for anglers and wildlife enthusiasts.

“We want to provide lots of different opportunities for the public,” he said. “One size doesn’t fit all.”

The intentional color change is unlike the once-orange Animas River, which was tainted in August when 3 million gallons of wastewater containing heavy metals accidentally spilled from the Gold King mine in Colorado.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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