Feds Want to Poison Gila National Forest

Editor's note: This article was written in 1994. I have not followed up to see what happened later.

In June 1994, the federal government proposed poisoning 100,000 white trout in streams in the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico, in order to restock the creeks with 100 endangered Gila trout.

Oren Tranbarger, a caver and backpacker who frequents Gila National Forest, reported in June 1994 that locals believe the real issue is control, not fish. By putting an endangered species in the National Forest, the feds have much more control over land use in the area.

Tranbarger reports that a recent public hearing, federal officials were unable to answer questions about water flow in Mineral Creek or about the size of their budget. Apparently they know little about either the area they are trying to preserve or their own plan for doing so.

"The drug to be used to poison the streams is Antimycin A," said Tranbarger. "Two creeks have been targeted: (1) Mineral Creek; and (2) Willow Creek. This stuff would get into the underground water supply. At a public hearing May 17, 1994 at Reserve, New Mexico, the Feds (after being pressed) said they would not drink the poisoned water."

Once the National Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stock the endangered species, they can regulate use of the surrounding area indefinitely. They would likely prohibit or strictly limit such activities as cattle grazing, hunting and fishing.