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The State : Silt in Water Fatal to Trout

September 05, 1988

The release of silty water from the bottom of the Bridgeport Reservoir to irrigate alfalfa has killed hundreds of fish in one of the last self-sustaining trout streams in the West, authorities said. The release turned a 9-mile stretch of the once-pristine East Walker River in the eastern Sierra Nevada into a silt-choked brown wash. Some of the trout asphyxiated when silt clogged their gills. The river was declared dead by California Trout, a sportsmen's conservation group that opposed the water release. Farmers and ranchers said they had a legal right to the water. They said they're struggling after two straight dry winters and that the water might save this year's crop of alfalfa, used as livestock feed.

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