Invasive species, Aquatic ecology -- Research -- United States, Environmental monitoring -- Pacific Northwest, Lakes Oregon
Diamond Lake is a large natural lake having a surface area of some 3214 acres (1300.7 hectares) and a maximum depth of 52 feet (15.8 meters). It is located within the Umpqua National Forest in the Southern Cascade Mountains of Oregon, at an elevation of over 5000 feet (>1524 meters). Diamond Lake is a high-use waterbody that supports angling, public campgrounds, recreational boating, swimming, and water skiing. The human activity associated with the lake has been a significant contributor to the economy of southern Oregon since the early part of the twentieth century.
Historically Diamond Lake was fishless but since 1910 the lake has been managed as a popular trophy trout fishery. The unauthorized introduction of the tui chub (Gila bicolor) into the lake in the 1930s caused disruption of the food web and a decline in the fishery. In 1954, the Oregon Game Commission constructed a canal near the Lake Creek outlet, lowered the lake level, and treated Diamond Lake with rotenone, to eradicate tui chub. The lake was restocked with trout following the successful rotenone treatment and a fishery was maintained for several decades. In 1992, tui chub were reintroduced, through accidental introduction or intentional illegal stocking, and again caused a decline in the trout fishery.
Originally mesotrophic, Diamond Lake Diamond Lake productivity increased over the last century to a eutrophic state, and is currently included on the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) 303(d) list of water quality limited water bodies for pH and algae. The lake had severe blooms of the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) Anabaena flos-aquae, which produce neurotoxins, in the summers of 2001, 2002, and 2003. Microcystis aeruginosa, another toxin producing cyanobacterium species, was also present in the 2003 bloom. Diamond Lake was closed to some public uses (wading, swimming, water skiing, and boating) during portions of all three summers due to public health and safety concerns.
Algae blooms and declining trout fishery have been attributed to alteration of the food web by the tui chubs. The chubs spawn early and consume the zooplankton in the lake, which reduces grazing pressure on phytoplankton. Since the lake is nitrogen limited, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria dominate the phytoplankton community. Therefore, the chubs reduce the quality of the trout fishery by reducing food available for trout and impact water quality by facilitating cyanobacteria blooms, which can be toxic.
In response to the impact of the tui chub on Diamond Lake the US Forest Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are collaborating in a tui chub eradication effort. The eradication plan includes a 2.4-m (8 ft) drawdown of the lake in the winter and spring of 2006 and a rotenone treatment of remaining lake volume in 2006 to kill any remaining fish. The US Forest Service prepared an EIS for the drawdown and rotenone treatment.
Potential impacts of the drawdown on littoral aquatic plant communities were identified in the EIS. The US Forest Service conducted a qualitative survey to develop a species list for the lake. The survey described here provides a quantitative, pretreatment measure of cover and biomass of aquatic plants in Diamond Lake. Follow-up sampling, using similar methods, will permit assessment of changes in the plant community following drawdown and refilling of the lake.
Sytsma, Mark D. and Pfauth, Mary, "2005 Diamond Lake Submersed Aquatic Vegetation Survey" (2006). Center for Lakes and Reservoirs Publications and Presentations. 43.