New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Contact: Clint Henson, (505) 445-2311
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
clint.henson@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, FEB. 28, 2008:

MCALLISTER LAKE TO REMAIN CLOSED TO FISHING
ALBUQUERQUE ARTIST WINS PRAIRIE CHICKEN FESTIVAL POSTER CONTEST

 

MCALLISTER LAKE TO REMAIN CLOSED TO FISHING

LAS VEGAS -- McAllister Lake will remain closed to fishing until water quality improves to stock fish. A complete die off of all fish occurred in 2007, and the lake currently has low water levels and high salinity. The Department of Game and Fish will monitor water quality and stock fish when they can survive, but there are no fish in the lake at this time.

The lake will reopen when it can support trout. Until then, anglers are encouraged to visit other area fishing lakes, including Storrie Lake, which was stocked with 4,500 10-inch trout last week, and Clayton Lake, which was stocked with 4,000 9½-inch trout last week

The 623-acre McAllister Lake Fishing Area seven miles northeast of Las Vegas is still open to hiking and bicycling on established roads. Beginning April 1, Gaining Access Into Nature (GAIN) permits will be required for those activities. Details about GAIN will be announced soon.

Low water levels initially caused high temperatures and low oxygen levels that killed the trout in McAllister Lake. Later in 2007 a golden algae bloom killed the remaining carp. Golden algae produce a toxin that is deadly to fish but does not harm birds, wildlife, or humans. Golden algae require water with high concentrations of salinity to thrive and produce the toxin. Current conditions -- low water levels and high salinity -- would not allow fish to survive.  

“It may take some time to fill the lake”, said Northeast Information Officer Clint Henson, “but our studies show that we need a lot of fresh water to dilute the lake to a point that fish can survive. The Department doesn’t want people to fish in a lake with nothing in it to catch.” The lake currently holds about 15 percent of its capacity. The Department hopes for normal precipitation and high runoff from winter snowfall.

McAllister Lake is closed yearly on Nov. 1 and usually reopens March 1. It is used by waterfowl in the winter and by anglers in the spring and summer. 

For more information, please call the Raton office of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, (575) 445-2311.

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ALBUQUERQUE ARTIST WINS PRAIRIE CHICKEN FESTIVAL POSTER CONTEST

Lesser Prairie Chicken posterSANTA FE -- Albuquerque artist Joyce McCarson's scratchboard artwork of a lesser prairie chicken and vegetation native to its habitat in southeastern New Mexico was chosen as the winner of the 2008 High Plains Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival poster contest.

McCarson will receive the $300 first-prize and her work will be reproduced as the annual poster for the festival, which will be April 11-13 in Milnesand, N.M.

Kyith Yazzie of Kirtland, N.M., won the category for grades K-5 with a drawing of a booming prairie chicken, and Taylor Dillard of Milnesand won the grade 6-12 category, also with a drawing of a booming chicken. Both youths will receive $50.

The High Plains Prairie Chicken Festival celebrates the lesser prairie chicken and the Llano Estacado (staked plains) of eastern New Mexico. Festival participants see prairie chickens perform their remarkable early morning courtship dances, learn about the cultural and natural history of the southern Great Plains, take daily birding tours, and enjoy good food and western hospitality.

There is still time to register for this year's festival, which is to the first 100 participants who register and pay an entry fee of $90 per person. Registration is limited because of the sensitivity of the lesser prairie chicken during the breeding season. The fee covers all field trips, five meals and a commemorative poster.
 
The festival is made possible through a cooperative effort of the Department of Game and Fish, the Nature Conservancy of New Mexico, the Grasslans Charitable Foundation, and the community of Milnesand. Registration forms and more information about the festival is available on the Department's website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us . To register, send a $90 check made out to the 6th Annual High Plains Prairie-Chicken Festival, #1 Pueblo Point, Clovis, NM 88101 . No refunds will be available after April 5.
For more information, contact Tish McDaniel, (505) 762-6997 or chickenfestival@yahoo.com .

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