Rillito Spring Restoration
Rillito Spring is a new spring that appeared on a private ranch near Toyah, TX in 2005. As of 2013, the spring opening is about two feet wide by 1 foot in height and is flowing at approximately 35 gallons per minute. The landowners hand shoveled a "creek" approximately 1300 feet long to and between the two ciénegas they have created. Enhancement of the spring system they have created was selected as a project to be funded through the Desert Fish Habitat Partnership.
With the enhancement of the spring it will be made into a refuge for the Pecos pupfish, a species listed at Threatened by the State of Texas and is currently restricted to a one-mile stretch of Salt Creek. The creek had outgrown the channel and was overbanking into the surrounding pasture making a swampy area. During 2013 a team from TXFWCO and TPWD made some repairs to the site to clean out the channel, remove cattails and tamarisk, and used herbicide to kill additional cattails. The team returned a second time to begin widening, deepening, and lining the channel. However, the ground had not dried out sufficiently and the heavy equipment was inoperable. The team will continue to work on drying out the area and restoring habitat and has plans to stock Pecos pupfish into the spring during 2014.
The TXFWCO collaborates with TPWD on quarterly Pecos pupfish monitoring on Salt Creek. Pure Pecos pupfish exist in only 3.2 miles of Salt Creek and are not found anywhere else in Texas. The pupfish are imperiled due to hybridization with sheepshead minnow, loss of habitat due to drought, and ground and surface water pumping. Tissue samples have been collected from specimens believed to be pure Pecos pupfish for DNA sampling to determine the extent of the hybridization with the sheepshead minnow. A multi-agency Conservation Agreement has been formulated to secure and protect the Pecos pupfish within its currently occupied and known historical range in the States of New Mexico and Texas. The Rillito Spring project will address the immediate measure to secure an off-channel population.
Original aritcle can be found here
Desert Fish Habitat Partnership
Texas Parks and Wildlife