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Straight River: Do You Want Trout with Your Fries?
(pg 7 of 8)

Will these steps be enough to protect the Straight? Tough to say, Merritt said. "What we do know is there is a link between irrigation and the river. What we don't know for sure is if there is a direct impact on the trout and habitat sustainability by the pumping that's going on."

Doug Kingsley, DNR area fisheries manager in Park Rapids, agreed. "We don't know enough about the stream temperatures." Kingsley said there is some evidence the Straight was declining as a trout stream long before the boom in irrigation. Brook trout disappeared from its lower reaches in the 1940s and 1950s. More recent sampling of fish in the river has not shown any trend, good or bad, he said.

The Straight is still a "very good fishery." Summertime water temperatures occasionally exceed what brown trout can tolerate, "but obviously they are finding refuges" in groundwater seepages. Kingsley surmises the Straight's condition is "tenuous, but perhaps not critical."

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