Experts Call Tulsa's Crow Creek 'Impaired'

Monday, July 11th 2016, 2:03 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

For the first time in five years, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission is taking a closer look at the fish in Crow Creek.

The stream is considered "impaired," meaning it's not as healthy as it could be.

After spending Monday at Crow Creek, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission said it found three different species of fish, which is less than what it found five years ago.

Brendan Smith remembers fishing at Crow Creek as a child.

"We caught a lot of perch down there, a lot of sunfish, ya know. And then, my brother once caught a catfish down there, which was kind of interesting, I didn't think they would live in there," he said.

The team of staff and volunteers with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission isn’t expecting to find catfish, but they are keeping track of exactly what kind of fish they do find.

"The animals that we find tell us something about the stream; because different species have different tolerances to pollutants or habitat changes, and that's what we're wanting to know today - what is that fish community," said Cheryl Cheadle with OCC.

The last time the group collected fish there, they found five different fish species. Jean Lemmon, with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, said a stream in the same eco-region should have about 20 different species.

"It's pretty dramatic," she said.

But the amount of fish isn't the only problem with the creek.

Lemmon said, "It's also got bacteria levels that are too high, and we don't know what kind of bacteria is in this neighborhood. And looking where the watershed is, it's probably pet waste."

Lemmon said the bacteria makes the creek unsafe for people but doesn't stop the fish from swimming.

She said, when Barnard School burned four years ago, chemicals used to put out the fire killed some of the fish in the creek.

Tuesday, the commission will take a look at the fish at a stream in Bartlesville.