Colorado Springs, Colorado 2020-10-18 16:16:53 –
Durango, Colorado (AP) — Decades of efforts to bring the Cutthroat trout on the Colorado River upstream of Hermosa Creek have been completed, creating the largest continuous waterway for native fish species in the state.
“This is a vision for over 35 years,” said Jim White, an aquatic biologist at Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
After settling in the west in the late 1880s, the Colorado River cutthroat trout was endangered and caught. To make matters worse, settlers dumped other, more competitive trout seeds into the Cutthroat habitat.
All factors, including habitat loss, overfishing, and competition from alien species, have dramatically reduced the historical reach of Cutthroat, which once spanned Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
According to some estimates, cut throats are currently found in only 14% of historic natural habitats.
As a result, cut throats could appear on the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species List for many years.
However, in search of more regional control and less restrictive federal regulation, the three states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming have signed contracts to lead an aggressive reintroduction program to avoid the list of endangered species. I signed it.
Upstream of Hermosa Creek was immediately recognized as an ideal location for restoration projects, both for its excellent water quality and its accessibility from the Forest Department road behind the Pergatory Resort.
Over the years, barriers have been installed to isolate certain areas of water, and organic poisons known as rotenone have been used to wipe out invasive species such as brown, blackie, and rainbow trout.
This is all to pave the way for the reintroduction of cut throats.
CPW recently stocked an estimated 4,000 juvenile cut throats and an additional 475 mature cut throats in the final stages of the Hermosa Creek project, returning the waterway to native fish for the first time in 100 years.
And now, a project to restore a ferocious habitat of 23 miles (37 kilometers) has finally been completed.
“We’ve been working little by little to reach this point,” White said. “And this is the final project area completed.”
According to White, there is one caveat. After the application of rotenone, a crossed rainbow trout was found. Wildlife authorities believe that they have subsequently removed the fish from the stream, but they need to continue to monitor it.
“I’m not sure where (the hybrid rainbow) came from,” he said. “We … will monitor the foreseeable future.”
White said that if the number of hybrid rainbows began to increase, a series of water might need to be treated again.
In the upper reaches of Harmosa Creek, which has been replenished with cut throats, the population shows promising signs. Mr White said there are about 400-600 fish per mile, which he called a “healthy and healthy population.”
This area is a popular draw for anglers, so it has a strict catch and release policy. Local fish coaches have said in the past that anglers come from all over the country to catch local cut throats.
The Hermosa Creek project was a collaboration between CPW, the US Forest Department, and Trout Unlimited.
Buckskillen, who has a local branch of Trout Unlimited, said the organization has provided and funded countless volunteer hours over the last 15 years or so in this reintroduction effort.
“We are ready to support our partners CPW and USFS in ongoing habitat improvement and stabilization efforts that contribute to the protection of coldwater fisheries in this very special location.” He said.