Colorado: Forest Service takes step toward protecting threatened greenback cutthroat trout in Bear Creek

A greenback cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Agency settles lawsuit, agrees to ban motorized use on trails in Bear Creek watershed

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado’s only population of native greenback cutthroat trout got a measure of protection this week, as the U.S. Forest Service agreed to ban motorized use on several trails near Bear Creek to protect the small stream near Colorado Springs from sediment.

Colorado biologists recently identified the Bear Creek population as the only remaining genetically pure strain of the greenback cutthroats. The settlement came a few months after the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit to protect the fish, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Native cutthroats in Colorado declined because of  pollution, overfishing and stocking of native and non-native species of trout.

“We’re so glad the Forest Service agreed to do the right thing and protect the only place in the world where greenback cutthroat trout still live in the wild,” said attorney Tim Ream. “This endangered fish has been hanging on by a thread for decades. The last thing it needs is motorcycles tearing through its only home and filling the creek with sediment.” Continue reading

Colorado: Some cutthroat trout mysteries solved

What next for Colorado’s state fish?

A Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy Andrew Todd.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After some genetic sleuthing and intensive scrutiny of historic fish-stocking records, a team of federal, state and university biologists said they’ve pinned down Colorado’s greenback cutthroat trout to just a single population — about 750 fish, all living in a four-mile reach of Bear Creek, a small Arkansas River tributary in the mountains west of Colorado Springs.

Greenback cutthroats — the Colorado state fish — were originally native to the South Platte drainage, but now appear to survive only in that single population outside of the species’ native range.

Biologists say native cutthroats in Colorado declined because of  pollution, overfishing and stocking of native and non-native species of trout. Continue reading

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