“Fish that have DNA that helps them survive their current conditions live on while those that have DNA changes that are less favorable die off. The result is a unique DNA sequence that has been perfected over millions of years for survival in the South Platte drainage” Don Logelin, VP Conservation, CMCTU
The South Platte River system is one of the eastern slopes most notable drainage’s. From the headwaters in the South Park valley the river flows south east until Deckers.The South Platte’s drainage spans much of the Front Range from Deckers to north of Ft. Collins With notable tributaries like the Cache Le Poudre, Clear Creek, Cherry Creek, The Big Thompson and many others. The Greenbacks used to inhabit all of the drainage before the settlement of the west but with humans came new fish and more competition. The stocking of rainbows, browns and brookies has not only depleted numbers of Greenbacks but also viable habitat for reintroduction. Greenbacks cannot compete with the nonnative fish so the South Platte itself will not be stocked with any of our precious Greenbacks. Instead, Greenbacks will be reintroduced into smaller tributaries like George and Cornelius Creeks in the Cache Le Poudre drainage. Before the fish can be reintroduced into the creeks barriers will be erected so nonnative fish will not be able to reenter the creeks. The barriers are being built with money raised by a crowd funding event put on by a group by the name of Greenbacks and funds from the Forest Service. The project could take up to a decade to complete. For more information on this project visit these links http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/news-events/?cid=STELPRD3829153 and http://thegreenbacks.org/
Trout Unlimited is getting in on the action in a similar way in a different drainage. Dry and Herman Gulch are two creeks that flow into clear creek. The West Denver chapter of Colorado Trout Unlimited is playing a large role in the preparation of the creeks. They will be catching the nonnative trout in Dry and Herman gulch, holding them in live wells until they are restocked in Clear Creek. With the nonnatives removed and barriers built to ensure nonnatives will not be able to reenter the streams, Greenbacks will be stocked. For more information visit http://www.westdenvertu.org/projects/greenback-cutthroats/
With such a large range it is hard to choose the most viable streams for Greenback reintroduction. Many factors need to be taken into account when choosing a stream namely the health of the ecosystem. Streams must be large enough to sustain fish, at the right altitude, free of Whirling Disease and small enough to erect fish barriers to ensure nonnative fish cannot reenter the stream. There are many potential streams for reintroduction but as it stands gaining the necessary approvals for the preparation and stocking of the streams is a long bureaucratic process. But there are passionate people working towards ensuring there will be a healthy population of Greenbacks throughout their native range. All they need from you is your dedication to maintaining the uniqueness of our state.
“We may not fully understand the importance of this species in the environment so we need to do everything we can to ensure it’s survival and we owe it to the future generations so they can enjoy this beautiful species” Josh Nerhing Acting Senior Aquatic Biologist Southeast Region