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Hatching a State Treasure


Native Sounds: Volunteers Clipping Fins

Podcast with Jeff Spohn and Bryan Johnson

The journey along one of the greatest success stories on reintroduction starts right within the brick walls of the Mt. Shavano Fish Hatchery.

Over 30,000 Greenback cutthroat trout call the Salida based hatchery “home.” With help from Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), these special fish have a safe place to grow before being reintroduced to their native waters.

The relatively small population of Greenbacks was spawned in Zimmerman Lake by CPW with help from CTU volunteers. The Zimmerman Lake Greenbacks were stocked from the Mt. Shavano hatchery years before and are part of the pure strain of Greenback genes that were found in Bear Creek west of Colorado Springs. The fertilized eggs are then taken to the isolation unit among the Mt. Shavano facilities where they will be raised prior to being released into the wild.

The isolation unit is one of three facilities at the Mt. Shavano hatchery. The Greenbacks in the isolation unit receive a different supply of water than the other two facilities. This is done in case there is a disease in the supply systems; protecting the separate populations of trout and salmon from getting the same disease. Prior to being released into the environment, the water from the isolation unit is treated by passing through an ultra-violet filter.

These Greenbacks will eventually be reintroduced into their native waters where they will grow and become a self-sustaining population. Currently CPW is working to find suitable habitats for the Greenbacks. Herman Gulch, Dry Gulch, and Rock Creek are all on the horizon for Greenback reintroduction.