Native cutthroat trout are returning to a corner of the San Juan Mountains as part of a conservation project by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. On September 20, Parks and Wildlife biologists stocked more than 250 native cutthroat trout in Woods Lake southwest of Telluride. This location was selected because it will provide excellent quality cutthroat habitat: the area is isolated, the water is pristine and barriers protect the lake from non-native fish that live downstream.
Once the population is established, the lake will provide the brood-stock which will eventually assist in cutthroat conservation efforts throughout the Dolores and Gunnison river basins.
"This area was populated with native trout before settlers arrived in Colorado, but the fish haven't been present in, probably, over a half a century," said Dan Kowalski, an aquatic researcher with Parks and Wildlife in Montrose. "This is one of the few spots in southwest Colorado suitable for this type of restoration project and it will provide a great refuge for this important native fish. This project will help give the cutthroat a long-term foothold in the area, expand their numbers and range, and benefit native trout conservation throughout southwest Colorado."
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