Rick Helmick, Director on the Collegiate Peaks TU Chapter Board, brings us a story about 4,500 rare Cutthroat offspring being released into their new home, Cottonwood Creek, after their original home was destroyed by the Hayden Pass wildfire, which burned more than 16,000 acres in the Sangre de Cristo Range three summers ago. July 1, 2019 the offspring were released into the wild by officials of Colorado Parks and Wildlife accompanied by 40 staff and volunteers from the U.S. Forest Service and Trout Unlimited.
Rare Hayden Cutthroats have a new home!
by Rick Helmick, Director on the Collegiate Peaks TU Chapter Board
It was a dark, ominous, and rainy day ahead of the forty of us, and two mules, as we gathered at the base of the Sangre de Cristo’s, west of Westcliffe, at the Venable Trailhead. All we had to do was carry the offspring of the 158 rare Cutthroats, saved out of Hayden Creek, right in the middle of that 2016 Wildfire that eventually burned 17,000 acres, and destroyed the Cutts that lived there.
When USFS Fisheries Biologist Janelle Valladares called for CPC-TU’s help, we put out the word and had incredible response from volunteers - even as far away as Missouri, and a member from the Southern Colorado Greenbacks Chapter in Pueblo, CO.
It was a hard and long trip up this mountain, which did everything but snow on us July 1st (although it did sleet), as the volunteers carried 20 pound bags of 70-80 fingerlings each, and the heavy lifting done by mules carrying panniers all the way to the top. 4,500 of these rare Cutthroats only found in Hayden Creek, now have a new home in Cottonwood Creek!
It was a huge, and combined effort, of CPW, USFS, TU, Trails for All, and some great public volunteers! CPW plans on several more stockings of additional Hayden Creek Cutthroats, in various other high mountain streams. Thanks to the Collegiate Peaks Chapter for responding to CPW’s call for assistance! We all sincerely hope for the survival of these genetically rare Cutthroat, in their new home.
In the News
From CTU: Thank you Rick for the great recap of the day - what an amazing project!