Greenback Cutthroat Trout Recovery

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The Greenback Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki stomias) is a species of cutthroat that once inhabited high alpine streams throughout the South Platte Basin.  Due to a range of human impacts and habitat disturbances, the fish is limited to only a handful of small streams and lakes along the Front Range of Colorado.  Once thought to be extinct, the Greenback cutthroat is now listed as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act and has received significant attention from various state and federal agencies.  To facilitate the eventual recovery and delisting of the species, the Greenback Recovery Group was formed by several agencies, including: U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the U.S. Forest Service(USFS), the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and various NGOs – including Trout Unlimited (TU).

The recovery process for the Greenback has been complicated.  In 2013, geneticists at the University of Colorado published a report that identified a small population of cutthroat trout in Bear Creek near Colorado Springs as the “true” lineage of Greenbacks.  This finding had a significant impact for the ongoing efforts at the time - which determined that previous projects had been stocking a hybrid of the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.  Since publication, the partners on the Greenback Recovery Group have worked to establish a stronger broodstock of the "true" Greenback and have begun to identify and restore appropriate streams for reintroduction. 

 

Recovery Updates

2017 was a successful year for Greenback recovery in Colorado.  Partners were able to spawn over 210,000 eggs from three brood sites, as well as stock nearly 13,000 fry (Age 1 and 0) into four sites near Loveland Pass and Cameron Pass.  Habitat recovery projects also made progress, including: removal of brook trout from Rock Creek; funding and design completed for barriers on George and Cornelius Creek; trail improvements along Bear Creek; and the official announcement of the major Long Draw recovery project.  We were happy to see over 80 TU families and volunteers from 12 different chapters all come together in 2017 to support these efforts!  Check out what's happening in 2018 below.

Greenback Cutthroat Trout Status Report 2016, Western Native Trout Initiative

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ongoing projects

Spawning

  • Zimmerman Lake (late Spring)
  • Leadville National Fish Hatchery (late Spring)

Stocking

  • Zimmerman Lake
  • Herman Gulch (mid to late Summer)
  • Dry Gulch (research experiment)
  • Sand Creek (research experiment)

Habitat Recovery

  • Rock Creek, near Fairplay, CO
  • George and Cornelius Creek, Poudre watershed
  • Long Draw Project, Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Bear Creek, Colorado Springs
  • WNTI Stream Temperature Monitoring Project
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additional resources

USFWS Greenback Recovery Team Website

Western Native Trout Initiative Website

CPW Greenback Trout Conservation Website

Technical Report: Seven Lakes and Pikes Peak Native (PPN): history and current disposition of a critical cutthroat trout brood stock, 2008, Kevin Rogers and Chris Kennedy

Technical Report: Greenback Cutthroat Trout Genetics and Meristics Reports

Technical Report: Greenback Cutthroat Trout Status Report 2016

Video: Colorado's Bear Creek Greenback Cutthroat Trout, Outdoors Magazine

Video: Greenback Cutthroat Stocking in Herman Gulch 2017, Denver Post