Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Recovery


Rio Grande Current Range

Rio Grande Current Range

The Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis) historically occupied in various cool streams throughout the Rio Grande Watershed, including the Chama, Jemez Rio San Jose, the Pecos, and Canadian drainages. Today, they currently live in only about 100 headwater streams in Colorado and New Mexico (10 percent of their former range).  The historic range of the cutthroat has been significantly reduced over the last two centuries due to various habitat changes, drought, water infrastructure, hybridization with rainbow trout, and competition from non-native brown trout and brook trout.

Since 2003, a team composed of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Jicarilla-Apache Nation, the Mescalero-Apache Nation, the Taos Pueblo Tribe, Western Native Trout Initiative, and Trout Unlimited has collaborated on a wide-range of projects focused on improving research and protection for this native fish.  An updated conservation agreement and 10-year plan to protect the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout was signed in 2013.

Photo Credit: Kevin Terry

Photo Credit: Kevin Terry

Recovery Updates

The Rio Grande Cutthroat Team continues to make advancements in Colorado and New Mexico.  The major focus areas for RGCT in the next ten years include: population surveys, genetic analyses, and fish stocking efforts; habitat improvement and flow manipulation; and policy development for the long-term protection of the species.

Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Status Report 2016, Western Native Trout Initiative


ongoing projects

Rio Grande Headwaters

  • Secure and protect existing populations (i.e. Wolf Creek, Miners Creek, and Alamosito Creek)
  • Habitat recovery and stocking projects in Trinchera Creek, Roaring Fork/Haypress lake, and Sand Creek
  • Restore degraded habitat (i.e. Medano Creek)

Lower Rio Grande GMU

  • Secure and protect existing populations
  • Barrier construction and assessment on Costilla Creek; begin to recover and restock watershed
  • Restore degraded habitat (Canones and Polvadera Creeks)

High lakes monitoring and assessment project



additional resources

Western Native Trout Initiative Website

CPW Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Conservation Website

Technical Report: Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Status Report, WNTI 2016

Technical Report: 2013 Rio Grande Cutthroat Conservation Agreement

Download: Rio Grande Cutthroat Brochure & Get to Know Your Native Project

Video: Rio Grande Cutthroat, WNTI