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Little Kern golden trout

The Little Kern golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss whitei) is native to high elevation streams and lakes in the Little Kern River, in the southern Sierra Nevada. It was severely impacted by livestock grazing, logging and introduction of exotic rainbow, brown, and brook trout [1]. By 1975 just a few thousand trout remained in about 10% of the historic range (=10 river miles), prompting its designation as a federally threatened species in 1978 [1]. The entire Little Kern River basin upstream from the barrier falls one mile below the mouth of Trout Meadows Creek was designated as critical habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game developed a conservation plan in 1984 which has served as the species recovery plan [3]. Due to reductions in livestock grazing, elimination of non-native trout (though they may persist in the Pecks Canyon-Maggie Lakes watershed), and reintroductions, the species was restored to 60% of its historic range by 1990 and 100% by 1997 [1, 2].

[1] CDFG. 2005.California's Threatened and Endangered Species: Little Kern Golden Trout, Oncorhyncus mykiss whitei. California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, Ca. webpage accessed October 17, 2005.
[2] CDFG. 2005. Wild and Heritage Trout: Little Kern Golden Trout, Oncorhyncus mykiss whitei. California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, Ca. webpage accessed October 17, 2005.
[3] Christenson, D.P. 1984. The Revised Fishery Management Plan for the Little Kern Golden Trout. California Departement of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA.

Banner photo © Phillip Colla