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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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Native trout define the West — there are at least 59 distinct species, subspecies, and populations of native western trout. Accordingly, native trout are designated as the state fish in many western states: the steelhead trout in Washington, the golden trout in California, the Apache trout in Arizona , the Rio Grande cutthroat trout in New Mexico, the Greenback cutthroat trout in Colorado, the Bonneville cutthroat trout in Utah, the Lahontan cutthroat trout in Nevada, the black-spotted cutthroat trout in Montana, and the cutthroat trout in Wyoming and Idaho.

Evolving over millennia through the melting glaciers and great floods and fires that have shaped the western landscape, native trout are masters of adaptation. They’ve survived in an unmatched variety of habitats, from the cold alpine streams of the northern Rockies to the alkaline waters of Great Basin desert lakes.

Unfortunately, native trout can’t always adapt to human activities. Logging, livestock grazing, and mining can clog streams with silt and pollution, exposing native fish to high temperatures and poor water quality, while dams and water diversions often leave little or no water for fish. Introduced nonnative fish compete with native trout for food and habitat and interbreed with them, diluting their genetic fitness and ability to survive in environments as diverse as those of West itself.

The Center, along with Pacific Rivers Council and Trout Unlimited, launched the Western Native Trout Campaign in 2001 to protect and restore all native trout species in the western United States. This campaign is committed to restoring healthy native trout populations by uniting biodiversity, wilderness, and fishing advocates in an action-oriented effort to comprehensively protect native western trout and their habitats. We’re taking effective actions for trout protection, habitat restoration, public education, and improved fisheries management so that our western native trout can thrive again.

Photo by Jason Kling, USDA Forest Service