Trout Unlimited says California's state fish threatened with extinction
10/26/2000 -- -- Contact:
Steve Trafton, Trout Unlimited's California Policy Coordinator, (510) 528-4772
Roland Knapp, Ph.D., Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab, (760) 647-0034**
October 13, 2000. Albany, CA…The United States' largest conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the nation's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds will petition the federal government to list California's golden trout as endangered.
The petition, which will be filed on Monday, October 16 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will ask that the golden trout, California's state fish, be listed as an endangered species pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act. Trout Unlimited said the petition is being filed to prevent the trout from becoming extinct due to habitat destruction and hybridization caused by the stocking of non-native trout.
"If we want to be sure California's magnificent golden trout to still exist five to ten years from now, then something must be done to permanently address habitat destruction caused by grazing on federal lands and years of stocking non-native trout in the drainages where the golden trout currently exist. That will only be done if the golden trout is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act," said Steve Trafton, California Policy Coordinator for Trout Unlimited.
The California golden trout is one of the most strikingly colored trout in the world, native to only two high-altitude watersheds in California's rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. The species' range, which once encompassed an estimated 450 miles of stream habitat in the upper South Fork Kern River and adjacent Golden Trout Creek, today is comprised of an estimated four percent of it historic range. The fish was designated as California's state fish in 1947.
Trafton said while efforts have been undertaken in the past to attempt to protect and preserve the golden trout, including the creation of the 300,000 acre Golden Trout Wilderness in 1978, grazing on federal lands contained within the trout's watershed and the stocking of non-native trout have taken their toll on the fish.
While the plight of the California golden trout has been recognized by federal land managers and federal and state fish managers for years, currently there is no systematic and coordinated regulatory mechanism in place to prevent species extinction.
"The historic, piecemeal approach to saving the golden trout has clearly failed in California. The only way to turn that failure around is to put in place a long-term, far reaching and complete strategy to address the issues of habitat destruction and stocking," said Trafton.
Under the provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act, Trout Unlimited's petition will be reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a 90-day period from the date of its filing to determine if it is factual and scientifically based. When that determination is made, the federal government will then spend one year to conduct an investigation and species review using the Trout Unlimited petition and their own research to issue a draft finding. Once the draft finding is issued, a determination will be made whether or not fo list the fish and, if listed, what recovery measures will be instituted.
Trout Unlimited is the nation's leading coldwater conservation organization with125,000 members, including 10,000 members in California, and 500 chapters nationwide working to conserve, protect and restore trout and salmon watersheds throughout North America.
** Dr. Roland Knapp is a research biologist with the University of California's Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab. Dr. Knapp has done extensive research on the golden trout and its habitat.