July 11, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bill Schudlich, 505-470-4878
Trout Unlimited Awarded $460,000 to Restore New Mexico’s Native Fish
ARLINGTON, VA – Trout Unlimited announced today that it has received two grants totaling $460,000 for restoring native fish in New Mexico.
“Trout Unlimited and our many partners are looking forward to the upcoming work that will be funded by these grants,” said Bill Schudlich, Chairman of the New Mexico Council of Trout Unlimited. “The native fish of New Mexico are as much a part of our natural heritage as the Carlsbad Caverns and the Rio Grande. If we don’t restore these fish, something unique and special about New Mexico will be lost.”
The Collaborative Forest Restoration Program (CFRP) grant provides $360,000 for forest restoration assessments and planning in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. The grant work will assist the Gila National Forest in reducing the threat of large scale, high intensity wildfires that have damaged fish and wildlife populations including the native Gila trout. The project also includes restoration of National Forest streams near Glenwood and Reserve to expand loach minnow and other native fish habitat.
“Re-establishing a more natural fire regime in the Gila Mountains will provide a significant boost to the recovery of the Gila trout,” said Schudlich. “It also will add to the region’s recreational fishing opportunities once the fish is down-listed from endangered to threatened.”
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant provides over $100,000 for restoration of Rio Grande cutthroat trout habitat in the Rio Costilla. This project will secure 30 miles of stream in the Valle Vidal as part of an overall species recovery program covering 130 miles of stream and 24 lakes. The work will be conducted in collaboration with the Costilla Restoration Partners, including groups such as Turner Enterprises, Inc., the Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association, New Mexico Trout, New Mexico Game and Fish and the U.S. Forest Service.
“We view the Rio Costilla drainage as perhaps the most significant resource in New Mexico for the long term stability of our state fish,” said Schudlich. “This support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation bolsters our position that it is critical to protect the Valle Vidal from inappropriate energy development. While oil and gas development is important, there are certain special places like the Valle Vidal that should remain in their natural state.”
“In addition to the state and federal legislative work we’ve accomplished over the past year, these grants show that Trout Unlimited is effective at getting work done on the ground here in New Mexico to improve the condition of our forests and watersheds,” added Schudlich. “These grants will go a long way toward improving the condition of our two native trout, and all native fishes for that matter.”
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Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 160,000 members – including 1,300 in New Mexico – dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.