Contact: Howard Kern, (805) 405-9635
Contact: Sam Davidson, (831) 235-2542
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Trout Unlimited concerned over federal decision not to list California golden trout; applauds success of Golden Trout Restoration Project
Los Angeles — Trout Unlimited, America's oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation group, said today's determination by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that listing the California golden trout under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted at this time is both troubling and a tribute to the success of collaborative efforts to save California's state fish from extinction.
The decision by the federal agency is the long-awaited response to TU's formal petition in 2000 to list the California golden trout due to its then-imminent threat of extinction.
Howard Kern, Volunteer Coordinator for the Golden Trout Restoration Project, said "While we are pleased that the recovery efforts galvanized by our petition have succeeded in staving off extinction for the California golden trout, at least for the time being, we remain concerned that the fundamental threats to our state fish have not been eliminated."
The California golden trout is widely considered the most beautiful trout in the world. Until less than a decade ago this species was so imperiled due to habitat loss and degradation and hybridization from other trout species that it was almost extirpated in its native range.
Kern added, "The intent of our petition was to encourage the Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game to take bold action to save the California golden trout from going beyond the 'point of no return. It's too bad it took a formal petition for the agencies to act, but the results of their response have been pretty positive thus far."
TU's petition prompted the state and federal agencies to develop a comprehensive Conservation Strategy for the golden trout and to form the Golden Trout Restoration Project, a coalition of stakeholders dedicated to protecting and recovering the species. This coalition includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited, California Trout, the Federation of Fly Fishers, and the Orvis Company. These organizations and individual volunteers have invested tens of thousands of hours to date in habitat restoration and rehabilitation and collection and analysis of scientific data.
In its ruling, the Fish and Wildlife Service said its determination "is based primarily on a reduction in threats resulting from conservation actions conducted in accordance with a multi-agency conservation strategy."
TU's Field Director, Sam Davidson, said "Today's decision does not mean that everything is hunky-dory with the golden trout. We must re-dedicate ourselves to sustaining and expanding the restoration project, and TU will continue to lead this effort until the California golden trout is fully restored in its native range."
Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds