TU applauds initiatives recognizing importance of fish and wildlife migration

A native Bonneville cutthroat trout in Utah’s Weber River is released after being caught as part of an effort to track fish in the drainage. Paul Burnett/Trout Unlimited

By Paul Burnett

The Utah Division of Wildlife Res

ources recently rolled out a Wildlife Migration Initiative, focused on the migration needs of wildlife and native fish throughout the state.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke came to Utah last week and applauded state efforts while introducing Secretarial Order 3362, which directs the Department of the Interior to work with state, local governments and non-governmental organizations to improve coordination, project partnerships to advance our understanding of the migration needs of wildlife.

We applaud Secretary Zinke for recognizing the importance of improving priority habitats within important migration corridors. However, we recommend the idea that the need to improve priority habitats and corridors should include a broad range of species in addition to big game animals specified in the order. Utah biologists have collected impressive data, often in partnership with Trout Unlimited, illustrating how barriers impact migratory cutthroat trout. The state is also working to better understand the migration obstacles of endangered fish species.

A video showing the Strawberry Creek Project in the Weber River Drainage.

Complimentary to our on-the-ground actions is a strategy of sustaining our efforts by fostering collaborative initiatives with land management agencies and state wildlife agencies. We have been encouraged by recent proclamations and initiatives by the Department of Interior and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, respectively to recognize the importance of wildlife migrations to the sustainability of our fisheries and wildlife populations, but also to the idea that our modern economy can coexist with and benefit from robust fish and wildlife populations. Many improvements to infrastructure and water policy can be made through collaborative, voluntary and non-regulatory actions.

Paul Burnett is the Utah Project Leader for Trout Unlimited’s Western Water and Habitat Program. He is based out of Ogden, Utah.

By Brett Prettyman.