Bull trout are the only native char to the interior Northwest. Close relatives to brook trout, Arctic char and Dolly Varden, they require the coldest and cleanest waters to survive and thrive. It’s no suprise that their populations have been greatly impacted by development over the years. Dams have segregated their habitat, generations of logging have degraded water quality and riparian ecosystems and overfishing has likely contributed to their decline, too.
But, on Oregon’s Clackamas River, above a series of dams, bull trout are being reintroduced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to restore balance to the upper river and give these unique fish a chance to recolonize a river that once boasted a healthy population of bull trout. The effort began in 2011 and by 2013, biologists witnessed the recolonization of the river, with increased numbers of paired-up fish, bigger fish and spawning success. Today, bull trout numbers continue to improve in the upper Clackamas.
It’s an excellent example of restoring an aquatic ecosystem that was missing one of its most important ingredients. Congratulations to the USFWS on a job well done.
— Chris Hunt