State of the Trout: Native fish in Eastern Sierra and Nevada in peril

June 23, 2015


Jack Williams, Trout Unlimited senior scientist,, (541) 261-3960
Sam Davidson, California Communications Director,, (831) 235-2542
Chris Hunt, Trout Unlimited national communications director,, (208) 406-9106


New Trout Unlimited report highlights challenges facing native trout in the U.S.
Climate change, water demand and non-native species among biggest threats the eastern Sierra and Nevada

WASHINGTON, D.C.North Americas already embattled native trout populations continue to face serious threats, according to a comprehensive new report released today by Trout Unlimited.

The State of the Trout details the status of 28 separate species and subspecies of trout and char native to the United States. Of those detailed populations, three are already extinct, and more than half of the remaining trout and char populations occupy less than 25 percent of their native waters. While the state of trout in America is tenuous, there are success stories that prove trout recovery is possible–the report lays out a roadmap for that recovery.

Trout Unlimiteds staff of scientists spent more than a year preparing the detailed report with input from TUs field staff and independent, federal and state fisheries experts. The full report is available in digital form at

Native trout are in trouble in the United States, said Chris Wood, Trout Unlimiteds president and CEO in the reports foreword. But we are making a difference and with help, involvement and action can promise a future of recovery, not one of loss, for our children.

The introduction and persistence of non-native species and climate change head a long list of challenges facing trout in the interior West, which also are under pressure from increased demand on the nations water resources, loss and degradation of habitat and different types of industrial development.

One native species of cutthroat trout the Alvordis already considered extinct in the Interior Basins and another, the Lahontan, was believed extinct until a surprise finding of a pure-strain population in a remote corner of Utah.

Trout in the Interior Basins of the eastern Sierra and Nevada have adapted to surviving warmer desert waters than their cousins, but the hastened speed of warming temperatures is proving a real challenge. Agricultural demand for a seemingly ever-shrinking water supply due to record low snowpack, is also a major concern.

While bringing attention to challenges facing trout, the report highlights many success stories.

Lake-dwelling Lahontan cutthroat are the biggest cutthroat in the world and currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Lahontan cutthroat trout currently occupy less than 1 percent of the lake habitat in a self-sustaining model and only 4 percent of stream habitat is occupied by these native fish.

Trout Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation partnered to reconnect tributaries to Maggie Creek near Elko, Nev., and Lahontan cutthroat returned to 23 miles of restored and interconnected streams. The TU projects followed more than two decades of work by the Bureau of Land Management, mining companies, local ranchers and the state of Nevada to restore 82 miles of stream, 2,000 acres of riparian habitat and 40,000 acres of upland habitat.

Trout Unlimiteds partners in conservation find the report a course for future efforts, but also a chance to reflect on what has worked thus far.

"The State of the Trout report details how Trout Unlimited has found success by engaging the public from the grassroots to national issues and policies influencing native trout, said Jason Dunham, the supervisory aquatic ecologist with the U.S. Geologic Survey. The report provides a comprehensive, yet accessible overview of conservation success stories and lays out a road map for challenges that lie ahead. We owe many of these successes to the broad influence of Trout Unlimited as a key player in developing new science, management partnerships and actions on the ground to recover native trout in North America."

Fishing is all about maintaining a positive attitude. As long as hope remains, Wood says Trout Unlimited will endeavor to help native fish.

People who fish are eternal optimists, Wood said. Even the most cynical among us, on the last cast of the day, are confident we will catch the biggest fish of the day. That optimism and hope for the future breathes through this report.

Read the report today at

To download print and web-ready photos that correspond to the report:
Password is: SOT

To download broadcast-quality video and b-roll footage that correspond to the report:

Trout Unlimited is the nations oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North Americas trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation.