U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
Western Native Trout Initiative
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 665, Lakewood, CO 80228
Western Native Trout Initiative Coordinator
Robin Knox, 303-236-4402, firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Directors Endorse the Western Native Trout Initiative
January 28, 2008 – Denver, CO – The assembled Directors of western State Fish and Wildlife Agencies endorsed the Strategic Plan and future operations of the Western Native Trout Initiative at their recent winter meeting in San Diego earlier this month. The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a collaborative planning and project implementation effort that will enhance and speed-up the conservation of western native trout.
With few exceptions, native trout populations have declined across the West, usually due to two general factors: habitat alteration and introduced non-native fish. Remaining native trout populations are often isolated from one another and exposed to increased predation, competition, and hybridization. The 15 native trout addressed in the WNTI have long been considered as biologically, recreationally and culturally important. Actions associated with conservation are often costly and remain inadequately funded. Progress has been mixed. Continued human population growth, coupled with potential habitat damage from a warming climate, has increased the urgency of securing and improving the status of western native trout.
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) provides a new perspective and impetus to improve the return on investment of the time, money and manpower dedicated to native trout conservation over the next decade. WNTI is a collaborative, multi-state approach. The WNTI addresses conservation needs through a native-trout specific Mission, Vision, and Strategies, and seeks investment of partners in this effort to halt and reverse native trout declines and expand existing populations of native trout.
The Initiative’s Strategic Plan suggests that there are four areas of activity that should be pursued to both improve the status and habitats of 15 species of western native trout. The Plan was developed over 18 months by a working group that included representatives from 12 western states, several federal agencies involved with fisheries and endangered species management, national conservation organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Native American Tribal representation, and conservation-minded private and industry interests.
The Western native Trout Initiative has ascribed to the following four Goals, with the objective of securing additional funding to accomplish specific, locally-based actions that directly impact native trout populations and habitats:
- Protect, enhance, or restore western native trout populations and measure success in improving the status of western native trout.
- Protect intact watersheds, and enhance, or restore habitats that have been impacted by human activities or catastrophic natural events
- Develop collaborative approaches and partnerships among agencies and stakeholders that emphasize cooperation and shared effort, and increase funding to implement high priority actions for the protection, conservation and enhancement of western native trout.
- Develop and implement effective communication, education and outreach programs to increase public awareness and encourage partnerships that benefit western native trout
The Western Native Trout Initiative will operate under the umbrella of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies through a Memorandum of Understanding with WAFWA member states and appropriate federal agencies and conservation organizations which agree to the purpose and value of conserving western native trout. In addition, the Initiative will be seeking public and private partners who share the common interest of protecting and improving native trout populations and habitats
By joining the Initiative, partners confirm that the plight of western native trout will be will be improved through the application of resources – time, money and manpower – to planning and implementing on-the-ground projects. Partners will encourage management agencies and stakeholders to seek solutions to issues such as climate change, regional environmental and ecological threats such as drought warming water temperatures and invasive aquatic species; developing and implementing outreach and educational programs to ensure public awareness of the challenges that face native trout populations; and seeking additional funding to accomplish the hundreds of needed projects.
The Western Native Trout Addressed by the Initiative
The species of trout addressed by the WNTI include Apache trout, Bonneville cutthroat trout, Bull trout, California Golden trout, Coastal cutthroat trout, Colorado River cutthroat trout, Gila trout, Greenback cutthroat trout, Lahontan cutthroat trout, Little Kern Golden trout, Paiute cutthroat trout, Redband trout, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, Westslope cutthroat trout, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The WNTI is defined by state boundaries: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico on the east, west to the Pacific coast, and Alaska. The 12 states within WNTI encompass about 1.8 million square miles, of which Alaska makes up more than one-third. The distribution of native trout in cold waters varies from a few streams in a single watershed, such as the Paiute trout, to multiple watersheds that cross state and national boundaries, i.e. bull trout or coastal cutthroat trout.
Through partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s “More Fish Campaign”, the WNTI has been allocated funding of almost 2.14 million dollars in 2006 and 2007. An additional $560,000 is expected in 2008.
Visit www.westernnativetrout.org for more information about WNTI and the Strategic Plan.