Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin
Pursuing recovery for the Paiute cutthroat trout
Paiute cutthroat trout team named Recovery Champion
A Paiute cutthroat trout released into its historic range in Silver King Creek in September, 2019. Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS
By Joanna Gilkeson
May 29, 2020
The Paiute cutthroat trout recovery team has been working tirelessly to save the rarest, most recoverable trout in North America. This year, the team was selected as a 2019 Recovery Champion in honor of their collective dedication to the recovery of an endangered or threatened species.
Chad Mellison, left, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, Jim Harvey, center, U.S. Forest Service biological technician, and Stafford Lehr, California Department of Fish and Wildlife deputy director of wildlife and fish division, release Paiute cutthroat trout in Silver King Creek in September 2019. Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS
The Paiute cutthroat trout was listed in 1967, and, ever since, there has been some form of Paiute cutthroat trout recovery team. The most modern version of this team, and the one we know today, formed in the early 2000s when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited and JC High Country Outfitters came together to complete intensive field work to ensure the trout’s native waters were habitable into the future.
After removing grazing from certain areas of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and years of fighting to control and remove non-native and hybrid fish from streams, the team finally accomplished their goals in 2019 by reintroducing Paiute cutthroat trout back into their native range for the first time in nearly a century.
Some members of the early 2000’s team have since retired, but others have stepped up in their stead. One constant through all of this has been the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Paiute cutthroat trout lead, Chad Mellison.
Mellison has been integral in developing and implementing a plan for saving this fish since his first weeks on the job in 2001 as a fish and wildlife biologist with the Service. Eighteen years later, thanks to his efforts, and those of his colleagues, the recovery of the fish is in a pivotal phase and has a fighting chance at surviving on its own in the wild.
A 2019 photo of Service biologist Chad Mellison, left, U.S. Forest Service fish biologist Rachel Van Horn and U.S. Forest Service biological technician Jim Harvey in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Credit: Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS.
Learn more about the why the team was selected to be a 2019 Recovery Champion and their pursuit to save the Paiute cutthroat trout in some of the west’s most wild places: The Rarest Trout in North America Makes a Comeback.
About the writer...
Joanna Gilkeson is a public affairs specialist in the Reno Fish and Wildlife Office in Nevada. She writes about the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and serves as the communications team leader for the Service's monarch butterfly project in the west.
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