Apache trout conservation is featured. Photo by USFWS
By Ben Ikenson
The White Mountain Apache tribe began taking steps to protect the Apache trout in the 1940s, including closing stream access to anglers in 1955. White settlers who fished for the trout had decimated its population; streams were subsequently stocked with non-native trout, which further displaced the native fish. Logging, agriculture and mining also exacted a toll on the native trout. By the late 1960s, its range had been reduced from some 600 miles of mountain streams in southeastern Arizona to less than 40. The Apache trout, among the first fish listed as endangered, received strong protections with passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.
The tribe’s early efforts, and its subsequent and continuous cooperative work with the federal government, helped reverse the decline of Apache trout, whose status was upgraded to “threatened” in 1975. Today, the prognosis is good, thanks to the protections of the ESA and the collaborative conservation work in place.
“The Apache trout is a great example of how collaborative conservation can truly be effective at, not only preventing extinction, but promoting the recovery of a species,” says Matt Grabau, a science coordinator with the Service. “And it’s an example that deserves to be showcased.”
Now, thanks to Grabau and his peers, the efforts on behalf of this fish—the on-the-ground recovery work made possible by partnerships—are, in fact, showcased in an online library of case studies created to help foster and promote successful examples of collaborative conservation.