Return of the Native: Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

One of 14 subspecies, the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout once likely occupied all streams capable of supporting trout populations in the Rio Grande, Pecos, and Canadian River basins but is now restricted to approximately 12.5% of historical habitat. This decline has occurred due to habitat loss from stream diversions, stream drying, competition from nonnative fish species and hybridization with introduced trout species, and overall changes in hydrology and streamflow.

In 2017, the Alliance received funding from the New Mexico Habitat Conservation Initiative to compile statewide research on Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout (Oncorchynchus clarkia virginalis) and the feasibility, challenges, and work required to expand populations of New Mexico’s state fish to more of its historic range. This project involved reviewing the current state of science and practice of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout management, reaching out to numerous expert partners, mapping the historic trout range and current distribution, and examining social acceptance for Rio Grande Cuttroat Trout reintroductions. The potential impact of climate change on native trout and preliminary opportunities to expand trout populations on private lands were also investigated.

Future efforts include Alliance participation with the multi-partner Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Range-wide Conservation Team and further analysis of private land restoration potential in the region.

Read the final report here. A higher resolution PDF is available upon request.