DURANGO, Colo.—Four local recipients were recognized earlier this month at the annual Regional Forester’s Honor Awards Ceremony held in Lakewood, Colo. Mary Hammer and Clay Kampf, Fisheries Biologists with the San Juan National Forest along with partners Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Buck Skillen, Trout Unlimited were recognized for conservation work related to expanding populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout.
The San Juan National Forest strives to provide forest users a unique recreational fishing experience while investing in sustainable water and aquatic resources, educational opportunities, valued partnerships, and important conservation populations of native cutthroat trout.
Working together, these individuals and their agencies evacuated the newly rediscovered San Juan Lineage of Colorado River cutthroat trout (SJCT) from two streams impacted by recent wildfires. In summer 2018, partners worked to remove fish from a two mile stretch of Wolf Creek in support of the first SJCT re-introduction.
Over the years, the award recipients have accomplished a native Colorado River cutthroat trout re-introduction project that isolates and protects twenty-three miles of highly productive stream in the Hermosa Creek Watershed. This habitat is accessible for recreational fishing and located in a popular recreation area that will benefit the public long into the future.
Fieldwork included barrier construction to protect native fish, in-stream habitat improvement projects to improve overwintering habitat and reduce sedimentation to the stream, removal of non-native fish species, and re-introduction of native trout. Their efforts will both enhance and restore the entire watershed and provide optimal habitat conditions for this aquatic species of conservation significance.
Regional Forester Brian Ferebee recognized these San Juan National Forest employees and partners for helping provide the American public a special and unique opportunity to fish for a species that was once trending toward Federal Listing under the Endangered Species Act. Their efforts, and investment in partnerships in Hermosa, have paved the way to expand trout populations where appropriate on the San Juan National Forest.