Utah DWR, Forest Service to restore Colorado River cutthroat trout population in High Uintas

Colorado River cutthroat trout | United States Bureau of Land Management

VERNAL, Utah — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Ashley National Forest plan to save the native Colorado River cutthroat trout population in the High Uintas Wilderness.

“Unfortunately, habitat loss, coupled with cutthroats breeding with and competing with trout not native to the western United States, have caused dramatic declines in cutthroat trout populations across the West. The decline has led to concerns about the species’ future,” a news release from Ashley National Forest said.

Workers will use a natural substance called rotenone to chemically treat designated streams and lakes to remove brook trout before reintroducing Colorado River cutthroat trout. Rotenone is not dangerous to people, pets or other wildlife when used in low concentrations, and rotenone-treated water would be neutralized downstream with potassium permanganate, a common water treatment chemical. The first proposed treatment would occur in 2022.

Ashley National Forest officials released the following map showing the waters proposed for treatment:

The treatment areas are:

  • Fall Creek (Rock Creek drainage) — 8 stream miles and 43 lake acres
  • Oweep Creek (Lake Fork drainage) — 12 stream miles and 3 lake acres
  • Ottoson Basin (Lake Fork drainage) — 5.5 stream miles and 37 lake acres
  • Garfield Basin (Yellowstone drainage) — 13.5 stream miles and 176 lake acres

“We recognize some anglers target these locations for brook trou, but we had to pick large expansive areas that had natural barriers to prevent re-invasion and to ensure cutthroat trout would survive. This is an opportunity to restore Colorado River cutthroat trout in their native range, protect the species in Utah and provide anglers with dedicated areas to fish for them,” said Trina Hedrick, the DWR Northeastern Region Aquatics Manager.

Members of the public are invited to review the project and make comments or raise objections at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=31640

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