Trout Unlimited has released its State of the Trout report, which examines the status of native trout species across the United States.
The Trout Unlimited report is broken into 10 ecoregions, and graphs and charts show the status of each native species and sub-species, along with detailing the challenges in each region.
There is a lot of data in the report, but there are 12 overall points that anglers and conservationists can takeaway from it.
1. Native trout in the United States are in trouble.
Of the 28 native trout species and subspecies in the United States, three are extinct and six are listed as threatened or endangered. Of the remaining 25, 13 occupy less than 25 percent of their historic habitat.
2. Native trout are important to the economy.
Fishing for native trout adds a lot to local economies. In southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, northwest Illinois and northeast Iowa, where it’s popular to fish for brook and brown trout, angling brings in $1.1 billion. In Colorado, that number is $1.3 billion.
3. The threat to native species are manifold.
Many of the threats comes from human sources. These include water diversion, water quality degradation, energy development and climate change, along with the proliferation of non-native species.
4. The most serious threats to native trout are non-native species and climate change.
Around 72 percent of native trout are at high risk from non-native species, and 64 percent are at high risk from climate change.
Some native species, 44 percent in fact, are at risk from both. All native trout have at least one significant risk factor.
5. The West is particularly affected by water usage.
In the arid and semi-arid regions of the West, much of the country’s population growth has occurred. The growing population has lead to growing demand for water supplies, pitting irrigation and municipal systems against aquatic ecosystems.
6. Most native trout have lost substantial genetic, life history and geographic diversity.
Native trout have shifted from large, interconnected populations to smaller populations isolated in headwater streams. That means the trout can’t migrate to find suitable habitat in which to survive.
7. The introduction of non-native trout have been both a blessing and a curse.
Many introduced trout have survived and thrived. However, repeated stocking of non-native trout can push out native species.
8. Better balanced management strategies are needed.
We need new methods to understand and track the presence of non-native species and better ways to control and eliminate them once they are found.
9. The human condition is inextricably linked to the status of native trout.
Native trout need cold, clean fresh water to survive. Humans need clean fresh water and energy, and a balance must be found so that survival is achieved for all species.
10. While the native trout have lost diversity, there are still trout across the nation.
Native trout have existed in 38 of the 50 states. And the species range from cutthroat trout, from west Texas to coastal streams in the Pacific Northwest, to bull trout, lake trout and Dolly Varden.
11. Partnerships are necessary to help wild and native trout.
It takes more than one person to restore watershed health, reconnect river systems, and replant stream side areas. And as Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, writes in the foreword to the report, the partnerships lead to community and growing relationships.
12. Anglers across the nation have hope for the future.
Protection and restoration of native trout is a priority for state and federal agencies. They believe that a representation of native trout can be preserved for the future.