2024 Conservation initiatives: DWR and Trout Unlimited select 3 new projects

UTAH – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), in cooperation with Trout Unlimited, recently selected three new conservation projects for 2024, all aimed at helping preserve Utah’s native cutthroat trout.

The annual Utah Cutthroat Slam, a fishing challenge in which participants catch all four native cutthroat trout subspecies in their natural habitats, will fund the three new projects.

Approximately $19 from each $20 registration fee will support conservation initiatives for these native species.

“Prior to our recent restoration efforts, cutthroat trout had experienced a significant reduction in their native ranges in the state, with the Colorado River cutthroat trout reduced by almost 90%,” DWR sportfish coordinator Trina Hedrick said. “In the last 30 years, we have increased the range of each of our subspecies and are working to stabilize the species throughout the state into the future.”

“The Utah Cutthroat Slam helps fund projects that continue our restoration efforts for cutthroat trout. Anglers should consider participating in this fun challenge because their registration fee goes directly toward the conservation of cutthroat trout and helps us create better angling opportunities for this important species throughout Utah.”

So far, 4,928 individuals have enrolled in the slam, generating over $91,800 for cutthroat trout restoration and outreach efforts in Utah.

The slam has seen 1,310 successful completions, with a peak of 245 completions achieved in 2023.

Those who finish the slam are awarded a certificate and a commemorative medallion. Additional medallions showcasing each native cutthroat trout species will be introduced in the future. A medallion showcasing the Colorado River cutthroat trout debuted in 2022, while the latest addition featuring a Yellowstone cutthroat trout was introduced in 2023.

“The success of the Utah Cutthroat Slam is truly a testament to the partnership between our organizations,” Trout Unlimited Utah director Jordan Nielson said.

“The money generated through this program helps fund important conservation projects that directly benefit native cutthroat trout and promote fishing and conservation. We are so excited to see this program continue to grow and help with cutthroat trout restoration in Utah.”

Three upcoming initiatives in 2024 involve restoring the Fish Creek riparian area. These initiatives aim to regenerate vegetation along the riverbanks that were scorched by the devastating Twitchell Canyon Fire in 2010.

This region is home to the native Bonneville cutthroat trout, and the DWR is collaborating with Fishlake National Forest and the local grazing permittee to reintroduce vegetation along the riverbanks, where it has yet to recover since the fire.

The second phase of the restoration initiative involves supplementary stocking and sampling of Bonneville cutthroat trout in Red Cedar Creek.

Although Bonneville cutthroat trout have been previously introduced to this native range, the DWR usually engages in restocking efforts for a period of three to five years until the species can sustain its population through natural reproduction.

Due to the challenging accessibility of the area, the allocated funds will support biologists in reaching the creek to stock and sample fish, facilitating an assessment of the Bonneville cutthroat population in that region.

The final undertaking pertains to creating the Bear River cutthroat trout mural. Within the framework of a continuous collaboration with Utah Wildlife Walls, a mural featuring Bonneville cutthroat trout was crafted in Sugarhouse, and another showcasing the Colorado River cutthroat trout was created in Vernal, each within the respective native ranges of these subspecies.

The proceeds from this project will contribute to funding a new Bear River cutthroat trout mural in Logan. These murals have played a role in raising awareness about these native species, engaging Utahns in conservation outreach efforts within their communities.

Anyone interested in participating in the Utah Cutthroat Slam can register on the website and can also visit their booth at the Wasatch Intermountain Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo from March 15-16 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy.

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