Restoring Rio Grande Cutthroats

Photo courtesy Trout Unlimited

Trout Unlimited is taking a unique approach to generating an economy in a small New Mexico town called Questa. This town was driven by mining activity beginning in the 1800s and continuing through 2014, until a local Molybdenum shut down, leaving more than 300 people without work.

Fortunately, Questa offers way more than mining—it rests in northern New Mexico, in mountain terrain, offering excellent elk hunting and, key to TU’s efforts, native Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

These cutthroat live high in the local drainages and grow to decent size. They are beautifully marked and offer a chance for Questa to reach outside of its traditional mining and agriculture based economy to promote recreation, including fishing.

However, survival for the Rio Grande’s is not a slam dunk—competition from non-native species, specifically brown trout, place these natives in a precarious position. Fortunately, TU is working with local agencies to promote the survival and prosperity of this trout. Time will tell, but the experience of fishing in northern New Mexico, in a beautiful National Forest, for a native species that belongs there and is a challenge to find, could be a game-changer for Questa and the trout’s long term existence. Watch this film (below) and you can’t help but want to throw a line here.

Want a full update on efforts to restore Rio Grande cutthroats throughout their native range? Read Kara Armano’s take here:

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