Grants made by Yellowstone Forever continue to provide significant resources to Yellowstone National Park and their Native Fish Conservation Program. The Program is a call to action—action urgently needed to protect and preserve the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem and the park’s native fish populations. Yellowstone Forever’s contribution is being matched dollar for dollar by federal funds.
Yellowstone supports some of the world’s most famous and highly coveted fisheries, and has been a destination for generations of anglers. It’s also a last stronghold for native fish in the region. In recent years, however, prolonged drought, disease, and non-native species such as lake trout have imperiled the park’s Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat trout.
The health of Yellowstone’s native trout population has a direct impact throughout the ecosystem. The continued decline of the park’s native fish could be particularly devastating for birds of prey, the magnificent grizzly bear, and other wildlife species that specifically depend on native cutthroat as a vital food source.
In addition, should Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat be listed as endangered species, angling opportunities could be greatly reduced and management efforts complicated.
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The Native Fish Conservation Program is based on a National Park Service (NPS) plan, which outlines the park’s increased focus on restoring native fish and creating resiliency in fish populations. It lays out a detailed management strategy to ensure that native fish are restored to sustainable levels, so that they can support the natural food chain, native biodiversity, and sport fishery purposes.
The top priority of the NPS plan is to decrease the number of predatory, non-native lake trout, which in recent years have dramatically reduced the number of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone Forever funding* of the Native Fish Conservation Program will allow for a significant effort to suppress lake trout through private sector netters on Yellowstone Lake. The goal of sustained efforts is to recover Yellowstone cutthroat trout to mid-1990s levels.
Scientists and park managers are excited about cutthroat trout population increases in Yellowstone Lake over the past two years, but also say that the next two years of work are critical to the program’s success. There is still time to save Yellowstone cutthroat trout!
Q&A Update on Cutthroat Trout Restoration
*Yellowstone Forever is leading the fundraising effort to implement Yellowstone’s Native Fish Conservation Plan, and is partnering with other organizations—including the National Park Foundation, Trout Unlimited, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and the National Parks Conservation Association—to raise funds and awareness to address the plight of Yellowstone cutthroat trout.