Colorado River cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus, are one of three recognized subspecies of native trout found in Colorado. They historically occupied portions of the Colorado River drainage in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Widespread introductions of non-native salmonids over the last century have served to limit current distributions primarily to isolated headwater streams and lakes. As such, the Colorado River cutthroat trout is designated as a species of special concern in Colorado, and significant resources have been dedicated to conservation of the subspecies.
Recent research efforts have revealed two distinct lineages that comprise Colorado River cutthroat trout. The native range of one covers the White, Yampa, and Green River basins, while the other appears to be centered around the Gunnison, Dolores, and Colorado River basins. Further genetic research will be needed to resolve the relationship between these two lineages. Both were widely stocked around Colorado starting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1994, member states of the Colorado River Fish and Wildlife Council (a consortium of State Fish and Wildlife agency directors) recognized the need for state wildlife agencies to coordinate conservation actions for Colorado River cutthroat trout, and directed Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to develop a conservation team. The 2006 Conservation Agreement for Colorado River Cutthroat is a collaborative effort among state and federal resource agencies designed to provide a framework for the long-term conservation of Colorado River cutthroat trout, and to reduce or eliminate the threats that warrant its status as a species of special concern.
Conservation Team documents