Rio Grande cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis, can be found in high elevation streams and lakes of the Rio Grande, Canadian, and Pecos River drainages in Colorado and New Mexico, giving it the southern-most distribution of any form of Cutthroat Trout. It now only occupies just 12 percent of its historic habitat in approximately 800 miles of streams. Biologists estimate that 127 conservation populations now exist in the two states, and 57 of those populations are considered to be secure. The historic range of Rio Grande cutthroat trout has been reduced over the last 150 years due to many changes on the landscape, including: drought, water infrastructure, habitat changes, hybridization with nonnative Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout, and competition with Brook and Brown Trout. As a result, pure populations of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout are restricted primarily to headwater streams.
The first conservation agreement for Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout between state, federal, and tribal resource agencies was signed in 2003, and gave rise to the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Conservation Team. The stated goal of the agreement is to assure the "long-term viability of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout throughout its historic range by minimizing or removing threats to the species and promoting conservation." This collaborative framework was updated in the 2013 Conservation Agreement (12MB) and the 2013 Conservation Strategy which outline long-term conservation objectives for this subspecies.
Conservation Team documents