Climate, Cows & the California Golden Trout

Earth Island Journal Report on California Golden TroutEarth Island Journal published my story on the threat cows pose to California golden trout.


California Department of Fish and Game Logo

California Department of Fish and Game Logo

Federation of Flyfishers Logo

Trout Unlimited Logo

U.S. Forest Service Logo

The Golden Trout Project

Genesis of The Golden Trout Project in California

The TU South Coast Chapter started organizing volunteers for Labor Day Weekends in the GTW in the late 1980's. 150 to 175 members would help. The effort started to decline in the 1990s. Stream restoration work was largely the focus. CDFG fisheries biologist would set the agenda for the volunteer efforts. The Aqua Bonita Fly Fishers also played a key role.

California Golden Trout photographed underwater

DNA Study of Golden Trout Populations in Sierra Nevada

More recently, the work priorities were generally to determine where populations of California golden trout existed. Given hybridization with rainbow trout, an important step would be getting DNA analysis of the populations from U.C. Davis. Once the purer strains were identified, the efforts would focus on habitat restoration and habitat protection (e.g., fencing to keep livestock away and in-stream barriers to keep non-native trout species from predation or hybridization).

Besides performing population estimates, the ability to see the impact of habitat protection over time has shown the work is paying off. Overall, the projects are reviewed each year with CDFG.

Golden Trout Meadows Project

Starting in the Summer of 2023, Trout Unlimited is leading a series of meadow restoration projects in the native range of golden trout. Known as The Golden Trout Meadows Project. The GTMP is a TU and U.S. Forest Service initiative working to advance California Golden Trout recovery by restoring degraded meadow habitat at a landscape scale.

Golden Trout Creek flows through Big Whitney Meadow in Californias Sierra Nevada Mountains.

In primary partnership with the Inyo National Forest and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife the project encompasses a multi-year effort to restore over 3,000 acres and nearly 40 miles of native California Golden Trout habitat and surrounding meadows.

Public Partnership to Raise Awareness of California Golden Trout

Most of all, the GTP has created a working partnership between multiple groups including TU, CalTrout, CDFG, USFS, and Federation of Fly Fishers. This partership allows the public to work shoulder to shoulder with CDFG in protecting and preserving a key natural resource. The GTP is also raising awareness in the angling community throughout the country about this native species and it's habitat. Moving beyond just the angling community, an effort is underway to get more information in the hands of educators to use in the public schools.

Information about the Golden Trout Project provided by Howard Kern - Volunteer Coordinator of the Golden Trout Project.

Reference for detailed information about the past activities of the GTP. If you want to get involved and volunteer, then take a look at some of the volunteer projects coming up this summer. Read more here.