Thursday, December 13, 2012

Clackamas River Bull Trout - A Reintroduction

They were once here, but now are just a memory.  The 20th century was hell on wild creatures, with fish and amphibians being especially hard-hit.  Development is never positive from the eyes of a fish.
The bull trout was once found throughout the Columbia River Basin, east to western Montana, south to northern Nevada, west to California and possibly as far north as southeastern Alaska. The main populations remaining in the lower 48 states are in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, with a small population in northern Nevada. The bull trout has small, pale yellow-to-crimson spots on a darker background, fading to white on the belly.
Western Native Trout Initiative

In 2007 the US Forest Service completed a feasibility study about the reintroduction of Bull Trout into the Clackamas River.

Happily, the reintroduction began in 2011:

Reintroduction Final Rule

On June 21, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the State of Oregon, USDA Forest Service and other project partners, published a final rule in the Federal Register to establish a nonessential experimental population (NEP) of bull trout in the Clackamas River and its tributaries in Clackamas County, Oregon, under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The geographic boundaries of the NEP would include the entire Clackamas River subbasin as well as the mainstem Willamette River, from Willamette Falls to its points of confluence with the Columbia River, including Multnomah Channel. Based on findings from the 2007 Clackamas Bull Trout Reintroduction Feasibility Assessment, we believe a reintroduction of bull trout to the Clackamas River subbasin is biologically feasible and will promote the recovery of the species. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with our project partners, plan to begin translocating multiple life stages of bull trout from the Metolius River to the Clackamas River in July 2011.

Will it work?  Will they come back?  Are healthy ecosystems even possible with so much fragmentation?
Our descendants will have to tell us.

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