Cutthroat Trout rescue

Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists donned fire-retardant clothing and went in behind fire lines during the July 2016 Hayden Pass wildfire, southwest of Cañon City, to rescue 158 genetically unique cutthroat trout from the South Prong of Hayden Creek.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers will stock genetically unique cutthroat trout into the remote creeks high on Pikes Peak next week.

Rescued from the Hayden Pass fire in 2016, the trout are part of the agency's cutthroat restoration project. Officers will stock the fish in South Ruxton Creek and North French Creek, according to a news release. 

"Stocking these unique fish into Ruxton Creek is a key step to preserving these unique genes and ensuring we continue to have them on our landscape," said Josh Nehring, assistant aquatic section manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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Last fall, Cory Noble, an aquatic biologist with the agency identified Ruxton Creek as a rare fish creek and determined its habitat would be favorable for the cutthroat trout. The lack of fish makes the process of establishing a population much easier, officials said. 

Shortly after the Hayden Pass fire was extinguished, wildlife officials began searching for remote high-altitude creeks to serve as new homes for the cutthroat trout. The fire charred 16,754 acres and made the watershed that housed the trout uninhabitable, officials said. 

State and federal agency raced as the fire burned to rescue 158 cutthroat trout from Hayden Creek. Heavy rains later choked the creek with sediment and ash, according to a news release.

The 158 fish were relocated to a hatchery near Crested Butte, where they spawned the following spring. Currently, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is stocking the resulting fish into several streams within the Arkansas River basin. 

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Officials plan to spread the trout through as many as five streams. 

"Spreading them across the region makes them less vulnerable to extinction due to an isolated catastrophic fire, flood or disease outbreak," officials said in the release. 

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