Save the Greenbacks
Today’s Saturday Shoutout goes to 1of750.com, a website recently created by the Greenback Trout Unlimited Chapter to raise awareness and fuel a grassroots campaign (on Indiegogo) to raise $10,000 or more for critical conservation work on Bear Creek. It’s the sole home for the last remaining documented population of Greenback Cutthroats alive today (only about 750 of them left). Please watch the video and read the information below about this very important conservation project and please donate to this wonderful cause if you can. In the very least, please share this initiative on your social media outlets.
There are about 750 pure, wild greenback cutthroat trout in the world, all living an extremely fragile existence in an unlikely place – Bear Creek, a small stream west of Colorado Spring, CO. Such a small population of mature fish put them at risk of poor genetic diversity, and the creek itself is at high risk of significant damage from erosion, wildfires, and human impacts like poor trails, motorized trails, rogue campsites, and unauthorized angling.
Greenback Cutthroat Trout History
Like all of Colorado’s Native Cutthroat Trout, greenbacks were pushed to the brink of extinction through overfishing, development and pollution as Colorado was settled and developed in the early 1900’s, leading to the presumed extinction of the species in the 1930’s. However, in the late 1960’s, scientists discovered what they thought were relic populations of greenbacks. In an attempt to repopulate the species they harvested and used these fish as the broodstock for stocking activity throughout Colorado’s Front Range. As a result, the species was downgraded from “endangered” to “threatened” status in 1978. It was named the State Fish of Colorado in 1994.
However, over the past couple of decades the identity of those re-populated “greenbacks” was called into question. Advances in genetic testing indicated those repopulated fish were actually another species of cutthroat – the Colorado River cutthroat.
Fortunately, samples of greenbacks and other cutthroats were collected throughout Colorado and preserved by scientists in the late 1800’s, but only until recently did the technology exist to accurately test them due to their age. In 2010, samples of contemporary fish, including the fish from Bear Creek (tested due to their distinct and unique physical characteristics versus other cutthroats) were tested against those of historical samples. The result yielded a roadmap to cutthroat populations throughout the state: two species were extinct, 3 reside in other watersheds, and on genetically pure population of greenback cutthroat had preserved and reside in Bear Creek.
How the greenbacks came to live in Bear Creek is an unlikely story unto itself. An entrepreneur owned property in the area and ventured to cash in on tourists making their way up Pikes Peak. As part of his attractions he built a pond suitable for fishing. Since Bear creek was historically fishless at that point, he collected some fish from a nearby South Platte river tributary to stock it. As it turns out, those fish were greenback cutthroat trout, direct predecessors of the current population.
Our Goal: Beer Creek, and its greenback residents, is at high risk of elimination due to fire and erosion. We are raising funds for:
- Restoring and maintaining the access road next to Bear Creek to prevent further erosion from entering the stream and damaging the habitat for its resident greenback cutthroats.
- Proliferation of greenbacks through supporting stocking programs and the gear required for our volunteers to successfully pack fish into remote areas.
- Seed money to leverage larger grants for in-stream restoration projects.
Through the generous donations of the fly fishing industry, the time of our 100% volunteer organization, and the support of Colorado Trout Unlimited, we have accumulated a very impressive collection of perks to help us meet our goal.
Please give as generously as you can so that we can all have a chance to feel the tug of a wild greenback cutthroat trout on the end of our lines. We ask you also to please share this initiative with other like-minded anglers and conservationists wherever you can.
For more information on the greenback cutthroat trout, the obstacles the species is facing, and our plans to help, visit 1of750.com
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