Hopes, Dreams . . . and Realities, to be Thankful For

In the United States, it is truly common at this time of year to anticipate time with family and friends; with uncommonly good food — perhaps a traditional turkey dinner — and with consideration of the many things that we all have to truly be thankful for.

Thanksgiving affords an occasion to reflect on the many tangible, and intangible, blessings that we all have, and all too often take for granted.  Though our ‘stock’ of family and friends far exceeds the value of most other dimensions of our lives — for native trout enthusiasts we might also include the memory of a few exceptional fishing days on our favorite streams  — or some genuine good news regarding a species of concern that we truly care about.

With such hope in mind, below is a brief summary of some recent correspondence received from Shannon Hurn, ODFW Fisheries Biologist for SE Oregon.  Shannon notes that:

“I am currently working on an internal agency memo that describes potential management actions to address conservation of trout with the appearance of alvordensis phenotype in ***** Creek.  Once I have a finalized memo, I will get approval from ODFW’s Fish Division staff to proceed.  I will then work with USFWS to determine on a joint agency agreement to cooperatively manage for alvordensis phenotype in ***** Creek.”

She goes on to say that once those hoops are run through, she plans to form an alvordensis working group of concerned citizens, environmental groups, and agencies to finalize a plan. This plan will guide the implementation of conservation actions…

So, thankfully, basically at the district level they’ve decided to not wait on genetics results -but to proceed with trying to save trout with the appearance of Alvordensis cutthroat trout in ***** Creek over the next several years.

Shannon continues:

“I hope to have the memo completed by the end of November, Fish Division/USFWS approval by February, and begin forming the working group by the spring of 2013.”

“Thank you for your continued interest in the trout in ***** Creek;  looking forward to working with you in the near future.”

Genetically testing the trout presently in ***** Creek will still be vital for future study of these particular trout; yet we feel a great deal of appreciation in that, at the district level, ODFW is planning to establish a working group to proceed with the effort to save the trout with the appearance of the Alvord Cutthroat trout.  As Dr. Robert Behnke has reiterated in the past, a preservation project can proceed without genetic testing…  Genetic study of the trout in ***** Creek can be done at a later time — once the population has been preserved.

As noted May, 2010, Additional Alvord Reintroduction Thoughts – by Robert J. Behnke:

“The best advice I can give I borrow from Peter Larkin’s keynote address to AFS many years ago: “Simplify, simplify, simplify”.   The goal is to create a population of trout phenotypically representative of the extinct alvordensis by selecting specimens from ***** Creek that most closely resemble alvordensis.  These would be transplanted into presently fishless waters.  If all of the proposed actions, especially “genetic testing”, were attempted to be carried out with all of the associated planning and funding, I doubt the goal will ever be attained.  It’s human nature to put off until tomorrow what could and should be done today. . . .  The point is that “genetic research” can go on indefinitely because new techniques are continually being developed.  Genetic and other proposals to better characterize the ***** Creek trout can be done after a transplant is made.  There are no logical reasons that they should be a pre-requisite for a transplant.  Selection during spawning- taking has created phenotypic duplicates of Lahontan cutthroat in Heenan Lake, CA and of Yellowstone cutts in Henry’s Lake, ID.   In both examples, a small degree of rainbow trout hybridization persists, but is not phenotypically expressed (looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck—call it a duck even if at the molecular level it may not be 100 percent pure duck).”

Whatever manners and procedures that the ODFW working group, that Shannon will form, determines are best to save the identifiable Alvord cutthroat phenotypes from ***** Creek (in order to give the trout with the best Alvord characteristics the opportunity to survive), we are confident that many occasions for discussion, and excellent suggestions, will present themselves in the coming year.

This is not to say that a separate and immediate study to establish a genetic baseline for Alvordensis (from the Carl Hubbs collection at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology) should be indefinitely delayed or postponed.   This particular kind of study takes time in which to acquire funding and conduct the actual research; and these genetic studies are necessary in order have an established baseline for comparison and reference.

When the trout population from ***** Creek are stabilized and preserved; the background, research, and testing will hopefully have been completed — so that a final evaluation of the trout in ***** Creek can then be accomplished.   Funding for analysis of pre-hybridization alvordensis specimens at UMMZ is still a vital step for preserving the Alvord subspecies…

This news from Shannon provides hope to those of us that are at all invested, that progress toward preserving this remnant of an ‘extinct’ native trout is being made.  Perhaps, by this time next year, we will be reflecting back on positive developments of the summer of 2013!


© KOD November 2012

About kortumofdiscovery

Kortum of Discovery (a slight play on Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery) is a family team that is Affirming the Exceptional Beauty of Nature, one Adventure at a Time. With a focus toward rare and endangered species in the Great Basin and American west: discoveries, unique methodologies, and many “tall tales to tell” are continually being shared around the campfire!
This entry was posted in ***** Creek Sampling, Fisheries Biology and Genetics, Observations, Progress - Reply - Response - Status. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hopes, Dreams . . . and Realities, to be Thankful For

  1. Joe DiSilvestro PhxAZ says:

    My thought is that the ODFW has reflected on the fact that they have done very little to conserve the last of the Alvord Cutthroat Legacy. This website and other documentaion of the Alvord Cutthroat’s Legacy will not be forgotten no matter which way the ODFW decides to go.

  2. Mike Ogle says:

    Has anything been going on with these trout lately? Shannon is repeating Hooten and odfw stance that Alvords don’t exist and they won’t pay for an analysis. I have been pushing this for a # of years with odfw and usf&ws to no avail. Nice site by the way.. Mike

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