Hopefully Spring is Just Around the Corner of the 7th Winter


Native Trout Enthusiasts have hoped, against hope that by now a plan would be underway to at least protect and preserve the phenotypical Alvord cutthroat trout that can be found in ***** Creek.

Although there has been communication from ODFW personnel in the past, indicating that there is a desire to implement a plan to protect and to preserve these Alvord phenotypes; as of the time of this post there is not any evidence that any progress has been achieved.  So . . . No news is not necessarily good news.



That said; it is essential to at least have some positive perspective and a core plan of hopeful activity that can, perhaps, become a feature of life and liberty, showing that we are not dependent upon government to do everything for us.

It is disappointing that after seven summers of physical evidence & notable communication regarding the fleeting remnant of phenotypical Alvord cutthroat trout in ***** Creek  that renunciation of proposals, ideas and evidence seems to be the dominant result.



Why is it that the powers that be would not want to intervene where there is a remnant of trout that bear the genetic outward expression of a strain of trout that have been declared extinct in recent history?  Is it easiest to reason and rationalize excuses to not have to act?

Is it that the powers that be don’t want to acknowledge the reality of the presence of these phenotypical Alvords — because it might indicate a vital necessity of responsibility or even show some form of culpability for the many varied strains of trout now planted here . . . ?

Is it that it’s just easier to leave a strain completely extinct, than to have to deal with it?

I, for one, hope not . . .  Though these are sincere questions (and most of us have heard even far worse things said regarding the powers that be)—the reality is that we cannot rely on those “powers” to do for us what can, and should, be done for and by ourselves.



Some Chapters of Trout Unlimited have indicated that they believe it would be a positive, good thing to help facilitate the testing of the alvordensis specimens from the University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology.

In light of the fact that it looks like there is no other way that these specimens are going to be successfully analyzed and fully categorized (genome of the Alvord cutthroat cataloged) it seems that the only thing to do is resume the pursuit of any fund-raising mechanisms and resources that can, and will, bring these DNA repositories — waiting for 80 years — to finally testify as to “who” the Alvord cutthroat trout truly is!



It would seem, at this point, that there are a number of consideration that will need to be determined — perhaps brought to light — for this to succeed.

What I might suggest as considerations, a path, for this taxonomy objective is:

A)   Vehicles for Revenue Generation will have to be ascertained and enacted

B)   Proposals and Grant Requests will need to be completed and submitted

C)   Permissions and Protocols will need to be attained, followed, for samples

D)  Legal Procedures will need to be conformed to for publishable results

1)   Scope of work to classify alvordensis genetics as pre-defined for a:

2)   Bid process . . . presented to multiple prospective genetics labs once:

3)   Funds are secured and allocated based on broad and complete:

4)   Input from various genetics labs as to what projected costs would be.


There are, no doubt, dozens of considerations when one looks carefully into the essential requirements to successfully accomplish the establishment of a genetic baseline for a species of trout that was declared extinct decades ago.

The genetic baseline is, perhaps, essential; because it may enable the analysis of remaining phenotypical alvordensis from the ***** system for comparison with the only standard that can be finally relied upon for identification and verification of the phenotypes in the ***** system.



Though I still hope that the ‘powers that be’ will take the initiative to preserve the balance of phenotypical alvordensis in ***** Creek — because they bear the hallmarks of a robust and noble stain of trout that once inhabited this remote region of the American Basin and Range — I can’t see how we can ignore the aspect of over 100 samples from the past, waiting to reveal the deepest secrets of this ancient strain of trout that we all long to see “restored” to its rightful place in history . . .

What I am hoping for, and asking for in this post — is input from each of you; to allow collective thought processes to take place; that may enable us to yet make a vital difference regarding this most ill-fated of cutthroat trout species in the American west.

Perhaps, concerned citizens will actually make the difference — be the catalysts that will enable untold history to be unveiled and living legacies to be preserved — for future gener-ations to behold, and esteem; as Native Americans and our pioneer forefathers once did . . .

As the eighth year approaches, we would appreciate input from each of you — suggestions — thoughts — contributions — as to how can we? — as citizens; as concerned Native Trout Enthusiasts: take action — generate revenue — implement plans — yield progress — and achieve success — that the ‘powers that be’ have not been able to for seven summers???

Please — do share your input: your ideas, your thoughts, your reflection, your suggestions.

Perhaps, via a bit of a ‘brain trust,’ challenges may be met — and impediments obliterated.

ACT-phenotyp-jrtSo this American treasure may be perpetuated; for future American generations to behold.

© KOD February 2013


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, Photo Journals, Progress - Reply - Response - Status, The Word is Out. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Hopefully Spring is Just Around the Corner of the 7th Winter

  1. Mike Ogle says:

    I think you may be going about this the wrong way. There is nothing about reinventing the wheel that will get ODFW to respond as we wish. I think a lawsuit against USFWS may be the only way to get the attention of the powers that be. Last time I spoke to USFWS biologist in Bend (the responsible office), he had never been to ***t Mtn. or ****o Cr., though he knew of the fish samples that were taken and deposited with their DNA testing facility in Vancouver, WA. Odfw is only concerned with harvest; USFWS is responsible for endangered species
    Cheers Mike.

    • Thanks for your reply Mike. We’ve reached out to the “powers that be” at Abernathy and received no response (though they released a report shortly after affirming that there are trout in the system; of which Alvord genetics make the most logical explanation for their phenotypical expression). And Abernathy may be the most logical lab to do the testing of the 80 year old specimens from UMMZ – as well as of the samples taken from *****. They do have samples from several dozens of trout taken from ***** Creek before last summer.

  2. Agordon says:

    I’m not sure what can be done in the big picture, but in the short term, if anglers on the creek kept any of the other species they caught (I think there are Lahontan and Humboldt Cutthroat in addition to the Alvord), it might reduce hybridization. Maybe TU would be able to provide some help with protection of the Alvord?

    • Agordon; Thanks for your input . . . A few Native Trout Enthusiasts have determined to keep a legal limit of non-Alvord-phenotypes when they visit the stream. We’ve begun to do that as well, making sure to only keep trout that clearly show the opposite of Alvord characteristics. . . . Some chapters of TU have expressed interest in helping fund efforts to assist in preservation of the phenotypical Alvords in the creek and in helping establish a genetic baseline for the (genetic) identification of alvordensis. It may take multiple TU Chapters and funding sources to meet the total costs of identification and/or preservation of the Alvord cutthroat trout and the phenotypical alvordensis in ***** Creek.

  3. Scott Lyons says:

    How about presenting the findings to the many institutions offering Fisheries Biology degrees and see if someone can turn it into a master’s or doctoral thesis. It seems a program worth half its salt would concern itself with current issues in the “field”. I am sometimes amazed at the connections a graduate student can create. This could include providing access to rare samples and specimens perhaps. Is there an acutal quantified amount of $$$ required to extract the baseline DNA data from original, supposedly “pure” samples? How much does it cost to get that same level of detail from one of today’s specimens in “the creek”. Maybe armed with specific figures, an organization might go forth on their own. Are the “powers that be” preventing access to museum specimens?

    I have been to the creek twice (’09 & ’11) and carefully photographed some nice specimens. It is confounding that word has not reached an ear of somebody capable of moving forward with restoration efforts. I understand there are people who care whose hands may be tied. Is it because it’s on Federal land?

    • Hello Scott; Thanks for your input. Indeed, some of the estimates that we’ve received for costs of genetics analysis of trout in the system, and of the UMMZ pre-hybridization trout, are from Universities that have students working on or toward their masters thesis – and looking for a project to invest their new-found education in. I believe that now is a good time to revisit some of those institutions, as faculty and students begin to look to summer projects and positive activities. (Previous cost-estimates have ranged from $15,000 to as high as $45,000 – depending on the type and scope of analysis.) Permits are required in order for a study/analysis to be pursued; though generally a request from a genetics lab would be approved based on the ability to quantify and publish the analysis results . . .

      ODFW indicates that they do have regulatory authority regarding the waters, but USFWS also has regulatory authority, and have initiated some of their own field-level analysis of the system. I believe that it is time to re-contact both the previously interested institutions and also the Federal agencies and labs where dozens of tissue samples have been sent.

      ODFW (SE Oregon) was intent on issuing an inter-agency memo to obtain approval for a restoration effort. It seems these things often result in resistance from the naysayers . . . But if the public (Native Trout Enthusiasts) generate sufficient support it may yet happen. (Or, as Mike O. noted, it may require USFWS involvement to grow legs and get traction.)

      All in all, it seems that public interest and effort will be the catalyst that will be needed for projects to be enacted and carried through to fruition. It is ironic that this prospect of protecting a very rare population that does not adversely affect ranchers or other private interests would not automatically take wings and be a project underway. Perhaps limited finances and personnel resources are part of the challenge. Thus funding may help . . .

  4. Patrick Sievert says:

    To go along with agordon’s suggestions, and I’m not sure it’s entirely legal, but are there any other known fishless creeks in the area that are suitable for trout? I can’t think of any, but I don’t know the area that intimately, as I’ve only been there once. Perhaps through grassroots effort, the Alvords could once again be saved in the same way that they found themselves preserved in ***** Creek.

    • Patrick; thanks for your input. Early on we did a bit of a survey of streams throughout the native habitat of the Alvords, and within the wildlife refuges and region as well… A couple of streams may have been feasible with habitat work, but as they are there was die off of the cottonwoods along the streams (in drought years), and there were outrageous scars from flooding (during high snow-melt/spring runoff).

      Initially a BLM habitat consultant was invited to a sampling project and campfire discussion, but (they) didn’t make it. Due to the extreme conditions evident from initial investigation, it was considered wise not to pursue those streams without habitat restoration preceding trans-location of the trout. (These streams are currently uninhabited by all indications… and there’s evidently a reason for the absence of trout.)

      The transplant consideration was Dr. Behnke’s initial suggestion for these trout.

      We’ve also asked historically associated Native American Tribal Authorities to consider a transplant of phenotypical alvordensis onto their lands; but the Tribes have declined the prospect of such a restoration at the present time.

      It is truly all quite disheartening to contemplate… But with the voice and heart and hands of many, it may still be more than possible to work the miracle that these trout will need.

      Please keep up with any input and thoughts that you may have; in the hope that we can spark broad enough interest and concern to vitalize Native Trout Enthusiasts into cooperative effort/action that will make an ultimate positive difference for this fragile remnant of phenotypical Alvords, and their future progeny.

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