It is with notable sadness that this post is composed, to acknowledge that Dr. Robert Behnke died the evening of September 13th. His funeral service was September 21st, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, in Ft. Collins, CO.
Dr. Behnke was truly a unique visionary; notably in that he could understand changes that had occurred in the natural world before his generation, change that was happening during his lifetime, and changes that were likely — or inevitable — to come to pass in the future.
An obituary with many comments of friends, colleagues & family may be found at this link:
Dr. Behnke played a vital pivotal role for cutthroat trout — locating strains thought to be extinct, providing meristic detail for identification of species — and identifying varied species and strains of trout throughout North America — and beyond.
Most of us know Dr. Behnke for his book; Trout and Salmon of North America, and for his featured articles in Trout Unlimited’s publication — and the book of article extracts, by the same name — About Trout.
And many other works and publications Dr. Behnke gifted to the world of native salmonids.
As Patrick Trotter so simply stated to us: “the Alvord cutthroat has lost a real champion.”
Indeed, if Shannon Hurn and the State of Oregon are successful in preserving the phenotype of the Alvord cutthroat trout from Guano Creek, it will in the largest part be due to Dr. Behnke’s insight and identification of the trout in Guano Creek, and his eloquent insistence that preserving the phenotype would have merit — in this case, virtually as compelling as saving the genotype itself.
As we hope for the successful development of the tiny offspring of the Alvord phenotypes secured from Guano Creek this past spring — and as we look forward to the future with hope for the preservation of the phenotype (outward appearance and characteristics) of an extinct strain of trout; let’s ask ourselves what our role is, and will be, to help carry on the preservation of these rare, precious, distinct natural resources — the living gems of our streams — that Dr. Behnke devoted his career, the bulk of his life, toward safeguarding.
Indeed, it will be up to each of us — to all of us — to work to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of awareness, concern and action for threatened, endangered, and extinct trout that Dr. Behnke brought to scientific communities, governmental agencies, and sportsmen alike.
To that end, this post is dedicated. May we all exert such constructive effort, assisting with and furthering the cause of genuine native trout conservation: for countless generations to come —— to be able to behold these living legacies of North America’s native trout waters.
© Kortum of Discovery, September 2013