The Benefits of Following a Plan of Action as Outlined

Plans-of-action (business plans) are often the result of thoughtful deliberation by a group of individuals; a Board, or Executive Committee, or a Team that is dedicated to thinking things through in a comprehensive and sound manner.

For most of us in our work-a-day world, there are guidelines — plans of action that we are required to fulfill as a vital part of our employment or our livelihood.

Inevitably, there would be consequences — in terms of business costs or drawbacks that would adversely affect a given project’s outcomes — if Plans are not followed through.


The Preferred Management Action. dated April 2013, was a follow-up from “conversations and decisions made during coordination meeting between High Desert Region and Fish Division” in September of 2012.

The stated intent of this plan was to “Preserve the hybridized trout in Guano Creek that have the appearance of the Alvord cutthroat trout.”

The first three points of the Plan: to Capture, to Transfer and to Rear fry from these trout were, for the most part, accomplished.

(Though the initial goal was to obtain 2 or 3 pairs of “parents” for these progeny; the fact that only one trout with the correct phenotypical appearance was a female limited the parental options.)


Of the fry obtained from the adult parents, 60 were to be used for pathogen testing.  An initial question then, is why were there no pathogen tests taken? (It would seem that testing even of the fry that did not survive might have yielded some helpful data.)

In Redband Trout – Resilience and Challenge in a Changing Landscape, Dr. Behnke states “offspring of wild trout are difficult to rear in hatcheries geared for production of domest-icated hatchery…trout” (this stated while he was referencing a failed attempt to rear wild redband stock for reintroduction into an east-side Steens Mountain creek).

Perhaps this is another lesson to be validated from this project: The rearing of wild trout requires an adaptive natural environment in order to successfully be achieved.

Pathogen testing (if it had been carried out) could have perhaps shed some light on “why” wild trout so struggle within a hatchery environment.   Immune susceptibility or other mortality causation might have become better understood through the pathogen testing that the plan called for; but unfortunately was not carried out.


The next step was to “Take weekly photos of the juveniles from fry to sub-adult, look to see how “uniform” the juveniles appear and record phenotype stages.”

Other than a few photos we were allowed to take very early in the process, and a few pictures taken when the young trout were being moved within the hatchery, and then a few taken when the trout were being removed from the hatchery, no weekly photos were taken to document to development and maturation of the trout.

Understanding the development of phenotypical characteristics for a given strain of trout can provide important insight into the growth and maturation process for this species—and can yield additional awareness of factors that may influence or augment the development (or lack of development) of identifying characteristics.

The opportunity afforded if this step of the Plan had been carried out was lost, as well as the next step: which was to “photograph the fish individually to look for the continuity of the phenotype to that of parentage.”

The fish biologist for SE Oregon along with personnel at the hatchery expressed an opinion that the trout were rainbow hybrids. If the photographic protocol outlined in the Plan had been followed, there would have been documentation to verify the development of the trout, and any gradual changes that could have lead to such a conclusion.

As it is; the photographic evidence shows developing juvenile trout expressing what would be meristically correct quantities of prominent spots above the lateral lineand then the photographs ODFW provided at the very end (near the time of their release) show young adult trout with profuse spots that exceed the meristic criterion for Alvord cutthroat trout.

At what point(s) in development did and does the spotting pattern and quantity change?


The seventh & final point of the Plan outlined the release of phenotypical Alvord cutthroat trout into an uninhabited stream if the Alvord phenotype was prevalent in the progeny.

Based on the photographs that were provided by ODFW, it would seem that this final point of the criterion in the Plan was not optimally met. –  So their conclusion was that it was not incumbent upon ODFW to release these trout into an uninhabited suitable stream . . .


At this season of late spring, normally, we would have made a trip or two into the system by now, and would have photographed trout with Alvord characteristics.

We haven’t ventured there since the mid-winter visit; and are not certain if or when another foray into the system will take place. It may be that our focus and impetus to document the trout in this system has histrionically changed . . .

Though it is almost certain that the time will come to visit this lonely system again to look for and hopefully document phenotypical survivors through this terrible drought cycle.


In the meantime there is a plan to put together a presentation regarding the critical history of alvordensis; to share with Trout Unlimited and other groups as possible, with the goal of generating interest in the genetic analysis of the Alvord cutthroat trout specimens at the University Of Michigan Museum Of Zoology.

It may be somewhat challenging to secure financial resources for the analysis of an ‘extinct’ species of cutthroat trout . . .   Yet this may be the essential paradigm reset that is vitally needed in order for there to be real progress with extant or any future remnant of evident alvordensis that may yet be discovered.

. . .

. . . To anyone who has input with various groups and would like to help “spread the word,” we would welcome any possible assistance.

. . .

© Kortum of Discovery May 2015

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (1)

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (2)

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (3)

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (4)

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (5)

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (6)

Preservation of Alvord cutthroat trout phenotype from Guano Creek (7)

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!
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1 Response to The Benefits of Following a Plan of Action as Outlined

  1. Patrick Sievert says:

    Hey David, any updates on Alvord preservation/restoration?

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