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Revised Gila Trout Recovery Plan Unveiled for Arizona and New Mexico
 
A revised recovery plan for the Gila trout, one of Arizona’s two native salmonids, was published in the Federal Register Sept. 10, announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federal and state biologists involved in the program say that new genetic and scientific information gathered since 1993 warranted revising several components of the 10-year-old recovery plan, including the criteria for down-listing and delisting the species.

Copies of the plan are available from the Service by writing to: Field Supervisor, 2105 Osuna Rd. NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87113, by calling (505) 346-2525 or visiting the Web site at http://southwest.fws.gov/htopics.html.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Forest Service all signed their concurrence with this revised plan.

“We are continuing our efforts to reestablish Gila trout since their reintroduction to Arizona starting in 1999. We look forward to the day when they are removed from the endangered species list. Arizona is extremely fortunate to have two native salmonids – the Gila and Apache,” says Scott Gurtin, a native fish biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The iridescent gold and copper-colored Gila trout once inhabited sections of cold mountain streams in New Mexico and Arizona. They were extirpated from Arizona but were formerly found in the headwater streams of the Agua Fria, Verde and San Francisco rivers in Arizona and the headwaters of the Gila River in New Mexico.

Listed as endangered in 1967, the fish can now be found in 14 streams in the Gila, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests. Gila trout were reintroduced to Arizona in 1999 to Dude Creek near Payson and subsequently to Raspberry Creek south of Alpine.

Current range distribution of the Gila trout is from 5,300 feet to 9,200 feet in elevation in small to medium-sized headwater streams. Gila trout may be tolerant of high water temperatures, with temperatures of up to 81 degrees having been recorded in waters they occupy.

 

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