The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced the federal agency's intent to initiate a status review of the Colorado River cutthroat trout to determine whether the species warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The cutthroat trout is the only salmonid native to the upper Colorado River basin. The fish is distinguished by red/orange slash marks on both sides of its lower jaws and relatively large spots concentrated on the posterior part of the body, indicated the federal agency.
The cutthroat trout currently occupies portions of the Colorado River drainage in Colorado, southern Wyoming and eastern Utah.
The cutthroat may still occur in limited areas of New Mexico and Arizona.
The service intends to complete the review process by the court ordered due date of June 7, 2007.
The federal agency is seeking the latest scientific and commercial information on the status of the cutthroat from the public, government agencies, Native American tribes and industry as well as the scientific and conservation communities.
After gathering and analyzing the information, the service will determine whether to propose adding the cutthroat to the federal list of threatened and endangered species
Comments will be received until Jan. 8, 2007.
"The service will evaluate all existing and new information to determine whether threats to the species warrant a listing proposal," explained Mitch King, director of the mountain-prairie region. "Information from the public or scientific and commercial communities is invaluable in helping the service determine the cutthroat's status.
In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and others to list the Colorado River cutthroat trout as threatened or endangered in its occupied habitat within its known historical range.
In 2004, the federal fish and wildlife agency determined that the petition did not present substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted.
However, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint challenging the agency's determination and the court ordered the service to conduct a status review for the Colorado River cutthroat trout by June 7, 2007.
As part of the status review process, the agency has scheduled an informational workshop Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 at the Holiday Inn located at 755 Horizon Drive in Grand Junction, Colo.
The session is slated from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 and from 8 a.m. until noon on Dec. 7.
The purpose of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for service decision makers and interested parties to discuss and provide information regarding the status of and threats to the Colorado River cutthroat trout, pointed out the federal agency.
State and federal resource agencies, the petitioners and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.
Carbon County officials, groups and residents interested in presenting information at the workshop may request a time slot by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Interested parties should indicate the approximate presentation time desired, the named of the presenter and the organization represented. It will also be possible to request a presentation time slot in person at the workshop.
Local officials, groups and residents may submit written input by mail to Colorado River Cutthroat Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 764 Horizon Drive, Building B, Grand Junction, CO 81506-3946. Input may also be faxed to 970-245-6933 or sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail comments should include "Attn: Colorado River Cutthroat Trout" along with the sender's name and return address.
For more information, residents with Internet access may visit the federal agency's Web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/endspp/fish/crct.