With few exceptions, native trout populations have declined across the West, usually due to two general factors: habitat alteration and introduced non-native fish. Remaining native trout populations are often isolated from one another and exposed to increased predation, competition, and hybridization. Continued human population growth, coupled with potential habitat damage from a warming climate, has increased the urgency of securing and improving the status of western native trout.
The 21 native trout and char addressed by the Western Native Trout Initiative have long been considered as biologically, recreationally and culturally important. While local conservation actions have occurred, overall range-wide recovery and coordinated management of western native trout and char generally has been addressed in a fragmented approach.
Restoring Western native trout, char and kokanee populations will take a unified, collaborative effort among multiple state, federal, and local agencies plus private organizations, tribes, and individual landowners to be successful. The Western Native Trout Initiative was formed in 2006 to incorporate the best conservation strategies of existing ventures to save trout that many regard as icons of the American West and to play an important role in conserving water and iconic western landscapes for future generations.
The Mission of the Western Native Trout Initiative is: “To serve as a key catalyst for the implementation of conservation or management actions, through partnerships and cooperative efforts, resulting in improved species status, improved aquatic habitats, and improved recreational opportunities for native trout anglers across western states”.
The Vision of the Western Native Trout Initiative is: “An increase in healthy, fishable western native trout, char and kokanee populations resulting from sharper focus and commitment to action on common conservation needs of western native trout; enhanced public benefit resulting from multiple partners working together, sharing resources, and speaking with a united voice about the conservation and value of western native trout; and increased funding to accomplish strategic actions as a result of greater community and financial support from initiative partners and collaborators.”
By working together, the partners in WNTI are striving to implement the most strategic actions needed to benefit these trout and char. And by working together to establish secure populations, WNTI will also benefit anglers by enhancing recreational fishing opportunities for unique trout species across the West.