Help stock unique cutthroat in Cottonwood Creek

The U.S. Forest Service Fisheries Program needs your help stocking a unique strain of cutthroat trout in Cottonwood Creek near Westcliffe. The cutthroats were rescued from Hayden Creek during the Hayden Pass fire in 2016. On July 1, they hope to introduce 3,000 fish into Cottonwood Creek.


The cutthroat trout in Hayden Creek are unique and contain genes matching museum specimens collected by early explorers, Colorado Trout Unlimited reports. In 1889, ichthyologist David Starr Jordan collected a pair of trout specimens from Twin Lakes, near Leadville. Today those specimens reside at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The Hayden Creek cutthroat trout are the only known modern fish to share their genetics.

The Hayden Pass Fire burned nearly 17,000 acres in the Hayden Creek and Big Cottonwood Creek drainages near Coaldale. During the fire, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff and U.S. Forest Service volunteers captured roughly half of the cutthroats thought to be living in a one-mile stretch of the South Prong of Hayden Creek. Of the 194 fish captured, 158 were taken for breeding to CPW's Roaring Judy Hatchery near Gunnison and 36 were released in Newlin Creek, south of Canon City.

To learn more about the Cottonwood Creek stocking project and how to volunteer, go to

Janet Smith

Posted in News


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