Two stream segments of crucial native trout habitat are proposed for streamflow protection in Wyoming. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is seeking instream flow water rights for sections of Trail Ridge Creek and Rock Creek in the Upper Green River drainage. The water rights are important to maintaining populations of Colorado River Cutthroat Trout in their native range.
Instream flow water rights are one of the tools Game and Fish uses to protect fish habitat and essential river functions. The rights ensure water keeps flowing in streams for fisheries purposes, while protecting existing water users, and it is based on the same laws used for other kinds of water rights.
“Water is the most important part of fish habitat. Maintaining some water in streams year-round is critical for maintaining and improving the long-term health of fish populations,” said Del Lobb, instream flow biologist with Game and Fish.
Game and Fish conducted instream flow investigations on both Trail Ridge Creek and Rock Creek in 2016 that determined the flows needed to maintain the existing Colorado River Cutthroat Trout populations. The Department has proposed protecting 2.7 miles along Trail Ridge Creek and 4.2 miles along Rock Creek, both in Sublette County.
“Both stream segments are within the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout’s native range. Securing the water rights means the streams will continue to flow naturally and provide critical habitat for spawning, passage and year-round survival of this species,” Lobb said.
Habitat changes and non-native species have restricted Colorado River Cutthroat Trout to about 13% of its native range in Wyoming.
“Protecting streamflows in headwater streams like Rock Creek and Trail Ridge Creek will help conserve the remaining Wyoming populations of this species,” Lobb said.
Securing instream flow water rights has benefits for anglers and Wyoming, too.
For additional information refer to the WGFD website.
(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))