During the fourth annual Native Trout Conference on Thursday, April 18, the Arizona Game and Fish Department received an award from the National Fish Habitat Partnership for its involvement in last year’s evacuation and stocking of the endangered Gila trout during the New Mexico Whitewater-Baldy fire.
The award is for extraordinary action and support of fish habitat conservation.
Some of the fish were rescued by helicopter and taken to a hatchery in New Mexico; others were stocked in Arizona’s Ash Creek.
Other award recipients are: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Albuquerque, Pinetop, and Mora; U.S. Forest Service Gila National Forest and Coronado National Forest; and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Robin Knox, a representative from the Western Native Trout Initiative, will be at the conference to present the award.
Julie Carter, Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Conservation and Mitigation Program Supervisor, said that before monsoons hit, and once it was deemed safe, ground crews in New Mexico horse-backed into the Gila National Forest to salvage the Gila trout, with a helicopter standing by to transport the trout to hatchery crews in Glenwood.
“We had more than 25 people in Arizona waiting to help backpack the fish into Ash Creek,” Carter said. “The project was successful due to the incredible coordination and dedicated biologists, especially ground crews in New Mexico that traveled on the forest immediately after the fire.”