The Importance of Roadless Areas
for Native Trout
download the report (454KB .pdf)
This report examines the distribution of healthy
populations of eight native trout species in the West (Maps:
Cutthroat, Colorado River Cutthroat,
Gila Trout). It is the most comprehensive
and extensive analysis of its kind.
concludes that all eight species have experienced severe declines.
Healthy populations remain in only in tiny portions of their former
ranges - averaging less than 5%. Three of the eight species are strong
in less than 1% of their historic range. The remaining strong populations
of all eight species were associated with roadless areas. For five
of the eight, the majority of their strongholds were in roadless areas.
clearly indicates that western native trout species are highly imperiled,
and complete protection of roadless areas is essential to their persistence
of native trout is caused primarily by habitat damage (much of it
associated with roads), and the effects of introduced, non-native,
fish. Two native trout species are already extinct. About half of
the remainder are listed under the Endangered Species Act. There is
a very high risk of continuing loss of strong populations due to their
precarious population status, widespread habitat degradation, and
continuing intrusion into roadless areas.
trout, the extent of roadless areas on public lands has radically
declined since the 1950s. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and
Forest Service (USFS) have not protected roadless areas: more than
2.8 million acres of inventoried roadless areas have been lost over
the last two decades on USFS lands alone. Millions more acres have
been lost on BLM lands.. Most remaining roadless areas - many of which
house or nurture strong trout populations -- are not protected from
roads, from oil and gas exploration, and other associated degradation.
results corroborate previous assessments and scientific literature,
which have consistently concluded that roadless areas and other high
quality habitats are essential components of native trout conservation.
Similarly, scientific literature has consistently shown that roads
and associated activities are one of the most severe and persistent
sources of trout habitat damage. This report summarizes this information.
is based on computerized Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis
of trout distributions and roadless areas using data from government
and academic sources. The eight native trout species that were analyzed
have distributions that cover much of the West. Therefore the results
provide a geographically robust indication of the importance of roadless
areas for native trout.
of roadless areas is irreversible. Our report provides the public
with information on the intrinsic tradeoffs of failing to protect
roadless areas on lands managed for the American people by the United
States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park
our analysis, the scientific literature, and pertinent government
assessments indicates that in the face of the severe declines of these
native trout, and their dependence on high quality habitat frequently
associated with roadless areas, the full protection of all roadless
public land, including uninventoried areas greater than 1000 acres,
is essential to the restoration and protection of native trout in