Illustrations by Joe Tomelleri
Review Grand Canyon National Park's Comprehensive Fisheries Management Plan
An Environmental Assessment (EA) was released to the public in June, 2013, for a 30-day review and comment period. Over fifty comments were received, with most in support of Alternative 2, the preferred alternative. Learn more >>
NPS photo by Kristen M. Caldon
As a result, only eight fish species were native to Grand Canyon. Of the eight species, six are endemic, meaning that they are only found in the Colorado River basin.
Many of these Colorado River specialists share distinctive physical characteristics-large adult size, small eyes and skulls, thick leathery skin, and a distinctive hump or keel behind the head.
Based on anecdotal reports from early researchers, it is likely that native fish populations in Grand Canyon began to decline as early as the 1890s. Today, only five of Grand Canyon's native fish are still found in the park. The humpback chub, a large and unusual-looking member of the minnow family specifically adapted to the deep swift reaches of the Colorado River, is listed as an endangered species. Razorback suckers, also listed as endangered, are very rare within the park.
Furthermore, a variety of laws, including the Endangered Species Act, require the protection of threatened and rare species.
The National Park Service and its cooperators have initiated a multi-faceted program to restore native fish in Grand Canyon.
This program includes translocating humpback chub to Shinumo and Havasu Creeks, which are Grand Canyon tributaries that provide suitable habitat for the species.
Park biologists are removing non-native trout in Bright Angel Creek and Shinumo Creek in an effort to restore native fish and habitat to these larger perennial tributaries.
Grand Canyon's native fish are an integral and unique part of the canyon's natural ecosystems. Robust populations of native fish are important indicators of an aquatic system's overall health.
Restoring native fish to the extent possible in the Colorado River and its tributaries in Grand Canyon is essential to maintaining and enhancing the ecological integrity of Grand Canyon National Park.
Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in coordination with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, propose to develop and implement a coordinated plan for fisheries management in the face of threats related to non-native species, habitat alteration, and other potential environmental impacts.