Recent News Releases about the Reintroduction of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout in Sand Creek Drainage
CPW begins to stock pure Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout into Sand Creek Lakes
Great Sand Dunes Announces Fish Restocking in the Upper Sand Creek Drainage
News Release Date: August 20, 2021
Contact: Katherine Faz, 719-378-6341
Mosca, CO – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the National Park Service (NPS), and Trout Unlimited have been working to restore Rio Grande cutthroat trout to its native waters since 2004. The current focus area for Rio Grande cutthroat trout restoration is the Sand Creek drainage in the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, including the Upper and Lower Sand Creek Lakes as well as Sand Creek.
Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
Rio Grande cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis) historically occupied the upper portion of the Rio Grande Basin and associated drainages in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. At present, Rio Grande Cutthroat only occupy about 15% of that range, mostly in the headwater streams in the upper Rio Grande watershed. Medano Creek within Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve serves as important biological refugia for this trout, because it is a closed system where exotic species cannot enter. The creeks are bounded by alpine basins at their source, and the desert valley floor at their terminus. Rio Grande cutthroat trout are catch and release only; they are on the candidate list for threatened/endangered species status at the federal level. The US Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2009 that while there is sufficient evidence to support federal listing under The Endangered Species Act, the listing is currently precluded due to higher priorities. These trout are currently on the Colorado state threatened and endangered list as a Species of Special Concern. Park resource managers coordinate closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on management of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout at Great Sand Dunes to conserve current populations and look for reintroduction opportunities.
Fishing in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve offers fishing in accordance with State of Colorado regulations In the Medano and Sand Creek Drainages. For more information on how fishing regulations work in national parks, go to the NPS Fish and Fishing website.
Visitors fishing within Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Colorado.
Except as provided below, fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Colorado (36CFR2.3). For state fishing regulations go to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. The fishing regulations apply to all “finfish” found in the park. Other taxa, including amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and addressed by NPS regulations governing wildlife (36CFR2.2). These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States. The following are prohibited:
Great Sand Dunes Fish Consumption Advisories
There are no fish consumption advisories for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
Aquatic Invasive Species
Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch. Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species. For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.
How You Can Help – Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve resource managers suggest that waders and other equipment used in other waters be cleaned and decontaminated prior to use at Great Sand Dunes to protect our waters from aquatic invasive species.
Fishing Throughout the National Park Service
Last updated: September 3, 2021