image In two weeks, I will again be in Colorado in another of the state’s National Parks.  My destination, Rocky Mountain National Park.  This time it is not for vacation, but for a volunteer opportunity with the  Colorado Division of Wildlife.  Last minute planning of our birthday trip led me to speaking with several Aquatic Biologists in varying regions in Colorado.  One that I spoke with talked to me a little about being a woman in the field, and options I might want to pursue if this is my career goal.  After fishing in Colorado’s streams, and hiking its National Parks, Dustin and I were sold on the state.  I decided to do a little poking around, and looked into degree programs at different Colorado Universities.  During my search, I happened onto Alpine Anglers website.  This is home to Trout Unlimited’s RMNP chapter.  The first thing that caught my eye was the “Volunteer” tab.  I clicked on it, sent an email and boom, I scheduled my first volunteer job.  YAY!

Starting September 11th, I join Chris Kennedy and a few others to do some electro fishing and disease testing in Willow and Hauge Creeks imageand the Poudre River.  All but one of the nights will be spent in the backcountry.  How cool is that?  

The purpose for this is to help with the threatened Greenback Cutthroat, Colorado’s state fish.  Mining, over-fishing, over-grazing, introduction of non-native trout, and general abuse by man nearly caused extinction for the Greenback.  Once an endangered species, the Greenback is striving to make a comeback.  RMNP is a perfect habitat for these native fish that prefer cold, clear and gravely waters.  Trout Unlimited works side by side with the BLM, USFWS, USFS and CDOW to find reintroduction sites and improve habitats in streams and lakes.  Also, there is a hatchery-based restoration stock program.  Spawning Greenbacks are taken in for collection of eggs and milt, then released.  The hatcheries raise the offspring until they reach fingerling size.  The program is working.  Greenbacks call 58 lakes and streams home, and 23 of those habitats meet the population criteria required for recovery.  I’m excited to do my part.

-Stephanie

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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