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The Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi) is a subspecies of Cutthroat Trout that requires high quality coldwater fish habitat along with connected river segments. It has been in decline because of habitat degradation from logging, road building, overgrazing, mining, urban development, agriculture and dams, and competition and hybridization from introduced non-native trout species. Intensive habitat restoration efforts are underway to improve populations of this important species. In addition, restrictive harvest regulation strategies have been passed as this species is very vulnerable to angling.
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While fish habitat was found to be generally to be at very low or low risk of degradation in this mostly arid western region of the United States, water availability (hydrology – a key fish habitat process and driver of fish habitat) could only be partly examined using the available datasets in this Assessment. The lack of information on the status of water flow in many basins has led them being overestimated in fish habitat quality, even if streams in these basins are actually dry most of year. Additionally, data availability for grazing intensity, another key landscape use, is also unavailable, and has also created situations where the Assessment overestimates habitat quality. Despite such absences, impairment...
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Relative condition of fish habitat in streams of the Mountain States. Histogram shows percentage of total stream length in each condition class.
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The agricultural areas of the Mountain States have created a substantial drain on the water resources of this region. Northern Montana stands out as an area of very high risk for fish habitat degradation on the few streams and rivers in the area. This threatened area is principally comprised of row crops, such as wheat, barley, and alfalfa production, and cattle farms. Other areas of high risk of habitat degradation, such as southern Idaho and northeastern Colorado, correspond to areas with a high density of row crops, typically corn and wheat, cattle farms, alfalfa and potato (particularly in Idaho) production, and rangeland. Farms and ranches dependent on irrigation require large amounts of water diverted from...
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Urban areas significantly and negatively affect aquatic habitat quality in the Mountain States. This was particularly apparent in the rapidly growing Denver/Ft. Collins, Boise, Salt Lake City, Great Falls, and Billings areas. Highway corridors along Interstates 25 and 90 in Wyoming and 76 in Colorado were implicated to be causing high to very high risk factors. In 2015, the highly urbanized I-25 corridor between Cheyenne, WY and Pueblo, CO had a population of 4.49 million people. In these cities and their surrounding suburbs, large areas of impervious surfaces (i.e. buildings, parking lots, and roads) replace natural streamside habitat, increase pollution and sedimentation, alter hydrology, and increase the demand...
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A total of 15 large dams have been constructed along the 1,040-mile (1,674-kilometer) Snake River from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to its mouth on Lake Wallula, a reservoir formed behind McNary Dam on the Columbia River. Compared to the lower Snake River, the rest of the Columbia River watershed, and most of the Rocky Mountain West, the Upper Snake ecoregion has a high level of unique organisms (endemism), especially among freshwater mollusks, such as snails and clams. There are at least 21 snail and clam species of special concern, including 15 that appear to exist only in single clusters. There are 14 fish species found in the Upper Snake region that are not present elsewhere in the Columbia River watershed,...
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Partnership - Western Native Trout Initiative The Redband Trout, a group of Rainbow Trout, are remarkable fish. Some live as freshwater fish and some as anadromous fish that occupy both fresh and saltwater habitats during different stages of their lives. The interior Redband Trout is listed as a “Species of Conservation Concern” in most of its range. Its historic range covers eastern Washington and Oregon, northeastern California, central and southwestern Idaho, northwestern Montana, and parts of northern Nevada. Within this broad area, Redband Trout habitat can vary from higher elevation cold-water mountain streams to lower elevation warmer desert-type streams that have periods of low stream flows and high water...
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Partnership - Western Native Trout Initiative Seldom are dams beneficial to fish populations but the Chadbourne Dam is an exception. The Shields River watershed has substantial conservation value for Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout ( Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) because the watershed is the largest basin-level stronghold for Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout populations in Montana. Within the Shield River watershed, sixty-six percent of streams of historically occupied habitat still support Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. This watershed is at the northern extent of the species’ native range, which also provides an opportunity to conserve Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout where they can be resilient to climate change. The Chadbourne...
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Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) now inhabits less than 5 percent of its historic river range in the Mountain States. This species requires high-quality coldwater habitat with long, un-fragmented reaches. Historically, glacial relict river populations were found in the Upper Missouri River Basin with another now extinct population in the Midwest (Michigan). The Arctic Grayling has been affected by water withdrawals, barriers to movement, and habitat degradation. One of the last strongholds, the Big Hole River in Montana, was reduced to a trickle in the summers of the 1990s as a result of irrigation withdrawals. Recent cooperative efforts, which include better water management, have improved populations of Arctic...
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The Plains Minnow (Hybognathus placitus) is well adapted to prairie watersheds. It is found in open, shallow river channels of highly turbid rivers and creeks with sandy bottoms, high levels of dissolved solids, and slight to moderate erratic flows, typical of these watersheds. One of many issues affecting the Plains Minnow is that the construction of dams has significantly altered flow regimes in its range. Eliminating flood events has removed the historical cues for spawning and reduced spawning habitat.
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Partnerships - Desert Fishes Habitat Partnership and Western Native Trout Initiative Bluehead Sucker ( Catostomus discobolus) and Bonneville Cutthroat Trout ( Oncorhynchus clarki utah) have experienced extensive population declines and range reduction, often from habitat fragmentation. In the Weber River, Utah, Bluehead Sucker occurs in three fragmented reaches and the strongest population in the Weber River is confined below the Lower Weber River Diversion structure. Allowing passage around this diversion would provide Bluehead Sucker access to needed canyon habitat. Large fluvial Bonneville Cutthroat Trout have been virtually eliminated from river mainstems throughout this species’ range, but still persists...
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A.Pervasive disturbances: The most common disturbances based on total stream length in a given region. Top five overall most pervasive disturbances to all stream reaches, regardless of stream size and across all spatial scales (ranked highest first): Impervious surface Road crossing density Road length density Downstream dam density Crop land use Top five most pervasive disturbances, specific to spatial scale: Road crossing density in network catchments Road length density in network catchments Impervious surface cover in network catchments Downstream dam density in network catchments Impervious surface cover in network buffers In the Mountain state group, 76.6% of streams are classified as low or very low...
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Partnerships - Western Native Trout Initiative, Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, Desert Fish Habitat Partnership, and Great Plains Fish Habitat Partnership Partners removed 11 barriers and reconnected over 112 miles of native trout streams and river habitat and improved instream flow in 45 miles of streams. Installed four barriers to protect native trout from competition, predation, and interbreeding with introduced species. Funded 26 population assessments that provided valuable information for the management of native trout in the Mountain States. Cooperated on a critical project for Greenback Cutthroat Trout to place in-stream structures to restore pool habitat, stabilize eroding stream banks, remove...
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There are more than 9,800 regulated dams in the Mountain States and 69 percent are in Colorado and Montana. This does not include a large number of dams that are not regulated under dam safety codes, in particular the large number of water withdrawal structures. Dams and irrigation diversion structures provide power and flood control along the rivers of the mountain states, as well as supply water to the farms, ranches, and cities in these states. The reduced flows from water diversions result in less water in the streams for fish, and these altered flows change river habitat by changing sediment and woody debris recruitment and transport, a key factors that control fish habitat that could only be partly examined...
This item provides the ScienceBase query that identifies components of the fish habitat assessments within the Mountain States. It also contains a link to a configuration file that pulls these pieces of information into a logical order. This information can be accessed through the ScienceBase API to display a summary of fish habitat assessment information for the Mountain States.
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The U.S Geological Survey (USGS) is partnering with the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) to produce the 2015 report entitled, "Through a Fish's Eye: The Status of Fish Habitats in the United States 2015". The information contained within this item is a product of NFHP. The Bureau is neither responsible nor liable for the accuracy or the use of the scientific content within this item. This content is considered preliminary pending subsequent review and approval


    map background search result map search result map Facts About Mountain States Most Pervasive and Severe Disturbances for the Mountain States Description of Urban Land Use as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Mountain States Habitat Trouble for Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Mountain States Description of Dams and Other Barriers as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Mountain States Habitat Trouble for Arctic Grayling in Mountain States Fish Habitat Partnerships Making a Difference: Interior Redband Trout Range-wide Assessment Mountain States - Risk of Current Degradation Chart (Stream Length) Habitat Trouble for Plains Minnow in Mountain States Summary of Scientific Findings for Mountain States Mountain States - Risk of Current Fish Habitat Degradation Map Description of Agriculture as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Mountain States Fish Habitat Partnership Activities for the Mountain States Fish Habitat Partnerships Making a Difference: Interior Redband Trout Range-wide Assessment Facts About Mountain States Most Pervasive and Severe Disturbances for the Mountain States Description of Urban Land Use as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Mountain States Habitat Trouble for Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Mountain States Description of Dams and Other Barriers as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Mountain States Habitat Trouble for Arctic Grayling in Mountain States Mountain States - Risk of Current Degradation Chart (Stream Length) Habitat Trouble for Plains Minnow in Mountain States Summary of Scientific Findings for Mountain States Mountain States - Risk of Current Fish Habitat Degradation Map Description of Agriculture as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Mountain States Fish Habitat Partnership Activities for the Mountain States