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  • Writer's pictureTim Chandler

Gila Trout Habitat Restoration in Whispering Pines, Payson, AZ

Did you know that as of 2019, Arizona Game and Fish are actively working in Whispering Pines along the East Verde river to restore habitat for native Gila trout? In fact, we have 30 tagged Gila being tracked from Washington Park to 2nd Crossing in trial as part of a broader effort to bring native Gila numbers back up into our creek!

Gila trout with golden and cooper colors like a sunset.
Source: Wikipedia - Gila Trout

Since 1920 when the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish established the Jenks Cabin Hatchery there's been a concerted effort to ensure these fish had a future. While once on the Endangered Species list inn 1973, partnerships and programs to increase habitat and numbers in New Mexico and Arizona have been successful, and the Gila was down listed in 2006. Today, the Arizona Game and Fish continue working as part of the Gila Trout Recovery Team (composed of professionals from NM Department of Game and Fish, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of New Mexico, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department) in accordance with the Gila Trout Recover Plan of 2003 to restore habitat and remove nonnative species from local streams (like rainbow trout) in favor of native salmonids like the Gila trout.

Gila trout heaven, in Whispering Pines, Payson, AZ
Gila trout heaven, in Whispering Pines, Payson, AZ

The East Verde in Whispering Pines is the site of a planned ~$225K investment in habitat restoration that will include the construction of several log/rock dams along the stream from Washington Park to 2nd crossing during the early winter 2019/2020. This will create holding areas and act as a filtration (to remove silt) for local water in preparation for stocking of Gila trout in 2020.

Will all this effort and the focused resources invested in our local creeks, you can be sure the fishing will be 'golden' in Spring 2020 as stocking efforts will swing toward the Gila, returning this little sunset colored beauty to our area and offering a unique fishing experience to our creekside Airbnb visitors in 2020.


Authors Note: Programs like this cost money. If you're a fisherman who'll benefit from programs like these please consider supporting Arizona's Water for Wildlife or other programs that help fund Arizona Game and Fish!

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