Data: All NM Wild/Native Trout Streams

posted in: Data, NM | 0

NM ColdwaterWe’ve been working on NM data since 2011, and know the state well (as we visit it frequently).  There may be states with better fishing resources than NM, but <sigh> they’re not in NM which my family and I fell in love with 20 years ago, and continue to visit as much as we can.  This dataset is our attempt to identify EVERY stretch of coldwater habitat in the state that may support wild trout.  The coloring indicates the surveyed species for this water:  Blue – indicates the stream supports native trout.  In the northern part of the state this means Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout.  In the southwestern part of the state, this means Gila trout.  Red – indicates non-native trout species, i.e. brook, brown, or rainbow trout.  Purple – indicates a mix of native and non-native species.  This layer combines 4 data sources:

  1. NMED’s water quality ratings, published via the EPA/305b assessment process.  This identifies cold water aquatic life habitat across much of the state and classifies it (from worst to best) as USE_CLASS:  marginal (MCW), cold water (CW), high quality cold water (HQCW), and high quality cold water – fish culture (HQCW-FC), that is water suitable for supplying a fish hatchery.  Definitions of these classifications are found at the bottom of this page.
  2. NMDGF Fishing Map – this is a reasonably comprehensive map of NM that plots streams which support fisheries with at least some public access (coded NMDGF – Fishing Map).  The index provides species data (which we’ve extracted as well).  We’ve marked only streams indicated as supporting trout.  You can download the original map from the downloads tab.
  3. RGCT 2008 Status Assessment (RGCT2008) – this document maps every conservation population of RGCT.  We compared its streams to ones mapped in the first two sets, and added any that were missing.  This report is created by the “RGCT Conservation Team” which consists of NMDGF and CDOW plus a bunch of Federal agencies:  USFS, USFWS, NPS, and BLM.
  4. Gila Trout Distribution Data from NMDGF (GILA2008).  This is based on a map published in a 2008 PowerPoint presentation.  Any stream left off of the first three sources was then added in.

Note that all of these data sources predate the serious fires which NM has experienced in the 2011-2013 seasons.  Some of the streams plotted on this map have been badly affected, particularly in the Gila Wilderness and Jemez Mountains.  Also, some of these streams are closed to fishing (particularly in the Gila Wilderness, but there are others).  Make sure you check NM regulations before targeting a stream. The Gila Trout layer has been updated since these fires and is more accurate than this layer for those streams.

Note that cold water habitat within Indian Reservations is NOT coded in the 305b file, so a substantial amount of trout habitat may missing here.  Note that fishing on a reservation is regulated by the tribal government.  Your NM Fishing license does NOT give you the right to fish there; you’ll need a reservation permit.  Most reservations are indicated as “BIA” land in the Federal layer.

In addition, there are some “marginal” cold water streams in the state which we chose not to code.  These may hold wild trout (even larger trout than the headwaters streams).  Trout will pursue what is known as a “fluvial” life cycle where they live in the main stem river during cooler months, and migrate into the colder tributaries if the temps get too high during the summer.  The only marginal streams we’ve coded are also found on the Fishing Map.

*New Mexico State-Designated Use Definitions

State-Designated Use
State-Designated Use Description
HQCW High Quality Coldwater Fishery A perennial surface water of the State in a minimally disturbed condition which has considerable aesthetic value and is a superior coldwater fishery habitat. A surface water of the State to be so categorized must have water quality, stream bed characteristics, and other attributes of habitat sufficient to protect and maintain a propagating coldwater fishery.
HQCW-FC Fish Culture Production of coldwater fishes in a hatchery or rearing station. [Note: All FC streams are also HQCW]
CW Coldwater Fishery A surface water of the State where the water temperature and other characteristics are suitable for the support or propagation or both of coldwater fishes.

Leave a Reply