Included on the Ultimate USA Cutthroat Map, plus the CO Map. PDFs and KMZs providing additional information about the Greenback Cutthroat are available from the download system.
Greenback cutts were considered Endangered until the 1990s. Extensive conservation work expanded their range from 9 populations to several dozen, and the trout was honored as the “State Fish of Colorado”, and downgraded to “threatened”.
That is, until DNA testing gummed up the works. Greenback and CRCT cutts are morphologically indistinguishable from each other (even if you’re a trained fish biologist in a lab, dissecting the specimens). You can ONLY reliably tell the difference via genetic testing. Prior to that, fisheries managers simply assumed that any wild cutthroat population they found in the front range, where there was no record of stocking, was Greenback. That turned out to be wrong: recent testing has shown that virtually every population that was assumed to be Greenback is, in fact, a wild survivor of CRCT trout stocked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where the records had been lost. All of the transplanted conservation populations used brood stock from these formerly CRCT pops. Only ONE of the historic populations currently identified as “Greenback” is in fact genetically Greenback. Angling on that stream, by the way, is prohibited and “true” Greenbacks are back on the endangered list.
As a convenience to our Colorado fishermen and women, we’re continuing to classify all of these front-range streams as Greenback. Personally, I don’t have a problem catching a trout that is indistinguishable from a Greenback and calling it a Greenback, and the alternative classification system (strain green and strain blue) isn’t generally accepted and is way too confusing. Also, it’s really unclear whether angling for “true” Greenbacks will ever be possible again. Having invested millions of dollars in restoring ersatz Greenbacks to their current status, are Uncle Sam and the Colorado taxpayer willing to step up to correct the error with populations that look identical?
We’ve provided two data sources specifically to help you find greenbacks, which we’ll describe below the photo. They can be downloaded individually from the “Natives” tab of the download system, in the Greenbacks section. They are also contained within the CO layers which provide info about CRCT and RGCT as well (if you’ve already downloaded those layers, the datasets were about to describe are a subset of what you’ve already downloaded).
Sources: Greenback streams (green lines) identified by WildTroutStreams.com from a variety of sources on a USGS hybrid basemap
Perhaps because Greenbacks were the first of the cutthroat variants to receive Federal endangered species support, the status of Greenback populations in the state are more poorly documented than other variants. WildTroutStreams.com has been collecting and cross-referencing key conservation documents for years, and in 2014, put together this layer which maps every stream documented from a reliable source. These documents include:
- Greenback Cutthroat Trout 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation, 2009
- Fisheries and Aquatic Management, Rocky Mountain National Park (2000, 2001, 2006)
- US Forest Service Inventoried Roadless Areas & Native Trout Habitat (Map, 2006)
- Colorado Water Conservation Board Maps of Greenback, Rio Grande Cutthroat, and Colorado River Cutthroat habitat, 2010
Streams are coded as “CorePop” – genetically pure populations that are being specifically managed to conserve the genetic stock of Greenbacks; “ConPop” – other populations of greenbacks that aren’t considered genetically pure but are being managed for conservation; and “CTPresent”, which represents streams where Greenbacks live, typically in combination with exotic species and often genetically hybridized.
Many of these populations are protected by special regulations. BEFORE GOING OUT, PLEASE CONFIRM INDEPENDENTLY WHETHER SPECIAL REGULATIONS APPLY TO THE WATERBODIES YOU’RE PLANNING TO EXPLORE.