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New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact:  (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 1, 2013:

DEPARTMENT BIOLOGISTS RECOGNIZED FOR GILA TROUT RESCUE EFFORTS

PHOENIX – Efforts to rescue critical populations of Gila Trout from streams damaged by the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Complex forest fire has earned Department of Game and Fish biologists special recognition by a national conservation organization.

The National Fish Habitat Partnership recently presented the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department with the 2012 Extraordinary Action Award. New Mexico biologists Kirk Patten, Kevin Gardner and Jill Wick were among more than 40 people representing the four agencies in the rescue and subsequent conservation efforts.

The Whitewater-Baldy Fire was New Mexico’s largest forest fire at 297,845 acres and threatened a significant amount of habitat for the Gila trout – only six years after it was downlisted from endangered to threatened on the federal endangered species lists.

When it was safe to enter the forest, field crews traveled by horseback to collect and evacuate Gila trout from Whiskey, Langstroth and Spruce creeks. Trout were captured and placed in large containers attached to long lines carried by helicopter to waiting hatchery trucks outside the wilderness area. Most of the trout were taken to the Mora National Fish Hatchery. Some trout from Spruce Creek were relocated in Ash Creek, Ariz.

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