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Reece Samuelson – Fisheries Biologist – Trinchera Ranch

Words by
wickedm
Published on
13 May 2024

What is your title and your role at Trinchera?

I am the Fisheries Biologist at Trinchera. My primary role at Trinchera is to plan and implement native fish reclamation projects, which fits into the larger role of being a steward of this amazing property by conserving, protecting and enhancing the abundant aquatic resources on the Ranch. There are nearly 200 miles of perennial streams and hundreds more of intermittent and ephemeral streams at Trinchera. It is also my role to ensure that these streams and the adjacent riparian areas offer high-quality fish and wildlife habitat and will continue persist – along with the species that utilize them – long into the future.

What is the Rio Grande Cutthroat trout and what makes it so special?

The Rio Grande cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis) is a subspecies of cutthroat trout native to the cold, clear mountain streams of the Rio Grande drainage in southern Colorado and New Mexico. Like all cutthroat trout, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout has a red-orange-pink slash mark in the folds beneath the lower jaw and vibrant coloration across the body, however it is distinguished from other subspecies of cutthroat trout by small to medium blotchy spots that are concentrated towards the back and tail of the body. It is the southernmost distributed subspecies of cutthroat trout and thought to be the first subspecies of cutthroat trout encountered by Europeans in North America. Rio Grande cutthroat trout are a unique and precious component of the biodiversity and natural heritage of the Rio Grande River basin.

What is the conservation status of the Rio Grande Cutthroat trout?

The Rio Grande Cutthroat trout has faced significant declines in both abundance and distribution and is estimated to occupy only 11% of its historic range. These dramatic declines can mainly be attributed to non-native trout introductions and habitat loss and degradation. The declines have warranted threatened or endangered designations by state wildlife management agencies and the subspecies is now being reviewed for listing as a federally threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. For several decades, a variety of stakeholders including State and Federal management agencies, Tribes, private landowners and non-governmental organizations have come together to implement intensive management and conservation efforts in an attempt to curtail any further declines in Rio Grande cutthroat trout abundance or distribution.

What are the primary threats to the Rio Grande Cutthroat trout’s survival?

The primary factor that is currently threatening the survival and persistence of Rio Grande cutthroat trout is non-native trout. Non-native trout negatively impact the persistence of Rio Grande cutthroat trout through competition, predation and hybridization. Non-native trout such as brook and brown trout compete with Rio Grande cutthroat trout for resources and are also predators of the subspecies. Rainbow trout are able to hybridize with Rio Grande cutthroat trout, which compromises the genetic distinctiveness of the native subspecies. Other threats include disease, natural disturbances such as wildfire and floods, and hydrological effects due to climate change.

What conservation work is being done on Trinchera to protect the Rio Grande Cutthroat trout?

Trinchera is on the forefront of Rio Grande cutthroat trout conservation efforts because of its protected status, strong support and involvement in native species conservation and large-scale, holistic management practices. Here at Trinchera, we are currently addressing the primary threat to Rio Grande cutthroat trout persistence by working with our partners to plan and implement large-scale non-native fish eradication projects and enhance and establish populations through stocking programs. In addition to species management, high-quality stream habitats are maintained, enhanced and protected by implementing habitat restoration projects and following best management practices during routine ranch operations. Finally, we believe in the importance of empowering future generations to become environmental stewards and thus host public awareness and education programs to promote responsible angling practices and teach the importance of preserving native species habitat.

Tell us more about why you love fish so much.

Aquatic ecosystems are fascinating and full of life. Fish live in a completely different medium than us “airbreathers” and have entirely different physiological systems than land-dwelling organisms. It is almost as if they live in a completely different world. By studying and working with fish we get a glimpse into this other world and attempt to understand and experience life underwater. I have immense passion for and interest in the natural world and an inquisitive and exploratory spirit. For me, the best way to satisfy this interest and spirit is by delving into something as mysterious and aberrant as aquatic environments and those that call it home. There is still so much to learn and explore. Also, I love to be around water. All life is tied to water. Thus, in and around streams is where most of the life and biodiversity is found, especially in arid environments. Spending a lot of time around full-of-life areas is a great place to be for someone like myself!

An Inclusive Experience

<p>While most Trinchera Ranch experiences are included in your stay, there are a few exclusions and experiences available for an additional cost. Please reach out to our dedicated team for specific rates.</p>

INCLUSIONS

Start your day with a delicious breakfast and savor inspired lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the day.
Quench your thirst with an extensive selection of beverages, including our signature cocktails, mocktails, liquors, wines, and champagne.
Set forth into a world of recreational and educational activities offered on our property, equipment included.

ADDITIONS

For those eager to embark on exciting fishing adventures, we have half-day or full-day guided fly fishing trips available.
Embrace tranquility with spa treatments and daily yoga classes to nurture your mind, body, and soul.

EXCLUSIONS

15% gratuity will be added to acknowledge our dedicated team members who ensure a remarkable stay.
A 6.9% state and county tax will be applied to your total bill.
While transportation from the airport is not included, we can assist you in making arrangements.
<a href="https://trinchera.vercel.app/stay#full-lodge-buyout"> Interested in a full-lodge buyout?</a>