Partnership aims to protect cutthroat trout waters

Wildlife officials in New Mexico and Colorado have teamed up with the Vermejo Park Ranch near Raton to protect habitat for the Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says federal officials have approved a conservation agreement for the northern New Mexico ranch that is aimed at conserving and restoring the trout along with other native fish in the Costilla watershed.

The agreement gives the ranch flexibility in managing its private lands while working to meet the needs of the fish if it’s ever listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The trout are found in about 10 percent of their historic habitat, which encompassed the Rio Grande, Pecos River and Canadian River basins in New Mexico and Colorado.

Threats facing the species include non-native fish, fragmented populations, drought and poor habitat.

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