The official nonprofit for Yellowstone National Park has new grant money devoted to a three-year effort to protect the native cutthroat trout population in the park. The National Park Foundation gave Yellowstone Forever a $500,000 grant from the Argyros family.
The Yellowstone nonprofit is spearheading a native fish conservation plan to decrease the invasive species of lake trout. Cutthroat trout are the native species in Yellowstone lake but since the introduction of non-native trout in the late 1980’s, its population has decreased by about 90-percent. The half-a-million dollar grant will support the effort to restore cutthroat trout using a two-part strategy: netting non-native trout to remove them from Yellowstone Lake and killing lake trout eggs when they hatch.
J.D. Davis, the senior director of special projects for Yellowstone Forever, said the organization has committed to a million dollars a year in private funding.
“The majority of the funds spent are to net lake trout and remove them from Yellowstone lake so to pay for the contractors,” he said.
The introduction of non-native species caused a huge imbalance to the park’s ecosystem.
“Many of the species that relied on cutthroat trout for food had to turn to other sources,” said Davis. “Species like otters, eagles, grizzly bears that used cutthroat trout either disappeared or moved on to other species to provide sources of food.”
Davis said the nonprofit hopes the conservation strategy will help re-establish cutthroat trout to their peak levels of the 1990’s.