The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reintroducing native rainbow trout to the Kern River.
Four water wells were recently drilled to serve as a back-up water source during adverse river conditions in preparation for the reintroduction.
“This is an important phase of the project and represents a significant milestone in preserving the heritage species in the Kern River,” said CDFW senior fisheries Environmental Scientist Brian Beal. “Upgrading our facility to reintroduce native trout will offer great fishing opportunities, while providing economic benefits and encouraging tourism.”
The reintroduction program will focus on Kern River rainbow trout, a strain of rainbow trout endemic to the Kern River. Because of heavy angling pressure and non-native introductions over the last century, the native fish can only be found in remote isolated areas of the Kern River.
As the program evolves, CDFW also plans to replace the existing non-native trout plants in the main stem Kern River and surrounding area with native trout. These non-native species include brown and other strains of rainbow trout that were planted over the years but not native to the river.
Additional planning is underway to collect the purest native trout from remote locations in SequoiaNational Park during the fall of 2013. Collection of these wild fish will provide fertilized eggs and serve as future foundation brood stock.
Funding for the project comes from both a Southern California Edison Company trust fund set-up in the mid-1990s and CDFW.
In addition to Southern California Edison Company’s financial support, the U. S. Forest Service, Kern River Fly Fishers, Southern Sierra Fly Fishers, Kaweah Fly Fishers, Friends of the (Kern River) Hatchery, the County of Kern and the local community have all made significant contributions and are working together to help make necessary improvements for this program.
Image courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife