Westslope cutthroat trout (WCT) are a species of great ecological, social and economic importance in the Elk River Watershed. WCT have been designated as a species of special concern under the Federal Species at Risk Act and are Blue-Listed in BC due to concerns regarding introduced species (hybridization and competition), habitat loss and degradation, and increasing
exploitation (Ministry of Environment. 2014). While there have been a few studies on the Elk River WCT population (Cope et al., 2016; Heidt, 2003,2010), there are gaps in the data regarding key habitat, restoration priorities, and population estimates (Ministry of Environment. 2014). Without this data it is very difficult to manage the population effectively or implement projects that enhance WCT habitat.
Phase one of this four year project will take place in 2018 to 2019, with this year’s objectives being to identify and map important WCT habitat, prioritize and describe restoration opportunities and plan for a population assessment in the upper Elk River watershed; while doing this, we intend to also engage the community in order to increase local community awareness, engagement and knowledge about WCT health, habitat and threats to the population. The methods for the project include: reviewing and distilling available information in the form of reports and GIS layers to identify key habitat and restoration opportunities; communicating with key project partners such as industry, KNC, Teck, river guides to help establish restoration priorities and plans for a population assessment; and holding workshops and developing online and print communication materials to engage and inform local community members.