As soon as the Rocky Mountain west was opened began cutting, grazing, blasting, mining, diverting, and irrigating- without full knowledge of what we may lose along the way. The west is a modified landscape, altered for our benefit.
Those alterations didn’t always extend into every headwater stream, or every alpine lake. Some were too small or remote or difficult to access for loggers or miners or ranchers to give a damn, and maintained their native cutthroat trout species. Some were happy accidents- trout moved above barriers or into formerly fishless lakes, providing easy protein that didn’t have to be packed in.
Isolated subspecies of some cutthroat- namely the big Lahontans of Pyramid Lake and greenback cutthroat of the Front Range, have managed to persist into the 21st century, recovered from small, isolated, relict populations. After successfully locating populations of the San Juan Cutthroat Trout, Colorado DNR hopes a few more subspecies are still out there, including the Yellowfin cutthroat, narrowly endemic to the Twin Lakes of the Arkansas River basin. Described in 1889, thirteen years passed between discovery and disappearance.
Maybe, hopefully, there’s a few kicking around in a headwater stream somewhere. A couple hundred dumped into a different, deep lake where they’ve been holding out all this time. It’s a shot in the dark, but here’s hoping.