New Heritage Trout Waters on the Smith


Thank you to all our members and supporters who sent comments to the California Fish and Wildlife Commission in October. With your encouragement, and help from our local River Steward and partners at the Smith River Alliance, CDFW designated 64 miles of the upper South Fork Smith River and its tributaries as Heritage Trout Waters! Your comments convinced the commission to recognize the importance of the South Fork Smith’s native rainbow and coastal cutthroat trout populations and covered that stretch of river with better protection from future development.

The Heritage Trout Waters Program was started in the 1970s to increase the public’s understanding of and appreciation for the state’s unique fish populations. For more than 40 years, the program has rallied support for the collaborative efforts necessary to maintain a river’s beauty and protect its trout for future generations. A Heritage Trout Waters designation is reserved for the state’s most prized, self-sustaining fisheries. With the addition of the South Fork Smith, the first on California’s North Coast, there are now 12 across the state, each of them testaments to remarkable wild populations.

The Smith River is already a prized watershed. Multiple reaches have been protected under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers system since 1981 and 1990, but the Heritage Trout Waters designation is a special distinction for its magnificent native coastal cutthroat and rainbow trout.

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