The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a public-private Fish Habitat Partnership that works collaboratively across 12 western states to conserve (protect, restore, and enhance) 21 native trout and char species. Formed in 2006 under the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), WNTI provides a new perspective and impetus to improve the return on investment of the time, money and workforce dedicated to native trout conservation. WNTI is a collaborative, multi-state approach that requires the involvement of a wide range of partners – from public agencies to private individuals to conservation-minded organizations and corporations. WNTI and our partners combine science-based assessments with expert and local knowledge to establish joint priorities for native trout conservation at a landscape scale. The Partnership plays an important role in conserving water in the West for future generations. Since its inception in 2006, the Western Native Trout Initiative has directed over $6 million in federal fish habitat funds leveraged with over $43 million public and private matching dollars for 209 priority native trout conservation projects. With the collaboration and coordination of WNTI Partners, together we have removed 125 barriers to fish passage, reconnected or improved 1,440 miles of native trout habitat, and placed 41 protective fish barriers to conserve important native trout conservation populations. In order to ensure our collaborative investments are directed toward the highest priority projects, WNTI has funded over 767 watershed, fish population, and habitat surveys.
WNTI provides a forum for partners to coordinate and invest their collective assets and capacity toward completing the highest-priority, native trout conservation efforts across the West. Proposed and led by local communities and resource agencies, these projects are funded and supported through WNTI’s grant programs and in-kind contributions by our partners. Read more about our Campaign for Western Native Trout.
An Initiative of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), WNTI is also recognized as a National Fish Habitat Partnership by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. We are governed by a steering committee representing all 12 western state fish and wildlife agencies, 3 federal natural resource agencies, Native American Tribes, Canadian provincial fish and wildlife agencies, and Trout Unlimited and have partnered with over 350 organizations, nonprofits and businesses to date.
The Foundation for Western Fish and Wildlife is WNTI’s 501c3 fiscal sponsor and accepts tax-exempt donations on our behalf. 100% of donations go toward western native trout projects. You can help us conserve western native trout!
With few exceptions, native trout populations have declined across the West, usually due to two general factors: habitat alteration and introduced non-native fish. Remaining native trout populations are often isolated from one another and exposed to increased predation, competition, and hybridization. Continued human population growth, coupled with potential habitat damage from a warming climate, has increased the urgency of securing and improving the status of western native trout.
The 21 native trout and char addressed by the Western Native Trout Initiative have long been considered as biologically, recreationally and culturally important. While local conservation actions have occurred, overall range-wide recovery and coordinated management of western native trout and char generally has been addressed in a fragmented approach.
Conserving (protecting, restoring, and enhancing) western native trout, char and kokanee populations will take a unified, collaborative effort among multiple state, federal, and local agencies plus private organizations, tribes, and individual landowners to be successful. The Western Native Trout Initiative was formed in 2006 to incorporate the best conservation strategies of existing ventures to save trout that many regard as icons of the American West and to play an important role in conserving water and iconic western landscapes for future generations. By working together, WNTI and its partners are striving to implement the most strategic actions needed to benefit these trout and char. By working together to establish secure populations, WNTI will also benefit anglers by enhancing recreational fishing opportunities for unique trout species across the West.
The Mission of the Western Native Trout Initiative is: “To serve as a key catalyst for the implementation of conservation or management actions, through partnerships and cooperative efforts, resulting in improved species status, improved aquatic habitats, and improved recreational opportunities for native trout anglers across western states”.
The Vision of the Western Native Trout Initiative is: “An increase in healthy, fishable western native trout, char and kokanee populations resulting from sharper focus and commitment to action on common conservation needs of western native trout; enhanced public benefit resulting from multiple partners working together, sharing resources, and speaking with a united voice about the conservation and value of western native trout; and increased funding to accomplish strategic actions as a result of greater community and financial support from initiative partners and collaborators.”
The Western Native Trout Challenge