The late Dr. Robert J. Behnke, America’s foremost authority on native fish. Dr. Behnke was a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and professor at Colorado State University. He became Professor Emeritus at the Department of Fishery and Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University.
Dr. Behnke was recognized worldwide as the authority on the classification of salmonids. His book, Trout and Salmon of North America, is considered the bible for trout and salmon identification, history and ecology. He wrote a regular conservation column for TROUT magazine for years. The Snake River fine-spotted subspecies of cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei, was named in his honor. Dr. Behnke is also credited with rediscovering the previously believed extinct greenback cutthroat, Colorado’s state fish, as well as the thought to be extinct Bonneville Lahontan cutthroat.
Without Dr. Behnke’s passion, vision, knowledge, and hard work, our understanding of wild native salmonids would not be what it is today.
Native Fish Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots donor-funded, non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation, preservation and restoration of wild native fish. While most of our members are avid fly fishers, our focus is not limited to so-called “gamefish.” We are however primarily - but not exclusively - focused on salmonids, and the reason for this is twofold: Salmonids are often the species that are most threatened, and what is good for these native “indicator species” is good for all native fish.
It is the belief of Native Fish Coalition that no stream, river, pond or lake is truly healthy or “restored” until its full complement of native species is intact and it is devoid of non-native species and hatchery-raised fish. While clean water and healthy riparian zones are a necessary foundation for establishing healthy ecosystems, they are not an absolute indication of overall ecological health.
While the complete restoration of native species assemblages and the removal of nonnative fish is not always attainable, it is our goal.
The purpose for forming Native Fish Coalition was to address issues that fall through the cracks. Our goal is to work with like-minded entities to best utilize our skills and resources to promote meaningful reform even when that means challenging the status quo, and to bridge the gap between fish and water conservation organizations, as well as other groups.
We are part of a small but rapidly growing group of like-minded advocates who are committed to protecting, preserving and restoring our wild native fish. That shared vision and the structure of our organization allows us to achieve consensus and act quickly and decisively to protect this invaluable and irreplaceable resource.
Native Fish Coalition sees no issue as too big or too small, too easy or too challenging. Our approach is data-driven, and we use information and education, research, habitat restoration and enhancement, reclamation and regulations to promote complete and long-term solutions. While concessions are sometimes necessary, we will not agree to ineffective or dangerous compromises, quick fixes or temporary solutions. We see education, hands-on work, funding of projects, negotiation, public advocacy and legislation as important tools for achieving our objectives.
We have assembled a group of experienced independent advocates who have dedicated themselves to understanding the many threats facing our native fish and the most effective ways to combat those threats. It is our intent to find common ground wherever possible and work with as many organizations, government agencies, businesses and clubs as we can. If you feel as we do, we would greatly appreciate your support. No donation or offer of help is too small or too large.