Members of the Cody regional office of Wyoming Game and Fish received special recognition for developing a public-private collaboration plan to restore cutthroat trout in the Bighorn Basin.
Fisheries specialists Sam Hochhalter, Jason Burckhardt, Joe Skorupski and education specialist Tara Hodges were acknowledged for their conservation efforts with the 2019 U.S. Forest Service Rise to the Future Award for Public Awareness.
The staff project was “The Cutthroat Trout Collaborative” and the planning process connected the agency, the public and the Bighorn and Shoshone national forests soliciting ideas to plan the future for the native and popular fish.
Alan Osterland, chief of fisheries in Cheyenne, who previously manned the Cody office, praised the group.
“Within our agency, we know the excellent work our employees do,” he said. “However, it is an honor when they are recognized nationally for their work.”
Hochhalter, who spearheaded much of the effort, said this recognition also demonstrates the public interest and dedication to cutthroat trout restoration and preservation.
“This was a huge ask of the public,” Hochalter said of the time committed at public forums, “and without their participation and willingness to take time out of their lives to help us, it wouldn’t have been the success it was.”