The Arctic grayling’s spotted, orange-trimmed dorsal fin looks as if it had been photoshopped. It’s half as long as the body and just as wide; and it glows with impossible shades of violet, green and turquoise. This gaudy trout cousin was deposited by the retreating glacier in the coldest, clearest waters of the contiguous states.
So common was the species in Michigan that a city, Grayling, took its name. And as recently as the early 20th century grayling abounded in the upper Missouri River system. While these fish still thrive in Alaska and Canada, they’ve been wiped out in Michigan and persist only in about 15 percent of their historic range in Montana and Wyoming.
Grayling recovery is happening thanks to a political juggernaut in the form of a well-funded federal-state-NGO-rancher alliance. The Big Hole CCAA, a 20-year process now half complete, provides the most compelling evidence yet that, at least on private land, the ESA works best as a motivator for reform rather than a punishment for violation.
Link (via: Cool Green Science)