Colorado Parks and Wildlife is one of several state and federal agencies that has been working for decades to recover the federally threatened greenback cutthroat trout. But a few years ago, new genetic research revealed that they’d been saving the wrong subspecies.

They traveled in buckets, passed hand to hand from truck bed to lakeshore, before being carefully upended just above the surface by proud biologists. With each splash, another batch of young greenback cutthroat trout slid into the glassy waters of Zimmerman Lake – back into their native range high in Colorado’s South Platte River Basin.

In September 2013, it began to rain in Colorado. And it didn’t stop. Northwest of Fort Collins, the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre River soon carried record amounts of water. In just a few days, flows leapt from three cubic feet per second (cfs) to more than 1000 cfs when the upstream dam could not hold any more water and began to spill over.