Annear Modification of the Stream Class System, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Fish Division, Administrative Report
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) first developed a stream classification system in 1961. The inaugural system was intended to identify and rank the most important coldwater recreational fisheries to the State. Over time the system was also used to assess the relative potential impacts of proposed development projects to streams. The system also was adapted as one component in a land use management program to assess the relative value of properties being considered for acquisition by WGFD. The stream ranking protocol was periodically modified over the years. In its present form, streams are ranked using a combination of scores for productivity, accessibility and esthetics.
In recent years, fisheries managers have noted several limitations or problems with the present stream classification system. First, they observed some of the stream ranking attributes are highly subjective such that classifications may not be easily defined or defended. Second, managers noted the system addresses only trout and provides no information about the importance of cool/warm water sport fish or nongame fish. The present system also leads to considerable confusion with the stream classification system used by the Department of Environmental Quality because both are numerical. Lastly, managers felt the present stream classification may be used in ways which are not fully supported by the attributes used to rank streams and that other department policies and tools may be better suited to addressing.
There were two primary purposes for conducting this assignment. The first was to assess the relative merits of the existing system and identify its usefulness as a management tool considering present day needs and conditions. A second purpose of this exercise was to identify ways to modify the present system to more precisely and defensibly identify the most important recreational fisheries to the State.