State and federal biologists in New Mexico and Arizona are being recognized for rescuing threatened Gila trout during a massive wildfire last summer.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership recently presented the 2012 Extraordinary Action Award to the game and fish departments in Arizona and New Mexico, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Agency employees worked to scoop up the trout and ferry them out of the Gila Wilderness via helicopter as the Whitewater-Baldy Fire raged in southwestern New Mexico. The blaze ended up burning more than 465 square miles, making it the largest wildfire in the state's recorded history.
The Gila trout was one of the original species listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Through recovery efforts, it was
downlisted to threatened status in 2006.