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Colorado River cutthroat trout mural will debut at Vernal festival

Thanks to efforts from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and Utah Trout Unlimited, Colorado River cutthroat trout can be found in waters across their native range in the Beehive State.

Now, a pair of the beautiful cutthroat trout have found a home in downtown Vernal. Utah Wildlife Walls, a partnership between mural artist Chris Peterson and the Utah Wildlife Federation, will unveil its third mural in Utah during the Dinah-SOAR Hot Air Balloon Festival in Vernal August 25-26.

"When I first heard about the opportunity to have a Colorado River cutthroat trout mural in downtown Vernal, I was super excited, thinking this would be an incredible opportunity to bring engagement and awareness to our cutthroat trout restoration efforts,” said Trina Hedrick, Aquatics Manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources in the Northeastern Region. “This species is the only trout native to this area, and it was the only trout species present until about the 1880s when brook trout were distributed around the Western U.S. Cutthroat trout were an important species for native peoples, and due to efforts of state and federal agencies, conservation groups and private entities, it continues to be an important native and game species in the state.”

The mural was funded by the Utah Cutthroat Slam – a partnership between the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Trout Unlimited, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Downtown Vernal Alliance, Vernal City, and Visit Dinosaurland.

“We are thrilled Vernal has been chosen to participate in the Utah Wildlife Walls project and are thankful for all the partners that helped make it happen,” said Laura Chynoweth, Chair of the Downtown Vernal Alliance. “It has been an honor to be a part of the collaboration - led by the Utah Wildlife Federation and Chris Peterson Studio. “We invite community members and visitors alike to join us at the mural's unveiling during Dinah-SOAR Days and hear from local wildlife experts on the significance of the cutthroat trout to our area."

People are invited to celebrate the mural by visiting 74 East Main Street from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, August 25 and 4-9 p.m. on Saturday August 26. Partners in the mural will be on hand with information about Utah’s four native cutthroat trout, how to use the citizen science iNaturalist app to share your love of wildlife in our state, learn how to cast a fly rod, and creating your own cutthroat trout species by painting wood cutouts.

“While the mural will be here to inspire and educate people for years to come, we like to give the local community a chance to celebrate it together and learn about the creature on the wall,” said Utah Wildlife Federation Chair Brett Prettyman. “All wildlife should be celebrated by the citizens of Utah.”

A special presentation will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on August 26 in the Vernal Theater featuring Brian Maxfield, DWR conservation biologist, on Uinta Mountain conservation species; Jordan Dimick, Utah Trout Unlimited; Ellen Eiriksson, Natural History Museum of Utah, on the iNaturalist app; Kelly Cambridge, Fisheries Enhancement Coordinator with the Ute Tribe; Brett Prettyman, Utah Cutthroat Slam; and Trina Hedrick, DWR fisheries biologist.

Seating is limited in the Vernal Theater so sign up at

“Highlighting our native trout species and using funding from the Utah Cutthroat Slam to restore and promote healthy cutthroat populations and a mural to celebrate the beautiful fish is right in line with our mission,” said Jordan Nielson, Utah Water and Habitat Program Director for Trout Unlimited. “Chris’ art is amazing, and we are happy, along with the DWR, that the Utah Cutthroat Slam could support the mural.”

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