Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on three environmental assessments proposing to conserve and restore native westslope cutthroat trout by removing non-native or hybridized trout in Dyce Creek west of Dillon in the Beaverhead River drainage, and McVey Creek north of Wisdom and Cherry Creek near Melrose, both tributaries to the Big Hole River.
The westslope cutthroat trout, Montana’s state fish, has declined in abundance, distribution, and genetic diversity throughout its native range in the Missouri River drainage and now persists in only about 5 percent of its historically occupied habitat in the drainage. Major factors contributing to this decline include competition with introduced non-native brook, brown, and rainbow trout, hybridization with rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroat trout, habitat changes, and isolation to small headwater streams.
In all three environmental assessments, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks proposes to remove all non-native brook trout and hybridized trout using rotenone, a piscicide made from naturally occurring substances.
In Dyce Creek, a small tributary of Grasshopper Creek, after the removal of the non-native and hybridized trout, FWP proposes to re-establish genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout by transferring fish from an untreated portion of the drainage. A fish migration barrier has been constructed to prevent non-native trout from returning to the upper reaches of the stream.
In McVey Creek, a tributary of the Big Hole River, pure westslope cutthroat trout exist with non-native brook trout in the main stem of the creek, although in small numbers and isolated at the headwaters of the stream. FWP proposes to construct a fish barrier to prevent the return of non-native fish to McVey Creek and remove non-native brook trout upstream of the barrier. Prior to the use of the piscicide, westslope cutthroat trout and other native species would be captured by electrofishing, held, and then released back into the treated stream.
In Cherry Creek, a tributary of the Big Hole River, FWP proposes to construct a fish barrier to prevent the return of non-native fish to the restoration area and completely remove the non-native and hybridized fish from the stream and Granite and Cherry Lakes. Westslope cutthroat trout would then be re-established in the drainage by introducing eggs or live fish collected from existing wild populations in the Big Hole River basin. The proposal also includes stocking sterilized westslope cutthroat trout into Granite and Cherry Lakes following treatment to establish a recreational fishery.
Public meetings will be held in Dillon at the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Office (420 Barrett Street) on April 13 at 7 p.m. and Butte at FWP Butte Area Office (1820 Meadowlark Lane) on April 14 at 7 p.m. to discuss and take comments on all three environmental assessments.
The three draft environmental assessments are available in Bozeman at the FWP regional office (1400 S. 19th Ave.), FWP’s Headquarters in Helena (1420 E. 6th Ave.), or on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov under Recent Public Notices.
Comments on the environmental assessments will be accepted until 5 p.m. April 24, 2011, and may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
415 South Front Street
Townsend, MT 59644
For more information, contact fisheries biologist Lee Nelson at 406- 495-3866 or email@example.com.