Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Fishing - Region 1
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will host a public meeting to answer questions about the Draft Environmental Assessment to Investigate Suppression of Walleye in Noxon Reservoir. The open house style meeting will be held from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on March19, 2013 at the Thompson Falls Rural Fire Department on highway 200. Interested persons are welcome to arrive at any time during this session. Verbal comment will not be collected at the meeting; however, the public will be encouraged to submit written comment.
Participants are encouraged to read the EA (link below) prior to the meeting:
Investigation of Suppression of Walleye in Noxon Rapids Reservoir. You may also submit comments online on this page. Comments must be received by Friday, March 29, 2013 5:00 PM
To address common comments and frequently asked questions about the EA, MFWP prepared the following fact sheet.
Draft Environmental Assessment to Investigate Suppression of Walleye in Noxon Reservoir: Fact Sheet
• Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) is proposing to investigate suppressing illegally introduced walleye in Noxon Reservoir using electrofishing and netting. Sampling protocols will minimize impacts on non-target species and include short-term gill net sets in habitats containing concentrations of non-target species.
• An Environmental Assessment (EA) was released for public comment through March 29, 2013. MFWP is encouraging interested persons to read the EA and provide substantive comments on this document. An environmental assessment is not a popularity vote, although public sentiment will be noted. The decision will be based on biology and substantive issues raised.
•This project is proposed for several reasons:
- Walleye were illegally introduced. MFWP’s Illegal and Unauthorized Introduction of Aquatic Wildlife policy states the department “shall attempt removal at the earliest possible date” and the Walleye Stocking policy states “No introduction of walleye will be made into waters of the state west of the Continental Divide”.
- Based on case histories from other western reservoirs, walleye in Noxon Reservoir pose a significant threat to desirable sport and native fish including largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and numerous trout species in Noxon Reservoir due to reproductive capacity (up to 600,000 eggs per female) and habitat overlap. Walleye flushing downstream also pose a threat to the Lake Pend Oreille kokanee and rainbow fishery.
- Walleye establishment threatens the future of the $5 million annual Avista fisheries mitigation program for cutthroat, whitefish and bull trout.
- Noxon Reservoir is already at carrying capacity for top predators and walleye can only establish at the expense of bass or northern pike with bass the most likely loser.
• Annual gillnet monitoring in the reservoirs since 2000 has shown an increasing abundance of walleye, coupled with consistently declining numbers of prey species such as peamouth, pikeminnow and yellow perch. Perch are a popular gamefish in Noxon. In the transfer between trophic levels, it takes about 100 pounds of prey (perch) to produce 10 pounds of walleye.
• Noxon reservoir is currently the fifth most popular fishing destination in region 1with approximately 30,000 angler days, seven bass tournaments per year and a popular wintertime perch fishery.
• The introduction of walleye into Canyon Ferry Reservoir has been touted as a success but walleye did not boost long-term angler numbers. Walleye increased rainbow stocking costs by about $130,000 per year by requiring catchable trout to avoid predation and that plant uses a large portion of the catchables in the state, reducing opportunity for other waters. Walleye significantly reduced the fishery for yellow perch to about 1 perch per every four angler hours. Although walleye stunting has been somewhat alleviated recently by several years of poor recruitment the population goes through boom/bust cycles.
• The EA can be found online by clicking on the public notice link at fwp.mt.gov a hard copy can be attained at the MFWP offices in Kalispell, Helena or Thompson Falls. Funding for this program will come primarily from the Avista Utilities Clark Fork Settlement Agreement fisheries mitigation funding. This source receives a set amount of mitigation funding annually and will not result in rate increases to customers.