The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have adopted the Flathead Lake and River Fisheries Co-management Plan, following a 16-month public process. The plan aims to increase native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout in the system, while maintaining a viable recreational fishery.
FWP Director Patrick Graham said the plans adaptive approach is a good fit for managing the system. "The Flathead system is large and complex, and ecological changes have created a lot of uncertainty with its fisheries," he said. "This plan is sustainable because it is biologically possible, affordable to implement, and has broad public support. The challenge is to increase native trout populations while maintaining recreational fishing opportunity for other species."
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman Fred Matt said the plan has wide support in the Tribal Council. "The Tribes are happy with the direction in the plan because it will strive to enhance native fish," he said. "This emphasis on native fish supports their role in our culture and religious practices. We also will be researching the possibility of releasing white sturgeon in the lake."
The plan seeks to increase bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout by suppressing the numbers of nonnative fish that compete with them. The Flathead Lake and River Fisheries Co-management Plan includes input from a citizen advisory committee that met for five months and extensive public comment. To request a copy of the plan, call the FWP Region One office at 406-752-5501.