Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Region One, has completed an environmental assessment (EA) for a proposal to conduct a 6-year effort to investigate suppressing illegally introduced walleye in Noxon Reservoir using a variety of sampling gear and techniques. A draft EA was released for 30 days of public comment on February 28, 2013, through March 29, 2013. The public comment was extended for an additional 21 days through April 19, 2013. A public meeting was held in Thompson Falls, Montana, on March 19, 2013.
A total of 431 comments were received, with 359 opposed and 72 in support of the project, plus 3 form letters and 7 petitions. Substantive issues raised include the origin of the walleye, potential bycatch of nontarget species in suppression efforts, funding availability, walleye removal techniques, and the economic impacts of both allowing walleye to establish in the lower Clark Fork and the consequences of removal attempts. Based on the numerous questions, comments, and information requests received throughout the EA process, a revised draft EA will be prepared to address these issues and provide additional information. FWP will strive in the revised draft EA to format and assemble the information in a manner that will invite public reading and understanding of the primary issues and consequences.
(Decision Notices - 07/30/2013)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has developed a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared for the proposed action of continuing Yellowstone cutthroat restoration in Sage Creek in Carbon and Bighorn Counties in Montana. This draft EA addresses two issues. The first is the recent discovery in July 2013 of brook trout in the upper reaches of the North Fork of Sage Creek. The population appears to be isolated above the original project area in a reach of stream that was considered fishless when surveyed in 2010. The section with brook trout was not surveyed in 2012 as it was considered fishless. A few cutthroat trout were stocked above the waterfall in 2010, crews in 2013 were asked to determine if any of those fish remained after high water in 2011. That crew subsequently discovered brook trout. Several adult brook trout and more age 1 and young-of-year brook trout were captured during annual survey work. The 2011 water year likely improved habitat conditions in this reach and the few previously undetected adults have successfully spawned both years since. FWP and other cooperators would like to chemically remove these brook trout in August of 2013 before the adults spawn in September and before fish potentially move downstream into the larger project area. Additionally the EA approved in 2010 for this effort had a timeline that ended in 2012. This updated EA proposes to extend the timeframe for this effort through 2018. Survey efforts in 2012 and in 2013 didn’t find brook trout in the larger project area. It is anticipated this treatment will remove the last brook trout in the Sage Creek drainage and future treatments would be unnecessary. If however brook trout migrate downstream beyond the 2013 treatment area it will be necessary to treat the drainage again. (Restoration & Rehabilitation - 07/26/2013)
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) proposes to transfer wild sauger from the Fred Robinson Bridge area of the Missouri River to Jakes Reservoir. Sauger were stocked in Jakes Reservoir in 2003 and 2005 to reduce yellow perch numbers and stunting. It appears that sauger from the 2005 year class previously transferred had limited if any survival and the 2003 year class is getting old. Total length and condition of yellow perch improved through 2009. Condition of yellow perch has declined by 30% and mean length by nearly one inch in the past 2 – 3 years (through 2012). FWP would like to continue with the sauger predation program at Jakes. Missouri River sauger are only available as wild fish transfer from outside the hatchery system. A maximum of 100 sauger from 5–13 inches in length would be transferred annually for up to five years. To minimize impacts on the wild sauger population, sauger would be moved after the spawning season from a 37 mile reach of river between Cow Creek and the Rock Creek boat ramp. (Species Removal & Relocation - 07/23/2013)
The enclosed Decision Notice has been prepared for the Reintroduction of Native Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Greenhorn Creek by Removal of Nonnative Hybrid rainbow x cutthroat and brook trout with Rotenone. The project proposal was to remove hybridized cutthroat and brook trout from 15.5 miles of Greenhorn Creek, and refound with pure westslope cutthroat trout from up to six populations. Two public comments were received during a 30-day comment period ending 21 July 2013.
Based on the Environmental Assessment and need to conserve westslope cutthroat trout, it is my decision to proceed with the Greenhorn Creek westslope cutthroat trout conservation project.
I find there to be no significant impacts on the human and physical environments associated with this project. Therefore, I conclude that the Environmental Assessment is the appropriate level of analysis, and that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. (Decision Notices - 07/22/2013)