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Decision Notice and Final EA for Smith Creek, Highwood Mtns

05/27/2010

Decision Notices

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) proposes removal of non-native fish in Smith Creek and its tributaries upstream of a constructed fish barrier using Environmental Protection Agency approved piscicides containing rotenone in approximately 1.75 miles of stream. After removal of non-native fishes, Smith Creek would be restored with locally obtained, non-hybridized westslope cutthroat trout (WCT). Restoration of WCT at this site would require construction of a concrete barrier to upstream movement of non-native fishes. The proposed area of restoration begins approximately 0.20 miles upstream of Smith Creek’s confluence with Highwood Creek. Approximately 0.75 miles of Smith Creek is located on Lewis and Clark National Forest, the remaining 1 mile is located on private land. The private landowner has signed onto the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances. This agreement allows FWP to restore native WCT to streams on private land and freeing the landowner from potential federal regulatory restrictions should WCT ever become a listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The preferred alternative will help preserve WCT in the Highwood Drainage by replicating one to two of the remaining populations of WCT and expanding the overall range of WCT by an additional 1.5 miles. Based on the Environmental Assessment, public comment, and the current high risk of extinction of genetically pure WCT in the Missouri River Drainage, the decision to proceed with Alternative 2, the proposed action was selected.