Tue Dec 21 14:38:00 MST 2010
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks propose removal of non-native fish in North Fork Highwood Creek (NFHC) and its tributaries upstream of a constructed fish barrier using EPA approved piscicides containing rotenone in approximately 4 miles of stream. After removal of non-native fishes, NFHC would be restored with locally obtained, non-hybridized westslope cutthroat trout (WCT). The proposed area of restoration begins one mile upstream of the NFHC trailhead on Lewis and Clark National Forest (Highwood Mountains) Three miles of NFHC downstream of the restoration area would continue to be managed as a non-native trout fishery (primarily brook trout). It is predicted that a restored population of WCT in NFHC would be very robust (>2,500 individual fish). Once the WCT population is restored; management alternatives, which include limited harvest, would be considered. This project would create an opportunity to fish for the only trout native to the Missouri River Drainage in a relatively pristine stream with ample public access. Based on the Environmental Assessment, public comment, and the current high risk of extinction of genetically pure WCT in the Highwood Drainage, the decision to proceed with Alternative 2, the proposed action was selected. The Draft Environmental Assessment, together with this decision notice, will serve as the final document for this proposal.