Restoration & Rehabilitation
Fri Jul 26 14:25:00 MDT 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.