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Protecting and restoring the westslope cutthroat trout, which has substantially declined in Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere within its range in the upper Missouri River drainage, is driving an environmental assessment now available to the public. The park's Native Fish Conservation Plan Environmental Assessment is designed to guide the management of fisheries and aquatic resources in the park for the next two decades and outlines a plan to restore genetically pure westslope cutthroat populations to the Specimen Creek watershed in the northwestern corner of the park. The plan addresses the risk of interbreeding with introduced Yellowstone cutthroat and non-native rainbow. The preferred alternative would conserve the Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake by increased netting of non-native lake trout. It also calls for removal of non-native fish from some streams and lakes in the park, and introduction of native fish into restored habitats. It would allow managers to take an adaptive management approach to native fish conservation, incorporating new information and lessons gained from experience in annual work and treatment plans. This plan does not propose any changes in the Madison or Firehole rivers.

Yellowstone Releases Plan to Restore Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Protecting and restoring the westslope cutthroat trout, which has substantially declined in Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere within its range in the upper Missouri River drainage, is driving an environmental assessment now available to the public.

The park’s Native Fish Conservation Plan Environmental Assessment is designed to guide the management of fisheries and aquatic resources in the park for the next two decades and outlines a plan to restore genetically pure westslope cutthroat populations to the Specimen Creek watershed in the northwestern corner of the park.

The plan addresses the risk of interbreeding with introduced Yellowstone cutthroat and non-native rainbow. The preferred alternative would conserve the Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake by increased netting of non-native lake trout. It also calls for removal of non-native fish from some streams and lakes in the park, and introduction of native fish into restored habitats. It would allow managers to take an adaptive management approach to native fish conservation, incorporating new information and lessons gained from experience in annual work and treatment plans. This plan does not propose any changes in the Madison or Firehole rivers.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) and an electronic form to submit comments can be found here. A hard copy or CD of the EA is available by calling (307) 344-2874, or by writing to the Native Fish Conservation Plan EA, National Park Service, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

Those interested in learning more are encouraged to attend one of two public meetings scheduled for early next year:

Bozeman, MT: Jan. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn, 1370 North 7th Ave.

Cody, WY: Jan. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Holiday Inn, 1701 Sheridan Ave.

Written comments may be submitted through the web site, in person, by mail or at either of the scheduled public meetings. Comments will not be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail. All public comments must be received or postmarked by midnight, Jan. 31.

Once comments are analyzed, the National Park Service will make a decision on the final plan. The Regional Director of the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service will then sign a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) containing details of the decision, which is anticipated to occur in time to allow the park to move forward with conservation efforts this coming summer.

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4 comments

  1. Sometime in the 1990’s, I picked up the Livingston newspaper and read a public announcement by the USFS that they were going to extirpate char, the one called a brook trout, from some Shields River tributaries. The introduced exotic is a known competitor with another native char, called Dolly Varden years ago, but now tagged with Bull Trout. And at the same time, if any brown trout or rainbow trout showed up in the shocking or poisoning, whatever they were going to do, those would be taken also. The issue was to get back to pure strain native cutthroat. And the money to accomplish the task was from payments for environmental damage done by Exxon with the stranding and holing of the Exxon Valdez tanker.

    In a most tenuous and far fetched bureaucratic reality, Exxon reparations were going to be used to kill more fish. Ironic? Nah. That is just how these deals always go down. Which means that some snooping reporter ought find out the source of the revenue that will be used to have ethnic cleansing of trout in Yellowstone. Is it BP money from the Gulf? Halliburton money? So how bad will the Gulf fishermen get screwed to make Yellowstone the font of pure Westslope cutthroat trout? Or is there still some old Exxon dough around, or maybe some spilled coal that generated a fine in Wyoming?

    You can , you know, donate money to the agencies playing God. And have it be tax deductible. USFWS, NPS, Baptist Church. God needs the support.

  2. Because that was the fight song at your high school? I make your butt itch? Or you just have a way too vivid imagination?

    How does Deliverence come to your mind from a comment that the USFS used Exxon Valdez reparations money to kill trout in the Shields River valley? Could it be that you are thinking of the USFS and that stirs memories of being violated from the backside??

  3. Ahh, Mr. Bear, nice point. I guess its good to see some moneys go back to the wildlife, but you make us wonder about the hows and the whys. Keep up the posting. I enjoy your slant on things.

    I do enjoy catching those brook trout, and I hope that if they can indeed do what they want to do the fishing will be just as good for the people and the bears.

    It appears to me the bigger problem is the lake trout in yellowstone lake. Are they every going to get rid of all of them, or is this just going to be an on going process for the next 20-30 years until they decide they cannot do it anymore due to lack of money? I certainly hope it works. It would be nice to see another source of food for the bears concerning the spawning cutthroats. Getting rid of every single fish of one species in a lake that size is a monstrous task.

    It reminds me of the fish and wildlife program used in some areas to get rid of crested wheat grass, an import from europe that grows taller than native grass and is better for hay. They are poisoning some tracts of land with the idea of replanting native grass. Besides the fact that the grass grows deep, I wonder how they plan to keep the seed of the nonnative grass from blowing back in? Maybe the natives will outcompete the nonnative grass if it gets a head start? Dunno.

  4. Big Sky: If you want to get rid of some species of fish, let the Japanese have a commercial season on them. I am sure they would figure it out. Like the story about the young bull who sidled up to the old bull and said that they ought to run down to that group of heifers and breed some. The old bull replied that maybe they should walk down there and breed them all…..The Asian fishers would get them all. Especially if you asked that they do so….the carp. The lakeside ranchers’ livestock is safe, I think….

    Here, on Malheur Lake, home to the big USFWS Malheur Refuge, they have only a few nesting ducks on the whole of the lake and its margins. Asian carp. They have eaten all the algae, vegetation, and there is no duck food left. And they cannot figure out what to do, those great thinkers at USFWS. Dude!!! Find a Chinese commercial fishing outfit. Carp travel all the time to get oxygen through gills and to prospect for food. So you put in fish traps with leads, and a money hole at the end. The trap. Then the carp can be processed for food for the Asian markets, or they can be shipped alive to large urban areas to service the Asian markets there.

    In time, the carp will be under control. Not eradicated. Under control. And the plants will again grow and house insects and invertebrates. No trapper or fisher will ever eradicate the breeders. Makes no sense. That guy you hired to trap the beaver out of the creek that floods your pasture will always leave one or two so that he can be called back in the future. Human Nature.

    Every commercial fishery seems to be in some sort of stock level duress. So why would think they could not take out the grass carp on the rivers in Illinois, or the Asian carp on Malheur Lake, or the Lake trout/char on Yellowstone Lake?

    On the grass issues. A few years back, the BLM had a huge range burn north of the Snake River in eastern Idaho. Not wanting to get the whole of the burn area established to cheat grass, they flew on a herbicide that needs water to put it into the soil profile, where it will not allow seed germination. But it didn’t rain. and the herbicide has some contact efficacy. A windstorm came along, and blew a lot of loose top soil around. And over 30,000 acres of crops were killed or ruined downwind. All under irrigation. The water was there to put the herbicide into the soil profile and to coat leaves on the surface. Seed blows, and if you don’t have good conditions to set the herbicides, herbicides can blow in and around, also. Blowing soil particles can cut off emerging plants at ground level, and kill emerging plants. The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray…and John Steinbeck wrote a novel….