Trout Unlimited is also happy about passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act . . .
The Flathead Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited has long been committed to protecting the Flathead River system, one of the last best strongholds for native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. The recent bipartisan support and passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act is a major step in the right direction. Hats off to Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh and to Rep. Steve Daines for working together to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from future mineral and energy development.
Given recent developments with coal mining in the Elk River drainage in British Columbia, and the continued low bull trout population numbers, as evidenced by annual counts of spawning beds, or “redds” in North Fork tributaries, the passage of this act is both timely and necessary.
Read more . . .
Glacier Park is showing good success in recovering a depleted bull trout population . . .
Glacier National Park, historically one of the last best strongholds for native bull trout, has seen its wild populations decimated by the explosion of invasive lake trout, reducing Montana’s aquatic darling to an imperiled icon and pushing the species toward the brink of extinction.
But biologists with Glacier Park and the U.S. Geological Survey have pioneered a new effort to suppress lake trout in remote backcountry lakes and reintroduce dwindling bull trout populations, with recent results showing strong evidence of success, and indicating that the efforts could be applied to other invaded habitats and broader ranges.
“New results are promising. The park is kind of spearheading these innovative and proactive ways to save bull trout,” Clint Muhlfeld, an aquatic biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), said. “It’s been so rewarding to have our science apply to on-the-ground management and leading conservation efforts in Glacier.”
Read more . . .
Glacier Park announced yesterday a number of fish conservation projects in the North Fork. These include a fish passage barrier to be constructed to protect Akokala Lake and lake trout suppression work at Quartz and Logging Lakes.
Here are the relevant press releases:
Fish Passage Barrier to be Constructed
Bull Trout Conservation Project Approved
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is doing restoration work along the south fork of Coal Creek . . .
A fish habitat enhancement project is underway in the South Fork Coal Creek drainage, a tributary to the North Fork Flathead River that was degraded by historical land management practices, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
More than two dozen large woody structures are being incorporated into the stream channel to create spawning and rearing habitat for bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.
Read more . . .
Glacier National Park wants to continue work on removing non-native lake trout from its waterways. Comments on the proposal are due by January 24 . . .
Glacier National Park is home to approximately one-third of the nation’s bull trout population that lives in natural, undammed lake systems.
That gives the park a critical role in regional bull trout recovery and long-term conservation, according to Glacier management assistant Denise Germann.
To that end, proposals to continue lake trout suppression on Quartz Lake and start lake trout removal on Logging Lake are now available for public review and comment.
Comments on the environmental assessment are due Jan. 22.
Read more . . .
For more information on the Glacier Park lake trout suppression project, including online comments, see: http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/LoggingQuartz
Bull trout numbers are down due to competition from non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. There’s some head-butting over the best fix for the problem . . .
Two biologists from two different government agencies agree on one thing — bull trout numbers in the Flathead appear to be stable. But they differ on the future of the native fish.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Tom Weaver says bull trout redd counts show a stable population over the past 10 years, and some spawning streams in the North Fork, particularly Coal Creek, saw a surge in numbers this year.
Biologists count spawning beds, called redds, each fall to gauge how many adults are returning to streams each year and the overall health of the bull trout population. The higher the count, the more robust the population. This year, biologists counted 225 redds in the North Fork and Middle Fork tributaries, compared to 229 last year and 189 one year earlier. But those numbers pale in comparison to the early 1980s when numbers ranged from 300 to as many as 600 in 1982.
Read more . . .
The latest bull trout redd count is in line with recent years, but still well below what it should be . . .
State biologists found 500 bull trout spawning sites in the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River this fall, indicating about 1,500 trout made the migration from Flathead Lake.
That’s not as good as the early 1980s before bull trout populations in Flathead Lake started to crash, but much better than the 1990s after federal authorities designated the fish a threatened species, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman John Fraley.
“We’ve done this count for 33 years,” Fraley said. “It gives us an idea how the bull trout spawners are doing. We’re about 57 percent of what we were in 1980, but well above the lows of the mid-’90s. That’s encouraging to us.”
However, federal officials monitoring bull trout recovery in Flathead Lake say the annual number doesn’t tell the whole story.
Read more . . .
As expected, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has approved the “South Fork of Coal Creek Habitat Enhancement Project” . . .
State fisheries managers approved increased spawning of westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout and habitat improvements on the South Fork of Coal Creek in Flathead County.
Continue reading . . .
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants comments on a “habitat enhancement” project for the south fork of Coal Creek. Here’s the write-up from the project web page:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Region One, is seeking public comment for a draft environmental assessment (EA) for the South Fork of Coal Creek Habitat Enhancement Project. FWP proposes to implement a project to increase available spawning and rearing habitat for westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout by adding large, woody debris into an impaired section of the South Fork of Coal Creek in Flathead County.
The draft is out for a 21-day public review through 5:00 p.m., Friday, June 28, 2013. Contact person: FWP Fisheries Biologist Amber Steed, (406) 751-4541 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting document: South Fork of Coal Creek Habitat Enhancement Project
Your friendly web-slinger was away on an extended road trip, so we’re playing catch-up. Here’s a spring crop of environmental lawsuits, all filed within days of each other. . .
Environmentalists file federal suit over logging on Montana state forests – A 50-year permit for logging and development on Montana state forests faces a federal lawsuit from environmentalists who say the state won’t do enough to protect threatened grizzly bears or bull trout. The Friends of the Wild Swan, Montana Environmental Information Center and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula’s U.S. District Court on Monday. Continue reading . . .
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks sued over trapping in lynx habitat – Three conservation groups filed a federal court lawsuit Thursday against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners and Director Jeff Hagener for allowing trapping and snaring in Canada lynx habitat. The Friends of the Wild Swan, the WildEarth Guardians and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies say FWP reported at least nine incidents since 2000 of lynx being caught in traps set for other species; and say four of those animals died. They alleged that this violates the federal Endangered Species Act, which lists lynx as a threatened species and warranted for protection, and want the trapping prohibited in lynx habitat. Continue reading . . .
Group keeps up challenge to logging roads – A conservation group said Wednesday it will keep pushing federal authorities to more closely regulate muddy logging roads, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that sided with the timber industry on the issue. Continue reading . . .