FWP fisheries biologists received well-deserved recognition for their efforts to restore the cutthroat trout population in the South Fork Flathead drainage . . .
The largest conservation project in the country aimed at restoring native westslope cutthroat trout has successfully reached its conclusion in the region, replenishing the waters of the South Fork Flathead River drainage upstream of Hungry Horse Dam with genetically pure populations of Montana’s state fish.
In doing so, the architects of the project, a band of dedicated state fisheries experts from the region, earned high honors from Montana’s governor, who this summer had occasion to ply some of the alpine lakes that now contain biologically superior populations of cutthroat.
On Sept. 25, Gov. Steve Bullock presented the Award for Excellence to Montana Fish Wildlife and Park’s Region One fisheries crew for their efforts to protect Montana’s last best stronghold for westslope cutthroat, a massive undertaking that began a decade ago under a cloud of controversy but emerged a resounding success.
Here’s a little bit different take on the cutthroat trout report mentioned here a couple of days ago . . .
Unlike dogs, trout don’t make healthy mutts.
Don’t expect hybrid vigor when rainbow trout interbreed with cutthroats in Montana’s high mountain streams. Despite the rainbow’s success as the most widely distributed game fish in the world, and the cutthroat’s remarkable ability to thrive through wildfires and landslides, their co-mingled offspring tend to be too dumb to live long.
That fact leaps out of analysis on one of the largest genetic data sets anywhere of Rocky Mountain cutthroat trout at the University of Montana’s Conservation Genetics Lab. In a recently published paper, the researchers looked at what happened to native trout after decades of artificial stocking in lakes and rivers.
NPR has an article about the problems faced by westslope cutthroat trout in the this corner of the country . . .
There’s an unplanned experiment going on in the northern Rocky Mountains. What’s happening is that spring is arriving earlier, and it’s generally warmer and drier than usual. And that’s messing with some of the fish that live there.
The fish is the iconic cutthroat trout. It’s a native North American fish that thrives in cold, small streams. Explorer Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame was among the first European-Americans to catch this spangly, spotted fish. He used deer spleen as bait.
It’s relative rarity now makes it a favorite for catch-and-release anglers. But biologists have now found that it’s in danger. The much more common rainbow trout is invading cutthroat streams and mating with the native fish. Ecologist Clint Muhlfeld says that creates hybrids.
Glacier National Park is in the initial stages of developing an ambitions fisheries plan . . .
Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow announced last week the launch of a two-year comprehensive planning process to address large-scale issues affecting the park’s iconic lakes and streams, including non-native invasive species and climate change.
“Glacier National Park’s native aquatic ecosystems are essential in maintaining regional biodiversity,” said Mow. “However, the Park’s lakes and streams are increasingly threatened by non-native invasive fish and other organisms, and by the impacts of climate change. This plan will evaluate a variety of methods for addressing these threats in a comprehensive way.”
Park officials say the purpose of the plan is to develop an integrated and adaptive approach to the restoration, conservation and future management of native aquatic species and their habitats across the park, including the federally-listed threatened bull trout and the state-listed westslope cutthroat trout.
To submit public comments online or view the scoping document, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/FishAquaticsPlanEIS. Comments can also be mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Fish and Aquatics Plan/EIS, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.
Rising water temperatures and general problems with access to clean, fast running water are affecting trout populations globally . . .
Temperature-sensitive trout thrive in water that is cold, clear and abundant – not exactly groundbreaking news. But a recent study tracking the relationship between warming climes and the adverse effects on global trout populations is the first to establish a scientific connection.
A team of researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey – including two researchers based at Glacier National Park – found that climate directly and consistently influences trout populations worldwide, and published their finding recently in the international quarterly journal “Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries.”
In the study, titled “Impacts of Climatic Variation on Trout: A Global Synthesis and Path Forward,” lead author Ryan Kovach and his colleagues provide the first global synthesis of trout responses to climate change over time. Despite the economic, cultural, and ecological value of trout, Kovach said long-term data comparing the health of trout populations to changes in streamflow and water temperature are surprisingly limited.
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.
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.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ South Fork Flathead Cutthroat Conservation Project is just about wrapped up. They’ve got three lakes left in their effort to restore a genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout population to the South Fork Flathead River drainage.
Project status: The South Fork Flathead Cutthroat Conservation Project has been systematically removing non-native fish and replacing them with pure westslope cutthroat. The goal has been to maintain the world class genetically pure westslope cutthroat fishery in the South Fork Flathead River Drainage. FWP Project Biologist Matt Boyer reports that 12 mountain lakes have been successfully chemically treated and an additional 6 lakes are being genetically swamped and may not require chemical treatment. Only three lakes remain on the original list of 21 encompassed by the project in the South Fork Flathead Drainage.
This year’s activities and limit waiver: This year, Koessler Lake is scheduled for rotenone treatment in September. Koessler is an 86 acre lake located at the head of the Gordon Creek drainage within the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. The lake was historically stocked with nonnative Yellowstone cutthroat trout and presently contains westslope cutthroat/Yellowstone cutthroat trout hybrids. Koessler is a remote backcountry angling destination. In past years, anglers have asked for limit waivers to allow more harvest of fish prior to treatment. The current bag limit is 3 trout per day. The proposal to lift the fishing bag limit on Koessler Lake will be submitted to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission. The FWP Commission will evaluate public comments and consider final approval of this proposal at their July meeting. It would go into effect immediately upon approval. Please contact your local Fish and Wildlife Commissioner if you have comments; address comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.