Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By News Release
Montana FWP 

FWP seeks input on North Fork Blackfoot River westslope cutthroat project; online public meeting planned for July 22

 

Missoula - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking input on a proposed fisheries conservation project on the North Fork Blackfoot River that would establish a conservation population of native westslope cutthroat trout upstream of North Fork Falls.

FWP will host an online meeting Wednesday, July 22, beginning at 6:30 p.m., to discuss the proposal, answer questions and take comment.

The proposal calls for first reducing the number of hybrid trout above North Fork Falls to the extent possible with substance called rotenone. Rotenone is a naturally derived, commonly used substance that is toxic to gill-breathing animals and breaks down quickly following the use of a deactivation agent. The area currently contains hybridized rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Native westslope cutthroat trout would then be stocked into the area over a series of three years. The newly established native fish population would be protected from future hybridization by the natural North Fork waterfall barrier. The fish would have access to nearly 70 miles of connected stream habitat and lakes that are predicted to remain thermally suitable well into the future even as lower elevation areas in the drainage are predicted to become too warm to support westslope cutthroat trout.

Westslope cutthroats are native to Montana but have experienced substantial declines in distribution and abundance throughout their historical range due to habitat degradation and hybridization with rainbow trout. FWP says the proposed North Fork project is a unique opportunity to conserve a population of westslope cutthroat trout in a secure location with significant amounts of habitat and potential to migrate, which will provide the greatest chance of long-term population persistence.

Additionally, the project would help conserve native trout in the greater Blackfoot watershed by reducing the number of hybrid trout that move downstream over the waterfall and mix with native populations.

The proposed project is located on portions of the Lolo and Lewis and Clark National Forests, and within the Scapegoat Wilderness.

FWP has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposal. To review the draft EA and to comment, go to FWP's website, fwp.mt.gov, under "News," then "Recent Public Notices." Or, request information and comment by contacting Region 2 FWP, 3201 Spurgin Rd., Missoula 59804; by phoning 406-542-5540; or by emailing [email protected] Comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

Virtual Meeting Information

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FWP will host an online public meeting on the proposal using the video conferencing platform Zoom on Wednesday, July 22, beginning at 6:30 p.m. A livestream of the meeting will be available at that time on the FWP website, fwp.mt.gov, on the page where the EA is posted. Click on "News" and "Recent Public Notices."

Public Comments

There will be an opportunity to provide public comments before or after the meeting by email to [email protected]; or in real-time by dialing in by phone during the public meeting portion of the agenda:

Dial +1 646 558 8656

Webinar ID: 981 3965 8750

Password: 673265

To "raise your hand" when you are ready to comment or to ask a question, press *9, and you will be unmuted. At that time, please mute the livestream of the meeting on your computer to minimize background noise. Please state your name and where you are from before commenting or asking a question.

For questions on the online meeting, please contact FWP at 406-542-5518.

 

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