So, what is a “Slicken”? If you live near the headwaters of the Clark Fork River, you probably know. These Dead Zones are found along the watersheds. Nothing lives in these areas which contain heavy metals and other toxins. The pollution is a result of the local mining, milling, and dumping in the area.
A fish kill took place this past weekend. Friday’s torrential rains, washed material from the Slickens into the watershed. This already impacted fishery was just impacted more. A search found over 30 fish, which included trout, whitefish, and suckers. The trout were mainly Browns, which are more resistant to the metals in the water. Rainbows, and Brook trout, are caught occasionally.
This area is closed to consumption but does offer fun sport fishing. Most of the dead fish were quickly eaten by birds and scavengers in the area. The rest were washed downstream. No impact to wildlife populations have been seen, yet.
The current fish population in the affected area was only 15-30 fish per mile. With this episode, the population will be more degraded. This pollution kill is the worst in 3 decades, for this area.
Evidence of erosion was found at two, large, slicken sites where rains washed the sediments into the river, and caused a huge pollution spike.
A Cleanup will be needed.
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.