Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Conservation Planned in Buffalo Creek, Tributary to Lamar River 
By angelamontana

Posted: April 14, 2022

Gardiner, MT- April 14, 2022 – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Gardiner Ranger District, Custer Gallatin National Forest have agreed to proceed with the Buffalo Creek Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project.

Draft Decision Notices are available for the project to replace non-native fish with native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Buffalo Creek on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park. The notices start a 45-day Forest Service objection period and 30 days for FWP appeals.

The project, located within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness will start August 2022, and be conducted over a five-year period to ensure successful chemical removal of non-native rainbow trout in the project area.

Buffalo Creek is a tributary to Slough Creek and the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park.  Buffalo Creek is the source of non-native rainbow trout that are spreading downstream and hybridizing with native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Slough Creek and the Lamar River drainage in Yellowstone National Park.

A piscicide rotenone, which effects only gill breathing organisms, would be used to remove the non-native rainbow trout in Hidden Lake and 46 stream miles in Montana and the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.  Once non-native fish are removed, unhybridized Yellowstone cutthroat trout would be carefully restocked in the rehabilitated waters.  

With almost 50 miles of cold, connected, high quality fish habitat upstream from a natural barrier, this project presents the greatest opportunity in the headwaters of the Yellowstone River for establishing a Yellowstone cutthroat trout stronghold secure from non-native fish, natural disturbance, and climate warming threats.  

“This project is an essential piece in Yellowstone cutthroat trout conservation work,” said Mike Thom, Gardiner District Ranger. “The Custer Gallatin National Forest and specifically portions of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness is poised to create secure cold water refugia and strongholds for the long-term sustainability and success of Yellowstone cutthroat trout.  This is one of those prime opportunities working jointly with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to benefit the natural characteristics of wilderness with native fish communities critical to our ecosystem.”

“The Buffalo Creek project is an important project for the long-term viability of the natural Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park,” said Mike Ruggles, FWP’s regional supervisor in Billings.  “Currently Buffalo Creek, a headwaters tributary of Slough Creek and Lamar River, harbors introduced rainbow trout and is the major contributor of rainbow trout to the Lamar River.”

Working cooperatively with Yellowstone National Park downstream, this project ensures the preservation of Yellowstone cutthroat trout throughout the 352 stream miles of the Lamar River drainage in Yellowstone National Park, as well. 

Those who have previously submitted comments to the Forest Service now are able to file written objections for the next 45 days.  Objections must be based on previously submitted timely, specific written comments regarding the project, unless new information has arisen. Objections, including attachments, must be filed preferably via email or by mail to:  appeals-northern-regional-office@usda.gov; (Submit electronic comments in an acceptable format such as .PDF or Word (.docx or.xlsx).

By Mail:  

Objection Reviewing Officer, 

USDA Forest Service, Northern Region, 

26 Fort Missoula Road,

Missoula, MT  59804

Hand-delivery can be made by appointment, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays, at USDA Forest Service, 26 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT  59804.  All objections received are part of the public record. 

Appeals may be addressed to:

Director, Fish Wildlife & Parks

1420 East 6th Ave.

Helena, MT 59620-0701

Documents are available for review and download at:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59630 

or  https://fwp.mt.gov/public-notices/news/2022/apr/0413-buffalo-creek-yellowstone-cutthroat-trout-conservation-project-ea

For general information follow Custer Gallatin National Forest: https://www.facebook.com/CusterGallatinNationalForest or on Twitter @CusterNF; @GallatinNF

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