FWP News: FWP seeking public comment on several environmental assessments
By angelamontana

Posted: July 12, 2023

HELENA – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on several environmental assessments (EAs). For more information, including how to submit comments, click on the link provided or visit fwp.mt.gov/public-notices.

Westslope cutthroat trout restoration (Bryant Creek) and introduction (Calvert Mine Pond), Big Hole River drainage draft EA

FWPs proposes to restore native westslope cutthroat trout (WCT) in Bryant Creek and stock WCT in Calvert Mine Pond. Competition and predation by brook trout reduced WCT distribution to the headwaters of Bryant Creek in Trident Meadows where a high-gradient reach historically precluded brook trout colonization. Following the Alder Creek fire in 2021, brook trout gained access to Trident Meadows. FWP anticipate that brook trout will eliminate WCT in Bryant Creek within the next 5 to 10 years. To restore WCT to Bryant Creek, project collaborators constructed a fish barrier 1.5 miles upstream of the confluence with the Big Hole River to prevent upstream fish passage. FWP proposes to remove brook trout upstream of this fish barrier using the piscicide, rotenone. FWP would salvage WCT prior to brook trout removal and restock them once the project is complete. This action would expand the range of WCT in Bryant Creek from 1 mile of stream in the headwaters to over 11 miles and should secure the long-term survival of the population. FWP also propose to stock WCT in Calvert Mine Pond within the Bryant Creek drainage. Calvert Mine Pond, an abandoned open pit mine located in a non-sulfur bearing bedrock formation, has high-quality water that can support fish and would create an additional recreational fishery in the area. Comments due July 22.

2023 Draft Elk Management Plan EA

Under the proposed action, FWP would adopt and implement the 2023 Draft Statewide Elk Management Plan. The current Elk Management Plan was adopted in 2005. Since adoption, many changes on the Montana landscape and new social considerations suggest the development of an updated plan for the overall management of elk, statewide, is appropriate. In 2005, Montana was home to 940,102 residents and that human population had increased to 1,104,000 by 2021 (United States Census Bureau). In 2005, FWP observed 98,643 elk on survey, whereas in 2022 FWP counted 141,294 elk on survey. Although elk distribution has changed historically, elk have primarily expanded their distribution and density in the past decade based on primarily aerial surveys. Comments due July 31.

Visit our website to read more and see the other draft EAs that are open for public comment.

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