Gardiner, MT (August 3, 2023) – The Custer Gallatin National Forest today released the Final Decision for the Buffalo Creek Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project. This effort is a partnership between Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Yellowstone National Park, and the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Project activities will take place within 46 stream miles and 11 surface acres of a lake in the Absaroka-Beartooth (AB)Wilderness and includes removing nonnative rainbow trout in Buffalo Creek drainage to preserve native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The decision allows the application of rotenone, an EPA-approved chemical piscicide used commonly in fisheries management, in the Buffalo Creek drainage in the AB Wilderness. It also authorizes the limited use of motorized and mechanized tools in the Wilderness to implement project activities.
Rainbow trout in Buffalo Creek are the primary source of hybridization with Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the entire Lamar River Drainage in Yellowstone National Park. “This project is crucial for the long-term viability of native fisheries,” said Mike Thom, Gardiner District Ranger for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Removing nonnative rainbow trout benefits not only Yellowstone cutthroat trout but also the watershed’s native invertebrates and amphibians that coevolved with Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Restoring Yellowstone cutthroat trout will restore the ecological conditions that were present before the stocking of rainbow trout in the early 1900s.
Stream flow measurements and environmental condition assessments to gather further information may occur in the late summer or early fall 2023. Full-scale project implementation with our partners would not occur until 2024.
The Final Decision and associated analysis documents are available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/custergallatin/?project=59630.