Yellowstone National Park Native Fish Conservation Plan

 

For those members who like to fish in Yellowstone Park, the park service just released their Native Fish Conservation Plan.  “This plan looks forward 20 years and calls for a more aggressive Lake Trout netting plan for Yellowstone Lake as well as increased restoration plans for Yellowstone cutthroats and Arctic Grayling.”

A plan to protect the native fish population in Yellowstone National Park has been released for public review.  The Native Fish Conservation Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) is designed to guide the management of fisheries and aquatic resources in the park for the next two decades

 As early as the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s, non-native species such as Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout were introduced into Yellowstone NP and nearby waters.  “The 1950s marked a paradigm shift in fisheries management in Yellowstone. By the middle of the decade, stocking for recreational purposes was abandoned in favor of wild fish management and native species conservation. However, by then, over 300 million fish had been stocked in park waters and non-native species were firmly established in most lakes, rivers, and streams.”

In 1994 a 26 Pound Lake Trout was caught in Yellowstone Lake.  Lake trout, a highly piscivorous, non-native species, are decimating the native cutthroat trout and more have to be killed or the once predominate native will be eliminated.  After the illegal stocking of the lake, a gill netting program was initiated to reduce the population.  The first year netted 15,000 lake trout.  By 1999, a long term gill netting suppression program was in place.  YNP netted and destroyed 100,000 Lake Trout last year and after a decade of gill netting up to 500,000 Lake Trout, there was no evidence of cutthroat trout recovery.  The YNP managers came to the conclusion, an increased suppression effort  was needed by bringing in outside professional fisheries contractors to triple the kill rate to strike a better balance.   Also, other factors such as whirling diease and drought have contributed to the severe decline in the native cutthroat population. 

It also calls for removal of non-native fish from some streams and lakes in the park, and re-introduction of native fish such as the once great Slough and Soda Butte Creeks as well as some native Grayling restoration.  "It would allow managers to take an adaptive management approach to native fish conservation, incorporating new information and lessons gained from experience in annual work and treatment plans. This plan does not propose any changes in the Madison or Firehole rivers."

 Fisheries management plans will not change for the Madison River and the Firehole River – two rivers which haven’t suffered declines in fish populations as have occurred in other waters in the park.  This is good news for those who like to fish these waters, as do I.

 An Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and is available on this website, or to request a paper or CD copy of the EA please call (307)344-2874 or write to: 

Native Fish Conservation Plan EA,  Yellowstone National Park, P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY, 82190

The EA can be downloaded at:

 http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=111&projectID=30504&documentID=37967

 Respondents are encouraged to submit their comments through this NPS website. Comments may also be mailed to the address above or hand-delivered to the park's headquarters in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. 

Public comments must be received by midnight, January 31, 2011.

Online comments may be made at:

 http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=37967

 References:

 http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/0624.htm

 http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/article_012f2941-3676-5bde-afb6-4bcf391fcd4d.html

 http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/article_7e85c3fc-3c7d-11df-86f0-001cc4c002e0.html

 http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=30504

 Chuck Hammerstad

Flycasters Conservation Committee Co-chairman

 

 

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