Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Assessment Available
Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
Glacier National Park is requesting public review and comment on the Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Modification and Improvement Environmental Assessment and Floodplains Statement of Findings by March 19, 2012.
The purpose of the project is to support lake trout suppression efforts in Quartz Lake, reduce the potential for additional lake trout to enter the lake, and reduce the likelihood of invasion from other non-native species such as rainbow trout, brook trout, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout, thereby better protecting the integrity of native fish populations in the upper Quartz drainage.
Native fish populations in Glacier National Park have been severely compromised by the invasion and expansion of non-native fish species into the park's lakes and streams. Non-native fish can affect native fish populations through predation, hybridization, and competition, and are imperiling populations of bull trout, which are federally listed as threatened, and the native westslope cutthroat trout, a state listed Species of Concern. Of the seventeen lakes on the west side of the park that support bull trout, nine have been compromised by non-native lake trout and another has been compromised by non-native brook trout.
Quartz Lake, located in the North Fork of the Flathead River drainage in the park's North Fork District, is one of the last remaining strongholds for bull trout in park waters west of the Continental Divide. Until recently, Quartz Lake was believed to be the largest lake on the west side of the park accessible to lake trout but not yet colonized by them. In 2005, lake trout were detected in Quartz Lake, threatening the long-term persistence of the Quartz Lake bull trout fishery. At that time, a fish passage barrier designed to protect the drainage from invasion by non-native fish was under construction on Quartz Creek, approximately 100 yards below Middle Quartz Lake, but completion of the barrier was suspended until options to control lake trout could be reviewed. The National Park Service has since collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey and others in an ongoing experimental program to remove lake trout from Quartz Lake and suppress the population. Experimental suppression has so far been promising, with identification of lake trout spawning areas and annual removal of spawning lake trout.
Two alternatives are analyzed in the environmental assessment: 1) Alternative A (No Action) and 2) Alternative B (Preferred). Under Alternative A no action would be taken to improve the existing fish barrier. Under Alternative B the National Park Service is proposing to complete, modify, and improve the existing Quartz Creek fish barrier.
The environmental assessment is available at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/QuartzCreek. Comments can be made directly through this web site or by mail to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Quartz Fish Barrier EA, PO Box 128 West Glacier, Montana 59936.
Did You Know?
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the park with a length of 10 miles and a depth of 472 feet. The glacier that carved the Lake McDonald valley is estimated to have been around 2,200 feet thick.