Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Project to Move Forward
Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - An environmental analysis and review process for the Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Modification and Improvement Project has been completed, and a decision was signed by the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director to move forward on the project. The National Park Service reached the decision after careful analysis of the environmental impacts associated with the project and consideration of public comments on the environmental assessment released in February, 2012.
Fifteen comment letters were received during the review period. Fourteen letters expressed support for the project and one expressed disagreement based on the opinion that efforts would be better spent where lake trout are not already present.
Quartz Lake, located in the North Fork of the Flathead River drainage and the park's North Fork District, is one of the last remaining strongholds for bull trout in park waters west of the Continental Divide. 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, but lake trout were detected in 2005, 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. The 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.
Glacier National Park will modify and improve the existing Quartz Creek fish barrier 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. The project will better protect the integrity of native fish populations in the upper Quartz drainage. Barrier construction will require approximately ten days to two weeks of work, and will occur during the low-flow period of late summer or early fall to avoid impacts to spawning bull trout and other wildlife.The environmental analysis and the finding of no significant impact (the decision document) are available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/QuartzFishBarrierFONSI.
Did You Know?
If current trends continue, some scientists predict that by the year 2030, Glacier National Park will not contain any glaciers and many of the park's smaller glaciers will melt even sooner.