March 6, 2009
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt
, 406 888-5838
Contact: Mary Riddle
, 406 888-7898
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park are seeking comments from the public to assist in the preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) for removal of lake trout from Quartz Lake. Comments are due April 06, 2009.
Until recently, Quartz Lake, located in the park's northwestern corner, was the largest natural lake in the entire Columbia River Basin with native fish populations not compromised by non-native fish species. A project was initiated in 2004 to construct a fish passage barrier to prevent lake trout from invading Quartz Lake, but lake trout were subsequently discovered in Quartz Lake in 2005. Lake trout were first introduced into Flathead Lake in the early 1900’s and in recent decades have expanded their distribution and abundance throughout the Flathead Basin. Lake trout subsequently expanded their range into Glacier National Park and in the relatively short span of about 30 years, replaced bull trout as the dominant aquatic predator in most of the park’s large west-side lakes.
In response, Glacier National Park resource managers are proposing a project to determine the status of lake trout in Quartz Lake and implement a project to remove them. While the proposed project would take place on Quartz Lake, it has the potential to protect the native fishery of the entire upper Quartz Lake system which includes Middle Quartz, Quartz, and Cerulean lakes.
The upper Quartz Lake system is located within recommended wilderness in the North Fork of the Flathead River watershed. Native fish species in this complex include bull trout, classified under the Endangered Species Act as “Threatened,” westslope cutthroat trout, a Montana state species of special concern, and mountain whitefish.
To date, park staff have identified alternatives that would either 1) maintain current management of the Quartz Lake drainage; 2) conduct a four-year radio telemetry and experimental netting project that would require the use of an 18-foot (or larger), motorized boat to remove lake trout; or 3) use a non-motorized watercraft to conduct hook-and-line, and weather permitting, small netting operations for lake trout evaluation and lethal removal. The following impact topics have been identified: Fisheries/Aquatic Species, Wilderness, Visitor Use and Experience, Wildlife, Threatened, Endangered and Species of Concern, Water Quality, Natural Sound, and Visitor Use and Experience.
Scoping is an early and open process which occurs prior to the development of an EA. Scoping comments are used to identify resource issues and alternatives that should be addressed in the analysis. After the EA is completed, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the document.
Scoping comments can be provided electronically through the park’s planning website at (https://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkId=61) by selecting this project. Written comments can also be submitted to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Quartz Lake EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.
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