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Contact: Denise Germann, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MT. Public comments are encouraged for a proposal to modify and improve the Quartz Creek fish barrier structure located in the North Fork area of the park.
Public scoping is the first step involving the public in the environmental assessment process.
Native fish populations in the park have been severely compromised by the invasion and spread of non-native fish species into the park’s lakes and streams. Non-native fish affect native fish through predation, hybridization, and competition, and are imperiling native populations of bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. 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 a tenth has been compromised by brook trout. Data indicate that lake trout are increasing in abundance and bull trout are in decline, and lake trout have largely replaced bull trout as the top level aquatic predator in lakes that have been monitored over time. Bull trout populations in some lakes appear to be at risk of disappearing altogether.
Until recently, Quartz Lake was believed to be free of non-native fish species. In 2004, with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the park constructed a fish passage barrier on Quartz Creek between Middle and Lower Quartz Lakes to protect the area from invasion by lake trout. But in 2005, before the barrier was completed, lake trout were detected in Quartz Lake and further work on the barrier was suspended until options to control lake trout could be reviewed. Since that time, the National Park Service has 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 to date has been promising, with identification of lake trout spawning areas and annual removal of spawning lake trout.
The park is proposing to modify and improve the existing Quartz Creek fish barrier to support lake trout suppression efforts at Quartz Lake, reduce the potential for additional lake trout to enter the upper Quartz drainage, and reduce the likelihood of invasion from other non-native fish species.
To date, two alternatives have been identified: 1) take no action, and 2) modify and improve the fish passage barrier on Quartz Creek.
Comments and concerns regarding the proposed project should be submitted online by Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at www.parkplanning.nps.gov/QuartzFishBarrier, or mailed to Superintendent Glacier National Park, Attn: Quartz Fish Barrier EA, PO Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936. There will be another opportunity to comment on the project when the EA is completed.