NPS Response to Closure of Yellowstone River Outside the Park / Soda Butte Creek Project Will Continue to Restore Cutthroat Trout

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Date: August 19, 2016
Contact: Morgan Warthin, (307) 344-2015

Due to an ongoing and unprecedented fish kill, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) has implemented a full closure of all water-based recreation on the Yellowstone River and its tributaries north of Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary at Gardiner, Montana. The closure is intended to help limit the spread of a fish-killing parasite. Read the news release from Montana, Fish, Wildlife & parks.
At this time, the NPS is not considering expanding the river closure inside Yellowstone National Park. Crews are actively assessing the Yellowstone River and its tributaries inside the park’s northern boundary and have not discovered any dead fish. 

Yellowstone National Park asks for cooperation from anglers to prevent spread of the parasite into the park. All waters within Yellowstone National Park remain open to fishing, however, to help prevent the introduction of this fish parasite and other aquatic invasive species, it’s imperative that all visiting anglers and boaters completely clean and disinfect their gear (waders, boots, float tubes, boats) before traveling to the park.
In addition, once anglers are done fishing at a site within Yellowstone National Park, they must remove all mud, sediment, vegetation and other debris from waders and boots before leaving that site and traveling to additional fishing locations within the park. All watercraft entering the park must be inspected by NPS staff prior to being launched. Fishing bait is not allowed in the park, and it’s illegal to transport live fish or move fish or other animals among park waters.

Invasive, nonnative species are the biggest threat to Yellowstone’s native fish communities. Angler and boater cooperation with this advisory will protect the park fisheries and aquatic ecosystems. Read more about preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species.

Soda Butte Project - This week and next, park staff will complete a project to remove non-native brook trout from 28 miles of streams northeast of and within Yellowstone National Park to enhance the viability of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. This project is approximately 43 river miles from the FWP closure area and will not affect or be affected by the closure. 

This is the second year of the Soda Butte Creek project. It is a cooperative effort involving FWP, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Custer Gallatin National Forest, Shoshone National Forest, and Yellowstone National Park. It involves treating streams and tributaries in the Soda Butte Creek drainage, from its headwaters in the Beartooth Mountains downstream to Icebox Canyon, approximately 10 miles from its confluence with the Lamar River in northeastern Yellowstone National Park.

This week biologists and technicians used electrofishing equipment to collect as many native Yellowstone cutthroat trout as possible from the drainage and temporarily moved them to nearby tributaries. Starting Monday, August 22, biologists will treat all streams in the drainage with rotenone, a piscicide intended to remove all remaining fish. Biologists are targeting non-native brook trout. When treatment is complete – anticipated by August 26– biologists will return the rescued Yellowstone cutthroat trout to the drainage.

The need for this project comes from a commitment by state and federal agencies to ensure a long-term, self-sustaining population while maintaining genetic diversity and integrity and protecting the ecological, recreational and economic values associated with Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Rotenone is a naturally occurring chemical compound derived from the roots of certain tropical plants. Biologists will add potassium permanganate to water at the lower bounds of the treatment area to fully detoxify rotenone and prevent impacts to downstream waters. Read the complete release about the project.

Last updated: April 11, 2017

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