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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Custer Gallatin National Forest are seeking public comment on plans to remove rainbow trout from the Buffalo Creek watershed north of Yellowstone National Park to protect the genetic integrity of native cutthroat trout in park rivers.

The project, scheduled for August 2021, would include application of chemicals by FWP to remove fish from the Buffalo Creek drainage from its headwaters in the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness downstream to the Yellowstone Park boundary. The National Park Service would continue treatment within Yellowstone National Park from its boundary downstream to the confluence of Buffalo Creek and Slough Creek.

The project would protect the genetic integrity of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Lamar River basin by removing non-native rainbow trout from Buffalo Creek tributary. It also would allow FWP to establish a secure population of nonhybridized Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Buffalo Creek.

Rainbow trout would be removed using rotenone – a naturally derived, commonly used substance in fish restoration efforts that is toxic to gill-breathing animals, such as fish and aquatic invertebrates. Rotenone breaks down quickly in the aquatic environment and the project design would ensure that downstream areas outside of the treatment area would not be affected.

FWP would work to establish native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the treated streams. Aquatic invertebrate populations typically recover within a year after treatment.

The full draft environmental assessment is online at https://fwp.mt.gov/public-notices/news/2021/mar/0318-buffalo-creek-yct-conservation-ea. Comments will be accepted by FWP through noon April 21, 2021.

Comments can be emailed to: fwpregion5pc@mt.gov. Please use the subject line “Buffalo Creek Project.” Comments also can be mail to:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Attn: Buffalo Creek Project

2300 Elmo Lake Drive

Billings, MT 59105

For questions or to leave a voice message comment, please contact Fisheries Manager Mike Ruggles at 406-247-2961.

Comments pertaining to the U.S. Forest Service decision whether to authorize the proposed application of rotenone and associated motorized equipment operation in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness should be submitted to the U.S. Forest Service by noon April 21, 2021.

Forest Service electronic submissions are preferred either in Microsoft Word, PDF or Microsoft Excel formats through the Forest Service’s CARA database at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=59630. Mailed comments can be sent to Buffalo Creek Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Conservation, Gardiner Ranger District, P.O. Box 5, Gardiner, MT 59030. Hand delivered comments can be provided to the Gardiner Ranger District between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 805 Scott Street in Gardiner.

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