BLM Seeks Comments on Proposed Concrete Fish Barrier
The Bureau of Land Management Billings Field Office, in cooperation with Custer National Forest and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is proposing to construct a concrete fish passage barrier on Crooked Creek in the Pryor Mountains. The proposed site is on a stretch of Crooked Creek that flows through the Burnt Timber Wilderness Study Area. The BLM is seeking public comment on the proposal to construct the barrier. The Environmental Assessment is available online at http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/billings_field_office.html
or from the Billings Field Office at 5001 Southgate Drive. Comments must be submitted in writing by May 1, 2007, to the Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101.
Without the barrier, an indigenous population of native, genetically pure Yellowstone cutthroat trout is at high risk of extinction through predation from and competition with non-native brook and brown trout and hybridization with non-native rainbow trout. Yellowstone cutthroat trout are designated as a Sensitive Species by the BLM and Forest Service, and a Species of Concern by the State of Montana.
Prior to the Red Waffle fire, this population of trout was isolated from the non-native fish by a natural, boulder-formed barrier on the Custer National Forest. The historic barrier did not have bedrock control, and debris flows that occurred after the fire rerouted the channel, creating potential passage opportunities for the non-native trout to move into the reaches inhabited by Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
During the week of July 17, 2006, an interim barrier was hand constructed with rock and galvanized wire mesh baskets; however, the structure was not designed to withstand high streamflows or prevent fish passage during those flows.
For further information, please contact Jim Sparks at the Billings Field Office, 406-896-5241.