WEST GLACIER, MT. – Glacier National Park announces the beginning of public scoping for a proposal to conduct lake trout removal on Logging Lake and continue lake trout suppression on Quartz Lake. Public scoping is the first step involving the public in the environmental assessment process.
Glacier National Park contains approximately one-third of the bull trout populations inhabiting natural (un-dammed) lakes in the United States. Bull trout are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and, in many areas, are increasingly at risk from invasive non-native species, including lake trout. On the west side of Glacier National Park, lake trout have already invaded nine of the twelve lakes they are able to access and have replaced bull trout as the top level aquatic predator in the majority of lakes that have been monitored. To protect bull trout and other native fish species, non-native fish suppression and removal efforts are occurring across the intermountain west, including within the transboundary Crown of the Continent.
In 2005, lake trout were detected in Quartz Lake, an important stronghold for bull trout and other native fish. In 2009, Glacier National Park and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began an experimental project to reduce or eliminate lake trout from Quartz Lake. Results from the project are promising, and the effort is anticipated to eventually reduce the size of the lake trout population in Quartz Lake.
Logging Lake is also a high priority for bull trout conservation, and was once considered the most productive bull trout fishery in the park. But due to invasive non-native lake trout, Logging Lake could lose bull trout as a functional part of the aquatic ecosystem if action is not taken to reduce the size of the lake trout population. Therefore, the park is proposing to conduct lake trout removal in Logging Lake using methods developed on Quartz Lake. Techniques would be refined and could be used in other locations within and outside the park. Also, as a conservation measure to protect Logging Lake’s few remaining bull trout, bull trout would be translocated within the Logging drainage and bull trout and/or eggs would be collected from the lake and raised in a conservation rearing facility for release back into the lake to boost the population.
Additionally, the park is proposing to continue the lake trout removal effort in Quartz Lake, which is currently approved through 2012. Continuing the project is necessary to keep lake trout numbers low and to remove juvenile lake trout that have not yet grown large enough to be caught by the sampling gear. Under continuation of the program, removal efforts on Quartz Lake would occur every year with periodic re-evaluation.
Four alternatives have been identified to date: 1) Alternative A – conduct experimental lake trout removal and restore a viable bull trout population at Logging Lake using multiple approaches, such as translocating bull trout and releasing conservation facility-reared bull trout within the drainage; Alternative B – continue lake trout suppression on Quartz Lake; Alternative C – both Alternatives A and B; and Alternative D – (no action) do not conduct lake trout removal or bull trout conservation on Logging Lake and do not continue lake trout suppression on Quartz Lake.
The public scoping brochure contains additional information about this project and is available at www.parkplanning.nps.gov/LoggingQuartz. Comments can be posted to this website or mailed to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Logging/Quartz EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936. Comments are due September 10, 2012.