The Forest Service (FS) needs to reject a proposal by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) to poison 43 miles of Buffalo Creek plus two lakes in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana, which is part of the famed Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The State’s goal is to kill the rainbow trout that descended from fish it stocked upstream in Hidden Lake in 1935, and which reached Buffalo Creek by the 2000s. The State wants to replace them with Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The plan involves massive amounts of helicopter and motorized equipment use, in addition to spreading hundreds of gallons of the poison rotenone. Though the Buffalo Creek Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (YCT) Conservation Project draft Environmental Assessment (EA) includes one option to remove fish from Buffalo Creek and then leave it fishless, that appears to be a throw-away option.
Wilderness Watch has three major concerns with the State’s plan:
The Forest Service needs to say NO to Montana’s proposal to invade Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness with helicopters, motorboats, and poisons. The appropriate wilderness response to the presence of previously-introduced fish in these waters is to let nature take its course as the Wilderness Act prescribes. If efforts are made to remove the fish, they must be done without motors and poisons. Under no conditions should other fish be stocked in this historically fishless area.
Photos: Buffalo Plateau on the border of Yellowstone National Park and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. The east side of the plateau drains into Buffalo Creek. Photo by Howie Wolke.