HINES, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today that efforts will soon be underway to restore native populations of threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout in the McDermitt Creek watershed.
ODFW is pursuing restoration efforts in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Trout Creek Mountain Working Group. The Trout Creek Mountain Working Group is made up ranchers, federal and state agency staff, and representatives from a variety of environmental groups.
Restoration efforts will begin with a public participation process. A public meeting will be held May 1 at 6:00 pm Pacific time at the McDermitt Community Center followed by a 30-day public comment period. Implementation of the project is expected to begin in the fall of 2007.
Lahontan cutthroat trout are a native species that was first listed as endangered throughout its range in 1970 and subsequently reclassified as threatened in 1975 to facilitate management and allow regulated angling. This species of trout was originally found in lakes and streams throughout Nevada, in much of California, and in southeast Oregon. Once common throughout their range, Lahontan cutthroat trout populations have declined primarily due to loss of habitat, hybridization with introduced rainbow trout, and competition with other introduced species of trout.
“The primary recovery goal is to delist the Lahontan cutthroat trout and reach a point where there are viable, self-sustaining populations,” said Tim Walters, ODFW Malheur Watershed District Biologist.
“If we reach this goal, there may be angling opportunities for Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in the McDermitt Creek basin.”
Restoration activities include construction of barriers on Upper McDermitt, Lower McDermitt and Cottonwood Creeks. The primary project goal is to remove non-native fish species from different stream segments in sequential years. The plan calls for treatment beginning in 2007. Once treated, the streams will be tested for successful removal of non-native species and native Lahontans will be stocked the following year. Treatment of the streams will be done using Rotenone. A group of native non-game fish and invertebrates will be protected in each stream and/or transplanted from adjacent streams after treatment.
Recovery of native Lahontan cutthroat trout populations falls under the guidelines of the Native Fish Conservation Policy that was adopted in 2002. The policy identifies several goals which apply to the Lahontan restoration project. Those goals include preventing the serious depletion of native fish and maintaining and restoring naturally reproducing fish in order to provide substantial ecological, economic and cultural benefits to the citizens of Oregon.
The Lahontan restoration plan as been presented to the ODFW Commission. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which meets monthly, is the policymaking body for fish and wildlife issues in the state.