HINES, Ore. — In August, ODFW staff will take the next step in a cooperative project to restore native Lahontan cutthroat trout to the McDermitt Creek watershed when the agency treats Upper McDermitt, North Fork McDermitt and tributaries to remove all non-native trout.
On Aug. 27 and 28, Upper McDermitt, North Fork McDermitt and tributaries will be treated with rotenone, a naturally occurring fish toxicant. While rotenone is not toxic to humans, other mammal or birds in the concentrations to be used, swimmers should avoid these waters during treatment.
According to ODFW district biologist Tim Walters, this is the second year of a three-year plan to remove non-native trout from the watershed. In September 2007 nearby Indian and Cottonwood creeks were similarly treated.
Once treated, the streams will be stocked with native Lahontans.
“If we’re successful in establishing a viable, self-sustaining population of Lahontan cutthroat trout, it could be de-listed as a threatened species,” said Walters. “In several years, a healthy population of Lahontan cutthroat in the McDermitt Creek basin could be available for angling.”
Lahontan trout were once common in lake and streams throughout southeast Oregon, Nevada and much of California. Their populations have declined primarily due to loss of habitat, hybridization with introduced rainbow trout, and competition from other introduced trout species.
Prior to treatment, any beaver dams on the streams will be temporarily removed to maintain free-flowing water and increase the likelihood of successful treatment. After treatment, beaver activity will be monitored and, if needed, beavers may be relocated to the watershed to ensure a healthy population.
Recovery of native Lahontan cutthroat trout populations falls under the guidelines of the Native Fish Conservation Policy adopted by ODFW in 2002. ODFW’s partners in the McDermitt Basin restoration efforts include the US Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Trout Creek Mountain Working Group has expressed support for the project.