Move to Protect Native Cutthroat
Preserving Biodiversity: Yellowstone National Park’s Ongoing Efforts to Restore Native Fish in Soda Butte Creek
Table of contents
- Yellowstone National Park resumes the Soda Butte Creek Native Fish Restoration Project.
- Project aims to remove newly discovered non-native brook trout, preventing them from displacing native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
- Failure to address the issue may lead to an invasion of the entire Lamar River watershed, posing a threat to the largest remaining riverine population of Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
- Access to Soda Butte Creek will be restricted from August 14 to 18
Soda Butte Creek Native Fish Restoration Project
Yellowstone National Park, in coordination with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Custer Gallatin National Forest, will resume the Soda Butte Creek Native Fish Restoration Project near the Northeast Entrance from August 14 to 18. The primary objective of this initiative is to deal with newly discovered non-native brook trout, which pose a significant threat to the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout population. In 2016, biologist worked in removing non-native brook trout from the waterway. However, without further action, brook trout will quickly displace native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, eventually endangering the largest remaining riverine population of these prized native fish in the entire Lamar River watershed.
Fish Native to Yellowstone
- Cutthroat Trout
- Arctic grayling
- Longnose Dace, Speckled Dace
- Redside Shiner
- Utah Chub
- Longnose Sucker or Mountain Sucker,
- Mottled Sculpin
- Mountain Whitefish
Trout Project Details and Public Closures
During the restoration project, Soda Butte Creek will be temporarily closed to the public from the park boundary at the Northeast Entrance to Ice Box Canyon (9.6 miles). Biologists will employ an EPA-approved piscicide (rotenone) to remove the nonnative brook trout from the creek. As a part of the project’s preparatory steps, cutthroat trout will be carefully relocated from the treatment area the week of August 7 using electroshocking techniques. These salvaged cutthroat trout will be held in the Soda Butte Creek watershed’s upper untreated tributaries. After the successful completion of the treatment, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout will be released back into Soda Butte Creek.
Non-Native Fish in Yellowstone
- Rainbow Trout
- Brown Trout
- Lake Trout
- Brook Trout
- Lake Chub
Importance of Cutthroat Trout Conservation
Cutthroat trout are the only native trout species in Yellowstone National Park and play a vital ecological role within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Highly regarded by anglers and scientists alike, genetically pure Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations have experienced significant declines throughout their natural range in the Intermountain West. These declines have been attributed to factors such as competition and predation by nonnative fish species, genetic integrity loss through hybridization, habitat degradation, and predation. The Soda Butte fish restoration project forms part of the ongoing efforts to conserve and preserve the native fish populations within the park.
Buffalo Creek Rainbow Trout to be Removed
Meanwhile, Yellowstone National Park and other agencies have proposed to remove nonnative rainbow trout from Buffalo Creek and reintroduce native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
They have two options: Option 1 removes nonnative fish within the park, while Option 2 allows limited use of the Slough Creek area by Custer Gallatin National Forest.
Public comments are invited to ensure transparent decision-making for the conservation of native fish populations in the park.