Saturday, December 18, 2010

Comment Period Begins for New Yellowstone National Park Native Fish Environmental Assessment

As part of my day job, I get the opportunity to occasionally read and edit environmental assessments. I can tell you right now its not one of the more exciting document types I get to see. Still, they are pretty straightforward in their structure and style: spell out some goals and objectives and then present some different plans (called alternatives) for achieving those goals and objectives.

The Yellowstone National Park (YNP) assessment is currently out for public comment (another standard part of the environmental assessment process). You can check it out on the Park Service website. So far, I have only read the executive summary (always the most exciting part). In doing so, I had the same question that many anglers probably have: how are we going to get rid of the lake trout in Yellowstone Lake? The Park Service's preferred alternative is to increase the current netting program by hiring "private sector contractors" and then returning the fish carcasses to the lake. A secondary alternative seems to include having the contractors sell or donate the dead fish.

My guess (I am no biologist) is that the carcasses would significantly increase the biomass in the lake. That might help the cutthroat bounce back, I don't know. All those dead fish could probably be used for a ton of useful things, in or out of the lake. The important thing is that the increased netting is needed to reduce the populations of lake trout. The current netting program--from what I understand--is just breaking even. I can't foresee a time when netting isn't required on the lake. Once the laker population is cut down sufficiently, netting will still be required to keep the population in check. Its a present and future program funded by millions in (well-spent) taxpayers dollars all because some group (or individual) thought it would be cool to play bucket biologist. Another triumph of ego and stupidity over reason that we all end up paying for.

Other highlights of the assessment include plans for preserving grayling and cutthroat spawning areas. Give it a read and provide your comments. And lets all hope we can preserve this unrivaled gem of a resource against past and future stupidity.  


  1. "Really interesting article, thanks!"