March 3, 2021
Environmental Coordinator, US Forest Service
Lolo National Forest
Dear Mr. Slown,
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a grassroot conservation organization with roughly 3,000 due-paying members in the state. We are writing to voice our strong support of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s (FWP’s) proposal for remediation/reestablishment of native westslope cutthroat trout in the North Fork of the Blackfoot River north of Ovando, MT.
Westslope cutthroat are one of the few native fish in the North Fork. This project would help ensure their long-term survival. While Montana BHA acknowledges that there are some short-term negative side effects to this project – specifically relating to motorized use in a federally designated Wilderness and the necessary remediation methods – we strongly believe that the long-term benefit pertaining to native cutthroat trout is imperative and far outweighs any temporary negative impacts. FWP’s well detailed plan shows little to no lasting detriment to land or the water that flows through the Scapegoat Wilderness. The continual rise of the water temperature is the cause for great concern. Without intervention, the population of non-native fish will continue to proliferate at the detriment to the native cutthroat.
Furthermore, since the location of the project is above a non-passable and non-migratable waterfall, there is little question to the positive and lasting impacts this project would have in keeping this stretch of the Scapegoat’s cold-water habitat a safe haven for the native cutthroat.
Montana BHA appreciates the US Forest Service’s careful oversight of this remediation project. We have full faith in FWP’s plan and our members look forward to fishing a healthy North Fork of the Blackfoot.
Scott Mylnechuk, Missoula Valley Board Member
Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers