By Dillon Tabish, 8-07-12
In the first stages of an environmental assessment, public comment is being accepted on a proposed fish passage barrier to help protect native species on the lower Akokala Creek in Glacier National Park.
The proposed barrier would be near the Akokala Creek Bridge and would help protect against potential invasive non-native fish species. Akokala Lake, sitting at the headwaters of the Akokala drainage in the park’s North Fork District, is one of the last known refuges for bull trout on the west side of the park. Genetic testing conducted in 2008 suggests genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout are also present in the upper portions of the drainage, including Akokala Lake, according to the park.
Comments are due Sept. 4.
Lake trout have already invaded nine of the 12 lakes on the west side of the park and are known to have severe detrimental effects on bull trout populations, according to a park statement. Rainbow trout are also invading North Fork tributaries and threatening westslope cutthroat trout populations with competition and hybridization. Genetic samples collected in 2009 indicate that hybridization between rainbow trout and westslope cutthroat trout is beginning to occur in the lower reaches of Akokala Creek. Brook trout can out-compete westslope cutthroat trout and hybridize with bull trout. While brook trout are not currently known to occur in the North Fork, they are present in tributaries of the Middle Fork and the potential exists for the species to invade the North Fork and its tributaries, including Akokala Creek.
The proposed project area is within the Wild and Scenic River corridor. The Akokala Creek Bridge is a non-contributing resource along the historic North Fork Road.
The public scoping brochure contains additional information about this project and is available online.
Comments can be posted to this website or mailed to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Akokala Fish Barrier EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936.
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