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062410 Lake McDonald

Casting in the twilight, a visitor in Glacier National Park fishes Lake McDonald from a dock near Apgar in June 2010.

WEST GLACIER – Glacier National Park is home to approximately one-third of the nation’s bull trout population that lives in natural, undammed lake systems.

That gives the park a critical role in regional bull trout recovery and long-term conservation, according to Glacier management assistant Denise Germann.

To that end, proposals to continue lake trout suppression on Quartz Lake and start lake trout removal on Logging Lake are now available for public review and comment.

Comments on the environmental assessment are due Jan. 22.

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The non-native lake trout, which have invaded nine of 12 lakes they can access on the west side of the park, can wreak havoc with native fish populations.

“Two of the park’s premier bull trout-supporting lakes, Quartz Lake and Logging Lake, are at risk of losing their historically robust bull trout populations to non-native invasive lake trout,” Germann says.

Making matters even more challenging, she adds, is climate change, which is bringing about warmer water temperatures and changing in-stream flows.

Both favor lake trout, and put added stress on bull trout.

The park and the U.S. Geological Survey started an experimental project on Quartz Lake to reduce or eliminate lake trout in 2009. The proposal seeks to continue that, and begin measures at Logging Lake, which once had a “vigorous” bull trout population.

“Experimental lake trout suppression at both lakes could do much to protect the park’s bull trout populations for the long term, as well as contribute to the species’ regional recovery,” the park said as it put the environmental assessment out for public consumption.

The EA analyzes four alternatives: doing nothing, continuing lake trout suppression at Quartz Lake, removing lake trout and conserving bull trout in the Logging Lake drainage, and combining the latter two.

A combined effort is the preferred alternative, according to Glacier officials.

The environmental assessment is available through the park’s planning website at www.parkplanning.nps. gov/LoggingQuartz.

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by email at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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