Bull Trout Critical Habitat
In 2004 USFWS finalized the "critical habitat
designations" for the Klamath and Columbia River systems.
They reduced the total stream miles to 1748 from 18,741 and lake
acres to 61,235 from 532,731. There was no designated
critical habitat (DCH) in Montana.
However, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild
Swan sued and won forcing USFWS to review these CH
designations. In September, 2005 USFWS published a new
"Final" Critical Habitat Designation in the Federal
Register. This rule designates the following streams and
294 stream miles and 50,627acres of lakes or reservoirs|
1,058 stream miles and 31,916 acres of lakes or reservoirs|
939 stream miles and 27,322 acres of lakes or reservoirs|
17 stream miles|
1,519 stream miles, 33,353 acres of lakes or reservoirs, and 985
miles of marine shoreline |
For a total of 3827 stream miles and 143,218 acres of lakes or
reservoirs. 94% of these stream miles cross private
The USFWS Critical Habitat designation includes a
huge amount of streams and lakes and the impact on businesses and
individuals who need or want permits or project approval will be
significant and possibly prohibitive. Examples of affected activities
include logging, road construction and maintenance, prescribed fire
livestock grazing, recreation, fishing, off-road vehicle use. powerline or
pipeline construction and repair, mining, or urban and suburban
Problems with the designations identified by MFMU
· From the testimony in the
proposal it is uncertain whether or not bull trout really need habitat
designation and more importantly which habitat is really critical. The
science does not appear to be complete or conclusive.
· USFWS says that this proposal
will be peer reviewed by three indivduals. It should be reviewed by the
National Academy of Science as well. Great care should be taken to select
reviewers who are knowledgeable and unbiased.
· It does not make sense to
designate habitat like Upper Stillwater River and Whitefish lake that are
infested with predatory pike and lake trout. Also the lower sections of the Upper
Stillwater are warm waters which are not favored by bull trout.
· USFWS did not fully comply
with ESA because
1. Some of designated habitat appears marginal and
not "essential to the conservation of the species"
2. Did not demonstrate that unoccupied
designated habitat is critical to conservation of the species.
should eliminate all but
the most essential waters from the designations because of the high
probability of serious negative economic impacts from the designations.
All of the marginal waters should be removed.
should submit the proposal to the
National Academy of Sciences for peer review.
should disclose all impacts of
This page was last updated on 05/29/08