U.S.F.W.S Bull Trout Recovery Plan
24 Recovery Units in 5 states, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and
Montana. Total cost of the program is 408 million over 25 years. This does
not include money that will have to be spent by other federal agencies,
the states and private interests to comply with the Plan
The Klamath River, Columbia River, Jarbidge River, St. Mary-Belly
River, and Coastal-Puget Sound, in the states of Idaho, Montana, Nevada,
Oregon, and Washington.
TOBBACCO RIVER and GRAVES CR
DAM TO FALLS
FALLS TO KOOTENAI LAKE
SOPHIE AND TETRAULT
CLARKE FORK - FLATHEAD
LOWER CLARK FORK
UPPER CLARK FORK
Recovery Subunit (Figures 5
and 6) includes Flathead Lake and its tributary system (North and Middle
Fork Flathead, Stillwater, and
Whitefish Rivers), Swan Lake and its tributaries, and the South Fork
Flathead River watershed upstream of Hungry Horse Dam. About 27 natural
lakes with adfluvial bull trout populations occur in this recovery
criteria will be met when the total number of identified local
populations has been maintained or increased.
2. Abundance criteria will be
met when, in all 10 primary core areas, each of at least 5 local
populations contains more than 100 adult bull trout and the total adult
bull trout abundance must exceed 1,000 fish. Adult bull trout abundance
must exceed 2,500 adult bull trout in each of the following lakes: Lake
Pend Oreille, Flathead Lake, and Swan Lake. The abundance criteria for 24
secondary core areas will be met when each core area one local population
containing more than 100 adult bull trout.
3.Trend criteria will be met when the overall bull trout population in
the Clark Fork Recovery Unit is as stable or increasing, based on at least
10 years of monitoring data.
4. Connectivity criteria will
be met when functional fish passage is restored or determined to be
unnecessary to support bull trout recovery at Milltown, Thompson Falls,
Noxon Rapids, Cabinet Gorge, and Priest Lake Dams and when dam operational
issues are satisfactorily addressed at Hungry Horse, Bigfork, Kerr, and
Albeni Falls Dams
1 Protect, restore, and maintain
suitable habitat conditions for bull trout.
1.1 Maintain or improve water quality in bull trout core areas or
potential core habitat.
1.2 Eliminate barriers and sites of entrainment for bull trout.
1.3 Identify and restore impaired stream channel and riparian areas.
1.4 Operate dams to minimize negative effects on bull trout .
1.5 Identify upland conditions negatively affecting bull trout habitats
and implement tasks to restore appropriate functions.
THREATS AND IMPACTS
"Dams have been one of the most important factors
in reducing the bull trout population of the Clark Fork Recovery Unit."
"Deliberations are occurring over whether to
implement a fisheries mitigation plan that includes provisions for
providing selective fish passage at this facility or remove the dam
(Milltown) altogether." pp32
"In the Upper Clark Fork Recovery Subunit, fish passage must be
provided at Milltown Dam, or the dam must be removed and the migratory
"In all recovery subunits, … restoring passage over and around
many of the barriers that are typically located on smaller streams,
including water diversions, road crossings, and culverts. Substantial
progress must be made in providing passage over at least half of these
sites, …, to meet the bull trout recovery criteria…" pp141
Must be done in a way that does not close access or shut down the
functions of the barrier
"For over 100 years, forestry practices have caused major
impacts to bull trout habitat"
mine could be a great economic boon to the Trout Creek, Thompson Falls
Evaluate and, if necessary, mitigate impacts from Rock Creek Mine.
"Continue to develop and implement sport
angling regulations and fisheries management plans, guidelines, and
policies that minimize unintentional mortality of bull trout... Evaluate
enforcement of angling regulations and oversee scientific research.
Ensure compliance with angling regulations." pp 173
"Angling regulations in most waters have gone as far as they can
to protect native species, short of completely closing angling to further
reduce the take that occurs from hooking mortality and species
What constitutional authority does USFWS have to "develop and
implement sport angling regulations?" If USFWS is allowed to have its
way there will be no need for state fish and game commissions because
their authority will have been usurped by the feds and local sportsmen
will be taking their fishing and hunting gear to the dumpster .
"Experimentally remove established brook trout
This would require poisoning Stryker Lake and possibly Bull Lake.
"Minimize recreational development in bull trout spawning and
rearing habitat. Minimize impacts from expansion or development of new
golf courses, ski areas, campgrounds, fishing access sites, and second
home or other recreational developments in the corridors of bull trout
spawning and rearing streams." pp145
Aren’t tourism and recreation supposed to be the bulwarks of our
bright new economic future?
"The panel concluded that the lake trout population has to be reduced by
70 to 90 percent from present levels if bull trout are to return to
population levels of the 1980's." pp 99
Some drainages may be unrecoverable because of non-native species yet we
are going to use "any means necessary" to recover them. Upper
Stillwater is a case in point.
"Ultimately, unmanaged growth and residential sprawl may be one of
the biggest threats to the recovery of bull trout." ppxii
"The impact of residential development will become increasingly
important to bull trout recovery in the Flathead Recovery Subunit.…
Unmanaged growth and increased development pose a serious threat to water
quality in many of the lakes …" pp78
"Regulate private fish ponds This task can
be accomplished in part by acquiring water rights from willing sellers in
Montana (priority streams identified to date are Rock and Swamp Creeks) or
by designating minimum flows." pp169
"Reduce habitat protection through purchase,
conservation easements, watershed restoration, management plans, and
other methods." pp177
These are clear violations of 5th Amendment of the Bill
"Total cost of bull trout recovery in the Clark Fork Recovery
Unit is estimated at $71.9 million spread over a 25-year recovery
period." pp xvi
Total cost for the 16,900 fish that this plan will require as a minimum
population in Clarke Fork-Flathead recovery unit will be 71.9 million over
25 years which pencils out to $4254.37 per fish and this does not include
the much larger costs incurred by property owners and state agencies to
comply or the possibly even larger lost opportunity costs that will result
from restrictions on recreation or industry. I do not believe it includes
the cost of removing milltown dam which is recommended will soon be done.
INSUFFICIENT OR INCOMPLETE RESEARCH OR DATA
"Trend was considered unknown in 53 of the remaining 55
subpopulations,…." pp 24
This and many other admissions of ignorance inspire little
confidence in USFWS ability to adopt a reasonable and prudent recovery
"Conversion of redd counts or other indices to adult numbers
should be developed ... alternate-year spawning appears to be the norm. On
the other hand, …, they concluded that nearly all of the fish they
followed spawned annually." pp 138 There even seems to be
some confusion over how they are going to count the fish.
NON-COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW
No Economic Impact Analysis
Compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).
Economic analysis required by New Mexico Cattle Growers Assn. v. U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service 248 F.3d 1277 (10th Cir. 2001)..
Compliance with Executive Order 13211
Requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when
undertaking certain actions.
They are proceeding without the analysis. The economic information that
is necessary to comply with federal law and that is also needed to
formulate a good plan is missing. So they obviously don’t think much of
the law or the economic impacts that their actions incur.
Other federal laws
USFWS has taken the same approach regarding a lack of economic analysis
as to compliance with
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).
Executive Order 12630, ("Government Actions and Interference with
Constitutionally Protected Private Property Rights")
Executive Order 13132.
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 804(2))
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT
As they did with the bull trout critical habitat designation , USFWS
has not complied with NEPA. The Recovery Plan is not a NEPA document.
Among other things it does not consider the economic or cultural impact on
human populations nor does it consider the impact on other species. There
is no economic analysis or cumulative effects analysis in the Plan. All of
these are required by NEPA.
Apparently USFWS believes that they are exempt from federal laws.
DELISTING CRITERIA NOT ADDRESSED.
Delisting should occur as each major recovery unit meets its recovery
criteria rather than have to wait until bull trout recovered throughout
Here is more evidence
of USFWS’s confusion as to the actual status of bull trout. If bull
trout are naturally limited rather than endangered, then we can expect
them to persist without our help and it would not be prudent seriously
impact the economy, culture and lives of citizens on unnecessary
RECOVERY IN CERTAIN SPARSELY OR MARGINAL STREAMS/LAKES
"It is important to recognize that in some watersheds, or
portions of them, bull trout were probably never numerous because of
natural habitat limitations." pp25
"…that many of the small isolated populations in the Clark
Fork Recovery Unit (defined below as secondary core areas) are
essentially stranded local populations that have apparently persisted
for a very long time, even thousands of years, at population levels very
similar to current levels. " pp133
"Extirpation of bull trout in as many as one-fourth of the
secondary core areas (6 or fewer) is expected to occur over the next 25
years. Reasonable recovery efforts must continue in all primary and
secondary core areas to minimize the chance of local extirpations.
Consideration must be given to using whatever means necessary to maintain
or restore at-risk populations." pp 139 Apparently USFWS
defines "reasonable recovery efforts" as "whatever means
necessary." Is it prudent to spend recovery dollars and efforts on
waters that USFWS believes cannot be recovered?
"Pike and lake trout have both become well established in the
Stillwater Lakes, providing little hope for bull trout recovery in those
"Today, these rivers were judged by the Montana Bull Trout
Scientific Group to
be low-priority streams for restoration because of the long-term
nature of the decline and the existing degraded habitat conditions (MBTSG
And yet Whitefish Lake and Upper Stillwater Lakes are being designated
critical habitat. Is that a reasonable or prudent expense of taxpayer
dollars and government effort?
This recovery plan is too expensive. $408 million taxpayer dollars is
too much for a program to recover one fish to a population and a range
that are, at least in part, speculative. This expenditure is even more
unreasonable when the fact that some of the recovery efforts will,
according to the plan document, be futile. When the additional costs of
dam alterations and required expenditures of other federal and state
agencies are added along with lost opportunity costs and related expenses
incurred by private interests, this plan is simply unaffordable. It needs
to be scaled back to a point at which the bull trout is saved from
extinction but not necessarily restored to historical numbers or range.
SEND COMMENTS TO:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office
1387 S. Vinnell Way
Boise, Idaho 83709.