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Letter to the editor icon2

Letter to the editor icon2

Against French Creek project

I'd like to add my opposition to the large and growing number of Montanans who are opposed to the FWP's French Creek poisoning project in the Big Hole River watershed.

While the intentions of the department biologists are documented and well-meaning, I've always been troubled by this practice. Killing a bunch of healthy trout and everything else living and existing in cherry-picked lakes and tributaries seems anything but innocuous. It just goes against most human thinking and rationale.

Flip side, I think most folks do get the big picture with FWP trying to keep native Cutthroat off the endangered species list and keep the Feds out, both difficult tasks. At the same time projects like this seem very radical, unethical and downright scary to water users and recreationists and rightly so.

Speaking of cherries, consider the Cherry Lake and Creek poisoning project several years ago in the Spanish Peaks on public land and Ted Turner's property. FWP had to poison out the entire Cherry Creek drainage from the lake to mid-point on the ranch. Cherry Creek has a substantial falls in it thus a good biological barrier. Turner had brook trout mostly with some brown trout above the falls. The intended poisoning was to be mostly on Turner's but the lake is on public land and had many nice cutthroats already. There were mixed feelings if fisheries biologists could actually tell the difference between east and west slope cutthroat. The biggest fisheries loss came when the biologists sent the last bit of poison into last portion of the Cherry Creek project. Parts of the creek run underground through the ranch and the poison did not photo degrade in a predictable rate and the poison went over the falls and killed a LOT of rainbow and browns in the lower portion of Cherry Creek, which flows directly into the Madison River. Think about that. In fairness the fishery is said to be doing ok now and stocked with west slope cutthroat. Perhaps FWP can verify this while trying to convince the public of this grandiose project.

— Keith Atcheson, Butte

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