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Final Environmental Impact Statement

Proposed Strategies to Benefit Native Species by
Reducing the abundance of Lake Trout, Flathead Lake, Montana.

The proposed project would use a combination of fisheries population-management tools, including angling and netting, to benefit native trout by reducing the population of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. In this context, reducing the population means that we would remove enough individuals to exceed lake trout recruitment (the increase in the population that occurs through natural reproduction) in order to achieve a target lake trout population size. The likely start date for the project would be 2014. Project activities could then occur year-round indefinitely into the future if the program achieves its objectives based on annual assessments and adaptive changes.

The project area is Flathead Lake, located in Lake and Flathead Counties, Montana. The Flathead Lake and River System are managed as a single entity because of the migratory nature of fish in the system. Therefore areas north (or upstream) of the lake are relevant to this process and are included in the analysis.

The purpose of the project—to benefit native trout by reducing the population of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake—is based upon over two decades of continuous and cooperative regional research, management, and planning between Tribal, State, and Federal agencies. The research, joint planning efforts, and decision-making processes are recorded in our guidance documents, which include: the Flathead Lake and Fisheries Co-Management Plan (2000), the Restoration Plan for Bull Trout in the Clark Fork River Basin and Kootenai River Basin (2000), the Cutthroat Memorandum of Understanding and Conservation Agreement (2007), the Flathead Subbasin Plan, Part III (2004), the CSKT Comprehensive Resources Plan (1996), and the CKST Fisheries Management Plan (1996).

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is the lead agency in this EIS. Representatives from the following agencies have been involved throughout the entire NEPA compliance process as part of the Interdisciplinary Team: Forest Service; University of Montana Biological Station; MT Dept Natural Resources & Conservation; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; US Fish and Wildlife Service; National Park Service; US Geological Survey; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. In addition, a Citizen Ad Hoc Group has also participated. Members include: Trout Unlimited; Flathead Wildlife, Inc.; Flathead Lakers; a Flathead River Outfitter; a Flathead Lake Outfitter.

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