Public comments are encouraged on a recently completed environmental assessment for a proposed fish passage barrier downstream of Akokala Lake in the North Fork District of Glacier National Park. Comments are due by July 7, 2014.
Akokala Lake is one of the last bull trout supporting lakes on the west side of the park and is at risk of invasion by non-native lake trout, which are known to have severe detrimental effects on native fish populations. The drainage is also susceptible to invasion by rainbow trout and possibly brook trout. Monitoring and genetic testing show hybridization between westslope cutthroat and rainbow trout has already begun to occur in Akokala Creek. Brook trout can out-compete westslope cutthroat trout and hybridize with bull trout.
The environmental assessment analyzes two alternatives: 1) Alternative A-No Action, and 2) Alternative B-Construct a fish passage barrier on Akokala Creek. The preferred alternative is to construct a fish passage barrier (Alternative B). A fish passage barrier would prevent additional non-native fish from accessing Akokala Lake and the upper Akokala drainage, and reduce or eliminate further expansion of westslope cutthroat-rainbow trout hybridization. By protecting the drainage against non-native invasive fish, this project would also help safeguard important habitat refugia for native fish confronting the stressors of climate change.
The environmental assessment, as well as additional information is available here. Public comments can be made directly through this website, or written comments may be mailed to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Akokala Fish Barrier EA, PO Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.
Hiking in Glacier National Park