SPOKANE -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will lead an effort July 30 to help threatened bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout by removing non-native fish from a part of Cedar Creek in Pend Oreille County.
Cedar Creek is a tributary of the Box Canyon Reach of the Pend Oreille River, one of the waters recently proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as critical habitat for bull trout and a priority for fish passage improvement.
Bull trout were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1998 due in part to habitat degradation and blockage of migratory corridors. Westslope cutthroat trout are also native to the Pend Oreille River and are a species of concern that have been petitioned for ESA listing.
Non-native rainbow trout and eastern brook trout will be removed from the lower 1.5 miles of Cedar Creek, below the Cedar Creek Dam near the town of Ione. Electroshocking equipment will be used to stun but not kill the fish so they can be collected and the rainbows re-located by a fish hatchery truck to other suitable waters.
Fish biologists want to prevent these non-native species from inter-breeding with the native fish found above the 19-foot concrete dam, which is proposed for removal to restore fish passage to about 12 miles of native trout habitat. Removal of the 53-year-old dam, which has not been used as Ione's water source since 1988, would also restore the stream channel, reduce water temperatures, and eliminate a public health and safety concern from potential dam failure.
A dam removal proposal to the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board is waiting for a funding decision due on September 25.
WDFW will be aided in the July 30 fish removal project by staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Kalispel Tribe, the town of Ione, Pend Oreille Conservation District, and the Washington Department of Ecology. The project helps fulfill agreements made in a Memorandum of Understanding among the tribe, federal agencies, and WDFW.