Agencies consider bull trout introduction at Sullivan Lake

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bull trout swimming
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News release

Staci Lehman, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 509-710-4511
Andrew LaValle, U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service, 360-628-3810
Mike Lithgow, Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department, 509-370-8794 

SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department are proposing to introduce bull trout into Sullivan Lake and Harvey Creek near Metaline Falls in Pend Oreille County.
 
Beginning in 2017, the USFWS and stakeholders within the Lower Pend Oreille River watershed conducted an analysis of the feasibility of restoring bull trout within the watershed. Sullivan Lake and its primary tributary, Harvey Creek, were identified through that analysis as the portion of the Lower Pend Oreille with the highest likelihood of establishing a bull trout population.
 
“With the lake’s cold, clean water, suitable spawning tributary, lack of nonnative competitors and abundant forage, we believe this introduction will be successful and could be the first step in local recovery for bull trout,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Region 1 Fish Program manager. 

Establishment of a self-sustaining population of bull trout could provide a source population for future conservation introductions within the Pend Oreille River basin. 

“The recovery of bull trout within the basin is identified as a key action in the USFWS’s bull trout recovery plan,” said Brad Thompson, state supervisor with USFWS. "The recovery of threatened and endangered wildlife requires many partners, and I'm encouraged by the strong collaboration of federal, state, and tribal partners on this project." 

The three involved agencies will hold an informational public meeting from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024 in the Green Room of the Cutter Theater, 302 Park Street, Metaline Falls. Members of the public are invited to come and learn about the proposal and provide input. An informational virtual presentation is also available online at wdfw.wa.gov/sullivanlakebulltrout and the public can submit written comments by emailing SullivanLakebulltrout@publicinput.com

Input can also be provided by calling 1-855-925-2801 and entering project code 6058 and leaving a voicemail. The deadline to submit comments is 11:59 p.m. on Apr. 30, 2024. A draft environmental assessment is also expected be available for public comment later this year. 

Camping, boating, fishing, and other activities currently allowed by the U.S. Forest Service and other public entities in the area of Sullivan Lake are not expected to change as a result of the introduction. However, portions of Harvey Creek may be closed to angling seasonally to protect spawning and or rearing bull trout, similar to bull trout management in other areas of Washington State. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

The Kalispel Natural Resources Department safeguards natural and cultural resources for the health and wellbeing of Kalispel people.

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-855-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.