Still unknown impact of floods on Yellowstone fish | Hatch Magazine

Editor’s note: A recent National Park Service press conference addressed the urgent issues resulting from record floods in Yellowstone National Park this week. Questions about the health of the park’s beloved fisherman were not answered during the event – of course, given the severe damage to the park’s infrastructure and the immediate needs of people in communities like Gardner, Cooke CIty and Mammoth. We will continue to monitor the fishing situation of the park in light of the recent floods and when we know more, we will let you know.

Under normal conditions, trout get quite well with high water. During the worst spring flow, they disperse the calmest waters and calm water that can flow over a bottom that is normally high and dry.

And it is very likely that the trout related to the record floods in Yellowstone National Park this week – a phenomenon that park supervisor Cam Sholly described Tuesday as a 1,000-year-old weather event – will be fine.

At least in the short term. But the fishing history in Yellowstone is nuanced. It is not the place where trout simply need water to cross. Over the past decade or so, park fisheries biologists have dedicated their lives to improving and restoring local park trout and shredded fisheries – an effort that taxpayers have helped fund and volunteers have helped execute.

This week’s record floods that have destroyed homes, washed normally safe roads and removed bridges from their poles, could also reverse efforts to salvage the park’s local fish and could turn those years back.

During an online press conference Tuesday, Sholly reportedly spent an hour with national media addressing urgent issues. How will the park be rebuilt? How long will it take to reopen the gates, let alone the washed-out streets? Has anyone died (thankfully, no)? When will electricity be restored?

These are key issues that require immediate attention from the supervisor who, of course, looked exhausted as Zoom exploded his image online on Tuesday. These are issues that require attention now.

Flood event in Yellowstone 2022: Northeast access road departures

Flood event in Yellowstone 2022: Northeast access road departures (photo: NPS / Jacob Frank).

Written questions about park fishing were not addressed on Tuesday – The National Park Service has bigger fish to fry. But the time will come when Sholly and the park biologists will have to turn their attention to the condition of the Yellowstone native trout and gray. And when they do, it can not be said what they can find.

First of all, the effort to crush the lake trout in Lake Yellowstone is planned to continue, at least as planned before the flood. It is possible that network operations may be delayed, but with the advent of autumn, there is a good chance that restraint efforts using oxygen-based plant-based pellets to cover known lake trout egg beds will proceed as they should. was planned. These efforts are bearing fruit – lake trout, cut Yellowstone trout is in the middle of a recovery thanks to the suppression of the invading lake trout, which is native to the upper Midwest and Canada.

But the lake is in the middle of the park – most of the flood damage occurred at the northern ends of the park, where the road between Gardner, Mont., And Cooke City, Mont., Is now impassable. Sholly expressed sincere doubts Tuesday about the future of that road, at least in the short term.

“We will not reopen the road between Gardner and Cooke City for the rest of the season, seeing the damage,” Sholly said. “Even if we start properly, I’m not sure we can reopen the road to the north end.”

Efforts to restore the local trout to the northern region of the park are significant. Biologists have monitored the population of non-native rainbow trout in the Lamar River Basin and even in the Slough Creek meadow streams, a native Yellowstone trout and one of the best places in the park to visit and jump in. trophy. sized fish. With access to Slough Creek currently suspended, these monitoring efforts are likely to be suspended.

Farther east, the Park Service has invested considerable time and money to remove the invading stream trout at Soda Butte Creek near the park’s northeastern entrance near Silver Gate and Cooke CIty. This project can also be suspended.

To the west, where the U.S. Highway 191 crosses the edge of the park as it passes between West Yellowstone and the Bozeman area, Park Services has at least two fish barriers intended to keep non-native trout from encroaching on the newly formed western slope. . Just north of West Yellowstone, the Park Service installed a barrier in Grayling Creek aimed at preventing rainbow and brown trout from migrating from the Hebgen Reservoir upstream of the creek, which has been restored as a native western slope trout and cut and gray river. If flood waters have damaged the barrier, it would be a major blow to the park’s local efforts to get the fish back there.

Flood event in Yellowstone 2022: North Entrance Road, Gardiner in Mammoth

Flood event in Yellowstone 2022: North access road, Gardiner to Mammoth (photo: NPS / Doug Kraus).

Further north, the Park Service installed a similar barrier in the Specimen Stream, a tributary of the Gallatin River. This barrier is intended to keep non-native trout from draining Gallatin outside the upper boundaries of the Brook Stream to protect the genetic integrity of cuttings reintroduced to the western slope that have created a terrain there. Similarly, if the barrier is broken, those restoration efforts are in serious jeopardy.

Finally, inside the park, in the upper Gibbon River, the Park Service has worked to remove non-native stream trout and rainbow from Lake Wolf, Lake Grebe, and Upper Gibbon. Native western and gray slope trout swim there. The saving grace for this restoration effort is a natural barrier in the Virginia cascades – it is highly unlikely (and possibly impossible) for non-native fish from lower Gibbon to climb into that cataract, even during higher flood waters.

However, as Sholly and his team work to reopen and rebuild the park’s northern layer, questions about the condition and health of Yellowstone’s local fishery remain.

Yellowstone was formed by intense geological and hydrological forces. It is one of the most precious natural landscapes on the planet. There is irony here. Nature creates and, in the blink of an eye, nature destroys.

It is not yet known how much nature’s rage in the form of this week’s unimaginable floods will take over the park’s local fish.

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