This is an interim reply by ISRP to Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks' (MDFWP) Master Plan for the Sekokini Springs Natural Rearing Facility and Educational Center (Hungry Horse Mitigation, Project # 1991-019-03). This review considers both the Sekokini Springs Master Plan and MDFWP's response to the ISRP's preliminary review of the Master Plan (see ISRP 2004-5, February 4, 2005 ).
The Master Plan is intended to address artificial production activities at Sekokini Springs and the subsequent stocking of westslope cutthroat trout (WSCT) produced at the facility. While the modest degree of anticipated engineering and design associated with the proposed project would normally dictate little need for additional step reviews beyond the Master Plan review, some additionally critical uncertainties are not adequately addressed during this review.
In the preliminary review, the ISRP stated that the Sekokini Springs program appeared to be an integral part of a multi-faceted program to mitigate Hungry Horse/Flathead Lake cutthroat trout losses and would be a proactive step to bolster cutthroat numbers, helping avoid the need for ESA listing. The mitigation need was well demonstrated and ties were made to the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program and Artificial Production Review. The ISRP found that science was, for the most part, sufficiently sound, but reviewers raised several questions and concerns that needed a response before we could make a final recommendation on the Master Plan. These concerns centered around several large themes (indicated by the section headings below), not the least, was whether the project's goals can be achieved in a timely and cost effective manner by alternative means that focus on population transplants and habitat restoration activities rather than the proposed artificial production initiative.
Also see July 19 teleconference notes.