In response to the Council’s August 10, 2012 request, the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) reviewed a draft Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Strategies for Lake Trout Population Reduction to Benefit Native Fish Species Flathead Lake, Montana (hereafter Flathead Lake draft EIS or draft EIS). The draft EIS "analyzes the environmental consequences of a proposal to reduce the abundance of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake to benefit native fish populations…The proposed action would use a combination of fisheries population-management tools—including angling and netting—to reduce the population of lake trout."
This is a follow-up review to the ISRP’s evaluation and the Council’s recommendation for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Project #1991-019-01, Hungry Horse Mitigation/Flathead Lake Restoration and Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (RM&E) as part of the Resident Fish, Data Management and Regional Coordination Category Review. The intent of this submittal and review is to address a condition placed on the project by the Council as part of the Category Review. Specifically, the Council recommended "Do not implement Lake Trout reduction program (Deliverable 3) until the ISRP has reviewed the Flathead Lake Environmental Assessment and has favorable Council review to proceed with full implementation."
In addition to submitting the draft EIS, the Tribes responded to a number of ISRP concerns raised in the proposal review process (ISRP 2012-6). The attached review contains the ISRP’s comments to improve the draft EIS and evaluation of the Tribes responses to ISRP comments from the Category Review.
The ISRP finds that, in the draft EIS, the CSKT have developed a useful working document that conveys many of the key issues regarding lake trout abundance, Flathead Lake fishery management, and the potential need for suppression in relation to native species recovery in the lake. The a priori selection of the four possible lake trout suppression alternatives in the draft EIS is supported by Appendix documents, in particular the Trophic Interactions Document (Appendix 4) the Lake trout Population Dynamics Document (Appendix 6), and the Estimation of Lake trout Abundance Document (Appendix 9). Each of these documents contains sufficiently detailed and clearly presented information for a scientific review by the ISRP.
However, despite many positive aspects to the draft EIS, the document remains incomplete. The ISRP concludes that several important aspects of the proposed lake trout suppression program need to be clarified before implementation.