A plan to poison a 77-mile-long trout stream on Ted Turner's Flying D Ranch in southwest Montana is raising the hackles of some unlikely critics. The plan is the brainchild of the state of Montana, which hopes it will bolster westslope cutthroat trout populations and ward off a federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Cherry Creek, a tributary of the
Madison River, has thriving populations of non-native trout,
including brown, rainbow and Yellowstone cutthroats, but the native
westslope cutthroat are on the decline. Before stocking the stream
with native fish, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and
Parks intends to use two toxins, antimycin and rotenone, to kill
It's a strategy that has met
with success on several other streams, says state regional
fisheries manager Steve Lewis, and should pose no long-term health
threats to humans or wildlife. Turner Enterprises would contribute
nearly $350,000 to help pay for the project; the state would pay
about $90,000. Without Turner's money, notes Lewis, there would be
no way to go ahead with the five-year
The Montana Council of Trout Unlimited
has come out in favor of the plan. "It's a rare opportunity," says
Laura Ziemer of TU. "What's ironic is that the scope of the
project, which is one of the things that makes it attractive, has
also raised the profile. But the only thing that's new about (this
operation) is the scale."
Fairhurst of the Public Lands Access Association has teamed up with
the Montana Mining Association to protest the project. Some call
this outpouring of environmental concern a thinly veiled attack on
Turner, who, like previous owners, limits access to Cherry Creek.
In the meantime, at the behest of the downstream town of Three
Forks, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has begun an
environmental assessment of the plan, pushing its start back to
September at the earliest.