Collaborative Restoration of Westslope Cutthroat Trout into 100 Km of Cherry Creek, a Madison River, Montana Tributary

, B. B. Shepard & Associates; Montana State University | Author(s): Bradley B. Shepard, B.B. Shepard & Associates; Carter Kruse, Turner Enterprises; Pat Clancey, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, retired; Lee Nelson, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Alexander V. Zale, USGS, Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit; Scott Barndt, Gallatin National Forest; Bruce Roberts, Gallatin National Forest

A 7-m high waterfall located on Cherry Creek about 13 km above its junction with the Madison River isolates about 100 km of potential fish habitat from invasion by non-native fish. A collaborative group of managers and researchers took advantage of this feature to restore native Westslope Cutthroat Trout (WCT) to the upper basin above this waterfall over a period of about 15 years by removing non-native trout that occupied this area using piscicides followed by the release of WCT embryos. This project was a complex, long-term restoration project implemented by state and federal agencies, a private landowner, NGO partners, and university researchers. This restoration project was part of a broader-scale effort to restore WCT within the Madison River basin. Research during and following this restoration effort is providing valuable information that can be used to inform other similar restoration efforts and answer species conservation questions. Evaluations are currently underway to translocate Arctic Grayling, Western Pearlshell Mussel, and native Sculpin. We report on the social, legal, and logistical challenges that arose during this restoration project, provide our perspective on why this project was successful, and provide preliminary results from our research efforts.