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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

April 17, 2002

Contacts: Karen Miranda 303-236-7917,x431
Mike Stempel 303-236-7862,x248
Mark Maskill 406-758-6868

Jessup Mill Dam Environmental Assessment Recommends Saving Pond
New System Will Shield Hatchery Trout from Whirling Disease

An Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact was released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the $6.5 million Jessup Mill Pond Dam repair project. The Service selected Alternative 1, which maintains the community pond as part of the project to stabilize the 62-year-old dam.

Under the selected alternative, a state-of-the-art water treatment system will also be installed as part of the project, to prevent whirling disease and other fish pathogens from entering of the Creston National Fish Hatchery water supply. The hatchery uses the water to produce rainbow, westslope cutthroat, and bull trout; and kokanee salmon for state and tribal waters throughout Montana.

In the Draft Environmental Assessment, released October, 2001, the Service proposed Alternative 2, which would have converted the pond to a stream and collected disease-free water directly from underground springs for hatchery use. The majority of public comments received about the Draft opposed draining the pond, which is used by many members of the community.

"The Jessup Mill Pond project is a good example of the NEPA process at work," said Regional Director Ralph Morgenweck. "We made an initial selection in the draft EA, we solicited additional information from the public and from engineers and hydrologists, and we were able to reach a more informed decision."

"After we further explored the design necessary to implement Alternative 2 at this site, it became clear that the system would need to be partially open to the outside environment and thus vulnerable to contamination," explained Mark Maskill, Creston National Fish Hatchery Manager. "Our hydrologists also provided more information about water production from the springs, which made us less confident that enough water was available to meet our needs."

"Given the historical and recreational value of Jessup Mill Pond to the community, the selection of Alternative 1 turns out to be a win-win for everybody," he added.

The water treatment system will help ensure that fish raised at the Creston National Fish Hatchery remain free of whirling disease – which affects trout and salmon throughout the West –

even as the pathogen becomes established in waters throughout the Flathead Basin in western

Montana. The hatchery’s efforts support over 100,000 angler days per year and produce annual economic benefits valued at over $5 million. Last year, the hatchery stocked almost a million catchable fish.

Water treatment systems used to eliminate the threat of fish diseases are being used effectively at a number of hatcheries nationwide. Research and experience in Wyoming, South Dakota, California, and Idaho suggest the use of ozone and ultra violet light technology can be effective in killing pathogens that cause fish health problems.

Copies of the Finding of No Significant Impact are available at:

                                                    Creston National Fish Hatchery
                                                    780 Creston Hatchery Road
                                                    Kalispell, MT 59901

Creston National Fish Hatchery operates with support from partners, including Montana tribes; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Glacier National Park; Bonneville Power Administration; researchers; and other state and federal hatcheries.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

- FWS -

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visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov

 


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