Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Staff Improve Habitat for Arctic Grayling at Elk Springs Creek
Mountain-Prairie Region, October 1, 2011
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Collecting Gametes –Red Rock Creek
Collecting Gametes –Red Rock Creek - Photo Credit: USFWS
Grayling - Photo Credit: USFWS
Remote Site Incubators
Remote Site Incubators - Photo Credit: USFWS
Removing Fish Passage obstruction
Removing Fish Passage obstruction - Photo Credit: USFWS
McDonald Pond 2009
McDonald Pond 2009 - Photo Credit: USFWS

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge staff removed stop logs and drained McDonald pond in the fall of 2009. The McDonald pond dam was a block to fish passage by spawning Arctic grayling. Removing the stop logs eliminated that obstruction.

The pond bottom has been revegetating to riparian habitat, such as willow, for the past two growing seasons, while the river channel has been reestablishing for approximately one-half mile in what was the pond bottom. In early October a three foot road culvert, above McDonald Pond was removed because it prevented fish passage by spawning grayling trying to reach the spring head. Elk Springs Creek was historically a very productive spawning area for grayling. These blockages were established over the past 100 years.

In the past two years the Service’s native fisheries staff, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the Refuge collaborated to collect gametes from spawning grayling in Red Rock Creek. These were relocated to Elk Springs Creek in remote site incubators. The first spawning grayling in 60 years are expected at the spring head in May of 2012.

The Upper Missouri population of Arctic grayling was declared a distinct population and added to the candidate list under the Endangered Species Act in September 2010. The Big Hole River and Red Rock Creek are the last surviving endemic populations in the contiguous U.S. One must go 500 miles north into Canada to find another endemic population.

Contact Info: Leith Edgar, 303/236-4588, leith_edgar@fws.gov
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