Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

For Immediate Release

January 31 2013


Bill West, Refuge Manager,
Leith Edgar, 303.236.4588;


Red Rock Lakes National WildlifeRefuge Announces Release of Draft Environmental Assessment Regarding the Removal of Non-native Cutthroat Trout

Public Comments Accepted Until March 4, 2013
Public Meeting in Dillon, Mont., Search and Rescue Building 7 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013


Widgeon Pond Reflects Mount Taylor at RRLNWR. Credit: James "Newt" Perdue
Widgeon Pond Reflects Mount Taylor at RRLNWR. Credit: James "Newt" Perdue

Red Rocks Lake National Wildlife Refuge (RRLNWR) is  located in Beaverhead County, 40 miles East of Lima, Mont., via I-15 Monida exit (28 miles gravel) or 45 miles West of West Yellowstone, via Henry’s Lake, Idaho (25 miles gravel).

The approved management plan for RRLNWR allows the removal of non-native fishes from refuge lakes and streams where appropriate to minimize competition with native fishes.

The only self-sustaining native population of the Arctic graying is the Upper Missouri River distinct population segment and was designated a candidate for Endangered Species Act protection in 2010.  Between the 1960’s and 1990’s, the number of spawning non-native hybrid trout (Yellowstone Cutthroat - Rainbow trout) in Red Rock Creek of the RRLNWR increased significantly. This coincides with a population decrease in Arctic grayling abundance. Nonnative trout are believed to be a major reason Arctic grayling populations have not sufficiently recovered to historical highs.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) contains three alternatives plus the preferred alternative for what to do with these non-native trout once they are removed from Red Rock Creek. 

Through consultation with partners, and analysis of the perceived environmental impacts associated with this removal, the preferred alternative will lethally remove non-native trout from Red Rock Creek and distribute them to local area food banks for the public’s consumption. The preferred alternative will minimize environmental impacts associated with other alternatives considered. By removing non-native trout over a 5-year period, monitoring will determine the effects of non-native trout on the lake-dwelling Arctic grayling population of the RRLNWR.  Fish removal would begin April 2013.

The draft EA is available on our website at:

To comment email ( or use the following address:

Red Rock Lakes NWR
Attn: Bill West – Environmental Assessment Comments
27650B South Valley Rd.
Lima, MT 59739.

Red Rock Lakes NWR was established April 22, 1935 “As a refuge and breeding ground for wild birds and animals” (Executive Order 7023) The Refuge is 76 years old this year. The refuge is over 50,000 acres and is comprised of two large shallow lakes and an abundance of other wetlands, creeks, streams and the Red Rock River.   It is the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  The backdrop to the refuge is the Centennial Mountains and continental divide.   The refuge has an abundance of swans, ducks, geese, moose, elk, and pronghorn. During the summer there are 200+ species of birds.

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