[Federal Register: March 20, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 53)]
[Page 11965-11966]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-2009-N0051; 1112-0000-80221-F2]

Paiute Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS)/Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior (Lead Agency); Forest 
Service, Agriculture (Cooperating Agency).

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the Paiute Cutthroat 
Trout Restoration Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/
Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for public review and comment. We, 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), along with the USDA Forest 
Service, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (Cooperating Agency), and the 
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG, California Environmental 
Quality Act lead agency) (collectively, the Agencies), are proposing to 
restore Paiute cutthroat trout to their historical range within the 
Silver King Creek watershed, Alpine County, California. To accomplish 
this, the Agencies must first eradicate the non-native and hybrid trout 
which currently occupy the habitat.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on May 4, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be addressed to Robert D. Williams, 
Field Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 
89502; fax number (775) 861-6301 (for further information and 
instructions on the reviewing and commenting process, see Public 
Comments section below).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chad Mellison, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 89502; 
telephone (775) 861-6300.


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of this draft EIS/EIR should contact the 
Service by telephone (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Copies of 
the subject document are also available for public inspection during 
regular business hours at the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), and may be downloaded from the Nevada 
Fish and Wildlife Office Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/nevada/.

Background Information

    The Paiute cutthroat trout was listed as endangered by the Service 
under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (32 FR 4001, 
March 11, 1967) and reclassified to threatened under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (40 FR 29863, July 16, 1975). Silver King Creek, 
from Llewellyn Falls downstream to Silver King Canyon, and its 
associated tributaries in Alpine County, California, comprise the 
native historical range of the Paiute cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus 
clarkii seleniris) (Service 2004).

[[Page 11966]]

    The fish now present in the Silver King Creek watershed between 
Llewellyn Falls and Silver King Canyon are a genetic mixture of 
introduced rainbow trout (O. mykiss), Lahontan cutthroat trout (O. c. 
henshawi), golden trout (O. aquabonita ssp.), and Paiute cutthroat 
trout. Hybridization with non-native trout species is the primary 
threat to Paiute cutthroat trout within its historical range (Service 
2004). Fishery restoration efforts involving Paiute cutthroat trout 
span from 1950 to the present and include prior removals of non-native 
and hybridized fish, as well as establishing and maintaining introduced 
populations of genetically-pure (unhybridized) Paiute cutthroat trout. 
Populations of Paiute cutthroat trout have been established in several 
California streams outside the Silver King Creek watershed including 
the North Fork of Cottonwood Creek and Cabin Creek in the Inyo National 
Forest (Mono County), Sharktooth Creek (Fresno County), and Stairway 
Creek (Madera County) on the Sierra National Forest.
    Genetically pure Paiute cutthroat trout are currently found in 
Silver King Creek upstream of Llewellyn Falls, where a previously-
introduced population was restored by CDFG in the early 1990's, and in 
other tributaries where populations have been established within the 
watershed (e.g., Four Mile Creek, Fly Valley Creek, Coyote Creek and 
Corral Valley Creek).
    The project would implement the first and second recovery actions 
listed in the Paiute Cutthroat Trout Revised Recovery Plan (Service 
2004) which lists actions to restore, recover, and ultimately delist 
the species. The objective of the proposed project is to return Paiute 
cutthroat trout back to its historical range and establish them as the 
only salmonid fish species in Silver King Creek to prevent 
hybridization with other trout. This is an important and necessary step 
in preventing Paiute cutthroat trout from going extinct and also in 
conserving the species and restoring it to a level that would allow it 
to be removed from the Federal threatened species list. Under current 
conditions, easy public access between stream reaches downstream and 
upstream of Llewellyn Falls may result in a future unauthorized 
transplant of non-native and/or hybridized fish to areas above the 
    Under the proposed project, the Agencies would: (1) Use chemical 
treatment (rotenone) to eradicate non-native trout from Silver King 
Creek and its tributaries between Llewellyn Falls and Silver King 
Canyon, as well as Tamarack Lake at the headwaters of Tamarack Lake 
Creek, a tributary of Silver King Creek (if fish are present); (2) 
Neutralize the rotenone downstream of Silver King Canyon to the 30-
minute travel time mark near the confluence with Snodgrass Creek using 
potassium permanganate; and (3) Restock the project area with pure 
Paiute cutthroat trout from established donor streams in the upper 
Silver King Creek watershed (i.e., Fly Valley, Four Mile, Silver King 
Creek, or possibly Coyote Creek).
    The proposed stocking of pure Paiute cutthroat trout will expand 
the current population size and distribution downstream from Llewellyn 
Falls to a series of six impassible fish barriers in Silver King Canyon 
and associated tributaries. These barriers, the two highest being 8 and 
10 feet high, would prevent any reinvasion of non-native trout from 
areas downstream of the project area and greatly reduce the likelihood 
of and impacts from any future illegal non-native species introduction. 
By expanding the populations and range of the species, the project 
would also increase the probability of long-term viability and reduce 
threats from genetic bottlenecking and stochastic events.
    The proposed project also includes pre-treatment removal of fish by 
seeking California Fish and Game Commission approval for an increased 
daily bag limit (harvest) that would allow anglers increased access to 
fishing in the project area in an attempt to reduce existing non-native 
trout populations; pre-treatment biological surveys and monitoring for 
amphibians and benthic macroinvertebrates; placement of signs to inform 
the public; water quality monitoring (during and post treatment); and 
post-treatment biological monitoring. The Agencies would apply rotenone 
to the project area in the summers of 2009 and 2010 (and 2011 if 
needed). Additional treatments would be scheduled as necessary to 
ensure complete removal of non-native trout from the project area.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed project triggers the need for compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Accordingly, the Service has 
prepared a draft EIS/EIR that evaluates the impacts of the proposed 
project (Alternative 2) and also evaluates the impacts of a reasonable 
range of alternatives.
    The draft EIS/EIR analyzes two alternatives in addition to the 
proposed project described above. The Service has identified the 
proposed project as the Preferred Alternative. Additional alternatives 
are described below.
    Alternative 1-No Action Alternative: Under the No Action 
Alternative, the Service would not implement the proposed action. 
Instead, current stream and fishery management practices would continue 
into the foreseeable future. This alternative would include the 
continued protection of pure (unhybridized) Paiute cutthroat trout 
populations in Upper Fish Valley by maintaining restriction of 
recreational fishing on a small portion Silver King Creek downstream of 
Llewellyn Falls.
    Alternative 3--Combined Physical Removal Alternative: This non-
chemical alternative would include a combination of electrofishing, 
gill netting, seining, detonation cord, and other physical methods to 
treat Silver King Creek and its tributaries, springs, and Tamarack Lake 
(if fish are present). Because this alternative could have low 
efficiency in the rocky stream environment, it would be implemented 
over multiple years (i.e., until no fish are found using physical 
removal techniques).

Public Comments

    If you wish to comment on the draft EIS/EIR you may submit your 
comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section of this 
document. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, 
or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should 
be aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you may 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    The Service will evaluate the application, associate documents, and 
comments submitted to them to prepare a final EIS/EIR. Project 
implementation will be made no sooner than 30 days after the 
publication of the final EIS/EIR and completion of the Record of 
    This notice is provided pursuant to implementing regulations for 
NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: March 10, 2009.
Margaret Kolar,
Acting Deputy Regional Director, Region 8, Sacramento, California.
 [FR Doc. E9-6098 Filed 3-19-09; 8:45 am]