Over the next week and a half, Park staff will be wrapping up the Soda Butte Project, removing brook trout from 28 miles of streams in and around Yellowstone.
The Soda Butte Project is, of course, part of a larger initiative to bolster the Yellowstone cutthroat trout population to their native watershed. The project was approved last year. Crews will be using rotenone (an EPA-approved pesticide that is found naturally in some tropical plants, like the jicama vine) to kill brook trout in the streams; biologists will then add potassium permanganate in lower parts of the treatment area to ensure no rotenone flows out of the treatment area, according to a Yellowstone press release:
This is the second year of the Soda Butte Creek project. It is a cooperative effort involving FWP, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Custer Gallatin National Forest, Shoshone National Forest, and Yellowstone National Park. It involves treating streams and tributaries in the Soda Butte Creek drainage, from its headwaters in the Beartooth Mountains downstream to Icebox Canyon, approximately 10 miles from its confluence with the Lamar River in northeastern Yellowstone National Park.
This week biologists and technicians used electrofishing equipment to collect as many native Yellowstone cutthroat trout as possible from the drainage and temporarily moved them to nearby tributaries. Starting Monday, August 22, biologists will treat all streams in the drainage with rotenone, a piscicide intended to remove all remaining fish. Biologists are targeting non-native brook trout. When treatment is complete – anticipated by August 26 – biologists will return the rescued Yellowstone cutthroat trout to the drainage.
The need for this project comes from a commitment by state and federal agencies to ensure a long-term, self-sustaining population while maintaining genetic diversity and integrity and protecting the ecological, recreational and economic values associated with Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
The release adds that the waters crews will be working on are not impacted by Montana FWP’s decision to close portions of the Yellowstone River due to a fish parasite.