Environmental Impact Report released for proposal to restore Paiute cutthroat trout to Silver King Creek in Alpine County, California

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Environmental Impact Report released for proposal to restore Paiute cutthroat trout to Silver King Creek in Alpine CountyThe California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) released the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) today for the Paiute Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project. DFG certified the EIR pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act. DFG and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) have jointly undertaken environmental review of the project. The Service will take all necessary steps to ensure compliance with the Federal National Environmental Policy Act.

DFG and the Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, developed the project to restore the rare Paiute cutthroat trout to its historic habitat in California’s Alpine County, south of Lake Tahoe.

“This rare trout species in Silver King Creek has been decimated by non-native species introduced to the area during the past 150 years,” said DFG North Central Regional Manager Kent Smith. “After more than five decades of research and restoration activities, agency biologists and researchers developed several plans to bring back the Paiute cutthroat trout, and have now determined the best method to restore the native species.”

The preferred alternative is to remove non-native fish by applying rotenone, a natural piscicide, in Silver King Creek from Llewellyn Falls downstream to Silver King Canyon, as well as the accessible reaches of three small tributaries: Tamarack Creek, Tamarack Lake Creek and the lower reaches of Coyote Valley Creek. The other alternative would remove the non-native fish by using electro-fishing.

A draft Environmental Impact Statement/EIR (EIS/EIR) was released last March, followed by a 45-day public comment period. The final EIR evaluates the potential environmental impact of the project and culminates a more than 15-year research and planning process for the restoration. The agencies received and responded to approximately 560 comments on the draft EIS/EIR, which evaluated direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the proposed project on 11 stream miles of historic habitat currently occupied by non-native trout species.

The EIS/EIR is available for public review on the Paiute Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/WildTrout/WT_Paiute/WT_PaiuteCutDocs.asp. Additional copies on CD-ROM can be obtained by contacting DFG Scientist Stafford Lehr at (916) 358-2900, or e-mail at silverkingpubliccomment [at] dfg [dot] ca [dot] gov.

Hard copies of the document will also be available for public review by appointment during regular business hours at the following locations, starting March 16, 2010:

..DFG North Central Region Office: 1701 Nimbus Road, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.

..Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, UFWS: 1340 Financial Blvd., Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 89502.

The document is also available at the Alpine County Library, 270 Laramie St., Markleeville, CA 96120.