Cutthroat Need Your Help – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Cutthroat Need Your Help

Arasta Creek cutthroat need your help. The Madison River Foundation has been working to preserve a population of native cutthroat in the Wigwam Creek drainage for the last seven years, and are currently looking for volunteers to help install a fence along along the creek to keep cattle out. This is a great opportunity to give back and help out a species that we would all like to see more of.

From the Madison River Foundation Newsletter-

“Arasta Creek is a tributary of Wigwam Creek in the Gravelly Range. Wigwam contains a population of native westslope cutthroat trout that we’ve been working to preserve and protect since 2005. In cooperation with the US Forest Service and the Bar 7 Ranch we’ve installed fencing along sections of Wigwam Creek and built off-site watering sources for cattle. In-stream habitat improvements have been installed. Forest Service shocking surveys have shown westslope cutts throughout the Wigwam drainage, from headwaters to the Madison River.

The next phase of this multi-year project is installing two miles of jack-leg fence to keep cattle out of Arasta Creek. The Foundation has received a $20,000 grant for the fence project from the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Southwest Montana Resource Advisory Committee. The Forest Service is managing the project and supervising the work.

We need a good, hardy group of volunteers to help get the fences up. You need not commit to all three days of the project. Helping out any of the days July 24-26 would be most appreciated. With the wildfire season underway — and the Forest Service already dealing with blazes in Montana — resources are stretched thin. We need to augment the limited Forest Service staff available with volunteers.

We believe that preserving the surviving remnant populations of the Madison’s native trout is a worthy endeavor. Westslope cutthroat have been banished to less than 10 percent of their original range, supplanted by non-native trout species rainbows, browns and brookies. Although the Wigwam cutts are not 100 percent genetically pure and show some hybridization with rainbows, like the beauty in the photo below in outward appearance they look like pure-strain cutts. For anglers seeking the opportunity to pursue the native trout first described by Capt. Meriwether Lewis in 1805, preserving the cutts in Wigwam Creek will provide such an opportunity. Almost all of Wigwam Creek and its tributaries are on Forest Service land and accessible to the public.”

If you can help with this project, please contact Richard Lessner at the Foundation office (406) 682-3148 or call Kaye Suzuki at the Forest Service in Ennis (406) 682-4253.