Native Inland Trout Restoration on National Forests in the Western United States: Time for Improvement?

The piscicides rotenone and antimycin are integral to successful restoration of native inland trout populations on public lands in the western United States by removing nonnative fishes that compete and hybridize with 13 species and subspecies of native trout.
The U.S. Forest Service administers the greatest portion of native inland trout habitat on public lands. Piscicide use by state and federal agencies on national forests has become encumbered by redundant processes, uneven and irregular application of policies and regulations, and overlapping authorities. This has culminated in project delays and cancellations, placing native trout at continued, if not heightened, extinction risks. We reviewed the status of native trout restoration efforts on national forests in the western United States and considered issues associated with piscicide use. Central to the issue is whether piscicide applications by states require a permit from the Forest Service; those that required a permit usually invoked a redundant, federal environmental review process that precipitated the project delays. Based upon this review, we recommend that the Forest Service proceed with their proposal for a uniform standard for piscicide use by responsible government agencies on Forest Service administered lands. Doing so would streamline bureaucracy, speed future restoration efforts, and improve the status of imperiled native inland trouts without affecting environmental safeguards.

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