arctic grayling

Help Save Red Rock Lake Arctic Grayling

Arctic grayling are one of Montana’s most iconic and imperiled native fish and they might soon be gone from one of their last refuges. The Upper Red Rock Lake (URRL) population of grayling have declined to the point that without direct intervention, they may soon disappear entirely. We need your help and support to solve this problem and protect URRL native grayling for future generations.

The problem for grayling in URRL is a lack of oxygen during the winter. Oxygen levels below the ice of the lake fall into the lethal range for grayling. More than a decade of research by USFWS, FWP and many partners leads to the clear conclusion that these fish will vanish unless we find a way to increase oxygen-rich water under the snow and ice cover of Upper Red Rock Lake.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Fish Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and many partners evaluated dozens of project alternatives, leading to a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) outlining six viable options for saving these grayling. This draft EA is now out for public comment. The USFWS and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge decision-makers need to hear from you in support of project alternatives aimed at long-lasting grayling conservation.

Tell USFWS today that ‘No Action’ is not a viable alternative. MTU encourages the agencies to pick a solution providing the most sustainable overwinter habitat for grayling while having the lease and shortest-term impacts to the Refuge and Wilderness.

Given the urgency for grayling, we believe that the underwater diffusers and/or the Shambow pipeline are the bests options for immediate implementation. We believe one, or both of these projects, concurrently or in sequence are needed. Failing to implement a project risks the survival of these grayling, as well as a failure to uphold the values and goals of the Refuge and Wilderness.

View the draft EA HERE. To send your comment via email, click here. For help, check out our sample comment below. You can also mail a letter to:

Elizabeth Tsang U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, NWRS Planning Division PO Box 25486 DFC Denver, CO 80225

Comments are due by March 28, 2023. As always, if you have any questions about our work, please reach out to us directly at [email protected].


Dear Ms. Tsang,

I believe immediate action should be taken by the USFWS to protect Upper Red Rock Lake grayling. The ‘No Action’ alternative will result in the extirpation of this population. I encourage you to select an alternative to increase overwinter habitat that will have minimal impacts to the Refuge and Wilderness.

Specifically, I believe that underwater diffusers and the Shambow pipeline to be the best options to save these special fish and one or both in succession should be implemented. Thank you for your time and consideration.

[Your Name Here]

Comments Needed on FWP Fish Creek Recreation Plan

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks is currently gathering public comment regarding recreational use in the Fish Creek drainage, an essential native and wild trout spawning tributary of the lower Clark Fork River. A dependable source of cold water throughout the season, Fish Creek also provides thermal refuge to Clark Fork native fish when summer water temperatures soar on the main river. Recreational use has increased substantially in the watershed over the past 10 years. Montana TU believes it’s essential that this area is managed to preserve it’s excellent habitat values and resiliance to climate change for native species.

Two issues included in FWP’s survey are particularly important to us and we ask MTU members to comment in support of lessening the impacts to this sensitive area.

  1. Floating Closure – We support a floating closure on Fish Creek. Large woody debris is common in this watershed and essential to native trout populations. We are concerned angler use during a relatively short floating season will result in the removal of logs to maintain navigability, thus harming the fishery. Please support wade-only fishing access on the Creek.
  2. Developed Camp Sites Only – Dispersed camping already occurs on Fish Creek and increasing it will only have negative effects on future water quality. We believe camping in the drainage should be confined to developed camping areas with proper vault toilet facilities, to lessen impacts throughout the drainage to maintain clean, cold, complex, and connected water and habitat for both fish and wildlife.

To complete the survey, visit FWP’s Fish Creek Watershed Recreation Planning page for more information or use a direct link to the survey HERE. Please personalize your answers with the comment boxes provided to ensure your comments carry the most weight. The comment period closes December 20, 2022. When answering the questions, we ask that you strongly consider the values we hold dear: conserving, protecting, and restoring Montana’s wild and native trout. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.