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  • Sunday, April 26, 2009

    The Perfect (snow) Storm

    Calm Before The Deluge
    of cutts and lakers
    sad prognosis
    .. The perfect storm materialized yesterday in the form of a nearly cloudless day and temperatures more than a mite above the predicted numbers.
    .. We took the pleasant day as an omen to peruse the water level and color of the Madison River.
    .. Result: flood stage in about 6" - 8", heavy stained color and under 2' visibility. How usual.
    .. The hot springs in National Park Meadow are flooded and steamy in the early morning temperatures.
    .. The bison were lolling about in the sun; ruminating and absorbing rays.
    .. The elk were munching happily on the fresh green shoots along the road corridors where the sun allows sprouting first.
    .. We watched one exuberant fish beating up some invisible bugs. We tried a long distance photo. It's barely visible so we enhanced it some. Believe it or don't.
    .. There were many fish rising at each place we stopped - between 8:00 AM & 9:00 AM - hmmm!
    .. The meadow at 7-mile bridge is saturated, soggy, wet, and nearly underwater. The swans love it; as the meadows flood the bison will soon be clogging the road, and the elk will begin their upward migration soon: bulls first.
    .. Hopefully today's snow storm will be as perfect as yesterday's and we'll get a peek at the Gibbon River. It's pouring most of the color into the Madison River right now.
    .. Yellowstone Science is online now and has a brief note about the conflict between Lake Trout and Cutthroat Trout in Yellowstone Lake.
    .. The sound of doom and destruction is thick between the lines of the note.
    .. Last August a significant gathering of fisheries scientists from around the country met at Chico Hot Springs, (tough work,) and addressed the declining population of Cutts.
    .. Current efforts and future possibilities for salvation of this fishery were discussed and recommendations generated.
    .. A report with complete findings of the science panel, including strengths and weaknesses of the current program and specific recommendations to the park, is expected some time this year.

    . . . efforts to date, while certainly slowing the lake trout population growth rate, have not been substantial enough to collapse that population. Consequently, the cutthroat trout population remains in peril. They strongly stated that very little time remains to turn the situation around and immediate action to increase suppression efforts should be taken.
    .. As fishers we are obviously concerned about the opportunities that are being lost with the disappearance of the cutts in Yellowstone Lake. We often, sadly, can overlook the larger ecological consequences.
    .. For a peek into the ecological value of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout check out the article from the bear center at Washington State University.
    .. The article reveals the surprising relationship between bear scat, bear hair, and Cutthroat Trout. Bears are not the only species affected by the disappearing food source. At least 20 other species historically used the fish as a food source.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    .. Our local photo processors and resident photographers estimate that over 20,000,000 photos of bison are taken each year in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Not many photos are taken of these neighbors next door. We strive to do our part in correcting this disparity.