Trout-saving water lease proposed; Lewistown seeks authorization to kill deer

Billings Gazette

A ranch owned by the director of Sinclair Broadcasting in the Tom Miner Basin is proposing to lease instream water rights for 30 years to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks to improve native Yellowstone cutthroat trout habitat in Rock Creek.

Point of Rocks Ranch is owned by multi-millionaire Robert E. Smith. Under the proposal being considered by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Dec. 16 meeting, the ranch would draw irrigation water out of the Yellowstone River to replace the lost water from Stoughten Creek, a tributary to Rock Creek.

The cost of the lease is $10,000, which according to the FWP proposal would help the ranch pay for water conservation infrastructure.

Streamflow data collected at the mouth of Rock Creek in 2013 and 2014 indicate water dropped below levels necessary to keep the bed of Rock Creek fully covered in water from mid‐July into the fall, FWP noted. With the exposure of parts of the stream bed, trout eggs become dewatered.

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The commission will also consider the city of Lewistown’s proposal to trap and kill urban deer to reduce the population.

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