First of two-part conversation around High Lake Brook Trout treatment

By on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023 in Eastern/Southeast Oregon News More Top Stories

JOHN DAY – Dave Banks with the ODFW in Hines and Brandon Haslick of the Burns Paiute Tribe were recently on KJDY’s Coffee Time for the first of a two-part episode series highlighting a project aimed at eliminating Brook Trout and restoring native species within the High Lake/Lake Creek system in Grant County.

In this episode, listen to Haslick and Banks explain the reasoning behind the project. The next visit is scheduled for Tuesday, March 21st at 8:35 a.m.

Find details about the project below, courtesy of Dave Banks at ODFW:

High Lake/Upper Lake Creek Rotenone Treatment 

Who? The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) composed of the Burns Paiute Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

What? The proposal is to treat High Lake (5.8 acres) and its outflow, upper Lake Creek, downstream to Lake Creek Falls (approximately 1.7 miles) with the naturally derived piscicide rotenone to eradicate invasive Brook Trout. Rotenone is a commonly used fisheries management tool, is quickly broken down by the natural environment, and will be deactivated at the end of the treatment reach. Rotenone has no effect on the ecosystem outside of the aquatic environment and monitoring will be done to document its environmental fate and to assure both the eradication of Brook Trout and aquatic recovery. In addition, salvage operations will be conducted immediately downstream of the deactivation station to relocate native fish from this area to prevent incidental stress or disturbance. 

Where? High Lake and upper Lake Creek are located in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness of the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon. Lake Creek combines with Big Creek to form the headwaters of the middle fork of the Malheur River in Logan Valley which is 16 miles east of Seneca. High Lake is located 6 miles north of Logan Valley at an elevation of 7,500 feet. 

Why? Brook Trout are the primary threat to endangered Bull Trout in the Malheur River and outnumber Bull Trout 20:1.Brook Trout are an invasive species of fish from the eastern U.S. that were introduced into High Lake and Lake Creek in the 1930’s. Since then, Brook Trout have colonized all suitable and accessible habitat in the Logan Valley area and outcompete Bull Trout for space and resources as well as hybridize with the endangered fish. This project seeks to eradicate Brook Trout from their primary source of input into the system where they are the only species of fish present. Besides removing an invasive fish from parts of the Malheur, an additional goal of this project is to replace the fishery with sterile rainbow trout. This native fishery will be actively managed to be healthier with multiple size classes. Mechanical removal has proven ineffective at eradicating Brook Trout and other options considered are either not feasible or ill-advised. Rotenone is the only viable option. 

When? The treatment is anticipated to take place in the summers of 2023 and 2024, pending regulatory approval. 

How? The lake will be treated with a helicopter fitted with a boom sprayer and the outflow will be treated with ground crews and drip stations. This format increases the chances of success while limiting disturbance in the wilderness. The area will be closed to the public during the treatment but will reopen shortly thereafter. 

For more information contact Dave Banks (ODFW) 541-573-6582 or