Joe Naughton

Master's Candidate
Montana State University


Montana State University
PO Box 173460
Bozeman, MT 59717

Phone 406-994-1823
Fax 406-994-7479

B.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Oregon State University, 2004.

B.S. Sociology, Southern Oregon University, 1999.

Research Interests

  • Stream ecology
  • Angling participation trends and behavior

Current Projects
M.S. Thesis, in progress. Recolonization of Silver Bow Creek by westslope cutthroat trout (O. clarki lewisi) during Superfund remediation.

More than a century of mining activity and unregulated waste disposal left the headwaters of the Clark Fork River, including Silver Bow Creek, devoid of fish until very recently. The State of Montana filed a successful lawsuit against current mine owners in 1983, and a settlement was reached in 1999. This settlement awarded the State of Montana $130 million in natural resource damages, more than $80 million of which was set aside for the remediation of Silver Bow Creek. Major remediation efforts began in 1999 and are scheduled for completion in 2012. In the meantime, a stream that was fishless for many decades has begun to show signs of fish activity.

Although the Silver Bow mainstem fish populations were lost as a casualty of the pollution, the watershed once supported native trout and has dramatic recovery potential. Based on the sampling of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks crews, tributary streams in the Silver Bow watershed contain isolated populations of genetically unaltered westslope cutthroat trout. As fisheries management of the Silver Bow watershed adjusts to the changing dynamics of the fishery, timely information about the viability and recovery potential of native fish populations in the basin is critical.

My work will focus on the recolonization of Silver Bow Creek by tributary populations of westslope cutthroat trout and other salmonids currently occupying the watershed. Working closely with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks biologists, I will use PIT tags to monitor fish movements within the tributaries and from the tributaries into Silver Bow Creek. I hope to identify critical habitats of cutthroat trout, migration barriers, and other potential impediments to fish recovery in Silver Bow Creek.