FWP Fisheries Biologists Earn Statewide Awards for Conservation, Restoration Efforts

Matt Boyer, Amber Steed honored at American Fisheries Society gathering

Two fisheries biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Region 1 received a pair of awards at last month’s annual meeting of the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

Matt Boyer, the science program supervisor for FWP Region 1, was named the Fisheries Professional of the Year, while Amber Steed, FWP Region 1 fisheries biologist, received the 2019 Best Professional Paper Award.

Boyer, Steed and others were honored at the annual meeting in Billings in late January. Other FWP staff to receive American Fisheries Society (AFS) honors were Region 2 retiree Ron Pierce (Career Achievement Award), Region 5 retiree Ken Frazer (Career Achievement Award) and Habitat Access Bureau Chief Don Skaar (Career Achievement Award).

The AFS honored Boyer with one of its top honors for his accomplishments of local, state, regional, or national significance, as well as “above and beyond” efforts that demonstrate long-term commitment to pursuing the conservation and restoration of aquatic resources.

Boyer supervises the fisheries mitigation programs funded by Bonneville Power Administration in Montana’s portion of the Columbia River Basin. This program spans the Flathead and Kootenai sub-basins and addresses transboundary fisheries issues in Canada and Idaho, with consequences for the entire Columbia River Basin.

Steed’s award-winning paper, titled “Selecting for a Legacy: Suppressing Hybrid and Rainbow Trout as a Conservation Strategy for Migratory Westslope Cutthroat in the Upper Flathead River Drainage,” was presented and honored at the AFS meeting. The paper provided an overview of more than a decade of work describing rainbow trout spawning ecology, patterns of hybridization with cutthroat and management actions aimed at securing the Flathead watershed as a stronghold for Montana’s state fish.

The American Fisheries Society, founded in 1870, is the oldest and largest professional society representing fisheries scientists. Its mission is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals.

The Montana chapter of AFS formed in 1967, and its membership is currently composed of approximately 250 fisheries professionals affiliated with state and federal agencies, universities and private industry across the state.