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House Approves Measure to Direct North Cascades National Park to Stock Barren Lakes. What Do You Think?


The House of Representatives believes non-native fish should be stocked in high-country lakes, such as Green Lake, in North Cascades National Park. NPS photo.

Should North Cascades National Park be forced to stock non-native fish in high-country lakes that normally would be barren? Apparently the U.S. House of Representatives thinks so. Do you?

This is one of those tough questions that arises from time to time across the National Park System: Should science or political pressure be the guiding hand of national park management? Of course, in this issue there's the additional wild card of tradition. For generations folks have been lugging trout up into the park's high country to stock the lakes, which under normal conditions couldn't sustain a wild fishery because there are not enough nutrients.

The stocking expeditions began late in the 19th century and have been handed down, father to son, father to son (and daughter no doubt), although in recent years the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has handled the chore.

Now, park managers believe continued stocking with non-native fish species is contrary to their mission to manage the park and its waters unimpaired for the next generation. Bringing the stockings to a halt would not be precedent setting. Indeed, the fact that North Cascades still allows the practice is something of a precedent, as other parks that once stocked fish and actually ran hatcheries -- places like Yellowstone and Yosemite -- long ago did away with those operations. Today North Cascades National Park stands, to the best of Superintendent Chip Jenkins' knowledge, as the last national park with a stocking operation involving non-native fish.

Which brings us to the park's decision to halt the practice. Under a Record of Decision approved in December, park managers on July 1 plan to ban fish stocking in as many as 42 high-country lakes unless Congress intervenes.

Congress is on the verge of intervening. On Tuesday the House passed legislation introduced by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, to direct the Park Service to allow the stockings to continue. A final say awaits the measure in the Senate.


I can see this from both view points. While the NPS is spending millions trying to get rid of non-natives, this park is going to add them. But since there do'nt seem to be any native fish for them to impact and the low nutrients will stop them from becoming invasive, then maybe we should preserve the tradition of stocking. It's like in other parks where we tell the visitors that everything is protected, but we let them pick fruit because it's a traditinoal activity. I think this is a tough one.

Glacier NP stopped this nonsense in 1971. Almost 40 years later the principles of conservation should have reached even northern Washington. Stocking with non-native fish is incompatible with the Organic Act and must be banned immediately.

I do not think they should stock the lakes in any national parks. There should be areas that are free from human intrusion, and national parks are the perfect natural habitats to keep free from all destructive interferance by civilization.

Stocking with non-native fish is incompatible with the Organic Act and must be banned immediately.

There should be areas that are free from human intrusion, and national parks are the perfect natural habitats to keep free from all destructive interferance by civilization.

I totally agree with both statements.

Anyone wanna bet what's going to prevail in this policy debate; the bought and sold politics of Washington, DC or the principles embodied in the Organic Act?

I wouldn't hold my breath for the triumph of principles if I were y'all, since they are in such very short supply in the inner sanctums of the Imperial City.

I'm always amazed at our elected goof balls. Here we are in a economic free fall and thousands more are about to loose their job and these goof balls want to put fish in a lake that normally doesn't have fish. Why? I'm sure someone will make money on this deal. I see fishing lodges and camps going up and now you will find this to be the rest of the story. Maybe Our New President will have a grasp on the real needs of our nation and can this idea.

Let's take this money and doing something good with it. Bail someone else out!!!!

Thank and enjoyed your web site.

The stocking of non-native fish to high alpine lakes and other lentic habitats has been shown to be detrimental to native amphibian populations (e.g. the declining Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frog in locales such as Yosemite and Seqouia/Kings Canyon NP's). As an amphibian biologist, I sincerely hope the process of stocking the lakes of these parks is put to an end.

You know, it seems like every time we try and do something like this to the ecosystem, the ecosystem ends up rebelling. While stocking lakes with trout for sport fishing sounds fun, I think the balance of the ecosystem gets tilted in some very subtle ways, much like Dave mentioned. If the frogs go, then that upsets the ecosystem. of course, the question gets begged because this is a practice that has been done for years, and therefore that IS the ecosystem. Still, I say sport-fish elsewhere, leave the lakes alone.

The lakes have already been stocked - if there was going to be any damage it was done a long time ago. Protect the bodies of water that have never been stocked from being stocked. An EIS would probably be required under NEPA prior to stocking a park lake that has never been stocked.

The Organic Act doesn’t really address fish stocking but it does clearly permit the issuing of leases, selling of lumber, and the destruction of detrimental animals and plants. I suppose if the fish in those otherwise barren lakes were deemed detrimental to the ecosystem after 90 years of stocking, the Park Service could hire summer interns to spray Rotenone in those lakes to kill those pesky trout and return the lakes to a lifeless state.

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