Contested Terrain
North Cascades National Park Service Complex: An Administrative History
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Chapter 6:

The establishment of North Cascades coincided with fundamental changes in resource management and research in the national park system. With the appearance of the Leopold Report in 1963, the Park Service shifted its emphasis from preserving and protecting objects of special interest to the general public to restoring park ecosystems and allowing natural processes to take their course. A catalyst for change, the report helped implant a new management philosophy that would stress ecologically-oriented management in place of manipulating the environment to meet the needs and desires of visitors. Returning parks to their natural conditions meant eliminating past practices that favored one particular wildlife species over another, and removing exotic -- or introduced species -- and reintroducing native ones. This new perspective applied to all resources within national parks. With ecological research, the report concluded, the Park Service should maintain -- or recreate when necessary -- "the biotic associations within each park" as nearly as possible as "when first visited by the white man." Placing natural values over human values -- or at least working to minimize human impacts -- formed the core of the agency's resource management approach. [1]

The Leopold Report offered some specific recommendations for carrying out this new management approach, namely that parks should hire a large staff of ecologists to conduct wide-ranging research projects, set aside research reserves within the different environments of the parks which might exclude visitors, and respect the findings of scientists and incorporate them into the parks' management programs. Finally, in order to implement the Leopold Report, the Park Service established guidelines for managing resources in natural parks and required that each natural area park prepare a resource management plan, all of which were to incorporate the report's basic tenets. [2]

The Leopold Report formed the foundation upon which North Cascades managers would build the park's early resource management program. While this was similar to other areas in the national park system, North Cascades differed from other parks because its establishment came after the Park Service had implemented its new direction in resource management. As in other programs, park managers looked forward to a clean start. Without the difficulties of revising tradition-bound uses and practices that often harmed the natural environment, they would push forward with a program that placed the integrity of biological resources and ecological relationships first.

As Superintendent Roger Contor believed, the agency had the opportunity to promote a new tradition of park management and shape a new set of visitor expectations based on ecologically-minded policies, and thus he made resource management, with the agency's new focus, the cornerstone of his administration. Although Contor's tenure was rather brief, his emphasis on maintaining or restoring the new parkland's natural environment and basing all management decisions on sound scientific evidence provided a solid foothold for the park's first decade of management. Beginning with the early stages of the park complex's management, Contor and his staff developed an ambitious resource management program, based largely on a research plan that covered all of the area's resources and life zones, initiated cooperative interagency research projects with the U.S. Forest Service and various state agencies, among other government entities, and sought the assistance of university researchers in studying the North Cascades.

The importance of research to the new park area's future management was twofold. First, Contor, with a background in wildlife biology, felt strongly about research as a guide to management. This belief dovetailed with the current trends in the agency and Contor's own support of the Leopold committee's recommendations. As superintendent of Craters of the Moon National Monument in the mid-1960s, for example, Contor oversaw the completion of the monument's first resource management plan, the first in Western Region, employing the ecological principles outlined by the Leopold committee.

Second, and of more significance, without an adequate research program the Park Service could not hope to protect this new parkland. When the agency took over management of the northern Cascades, park officials discovered that they knew very little about this impressive country. This became especially apparent as they set out to draft the complex's master plan. Despite sixty years of management by the Forest Service, there seemed to be few scientific studies about the region that would help agency officials describe the basic facts, problems, and recommended management approaches for the park's resources. The most extensive information covered the range's geology, dating from the turn of the century. The range's other natural features were covered superficially in the more recent special studies generated by the North Cascades Study Team during the early 1960s. Otherwise, "the North Cascades were uniquely unknown," Contor observed. In short, the old park management saying applied: it was impossible to protect or restore the area's natural conditions if managers did not even know what these were. [3]

To resolve this problem, Contor reached out to the scientific community. In May 1969, he and his staff organized the North Cascades National Park Scientific Symposium at the park's headquarters. The symposium, made possible in large part by the work of the park's interpretive specialist, Harry Wills, brought together a group of noted ecologists from the Northwest. Its main purpose was to serve as "a notice to the scientific community that the National Park Service is interested in basing management and planning on sound research." In doing so, park officials hoped to prime the financial pump for research -- that is, make the case for funding research in the park -- and achieve the lofty goal of setting "an example to the nation of a proper approach to land management." The meeting proved helpful in establishing research priorities and management objectives for the master plan. The top priority of a long list of priorities was an ecological inventory of the entire park complex, followed by a thorough list of management problems related to human impacts on the natural environment, as well as studies ranging from research on the area's flora and fauna, to benchmark studies to evaluate future changes in the park's ecosystem, and to a complete human history of the complex. [4]

In early 1970, Contor could announce some accomplishments, many of which originated from the symposium. The highest management problem identified in the meeting was damage to the park's fragile subalpine vegetation at low-elevation passes such as Cascade Pass. Not surprisingly, several studies were completed or were underway that would have a direct benefit on the protection and repair of these sensitive areas. Since the park had no budget for research, most of these studies were university related or associated with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Forest Range and Experiment Station; North Cascades would also benefit from the establishment of the first cooperative park studies unit at the University of Washington in 1970. Contor further noted that progress was being made on the autoecology of the horse -- a study that would help assess the effects of horses on the park environment as a way to limit their presence in and damage to the high country. In addition, researchers were conducting forest insect and disease surveys; this work, however, was being conducted by the Forest Service as a carry over from when they managed the area. [5]

Without a research budget, the park could not expect to attract university scientists to carry out projects. But this initial work helped form the resource management statement in the park's first master plan released later that year. While the park complex brought together a variety of uses associated with a national park and two recreation areas, the plan emphasized an overall philosophy of protection and restoration of the complex's most dominant feature -- its backcountry -- and those sensitive areas highly susceptible to damage.

This backcountry and its fragile alpine ecosystems must be managed carefully to prevent damage by visitors and livestock. Corrective measures will involve revegetation of the denuded areas; improvement of the surface, grade, and drainage of trails; elimination of fires and overnight camping in the more fragile locations; control of horse traffic so that grazing and hitching of horses is not continued in the damaged areas; and the general dispersion of alpine activities, either up toward the snow and rock environment of the mountain-climber, or down into the more resistant fir and hemlock forests below the passes. [6]

This philosophy of protection and restoration also extended to the park complex's array of fish and wildlife, of which relatively little was known. Because the complex contained two recreation areas, one thing was for certain: some of these animals, namely deer, would be hunted and fish caught -- and park managers would regulate this activity through a cooperative agreement with the Washington State Department of Game as stipulated in the legislation for North Cascades.

It was Contor's hope that a comprehensive research program would develop to support the needs of resource management, but in these early years of park management, funding for special projects took time; they required project statements, priority lists, approval from the regional office in Seattle and final approval from the Washington office. Moreover, there was also the need for producing a resource management plan to forecast the future goals and objectives of the fledgling program. Contor had thought, it seemed, that while this process was underway, independent researchers affiliated with universities and other agencies might fill the void, and thus he emphasized the opportunities the new parkland held for research, especially in the form of research natural areas. We want to make an "all-out effort to learn as much as possible" about the North Cascades "to preserve the most important elements for future scientific study." Speaking at a Northwest scientific symposium on natural areas in the spring of 1970, Contor noted that some progress was being made in funding a survey of possible research natural areas in the park and he encouraged others to assist in the process by submitting proposals to his office. Similar to the Leopold committee's recommendation for setting aside research areas in national parks, the research natural areas would "preserve typical or unusual biological or geologic features, associations, or other phenomena. It is our ultimate objective to preserve examples of all significant ecosystems." [7] By the late 1970s, Contor's promotion met with some success, for at least five research natural areas had either been proposed or approved. (These were Boston Glacier, Stetattle Creek, Pyramid Lake, Ridley Lake, and Silver Lake.) [8]

The ability of research to aid in park management did not necessarily focus on the natural environment itself. Contor believed that understanding the park complex's human past occupied an important role in understanding the environment of this new park area as a whole. To this end, historian Erwin Thompson produced the first survey of the park complex's history, charting the basic themes of Indian and white history in the North Cascades. The study complemented other studies that documented the complex's mining sites and homesteads, and gave managers greater insight into how humans had interacted with the park's natural systems.[9]

Ironically, some of the most extensive research conducted in the park during its early phase of management had little to do with the Park Service's management but rather with Seattle City Light's plans to raise Ross Lake. City Light's controversial project, which raised objections from environmentalists on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, led to a series of biological surveys of the project area to assess the impact of the higher lake level. Scientists from Canada and the United States, some working for City Light, others for private groups or state agencies, conducted fairly extensive studies of Ross Lake and the Skagit Valley's wildlife, fisheries, and forest communities. By the mid-1970s, as part of the Federal Power Commission's requirements for its amended license, City Light undertook thorough aquatic and fisheries studies of its entire Skagit River project -- including Ross, Diablo, and Gorge lakes and the Skagit River below Newhalem. This long-term investigation produced a considerable amount of research throughout the remainder of the decade, as the complicated process of assessing environmental impacts and solving international conflicts produced by City Light's plans wore on. For the most part, as with other facets of the High Ross affair in the 1970s, the Park Service remained largely neutral on the research front, except for a study by Dr. Grant Sharpe to assess the project's damage to the Big Beaver Valley at the request of the Park Service in the early stages of the controversy. Otherwise, the park's research biologist, Robert Wasem, kept abreast of the ongoing investigations and reports, all of which might eventually assist park officials in their management efforts.[10]

Despite the attention the High Ross affair drew, park managers put together a rather impressive research program; its success varied with funding, need, and the ability of a relatively small staff -- usually limited to one permanent biologist and seasonals -- to carry out projects for a such a wild and large area. The assignment of Wasem to the park's staff in 1970 marked a high point in the park's nascent research and resource management program. (At this time in the park's history there was no formal division of resource management.) Wasem came to the park from Glacier and for at least half a year was employed by the agency's Washington office of Natural Science Studies before he, and all field biologists, were transferred to park staffs. By the end of 1972, Wasem had begun preparing the park's resource management plan with a committee headed by the regional scientist. He had also prepared a list of the approved natural resource studies. The resource management plan was more a research plan and largely ineffective because it was not formally tied to the park's budget, and because priorities in the young park changed quickly causing many of the proposals to be out of date. On the other hand, the research list was significant for several reasons. First, the twenty-four projects attested to the new park's need for research into nearly every aspect of its natural environment. Without these, as one North Cascades official noted, decisions affecting park resources would only be informed by "educated guesses." Second, many of the proposals went unfunded during the park's first decade of management. Although independent researchers connected with universities often carried out studies, their results were seldom known and their use to management were rarely of any value to park management. The list of unfunded research projects included proposals for ecological and zoological inventories, a study of plant succession, water pollution studies, exotic plant surveys, a study of the history of human uses of natural resources, an investigation of the park's climate and glacial activity, a review of the area's geologic research, a forest resource survey of the lower Stehekin Valley to manage the firewood cutting program, and ecosystem surveys to assess the impact of the park's proposed visitor-use developments (Roland Point and backcountry hostels, for example). Still other studies were needed to assess the consumption and possible regulation of resources such as river gravel, sand, and soil in the Stehekin River Valley.[11]

Finally, those projects that were undertaken reflected the most pressing management priorities. And thus they received funding and were carried out by the park biologist as well as by independent researchers under contract. These projects included, as one might imagine, studies of human impacts on, and the restoration of, the park complex's subalpine zone, a botanical inventory, forest fire ecology, studies of the North Cascades complex's aquatic ecology -- an umbrella project for the complex's many high mountain lakes, and streams -- and the related study of assessing the effects of sport fish introduction upon naturally fishless high mountain lakes.

Repairing the sensitive subalpine environment formed a central component of the park complex's backcountry management program. Park managers depended on the volunteer work of Joe and Margaret Miller whose revegetation studies of Cascade Pass and their forest fire ecology study in the 1970s proved invaluable to the rehabilitation of this and other low-elevation passes in the park's wilderness. (Because of this, other studies, and the agency's interest in restoring natural processes, park managers developed a fire management plan to allow, within certain guidelines, naturally caused fires to burn in order to perpetuate natural ecosystems.)[12] In addition, agency officials contracted with George Douglas, a botanist at the University of Alberta, to conduct a study on revegetation of sub-alpine denuded areas. His work assisted park managers in their restoration efforts. Without the volunteer efforts of the Millers and the work of contract botanists like Douglas, the park's subalpine-zone passes would not have received the attention and rehabilitation they deserved, nor would the complex's backcountry management have fared as well as it did.

Throughout the 1970s, North Cascades Biologist Wasem conducted at least seven research projects, the majority of which concentrated on the park's lakes, reservoirs, and rivers with particular emphasis on their ecology and native or nonnative fish populations. By the middle of the decade, Wasem could count on the assistance of several seasonal biological technicians in carrying out these and other projects. However, biological research by its very nature took place over a rather long period of time, made even longer by the short-working seasons in the high country of the North Cascades. Yet Wasem's work was to serve a management purpose: to determine, according to agency policies, the natural condition of the complex's lakes and rivers. Ultimately, his research intersected with the first high profile resource management controversy of the new parkland's first ten years: the question of fish stocking in the high lakes of North Cascades.


In the mid-1970s, Wasem's research, though not complete, suggested that many of the national park's high mountain lakes were naturally fish free, but many had been stocked over the past thirty or more years by the Washington State Department of Game -- and with the department's permission by private sport-fishing associations -- with native and non-native fish. While sport fishing in national parks dates to the creation of Yellowstone and was "enhanced" through stocking programs in many of the nation's parks, the Park Service reconsidered this policy in light of the Leopold Report, especially with its emphasis on returning park environments to their "original condition" and eliminating exotic species. Furthermore, much of the discussion hinged upon the meanings of the words "barren" and "native." Lakes without fish, for example, were often considered to be barren by the state; this implied the lakes were sterile pools of water, which was not the case at all. The best description of these lakes was "fish free," according to Park Service officials. And for the state to plant fish native to this region was highly problematic. As agency officials pointed out, an introduced fish was not native to a lake that was fish free. Lakes were not cornfields prepared for harvest.

In 1975, based on Wasem's research, Superintendent Lowell White instituted a new policy for the park's high mountain lakes stating, in essence, that the agency would no longer stock naturally barren lakes and would not restock those lakes into which native trout had been introduced, since most of these lakes could support naturally reproducing populations and provide anglers with a "reasonable catch." The new policy would not affect the complex's two recreation areas and their sport fisheries; Ross, Diablo, and Gorge lakes as well as Lake Chelan continued to be stocked by the game department. [14]

Overall, the goal of this policy was to allow natural processes to take over by gradually phasing out "all stocking over the next 50 years," Wasem wrote, thereby leaving "only naturally reproducing trout as inhabitants of the naturally fish free high lakes of the North Cascades." From a scientific standpoint, this policy represented a compromise, for it recognized that in cases where lakes had been planted with trout, mainly rainbow and cutthroat, these lakes and their fish populations would be considered "natural" or "wild" as long as they continued to reproduce without human assistance. At the same time, it also recognized that the agency had the responsibility of preserving the integrity of the park's "remaining aquatic ecosystems" (or fish free lakes), not just from fish stocking but also from over use and thus the impacts their fragile shorelines and plant life sustained. [15]

Superintendent White's attempt to halt fish stocking in the park's high mountain lakes was met with immediate and loud choruses of anger from sport fishing groups (the Washington State Hi-Lakers and Trailblazers) and considerable resistance from the game department. The fishing groups had been stocking trout in the high lakes of Washington's Cascades since the mid-1930s, and considered the stocking program as "theirs" and bristled at any interference. They protested the new policy because they believed that the Park Service was reneging on its commitments to fish management. Both the congressional hearings on the park's establishment and the park complex's legislation mandated the agency to cooperate with the game department in fish and wildlife management. The argument here, of course, was that since the legislation called for cooperation and gave the game department the authority to grant hunting and fishing licenses in the park complex, the Park Service should continue to honor the past practices of stocking high mountain lakes. In fact, these groups believed that the game department, not the Park Service, had jurisdiction over the new park's fish and wildlife. Members of the Hi-Lakers and Trailblazers worried that without stocking their angling adventures into the high country of the North Cascades would be diminished. And they resented it. [16]

Superintendent White tried unsuccessfully to convince these sports fishermen of the virtues of managing and restoring nature to its original condition. In the summer of 1975, for example, he informed them that the fish stocking in high lakes of national parks was being "phased out," noting the course taken by Yellowstone and Glacier. This, however, did not necessarily apply to the high lakes of recreation areas. White acknowledged that sport fishing was "an approved type of visitor activity in natural areas and recreation areas." Yet based on guidelines stemming from the Leopold Report, the agency only encouraged sport fishing in natural areas as long as it did not interfere with the "restoration and perpetuation" of aquatic ecosystems. In this respect, he stated, trout were "not native to the high mountain lakes of the North Cascades." There were too many physical barriers to upstream fish migration and thus their presence was the result of artificial introduction by man, and therefore park policy would no longer allow fish stocking. [17] Leaders in the sport fishing organizations responded to White's policy explanation as simply an unsubstantiated, vague reason for betraying the public and its right to fish in the North Cascades. The organizations, in turn, brought considerable political pressure against White and the Park Service, involving Senator Henry M. Jackson's office, and forced the Park Service to reconsider its position. [18]

Another force pressing the agency to reconsider its position was the Washington State Department of Game. The legislation creating the North Cascades complex made special provision for the management of fish and wildlife. The creation of Lake Chelan NRA, for example, was largely the result of lobbying from hunters. Moreover, out of concern for state fishery management, the legislation creating Lake Chelan NRA was meant to accommodate existing or planned fish hatchery programs in the Stehekin River drainage at the head of Lake Chelan, mainly the Company Creek hatchery. On the subject of jurisdiction, the legislation recognized the game department and its past management practices in the North Cascades and thus stipulated that the department would issue hunting licenses in the recreation areas and fishing licenses in the entire complex. Finally, the legislation asserted that both the game department and the Park Service should enter into a cooperative agreement for the management of the park complex's fish and game. To this end, Superintendent Contor, along with Olympic National Park Superintendent Bennett Gale, met with the game department's director, John Biggs, and drafted a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies in late 1968. Although the Park Service approved of the document, the game department never seemed to act on it officially. Nevertheless, relations between the two agencies appeared to be good. State field biologists worked with park biologist Bob Wasem on a number of projects and management concerns which included increasing deer browse in Ross Lake NRA, cooperating in deer habitat and population studies, looking at the possible reintroduction of native wildlife such as bighorn sheep, conducting surveys of the park complex's wildlife, overseeing hunting in the recreation areas, and coordinating fish management.

It was on this latter issue that the two agencies clashed. When Washington Department of Game officials learned of the Park Service's new policy for the high lakes in North Cascades, they were angry. They interpreted the policy as a serious infringement on their fish management program in what was now the park. Of the 235 lakes (reservoirs, lakes, and ponds) identified in the complex, according to game department biologist Douglas Fletcher, the department could only include 54 in its program; most of these were in the recreation areas and none of them was in the high country. Fletcher and the department maintained that the North Cascades legislation intended for recreational fishing to continue in park and recreation areas, and that both agencies were responsible for maintaining the fishery. The department, like the sport fishing groups, did not agree with the park's policy of managing the lakes to preserve their natural conditions. State biologists also contended that there was not enough evidence to determine which lakes were fish free before whites arrived, that the policy unfairly singled out anglers (who were not necessarily responsible for damage to high lake environments), and that the no-stocking policy was inconsistent with practices in other parks. As Fletcher concluded:

Our administration feels very strongly that we have an important stake in the high lakes of the North Cascades Complex and it was certainly not our understanding at the time of the creation of the Park Complex, or now, that we have given up any authority to manage fish populations in the complex....[W]e feel that to give up a management option on the remaining high lakes in the Park would be a severe blow to our high lake program in this part of the State and to the high lake anglers who use them. The intent of the legislation is clear, and fishing is certainly a recreational value. [19]

In response to mounting political pressure from special interest groups and the game department, Superintendent White proposed a "policy variance" for the North Cascades. In other words, as a solution to the political fallout created by the Park Service's policy of no fish stocking in high mountain lakes, he proposed that "such a variance be on a lake-by-lake basis and not include lakes containing a self-sustaining population or that are presently naturally barren of fish life." [20] The reasoning behind this proposal, White stated, was that should the Park Service take a hard stance against stocking, it was likely that some disgruntled fishermen might illegally stock exotic species of fish in the high lakes, and thus the policy would accomplish nothing. Moreover, a policy variance might also appease the game department and lead to a more formal memorandum of understanding between the two agencies on fish management than the 1968 agreement. [21]

The policy variance proposal eventually reached the Park Service's Washington office in December 1975, where the directorship denied it. Regional Director Russell Dickenson requested the Washington office to reconsider the proposal the following year. Dickenson pointed out that critics of the North Cascades fish stocking policy had a case, based on past practices and statements made by former Director George Hartzog during the congressional hearings on the park complex's establishment. Even though Hartzog did not specifically say that his agency would continue to plant fish in the North Cascades, his reference to the Park Service's fish-stocking practices was taken literally by sportsmen's groups, and current policies, in their minds, did not apply. The regional director recommended flexibility in this case, for the political repercussions could influence agency management practices in other areas. (Dickenson was referring in particular to recent attempts to halt fish stocking in several national parks in California. He maintained North Cascades was different because it had some legislative history referring to the practice.) By allowing some fish stocking to continue in selected high lakes, he concluded, fish planting "would phase itself out in a few more years." [22]

In July 1976, Dickenson reported that he had decided, apparently without the formal blessing of the agency's directorship, "to affirm our commitment to fish stocking" in North Cascades under the policy variance. The intent here was to work out a variance as part of a memorandum of understanding with the Washington Department of Game. Meanwhile, game department officials blasted the policy variance and its guidelines, all of which smacked of the same unwarranted restrictions proposed earlier. At one point, the game department notified Superintendent White that it intended to go forward with fish planting as planned in order to "maintain what is left of the sports fishery which we and interested sportsmen have worked so diligently to develop and frankly protect by the formation of the North Cascades Park and wilderness area." The issue here was one of jurisdiction, and the game department was asserting its authority to carry out its program without the Park Service's permission, something the regional solicitor determined the game department could not do. The department, in short, could only manage the fish and wildlife within the park as long as it was in concert with the area's management plans. [23]

The fish-stocking issue was not fully resolved in the 1970s. Despite some posturing, both sides eventually agreed to revisit the issue as part of an attempt to develop a memorandum of understanding for fish management in the North Cascades. By 1978, the variance, modified several times, was finally accepted as part of the first statewide cooperative agreement between the Park Service and the Washington Department of Game. Although all interested parties cooperated, the issue would flare up again when management priorities in the park changed in the 1980s. [24]


While not nearly as politically contentious as the fish-stocking controversy, wildlife management mainly focused on inventorying and monitoring the complex's wildlife populations -- deer, mountain goats, mountain lions, coyotes, and bears, among many others -- and their habitats. In all of this, bear management marked the most visible wildlife management issue of the park's first decade. Historically, bear management has been the Park Service's most complicated animal management problem. Bears, of course, were sources of entertainment in many of the nation's oldest parks where visitors gathered to watch them feed at the bear pits or take handouts by the roadsides and in campgrounds. When the Park Service began to curtail this activity, bears accustomed to easy handouts began to forage through campgrounds and food service areas and inevitably damaged property and injured, sometimes killed, park visitors. To avoid these problems, the Park Service attempted a variety of solutions -- educating visitors, bear-proofing garbage containers, relocating "problem bears," and destroying "offensive bears" who posed a threat to human life. Unfortunately, destroying bears became the easiest solution in some parks. Even after the Park Service adopted a management policy based on ecological principles, bear problems persisted in most national parks. By now though, the agency had adopted more strategies to avoid human-bear conflicts, and initiated research to help solve bear problems. The need for this became especially apparent in the late 1960s and 1970s as more park visitors headed into the backcountry, thus increasing encounters with bears. Bear research emerged as one of the high points of Park Service wildlife management, leading to better methods of drugging, handling, and relocating bears from problem areas, as well as sanitizing campgrounds and storing food, all of which contributed to visitor safety. Yet for all of this research, bear management remained problematic and controversial, since people, their food, and bears continued to come into contact in national parks, and thus the potential for destructive and potentially dangerous encounters remained. [25]

These trends characterized much of the bear management in the first decade of the park complex's management. On the one hand, the new parkland held the potential for one of the Northwest's last stronghold of the grizzly. When Superintendent Contor first arrived, he learned that biologists from the Washington Department of Game as well as Canadian wildlife biologists had seen grizzlies in the upper Skagit basin near the Canadian border in what was now the park complex. Although other sightings of the bears were few and difficult to verify, Contor's spirits were buoyed when Washington State prohibited hunting of grizzlies in 1969. He had discussed the issue with game department officials and believed that these discussions and the creation of the North Cascades complex may have contributed to this decision. Manning Provincial Park across the border in British Columbia protected the grizzly and now so would North Cascades National Park. Perhaps, he concluded, "we will have the grizzly around for a while." [26]

Grizzly bears, however, never seemed to make their presence known in the park complex after these initial sightings. Black bears, on the other hand, were a source of concern in both the Stehekin and Skagit valleys as incidents of property damage and encounters with visitors and residents rose. As in most parks, problems with bears occurred primarily in campgrounds. Unlike most parks, however, encounters with bears in Stehekin arose from other sources as well, primarily private homes and the Stehekin dump. Although rangers trapped and relocated problem bears in the Skagit Valley, Stehekin posed still another variation to this approach, since it was difficult, or impossible altogether, to remove bears from the valley. (Some problem bears were captured and barged down the lake, and then they were released on national forest land without the Forest Service's knowledge.) And with the influx of visitors to the new park and thus an increase in camping in the valley, it did not take bears long to nose out this new source of food. To some degree, hunting in the recreation areas limited the black bear population. But even this was complicated in Stehekin where park managers restricted bear hunting to the upper valley, away from popular bear feeding grounds like the Buckner apple orchard, to make the event more sporting. The restrictions were also intended to protect people in this relatively populous section of the recreation area. Despite relocation and removal practices, and closing the Stehekin dump, some bears were killed annually in either district to protect life and property.

In 1975, park managers drafted a bear management plan to address the bear problems in both front country and backcountry areas. The main theme of the plan was "to give uniform guidance in the control of 'problem' bears," the main thrust of which was to "prevent bear problems from developing." The plan stressed increasing visitor education, bear-proofing garbage cans and removing garbage on a frequent basis, closing all garbage dumps, among other sanitary measures, as well as improving camping facilities by installing cables for food storage and closing areas to visitors where bears posed a threat to human life. In Stehekin this last approach was important since relocating bears required a helicopter and one was not always available. The last resort, in controlled situations, was destroying the bear. The success of the bear management program following the release of the plan seems to have been mixed. Black bears continued to be a "problem." They did not injure visitors or Stehekin residents, yet they damaged property. Almost every year residents killed bears claiming the animals were trying to break into their homes after fruit and other foods. [27]

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Last Updated: 14-Apr-1999