Laws & Policies

Ross Lake General Management Plan Image Credit: NPS/Michael Liang
Ross Lake General Management Plan

NPS/Michael Liang


This webpage is intended to help you learn about the laws and policies that protect you and your park. For information on the plans and documents that implement these laws and policies and provide guidance for park management, visit the park planning page.

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National Park Service

North Cascades National Park Service Complex


Public Law 90-544: Enabling Legislation (1968)

"…preserve for the benefit, use, and inspiration of present and future generations certain majestic mountain scenery, snowfields, glaciers, alpine meadows, and other unique natural features in the North Cascade Mountains of the State of Washington…"

"…provide for the public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment … [and] for the conservation of the scenic, scientific, historic, and other values contributing to public enjoyment of such lands and waters…"

The enabling legislation is what Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in 1968 creating North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.


Wilderness Designation (1988)

In 1988, Congress established the 635,000 acre Stephen Mather Wilderness within North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (Washington Park Wilderness Act of 1988). Over 5,000 acres in Ross Lake NRA were also designated as potential wilderness at that time. In 2012, the Secretary of the Interior redesignated 3,550 acres of potential wilderness as wilderness.


Laws, Policies and Plans Related to Hydroelectric Facilities

There are four hydroelectric facilities that operate in the park complex under licenses provided by the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) . The largest of these projects is the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project which provides approximately 15-20% of Seattle's power. For more information about these hydroelectric facilities, please visit FERC's e-library.


Superintendent's Compendium

Each national park has specific local regulations established under the Superintendent's discretionary authority under Title 36 CFR. Regulations specific to North Cascades National Park Service Complex are compiled annually and are available electronically here and in print at park headquarters.


Firearms Possession

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in North Cascades National Park Complex which includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, visit the RCW website.

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances and generally includes all NPS staffed offices open to the public.

Hunting in Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas remains bound by Washington State regulations at distances greater than ¼ mile from developed area and selected other locations. See the Superintendent's Compendium for more information.


Marijuana on Federal Land

Posted: May 21, 2014
Contact: Chief Ranger's Office - 360-854-7252
North Cascades National Park Service Complex would like to provide clarification regarding the use of possession of marijuana on Federal lands. The recently passed Washington State law, which allows for limited recreational marijuana use under certain conditions, has no bearing on Federal laws which continue to identify marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug, and prohibit its use.

Possession of marijuana or use of any amount of marijuana is still prohibited in North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, their facilities, concessions, and campgrounds, and in the surrounding National Forest lands. Violations are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 for an individual or $10,000.00 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C. 3559 and 3571).


Unmanned Aircraft to be Prohibited in National Parks

Posted: June 23, 2014
Contact: Chief Ranger's Office - 360-854-7252

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis signed a policy memorandum on June 20 that directs superintendents nationwide to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service.

Last updated: March 14, 2018

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810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley , WA 98284


360 854-7200

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