Mountain Lakes Fisheries Management Plan Finalized

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Date: January 7, 2009
Contact: Chip Jenkins, Superintendent, (360) 854-7204

Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan Record of Decision

The National Park Service has issued a Record of Decision to implement Alternative B (Preferred Alternative) for the Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement.

This action will eliminate high densities of reproducing fish populations from select lakes and allow low densities of reproducing fish populations to remain in others. Non-reproducing fish will be stocked in certain lakes provided impacts to biological resources can be minimized. Lakes that are currently fishless will remain fishless. Up to 42 lakes may be stocked or otherwise remain fishable.

The implementation of the Preferred Alternative, which would allow continued stocking of non-reproducing fish in 42 select lakes, will require authorization from Congress that fish stocking is appropriate within the park complex. Such authorization is needed because the 2006 National Park Service Management Policies prohibit stocking in naturally fishless lakes to preserve and protect naturally fishless aquatic ecosystems. If the National Park Service does not have authorization by July 1, 2009, it will implement Alternative D (the Environmentally Preferred Alternative) which will work to restore native ecosystems through the cessation of stocking mountain lakes and the removal of reproducing fish populations from mountain lakes where it is feasible to do so. Until July 1, 2009, the National Park Service will continue long-term ecological monitoring and test gill net fish removal methods at select mountain lakes while continuing cooperative fisheries management with the State of Washington.

The Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan is based on more than ten years of research regarding the ecological impacts of fish stocking within the North Cascades ecosystem and was developed via unprecedented collaboration between the National Park Service and the State of Washington. It will substantially improve existing ecological conditions while continuing to provide sport-fishing opportunities in reservoirs, rivers and streams, and select mountain lakes within each of the three units of North Cascades National Park Service Complex (North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area).

The National Park Service’s Preferred Alternative is the same as identified in the 2008 Final Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement. This alternative would, if stocking is authorized by Congress, result in adaptive management of the 91 natural mountain lakes within the park complex with a history of fish stocking and up to 42 of these lakes will remain fishable. The management action will eliminate high densities of reproducing fish populations from lakes using several methods including gill netting and habitat modification (in smaller lakes) and application of the piscicide antimycin (in larger lakes), and also allow continued stocking of select lakes with trout species incapable of reproducing due to habitat and life history constraints (i.e. species considered functionally sterile). The impact analysis indicates that continued stocking (at low densities with non-reproducing fish) will have negligible to minor impacts to aquatic life.

The Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement, Record of Decision, Frequently Asked Questions, fact sheets, research papers, and an administrative history are available at Select "Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan/EIS."

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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