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North Cascades National Park Officials Over a Barrel With Stocking Trout


Is the future of fishing at some North Cascades National Park lakes in jeopardy? NPS photo.

Yellowstone has its snowmobiles, Cape Hatteras has its piping plovers, and North Cascades National Park has its trout. Or maybe it doesn't, and that's the problem.

Now, the dilemma at North Cascades probably doesn't match up, on its face, to the one Yellowstone faces with snowmobile access or Cape Hatteras National Seashore does with off-road-vehicle restrictions imposed due to nesting piping plovers and sea turtles.

But ask any Northwest angler what they think of the prospect of finding barren lakes in North Cascades and they start talking conspiracy theories. While the park's preferred alternative in its long-range "Mountain Lakes Fisheries Management Plan" calls for continued stocking of trout in as many as 42 lakes, Superintendent Chip Jenkins says only Congress, not the Park Service, has the authority to permit that stocking.

That type of talk doesn't set well with some anglers.

"All the fish in these lakes were put there by man, and that is anathema to many in the Park Service," Sandy McKean of Seattle told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Greg Johnston. "I think the Park Service is clearly moving the responsibility for this from themselves to Congress. We don't see a need for congressional approval. But we are more than willing to work to accomplish that."

You can read the rest of this fish story here.


If they wait for congress to do something they will die waiting.

Lakes in the high-country of Olympic Nat'l Park were also stocked with fish - as part of the very popular 'enhancement' programs early in the 20th C., before the land became Park. There was a fervor for this kind of activity during the 1920s, etc., and when airplanes became sufficiently competent it became the rage to fly over every plausible body of water in the mountains, throwing out buckets of fry.

A few seasons ago my party was in the well-known Seven Lakes Basin, and we fell into conversation with a very agreeable Ranger-gal (she flopped down on her belly and slurped untreated water from the lake-edge with us!). In the course of our visit, I asked, "Are there still fish in these lakes, and is fishing allowed?"

She became highly animated: "Oh yes, absolutely, go after them, get rid of them - all of them! They eat the native salamander tadpoles."

That piqued my curiosity - "Has the Park tried getting rid of them - put scientists & experts to work on it"? She nodded slowly, "Yes, we tried several things ... and then even tried sterilizing them [the lakes]."

In desperation - after all plausible ideas failed - the Park tried chemically sterilizing several test-lakes. That got rid of the trout, alright, but the second phase of the operation, to restore the treated lakes with 'transfusions' from healthy lakes didn't work. Something was lost that prevented acceptable recovery, and the experts could not identify & overcome the problem.

... So, while North Cascades may stop maintenance-stocking, trout populations in similar sub-alpine lakes in nearby Olympic Park have proved very resilient, without a recurring stocking program (50 years or more?).

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