Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (2008)
In 2008, the National Park Service completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of fish stocking and potential mountain lake restoration in North Cascades National Park Service Complex. The purpose of the resulting Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement was to guide management actions by the National Park Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to: (a) conserve native biological integrity; (b) provide a spectrum of recreational opportunities and visitor experiences, including sport fishing; and (c) resolve the long-standing debate and conflicts over fish stocking in naturally fishless mountain lakes within North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
This plan / EIS was needed to apply the results of long-term research into the ecological effects of fish stocking as directed in 1986 by the Director of the National Park Service and in 1987 by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. It was also needed to partially satisfy the terms of a 1991 Consent Decree between North Cascades Conservation Council and the National Park Service.
Although now complete, the Final Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement evaluated four alternatives for implementation: (A) No Action, Continue Current Management Framework of 91 Lakes- -62 Lakes Have Fish, (B) Proposed Adaptive Management of 91 Lakes Under New Framework- -42 Lakes May Have Fish, (C) Proposed Adaptive Management of 91 Lakes Under New Framework- -11 Lakes May Have Fish, and (D) 91 Lakes Would be Fishless.
On November 26, 2008, the Regional Director of the National Park Service Pacific West Region signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for this plan / EIS, identifying Alternative B as the selected action for implementation. However, because this selected action required Congressional action to authorize permanent fish stocking as appropriate with in North Cascades National Park Service Complex, the National Park Service decided (as outlined in the ROD) that North Cascades National Park Complex would proceed with implementing Alternative D, the environmentally preferable alternative, if Congress did not provide such authorization by July 1, 2009. Because Congress did not authorize fishing stocking as appropriate within North Cascades National Park Complex, the NPS proceeded with implementing Alternative D, as described in the Final Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / EIS, until most recently Congress took action to reverse this decision.
On July 25, 2014, President Obama approved H.R. 1158, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to authorize fish stocking in certain lakes in North Cascades National Park Service Complex, including the Stephen Mather Wilderness. NPS staffs are currently collaborating with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement the law in accordance with Alternative B of the 2008 Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan. This website will be updated when more information about implementation of the law becomes available.
Enclosed within the "document list" of this webpage are fact sheets about the plan and proposed actions, the administrative history of fish stocking in the park complex, ecological research papers about mountain lakes ecosystems, both the Draft and Final Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan / EIS, and the Record of Decision.
Ashley Rawhouser, NPS Aquatic Ecologist