Restoration of Native Species in High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystems
I am pleased to announce the release of the High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Restoration Plan/FEIS) for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This Restoration Plan/FEIS will guide our management actions to restore and conserve native species diversity and ecological function to selected high elevation aquatic ecosystems that have been adversely impacted by human activities, particularly the past stocking of nonnative trout. The project would also increase the resistance and resilience of native species and ecosystems to human-induced environmental modifications such as disease and unprecedented climate change.
Over the past 16 years, we have effectively eradicated nonnative trout in 15 lakes and ponds using gill nets and electrofishers. Nonnative fish are currently being removed from eleven additional lakes and ponds. The removal of nonnative trout has been shown to be beneficial for native species. However, we have not had the tools necessary to restore habitats on a larger scale. If approved, this Restoration Plan/FEIS would allow us to use additional tools, including piscicides, for conducting high elevation aquatic ecosystem restoration at the landscape scale in the parks. This Restoration Plan/FEIS would help us restore up to 15% of our high elevation lakes and streams over the next 25 to 35 years. Its implementation would affect up to 85 of the 550 nonnative fish-containing lakes, ponds, and marshes, and approximately 31 miles of streams in these parks. Nonnative trout would remain in 465 lakes, ponds, and marshes and hundreds of miles of streams. We will continue to provide outstanding fishing opportunities suited to a variety of interests and abilities. Lakes, ponds, and marshes proposed for trout removal in this project were selected to avoid most lakes with a reputation for good fishing.
The draft Restoration Plan and Draft EIS was available to the public, federal, state, and local agencies, tribes, and organizations from September 26, 2013 to December 17, 2013. The NPS received 123 public comment letters from individuals, interest groups, businesses, or government agencies. The Restoration Plan/FEIS is not open for a formal public comment period, but additional comments will be read and considered.
A 30-day "no-action" period will begin on the date the Environmental Protection Agency publishes the notice of availability of the final plan in the Federal Register, which is scheduled to occur on June 10, 2016, after which the NPS will prepare a record of decision (ROD). After approval of the ROD by the Pacific West Regional Director, the selected alternative will be announced through local and regional press, and posted on the PEPC website. The expansion of the program, if approved, would start later this summer; however treatments using piscicides would not begin until 2017 or 2018.
Thanks for your interest in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
ATTN: Restoration Plan/FEIS
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271