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Calendar No. 362
113th Congress Report
2d Session 113-151
NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK SERVICE COMPLEX FISH STOCKING
April 10, 2014.--Ordered to be printed
Ms. Landrieu, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1158]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (H.R. 1158) to direct the Secretary of the
Interior to continue stocking fish in certain lakes in the
North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation
Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.
The purpose of H.R. 1158 is to direct the Secretary of the
Interior to continue stocking fish in certain lakes in the
North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation
Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in Washington
BACKGROUND AND NEED
The North Cascades National Park Service Complex (which
includes Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the Lake Chelan
Recreational Area) contains over 245 mountain lakes, of which
91 have been historically stocked with fish. In some cases, the
stocking of fish in these lakes dates back to the 1800's.
Fishing has been important to the area because of the
recreational opportunities it creates. North Cascades National
Park Complex estimates that 1,000 people fish in the mountain
lakes each year. To allow for this, fish stocking is necessary
because the mountain lakes are naturally fish free due to the
steep creeks, waterfalls, and rugged nature of the valleys.
There has been an ongoing concern over the issue of fish
stocking in the North Cascades National Park Complex. The issue
was discussed during congressional hearings on the designation
of the park. At that time, verbal comments from the Secretary
of the Interior and the Director of the National Park Service
(Director) indicated that fishing and fish stocking would
continue if the area became a unit of the National Park System.
These statements, though captured in the North Cascades Study
Report, were never codified in the enabling legislation.
Since the park was designated in 1968, fish stocking
continued under various agreements between the National Park
Service (NPS) and the State of Washington. Continued stocking
was authorized under a policy variance issued by the Director.
The variance provided some guidance, but did not address long-
term considerations and options which are necessary to best
understand and manage the resource.
In 1986, the Director, through the variance, directed North
Cascades National Park Complex to study and monitor the issue
for its long term planning purposes. In June 2008, the NPS
released its Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan and
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The plan and EIS analyzed
a range of management actions and alternatives for the mountain
The plan identified four alternatives. Alternative B, the
plan's preferred alternative, recommended the continued
stocking of up to 42 of the lakes that have historically been
stocked with fish. It also planned for the elimination of some
fish populations from certain lakes while allowing reproducing
populations to remain in others. Only non-reproducing fish can
be stocked under Alternative B in order to minimize the risk of
unwanted fish reproduction. Lastly, lakes that currently do not
have fish would remain fishless under the preferred
Legislation is needed to exercise the preferred alternative
because the Park Service lacks the authority to implement all
of the required management actions. All of the lakes considered
in the plan are in a designated wilderness area, and NPS
Management Policies prohibit fish stocking in waters that were
naturally fishless in such areas. Without legislation, the NPS
will implement Alternative D of the plan. Alternative D ceases
fish stocking and removes reproducing fish from the mountain
lakes, wherever it is feasible to do so, to reestablish fish-
free lakes again.
The fish stocking program would be managed by the NPS and
the State of Washington. Under the program, fish stocking would
occur every 3 to 10 years and be tailored to specific lake
conditions. Stocking would be done primarily by volunteers who
backpack young fish in plastic containers to the lakes. Lakes
that are too remote for backpack stocking, will be stocked
using fixed wing aircraft chartered by the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife.
H.R. 1158, sponsored by Representative Hastings, passed the
House of Representatives by a voice vote on June 11, 2013. The
Senate Committee on National Parks held a hearing on the
measure on July 31st, 2013 (S. Hrg. 113-93). At its business
meeting on December 19, 2013 the Committee ordered H.R. 1158
favorably reported without amendment.
Representative Hastings sponsored similar legislation in
the 112th Congress, H.R. 2351. H.R. 2351 passed the House of
Representatives by a voice vote on December 7, 2011. No further
action was taken in the Senate.
Representative Hastings also sponsored similar legislation
in the 111th Congress, H.R. 2430. H.R. 2430 passed the House of
Representatives by a voice vote on June 2, 2009. The
Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on H.R. 2430 on
July 22, 2009 and the Committee ordered the bill favorably
reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute at its
business meeting on August 5, 2010 (S. Rept. 111-324).
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in
open business session on December 19, 2013, by a voice vote of
a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 1158.
Section 1 contains the short title, the ``North Cascades
National Park Complex Fish Stocking Act.''
Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
Section 3(a) directs the Secretary of the Interior to
authorize the stocking of fish in lakes in the North Cascades
National Park Service Complex (collectively the North Cascades
National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake
Chelan National Recreation Area), subject to subsection (b).
Subsection (b) provides that the Secretary is authorized to
allow stocking of fish in not more than 42 of the 91 lakes in
the North Cascade National Park Service Complex that
historically have been stocked with fish. The Secretary may
only stock fish that are native to the slope on the Cascade
Range on which the lake to be stocked is located, and non-
reproducing, as identified in Management Alternative B of the
referenced June 2008 management plan and environmental impact
statement. In making fish stocking decisions, the Secretary is
to consider relevant scientific information, including the
management plan and research and monitoring data.
Subsection (c) directs the Secretary to continue a program
of research and monitoring on the impacts of fish stocking on
the resources of the applicable unit of the North Cascades
National Park Service Complex and submit a report every 5 years
to the Congressional authorizing committees that describes the
results of the research and monitoring program.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
H.R. 1158--North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking
H.R. 1158 would authorize the National Park Service (NPS)
to stock fish in lakes in three units of the National Park
System in the state of Washington. Based on information
provided by the Department of the Interior, CBO estimates that
implementing H.R. 1158 would have no significant effect on the
federal budget. Under the act, NPS would be responsible for
monitoring the impacts of these activities and submit its
findings to the Congress every five years. CBO assumes that the
expense of stocking fish would be borne by the state or other
nonfederal entities as it has been since the three park units
were established. Enacting the legislation would not affect
direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go
procedures do not apply.
H.R. 1158 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
On May 3, 2013, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R.
1158, the North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish
Stocking Act, as ordered reported by the House Committee on
Natural Resources on April 24, 2013. The two pieces of
legislation are identical, and the CBO cost estimates are the
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy
Assistant Director for the Budget Analysis Division.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out H.R. 1158.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of H.R. 1158, as ordered reported.
CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING
H.R. 1158, as reported, does not contain any
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits,
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the
Standing Rules of the Senate.
The testimony provided by National Park Service at the July
31, 2013, Subcommittee on National Parks hearing on H.R. 1158
Statement of Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, Cultural
Resources, Partnerships, and Science, National Park Service, Department
of the Interior
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to provide the
Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 1158, a bill to
direct the Secretary of the Interior to continue stocking fish
in certain lakes in North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake
National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation
Area (hereafter referred to as ``North Cascades Complex'').
The Department does not oppose H.R. 1158 if amended in
accordance with this testimony.
The National Park Service collectively manages North
Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and
Lake Chelan National Recreation Area as North Cascades National
Park Service Complex. All of the 245 mountain lakes in the
North Cascades Complex area were naturally fishless. Fish
stocking in this area began in the late 1800s. During this
period, approximately 91 lakes were stocked at one time or
another and 154 lakes were never stocked. This fish stocking
provided the opportunity to fish in these mountain lakes. The
issue of continued fish stocking arose in 1968 when the
proposal to create the park was introduced. Although the
enabling legislation does reference the requirement for a
Washington state fishing license, it is silent regarding fish
stocking. Stocking continued after the park was established.
However, concerns over the ecological impacts of fish stocking
in naturally fish-free waters continued. Soon after the park
complex was created, the National Park Service policy regarding
fish stocking was revised to provide that fish stocking in
naturally fish-free waters should not occur. Fish stocking was
phased out in many national parks across the country to restore
natural conditions and to preserve native species. In 1988,
Congress designated ninety-three percent of the North Cascades
as the Stephen Mather Wilderness, and 90 of the 91 lakes that
had historically been stocked are within the wilderness area.
At the time the wilderness was designated, Congress did not
address the issue of stocking the lakes.
The 2006 Management Policies of the National Park Service
(NPS) allow for the management of fish populations when
necessary to restore resources to their natural state or
reestablish a native species that has been extirpated. Stocking
of other plants or animals is also allowed under certain
circumstances. Specifically, the policies provide that:
In some special situations, the Service may stock
native or exotic animals for recreational harvesting
purposes, but only when such stocking will not
unacceptably impact park natural resources or processes
the stocking is of fish into constructed
large reservoirs or other significantly altered rarge
water bodies and the purpose is to provide for
recreational fishing; or
the intent for stocking is a treaty right or
expressed in statute, applicable law, or a Rouse or
Senate report accompanying a statute.
The Service will not stock waters that are naturally
barren of harvested aquatic species.''
The NPS appreciates the collaborative partnership with the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) at North
Cascades Complex and throughout the State of Washington.
Despite this strong working relationship, a number of
challenges have historically arisen when trying to reconcile
the missions and policies of the WDFW and NPS on this stocking
program. However, multiple attempts have been made to negotiate
a mutually acceptable outcome on this issue. For example, in
1987 the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife
and Parks negotiated an agreement allowing fish stocking to
continue in certain lakes while research into the ecological
impacts of stocking was conducted. In a 1991 Consent Decree
resolving litigation challenging the fish stocking program, NPS
agreed to conduct research into the ecological impacts of fish
stocking at North Cascades and a National Environmental Policy
Act review of the stocking of naturally fish-free lakes.
A decade of research, conducted in the North Cascades
Complex through Oregon State University and the USGS Biological
Resources Division, documented lakes where fish had been
stocked in low numbers and could not reproduce. No
statistically significant ecological effects to native aquatic
species were detected. However, in self-sustaining populations,
non-native trout can have significant effects on native aquatic
organisms such as amphibians and zooplankton.
In 2002, the NPS in collaboration with WDFW began
development of a comprehensive Mountain Lakes Fishery
Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (Plan/EIS). The
purpose of the planning effort was to apply the results of the
research and resolve the longstanding conflict over fish
stocking in the mountain lakes.
On November 26, 2008, the NPS issued a Record of Decision
for the final Plan/EIS and selected the preferred alternative,
which would stop stocking and remove fish from lakes where
significant impacts were occurring (49 lakes) but allow
stocking of non-reproducing fish at low densities to continue
in up to 42 lakes, subject to additional monitoring. The EIS
found that such stocking would not unacceptably impact park
natural resources or processes in those lakes.
However, the Record of Decision (ROD) also notes that fish
stocking in the Stephen T. Mather Wilderness does not meet the
minimum requirements analysis conducted under section 4(c) of
the Wilderness Act. In addition, the ROD recognizes that the
NPS would need legal authority to implement the preferred
alternative. The ROD further provides that if such legal
authority was not provided to the NPS by July 1, 2009, the NPS,
consistent with NPS policy, would discontinue the stocking
program in its entirety and work to restore the natural ecology
of all the mountain lakes. In the majority of lakes this would
be accomplished through continued fishing without further
stocking. Over time, natural mortality would remove the
remainder. In lakes where naturally reproducing populations
were found, the NPS would work to remove these fish.
Realistically, at least ten lakes are so large that no known
removal techniques will work and fish populations will remain
for the foreseeable future.
The NPS is interested in ensuring that any legislation
regarding fish stocking is guided by science and an
understanding of the impact that such policy decisions would
have on park resources. We note that the bill directs the
Secretary to continue monitoring the impacts of fish stocking
in order to determine if further adjustments are needed to
protect aquatic resources.
Fish stocking has not occurred in any lakes within the
North Cascades Complex since 2007. During that time, there have
been no requests for additional stocking from either the public
or from the WDFW, as they no longer consider fish stocking a
Since non-native fish removal efforts began in 2009, we
have seen an almost immediate return of native amphibians,
which is an indicator of a more resilient ecosystem. With our
improved awareness of the negative resource impacts of climate
change, we now understand the importance of eliminating
environmental stressors, such as non-native fish species. Thus,
we feel that NPS needs the management flexibility to respond to
changing environmental conditions, including climate change.
To ensure the NPS has the management flexibility to respond
appropriately should monitoring and scientific research
indicate negative impacts to resources from fish stocking, we
strongly recommend one amendment. We ask that Section 3 (a) be
amended to read as follows: ``Subject to subsection (b), the
Secretary may authorize the stocking of fish in lakes in the
North Cascades National Park Service Complex.''
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would
be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the
Subcommittee may have.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by H.R. 1158 as ordered