Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
                                                       Calendar No. 362
113th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 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.

                                PURPOSE

    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 
State.

                          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 
lakes.
    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 
alternative.
    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.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    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).

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    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-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    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 
        Act

    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 
same.
    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 
businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    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.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by National Park Service at the July 
31, 2013, Subcommittee on National Parks hearing on H.R. 1158 
follows:

     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 
        and when:
           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 
priority.
    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 
reported.