North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

Fish stocking might end in North Cascades National Park

May 28, 2009, 1:33 pm

The mountain lakes in the backcountry of Washington state's North Cascades National Park are still covered in ice. The thaw usually doesn't come until early July. This year, however, a deadline comes along with the thaw.

Unless Congress acts, the lakes won't be stocked by volunteers racing the clock through the wilderness with 5-gallon plastic containers of rainbow, cutthroat and golden trout strapped on their backs.

The size of Rhode Island, the North Cascades is the only national park where fish are still planted. The lakes, many carved out by glaciers and fed by cold glacial water, didn't have fish in them until the planting started roughly a century ago.

National Park Service rules prohibit the introduction of non-native species, and it will start enforcing them July 1 in the North Cascades.

"We are the last park," said Chip Jenkins, the park's superintendent. "If we are to continue to do something unique, Congress will have to authorize it."

The dispute is just the latest flash point in the broader debate between those who think that the national parks and wilderness should remain pristine and untouched by humans and those who think that increased recreational opportunities should be allowed as long as they don't harm the environment.