Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park staff has started the environmental process on a plan that could lead to the removal of trout from some high mountain lakes in the park.

mountain_yellow_legged_frogWhen it comes to trout in high Sierra lakes, conflicts between recreation and the preservation of native species tend to rise up from time to time. Most high Sierra lakes did not have fish until the 1880s when trout stocking began. Since that time the trout have been said to be the cause of the decline of the once widespread mountain yellow legged frog. Others have noted that lakes without trout have more bug life, which in turn brings in more bird life.

The National Park, which is just over the crest of the Sierra between Lone Pine and Bishop, stopped stocking fish years ago and fish have been removed from 11 lakes already. Of the roughly 560 lakes and ponds that contain introduced trout, park staff proposes to remove trout from additional lakes. Depending on what happens with the environmental process, in this case a joint Environmental Impact Report and a federal Environmental Impact Statement, the park could end up removing fish from 15% of these lakes, or between 30 and 85 lakes and ponds.

The idea is to create new opportunities for visitors to experience native wildlife while also maintaining recreational fishing opportunities.

This process for a full EIR/EIS started out at the lower level environmental assessment in 2007, but given the controversial subject, and presumably the ever present threat of being sued, the National Park Service chose to run the plan through the higher level process. If you did send in comments on the earlier environmental assessment, park staff reports that those comments will be included in the record.

During this scoping process, comments can be sent in until November 21. Comments can be sent to the superintendent, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271.

More information is available on the Sequoia Kings Canyon national Park website.

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