Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan; North Cascades National Park Service Complex; Whatcom, Skagit and Chelan Counties, WA; Notice of Availability, 30970-30972 [05-10729]

Download as PDF 30970 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 103 / Tuesday, May 31, 2005 / Notices alternative also is evaluated. This announcement provides public meeting dates and locations, and corrects the closing date for receipt of public comments and the e-mail address for electronic comments. Written comments on the revised draft plan and EIS must be received no later than June 30, 2005. This corrects the date published in the Federal Register with the Notice of Availability on April 26, 2005. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for public meeting dates and locations. DATES: Written comments on the revised draft plan and EIS should be submitted to the Superintendent, Denali National Park and Preserve, Post Office Box 9, Denali Park, Alaska 99755. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Tranel, Chief of Planning, Denali National Park and Preserve. Telephone: (907) 644–3611. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Meetings The public meeting dates and locations are as follows: June 8. Cantwell Community Center. Denali Highway. Cantwell, Alaska. June 9. Alaska Public Lands Information Center. 605 W. 4th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska. June 13. Upper Susitna Valley Senior Center. Helena Drive, Sunshine, Alaska. June 14. Tri-Valley Community Center. Healy Spur Road, Healy, Alaska. June 15. Noel Wien Library. 1215 Cowles Street, Fairbanks, Alaska. Each meeting will last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and each will follow the same format. There will be an opportunity for informal explanation, discussion, and individually recorded testimony from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. there will be a brief presentation followed by a formal public hearing. All comments recorded at these meetings will become a part of the comment record. Electronic Access and Filing Addresses Submit electronic comments to dena_bc_plan_comment@nps.gov. The revised draft EIS may be viewed online by following the Revised Draft Backcountry Management Plan link on the Denali homepage at http:// www.nps.gov/dena. Hard copies or CDs of the Revised Draft Backcountry Management Plan and General Management Plan Amendment and EIS are available by request from the aforementioned address. VerDate jul<14>2003 16:14 May 27, 2005 Jkt 205001 Dated: May 12, 2005. Marcia Blaszak, Regional Director, Alaska. [FR Doc. 05–10733 Filed 5–27–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–HT–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement/ Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan; North Cascades National Park Service Complex; Whatcom, Skagit and Chelan Counties, WA; Notice of Availability Summary: Pursuant to section 102(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91–190, as amended), the National Park Service in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan. The DEIS identifies and evaluates four alternatives for management of non-native fish in the natural mountain lakes within North Cascades National Park Service Complex and the Stephen Mather Wilderness. Appropriate mitigation strategies are assessed, and an ‘‘environmentally preferred’’ alternative is also identified. When approved, the Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan (Plan) will govern all fishery management actions, including potential removal of self-sustaining populations of non-native fish and fish stocking. Background: The National Park Service (NPS) manages North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and Ross Lake National Recreation Area collectively as the North Cascades National Park Service Complex (hereafter referred to as ‘‘North Cascades’’). The Congressionally designated Stephen Mather Wilderness covers ninety-three percent of North Cascades. The rugged, wilderness landscape of North Cascades contains 240 natural mountain lakes. The lakes are naturally fishless due to impassable topographic barriers. Though naturally barren of fish, these lakes contain a rich array of native aquatic life including plankton, aquatic insects, frogs and salamanders. In the late 1800’s, settlers began stocking lakes within the present-day boundaries of North Cascades with various species of non-native trout for food and recreation. By the 20th century, fish stocking was a routine lake enhancement practice for the U.S. Forest Service, various counties, and PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 individuals. Then upon its inception in 1933, the Washington Department of Game (WDG; now the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, or WDFW) assumed responsibility for stocking mountain lakes throughout the state to create and maintain a recreational fishery. The state’s involvement grew largely out of the need to prevent haphazard stocking by individuals without biological expertise. With particular emphasis on systematic assessment of fish species and stocking rates, the WDG conducted the first high lakes fisheries research and developed many principles central to fisheries management today. After North Cascades was established in 1968, a conflict over fish stocking emerged between the NPS and WDFW. The conflict was driven by fundamental policy differences: NPS policies prohibited stocking so as to protect native ecosystems; WDFW policies encouraged stocking to enhance recreation. To reconcile the conflict and foster cooperative management, the NPS and WDFW entered into a fisheries management agreement in 1988 with the purpose of ‘‘establishing a mutually agreed to list of lakes within the boundaries of North Cascades National Park which the department [would] stock with fish as part of its fish management program.’’ The agreement identified 40 lakes for stocking and specified that ‘‘research results [would] be considered in future decisions’’. Shortly thereafter, the NPS initiated a long-term research effort through Oregon State University to evaluate the ecological effects of fish stocking on native biota in mountain lakes. To ensure objectivity and scientific merit, an independent peer review panel of subject matter experts was established to evaluate research results. The final phase of this research effort was completed in July, 2002. The complete research results are posted on the Plan/ DEIS Web site (http://www.nps.gov/ noca/highlakes.htm), however key conclusions include: • Lakes with high densities of selfsustaining (i.e., reproducing) trout populations had significantly fewer salamanders and zooplankton than fishless lakes; • There was no significant difference in salamander or zooplankton abundance between fishless lakes and lakes with stocked (i.e., nonreproducing) fish; • Native biota (e.g., salamanders, zooplankton) appeared to be at greatest risk in lakes with (1) relatively high nitrogen concentrations, (2) relatively warm water and (3) self-sustaining trout populations present in high densities. E:\FR\FM\31MYN1.SGM 31MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 103 / Tuesday, May 31, 2005 / Notices These risk factors were found in six of the 83 lakes studied. Purpose and Need: The purpose of the Plan/DEIS is to develop a comprehensive management plan for natural mountain lakes that conserves native biological integrity and provides a spectrum of recreational opportunities and visitor experiences, including sport fishing. The Plan/DEIS is needed to resolve the long-standing debate and conflicts over fish stocking in the naturally fishless mountain lakes in North Cascades. In most NPS units, natural resources (including lakes and fish) are managed in accord with the Organic Act of 1916 and in concert with NPS management policies which allow sport fishing unless it is specifically prohibited. NPS policies, however, prohibit fish stocking in most NPS waters. In North Cascades, fish have historically been managed by a combination of agencies and user groups. This is partly because the enabling legislation for North Cascades does not define angling activities that would be allowed within its boundaries, and partly because the area has a history of fish management by WDFW and affiliated sport fishing groups (whose practices pre-date the 1968 establishment of North Cascades by many years). The lakes that are the focus of this Plan/DEIS are the 91 mountain lakes (out of 240 lakes) that were once naturally fishless but have had some history of fish stocking since the late 1800’s. Due to differences in missions and policies between the NPS and WDFW, the two agencies drafted a Memorandum of Understanding in 1985, and a Supplemental Agreement in 1988 that established a mutually agreed to list of lakes in the National Park portion of the Complex that WDFW would stock with fish as part of its fish management program while further studies into the ecological effects of non-native fish in mountain lakes were conducted. A long term research study was then initiated. Before the research could be completed, the North Cascades Conservation Council challenged the NPS in court on its decision to allow fish stocking to continue or reproducing populations of fish to remain. In a 1991 Consent Decree, the U.S. District Court (Western District of Washington) indicated the NPS should complete its research and then ‘‘conduct a NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] review of the fish stocking of naturally fish-free lakes.’’ The research was completed in July 2002 by a team that included scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (Biological Resources Division) and Oregon State University. VerDate jul<14>2003 16:14 May 27, 2005 Jkt 205001 This Plan/DEIS was initiated upon completion of the research, and initiates the conservation planning and environmental impact analysis process required by the 1991 Consent Decree. Primary Issues: Key issues which were addressed in preparing the DEIS/ Plan included: • Predation and Competition. Nonnative fish have measurably changed composition and abundance of native aquatic organisms in some lakes, with the most significant impacts caused by reproducing populations of stocked fish that have become self-sustaining. • Hybridization with Native Fish. Non-native fish are dispersing downstream from some lakes and hybridizing (i.e., interbreeding) with native fish, which could harm bull trout (federally Threatened), westslope cutthroat trout and other native trout populations. • Conflicting Social/Wilderness Values. Some stakeholders strongly oppose the management of a non-native fishery in national park/wilderness lakes that were naturally fishless. Others believe that the mountain lakes fishery provides an unparalleled opportunity for high lakes fishing that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. • Legislative ambiguity: The enabling legislation and legislative history for North Cascades are not clear with respect to fish stocking, thus the NPS believes an affirmative legislative clarification from Congress would be needed in order to justify continued fish stocking in naturally fishless mountain lakes in the North Cascades/Stephen Mather Wilderness. Proposed Plan and Alternatives: As the proposed Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan, Alternative B (the ‘‘agency preferred’’ alternative) would implement an adaptive management framework for allowing continued stocking of select lakes with a history of fish stocking. To minimize ecological risks, sterile trout incapable of reproducing would be stocked at low densities to provide continued angling opportunities. Self-sustaining populations of trout would be removed from all lakes (where feasible) using gillnets in combination with electrofishing, spawning habitat exclusion, and application of the piscicide antimycin. Fishery management actions would be monitored and evaluated to enable adaptive management and ensure conservation of biological integrity. Implementation of this Alternative would require affirmative clarification from Congress regarding the appropriateness of continued fish stocking in the North Cascades/Stephen Mather Wilderness. PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 30971 Alternative A (the ‘‘No Action’’ alternative) provides a baseline for analyzing and comparing the three ‘‘action’’ alternatives. Under this alternative, fishery management actions would continue in accord with the terms and conditions of the 1988 Supplemental Agreement with the WDFW. This agreement provides for continued stocking of select lakes in North Cascades National Park. Continued implementation of this alternative would require clarification from Congress regarding the appropriateness of continued fish stocking in the North Cascades/Stephen Mather Wilderness. Alternative C would include continued maintenance of the mountain lakes sport fishery (i.e., fish stocking) in select lakes in Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Fish stocking would be discontinued in North Cascades National Park. Otherwise, the adaptive management framework for Alternative C would be similar to Alternative B. Alternative C would conform to NPS policies regarding fish stocking in National Recreation Area waters. However, Alternative C would still require clarification from Congress regarding the appropriateness of continued fish stocking in the Stephen Mather Wilderness. Alternative D would discontinue fish stocking in all mountain lakes in North Cascades. This alternative would establish a long-term goal of removing, wherever feasible, self-sustaining populations of non-native trout in approximately 37 lakes using the removal methods described for Alternative B. Scoping History: Public scoping formally began on January 16, 2003, with the Federal Register publication of the Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. A news release for the public scoping meetings was sent on February 14, 2003 to 12 local and regional news media. A public scoping brochure was mailed in early March 2003 to a comprehensive list of government agencies, organizations, businesses, and individuals. In late March 2003, the NPS and WDFW held four public scoping meetings in the surrounding communities of Sedro-Woolley, Wenatchee, Bellevue and Seattle. The NPS received 248 comments during the public scoping period, which formally concluded on April 18, 2004. A public scoping report is available on the park’s project Web site: (http://www.nps.gov/ noca/highlakes.htm). Comments and Public Meetings: The public review and comment period will E:\FR\FM\31MYN1.SGM 31MYN1 30972 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 103 / Tuesday, May 31, 2005 / Notices extend 90 days from the date the EPA publishes its notice of filing of the Plan/ DEIS in the Federal Register. Immediately upon confirmation, this date will be announced on the park’s project Web site. The Plan/DEIS will be mailed directly to those who requested copies during public scoping, and may be downloaded from the project Web site and on CD–ROM. Copies will also be available for review at park headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, the main visitor center in Newhalem, and at local and regional libraries. Printed or CD–ROM copies may also be requested by telephone (360) 856–5700 ext.351. In addition, a Public Comment Newsletter will be distributed. All comments must be submitted in writing and postmarked or transmitted not later than 90 days from the date EPA publishes their notice of filing. Responses should be addressed to: Superintendent, Attn: Draft EIS/ Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284. Reviewers are encouraged to submit comments, ideas or questions on-line at the PEPC Web site (http://parkplanning.nps.gov); search under park name for North Cascades National Park to find the Plan/ EIS and an on-line comment form. Written comments may also be faxed to (360) 856–1934, or submitted at one of the public meetings (see below). Please note that names and addresses of people who comment become part of the public record. If individuals commenting request that their name or/ and address be withheld from public disclosure, it will be honored to the extent allowable by law. Such requests must be stated prominently in the beginning of the comments. There also may be circumstances wherein the NPS will withhold from the administrative record a respondent’s identity, as allowable by law. As always: The NPS will make available to public inspection all submissions from organizations or businesses and from persons identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations and businesses; and, anonymous comments may not be considered. To facilitate exchange of information and public understanding of the proposal, the NPS in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will host public meetings in Sedro-Woolley, Wenatchee, and the Seattle area. At this time several meetings are expected to be held during summer 2005—a schedule of confirmed dates, locations and times will be announced via the Public Comment Newsletter, local and regional news media, and the park’s project Web site; VerDate jul<14>2003 16:14 May 27, 2005 Jkt 205001 or may be obtained by telephone at (360) 856–5700 ext.351. Participants are strongly encouraged to review the document prior to attending a meeting. The Superintendent of North Cascades and planning team members, including WDFW personnel will attend all meetings. The format will be the same for all meetings, and will include a brief presentation on the essential elements of the Plan/DEIS and a question and answer period. Brief oral comments and written comments will also be received. All meeting locations will be accessible for disabled persons, and a sign language interpreter may be available upon request with prior notice (please contact the park as noted above). Decision: Following careful consideration of all comments received on the Plan/DEIS, completion of the Final Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement is anticipated for spring 2006 (actual timing will depend upon the degree of public interest and response from agencies and organizations). Thereafter the Record of Decision would be completed not sooner than 30 days after the Final EIS is distributed. As a delegated EIS, the official responsible for the final decision is the Regional Director, Pacific West Region; subsequently, the official responsible for implementation will be the Superintendent, North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Dated: March 23, 2005. Martha K. Leicester, Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region. [FR Doc. 05–10729 Filed 5–27–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–52–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service Apostle Islands National Lakeshore General Management Plan, Environmental Impact Statement, Wisconsin; Correction National Park Service, Interior. Notice of intent to prepare a general management plan and environmental impact statement for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin; correction. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: In the September 3, 2004, Federal Register, the National Park Service (NPS) announced its intent to prepare a general management plan and environmental impact statement (GMP/ EIS) for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS). After the scoping period for the GMP/EIS ended, on PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 December 8, 2004, Congress officially designated wilderness in the park. While wilderness management was intended to be part of the proposed planning process, the NPS will incorporate the requirements of a wilderness management plan into the general management plan now that Congress has made the official designation. CORRECTION: The APIS GMP/EIS will incorporate all of the elements necessary for a wilderness management plan. This action will not change the focus or scope of the GMP/EIS. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Nepstad, Chief of Planning and Resource Management, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Route 1, Box 4, Bayfield, Wisconsin 54814. Telephone 715–779–3398, extension 102; e-mail: jim_nepstad@nps.gov. Dated: April 1, 2005. Ernest Quintana, Regional Director, Midwest Region. [FR Doc. 05–10731 Filed 5–27–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–97–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME, Acadia National, Park Advisory Commission; Notice of Meeting Notice is hereby given in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92–463, 86 Stat. 770, 5 U.S.C. App. 1, Sec. 10), that the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission will hold a meeting on Monday, June 6, 2005. The Commission was established pursuant to Public Law 99–420, Sec. 103. The purpose of the Commission is to consult with the Secretary of the Interior, or his designee, on matters relating to the management and development of the park, including but not limited to the acquisition of lands and interests in lands (including conservation easements on islands) and termination of rights of use and occupancy. The meeting will convene at park headquarters, McFarland Hill, Bar Harbor, Maine, at 1 p.m. to consider the following agenda: 1. Review and approval of minutes from the meeting held February 7, 2005. 2. Committee reports: —Land Conservation. —Park Use. —Science. —Historic. 3. Old business. 4. Superintendent’s report. E:\FR\FM\31MYN1.SGM 31MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 103 (Tuesday, May 31, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 30970-30972]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-10729]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service


Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Mountain Lakes Fishery 
Management Plan; North Cascades National Park Service Complex; Whatcom, 
Skagit and Chelan Counties, WA; Notice of Availability

    Summary: Pursuant to section 102(c) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-190, as amended), the National Park 
Service in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Fish and 
Wildlife has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and 
Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan. The DEIS identifies and 
evaluates four alternatives for management of non-native fish in the 
natural mountain lakes within North Cascades National Park Service 
Complex and the Stephen Mather Wilderness. Appropriate mitigation 
strategies are assessed, and an ``environmentally preferred'' 
alternative is also identified. When approved, the Mountain Lakes 
Fishery Management Plan (Plan) will govern all fishery management 
actions, including potential removal of self-sustaining populations of 
non-native fish and fish stocking.
    Background: The National Park Service (NPS) manages North Cascades 
National Park, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and Ross Lake 
National Recreation Area collectively as the North Cascades National 
Park Service Complex (hereafter referred to as ``North Cascades''). The 
Congressionally designated Stephen Mather Wilderness covers ninety-
three percent of North Cascades. The rugged, wilderness landscape of 
North Cascades contains 240 natural mountain lakes. The lakes are 
naturally fishless due to impassable topographic barriers. Though 
naturally barren of fish, these lakes contain a rich array of native 
aquatic life including plankton, aquatic insects, frogs and 
salamanders.
    In the late 1800's, settlers began stocking lakes within the 
present-day boundaries of North Cascades with various species of non-
native trout for food and recreation. By the 20th century, fish 
stocking was a routine lake enhancement practice for the U.S. Forest 
Service, various counties, and individuals. Then upon its inception in 
1933, the Washington Department of Game (WDG; now the Washington 
Department of Fish and Wildlife, or WDFW) assumed responsibility for 
stocking mountain lakes throughout the state to create and maintain a 
recreational fishery. The state's involvement grew largely out of the 
need to prevent haphazard stocking by individuals without biological 
expertise. With particular emphasis on systematic assessment of fish 
species and stocking rates, the WDG conducted the first high lakes 
fisheries research and developed many principles central to fisheries 
management today.
    After North Cascades was established in 1968, a conflict over fish 
stocking emerged between the NPS and WDFW. The conflict was driven by 
fundamental policy differences: NPS policies prohibited stocking so as 
to protect native ecosystems; WDFW policies encouraged stocking to 
enhance recreation. To reconcile the conflict and foster cooperative 
management, the NPS and WDFW entered into a fisheries management 
agreement in 1988 with the purpose of ``establishing a mutually agreed 
to list of lakes within the boundaries of North Cascades National Park 
which the department [would] stock with fish as part of its fish 
management program.'' The agreement identified 40 lakes for stocking 
and specified that ``research results [would] be considered in future 
decisions''.
    Shortly thereafter, the NPS initiated a long-term research effort 
through Oregon State University to evaluate the ecological effects of 
fish stocking on native biota in mountain lakes. To ensure objectivity 
and scientific merit, an independent peer review panel of subject 
matter experts was established to evaluate research results. The final 
phase of this research effort was completed in July, 2002. The complete 
research results are posted on the Plan/DEIS Web site (http://
www.nps.gov/noca/highlakes.htm), however key conclusions include:
     Lakes with high densities of self-sustaining (i.e., 
reproducing) trout populations had significantly fewer salamanders and 
zooplankton than fishless lakes;
     There was no significant difference in salamander or 
zooplankton abundance between fishless lakes and lakes with stocked 
(i.e., non-reproducing) fish;
     Native biota (e.g., salamanders, zooplankton) appeared to 
be at greatest risk in lakes with (1) relatively high nitrogen 
concentrations, (2) relatively warm water and (3) self-sustaining trout 
populations present in high densities.

[[Page 30971]]

These risk factors were found in six of the 83 lakes studied.
    Purpose and Need: The purpose of the Plan/DEIS is to develop a 
comprehensive management plan for natural mountain lakes that conserves 
native biological integrity and provides a spectrum of recreational 
opportunities and visitor experiences, including sport fishing. The 
Plan/DEIS is needed to resolve the long-standing debate and conflicts 
over fish stocking in the naturally fishless mountain lakes in North 
Cascades.
    In most NPS units, natural resources (including lakes and fish) are 
managed in accord with the Organic Act of 1916 and in concert with NPS 
management policies which allow sport fishing unless it is specifically 
prohibited. NPS policies, however, prohibit fish stocking in most NPS 
waters. In North Cascades, fish have historically been managed by a 
combination of agencies and user groups. This is partly because the 
enabling legislation for North Cascades does not define angling 
activities that would be allowed within its boundaries, and partly 
because the area has a history of fish management by WDFW and 
affiliated sport fishing groups (whose practices pre-date the 1968 
establishment of North Cascades by many years).
    The lakes that are the focus of this Plan/DEIS are the 91 mountain 
lakes (out of 240 lakes) that were once naturally fishless but have had 
some history of fish stocking since the late 1800's. Due to differences 
in missions and policies between the NPS and WDFW, the two agencies 
drafted a Memorandum of Understanding in 1985, and a Supplemental 
Agreement in 1988 that established a mutually agreed to list of lakes 
in the National Park portion of the Complex that WDFW would stock with 
fish as part of its fish management program while further studies into 
the ecological effects of non-native fish in mountain lakes were 
conducted. A long term research study was then initiated. Before the 
research could be completed, the North Cascades Conservation Council 
challenged the NPS in court on its decision to allow fish stocking to 
continue or reproducing populations of fish to remain. In a 1991 
Consent Decree, the U.S. District Court (Western District of 
Washington) indicated the NPS should complete its research and then 
``conduct a NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] review of the fish 
stocking of naturally fish-free lakes.'' The research was completed in 
July 2002 by a team that included scientists from the U.S. Geological 
Survey (Biological Resources Division) and Oregon State University. 
This Plan/DEIS was initiated upon completion of the research, and 
initiates the conservation planning and environmental impact analysis 
process required by the 1991 Consent Decree.
    Primary Issues: Key issues which were addressed in preparing the 
DEIS/Plan included:
     Predation and Competition. Non-native fish have measurably 
changed composition and abundance of native aquatic organisms in some 
lakes, with the most significant impacts caused by reproducing 
populations of stocked fish that have become self-sustaining.
     Hybridization with Native Fish. Non-native fish are 
dispersing downstream from some lakes and hybridizing (i.e., 
interbreeding) with native fish, which could harm bull trout (federally 
Threatened), westslope cutthroat trout and other native trout 
populations.
     Conflicting Social/Wilderness Values. Some stakeholders 
strongly oppose the management of a non-native fishery in national 
park/wilderness lakes that were naturally fishless. Others believe that 
the mountain lakes fishery provides an unparalleled opportunity for 
high lakes fishing that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
     Legislative ambiguity: The enabling legislation and 
legislative history for North Cascades are not clear with respect to 
fish stocking, thus the NPS believes an affirmative legislative 
clarification from Congress would be needed in order to justify 
continued fish stocking in naturally fishless mountain lakes in the 
North Cascades/Stephen Mather Wilderness.
    Proposed Plan and Alternatives: As the proposed Mountain Lakes 
Fishery Management Plan, Alternative B (the ``agency preferred'' 
alternative) would implement an adaptive management framework for 
allowing continued stocking of select lakes with a history of fish 
stocking. To minimize ecological risks, sterile trout incapable of 
reproducing would be stocked at low densities to provide continued 
angling opportunities. Self-sustaining populations of trout would be 
removed from all lakes (where feasible) using gill-nets in combination 
with electrofishing, spawning habitat exclusion, and application of the 
piscicide antimycin. Fishery management actions would be monitored and 
evaluated to enable adaptive management and ensure conservation of 
biological integrity. Implementation of this Alternative would require 
affirmative clarification from Congress regarding the appropriateness 
of continued fish stocking in the North Cascades/Stephen Mather 
Wilderness.
    Alternative A (the ``No Action'' alternative) provides a baseline 
for analyzing and comparing the three ``action'' alternatives. Under 
this alternative, fishery management actions would continue in accord 
with the terms and conditions of the 1988 Supplemental Agreement with 
the WDFW. This agreement provides for continued stocking of select 
lakes in North Cascades National Park. Continued implementation of this 
alternative would require clarification from Congress regarding the 
appropriateness of continued fish stocking in the North Cascades/
Stephen Mather Wilderness.
    Alternative C would include continued maintenance of the mountain 
lakes sport fishery (i.e., fish stocking) in select lakes in Ross Lake 
National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Fish 
stocking would be discontinued in North Cascades National Park. 
Otherwise, the adaptive management framework for Alternative C would be 
similar to Alternative B. Alternative C would conform to NPS policies 
regarding fish stocking in National Recreation Area waters. However, 
Alternative C would still require clarification from Congress regarding 
the appropriateness of continued fish stocking in the Stephen Mather 
Wilderness.
    Alternative D would discontinue fish stocking in all mountain lakes 
in North Cascades. This alternative would establish a long-term goal of 
removing, wherever feasible, self-sustaining populations of non-native 
trout in approximately 37 lakes using the removal methods described for 
Alternative B.
    Scoping History: Public scoping formally began on January 16, 2003, 
with the Federal Register publication of the Notice of Intent to 
prepare an environmental impact statement. A news release for the 
public scoping meetings was sent on February 14, 2003 to 12 local and 
regional news media. A public scoping brochure was mailed in early 
March 2003 to a comprehensive list of government agencies, 
organizations, businesses, and individuals. In late March 2003, the NPS 
and WDFW held four public scoping meetings in the surrounding 
communities of Sedro-Woolley, Wenatchee, Bellevue and Seattle. The NPS 
received 248 comments during the public scoping period, which formally 
concluded on April 18, 2004. A public scoping report is available on 
the park's project Web site: (http://www.nps.gov/noca/highlakes.htm).
    Comments and Public Meetings: The public review and comment period 
will

[[Page 30972]]

extend 90 days from the date the EPA publishes its notice of filing of 
the Plan/DEIS in the Federal Register. Immediately upon confirmation, 
this date will be announced on the park's project Web site. The Plan/
DEIS will be mailed directly to those who requested copies during 
public scoping, and may be downloaded from the project Web site and on 
CD-ROM. Copies will also be available for review at park headquarters 
in Sedro-Woolley, the main visitor center in Newhalem, and at local and 
regional libraries. Printed or CD-ROM copies may also be requested by 
telephone (360) 856-5700 ext.351. In addition, a Public Comment 
Newsletter will be distributed. All comments must be submitted in 
writing and postmarked or transmitted not later than 90 days from the 
date EPA publishes their notice of filing. Responses should be 
addressed to: Superintendent, Attn: Draft EIS/Mountain Lakes Fishery 
Management Plan, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 
State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284. Reviewers are encouraged to 
submit comments, ideas or questions on-line at the PEPC Web site 
(http://parkplanning.nps.gov); search under park name for North 
Cascades National Park to find the Plan/EIS and an on-line comment 
form. Written comments may also be faxed to (360) 856-1934, or 
submitted at one of the public meetings (see below).
    Please note that names and addresses of people who comment become 
part of the public record. If individuals commenting request that their 
name or/and address be withheld from public disclosure, it will be 
honored to the extent allowable by law. Such requests must be stated 
prominently in the beginning of the comments. There also may be 
circumstances wherein the NPS will withhold from the administrative 
record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. As always: The NPS 
will make available to public inspection all submissions from 
organizations or businesses and from persons identifying themselves as 
representatives or officials of organizations and businesses; and, 
anonymous comments may not be considered.
    To facilitate exchange of information and public understanding of 
the proposal, the NPS in coordination with the Washington Department of 
Fish and Wildlife will host public meetings in Sedro-Woolley, 
Wenatchee, and the Seattle area. At this time several meetings are 
expected to be held during summer 2005--a schedule of confirmed dates, 
locations and times will be announced via the Public Comment 
Newsletter, local and regional news media, and the park's project Web 
site; or may be obtained by telephone at (360) 856-5700 ext.351.
    Participants are strongly encouraged to review the document prior 
to attending a meeting. The Superintendent of North Cascades and 
planning team members, including WDFW personnel will attend all 
meetings. The format will be the same for all meetings, and will 
include a brief presentation on the essential elements of the Plan/DEIS 
and a question and answer period. Brief oral comments and written 
comments will also be received. All meeting locations will be 
accessible for disabled persons, and a sign language interpreter may be 
available upon request with prior notice (please contact the park as 
noted above).
    Decision: Following careful consideration of all comments received 
on the Plan/DEIS, completion of the Final Mountain Lakes Fishery 
Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement is anticipated for 
spring 2006 (actual timing will depend upon the degree of public 
interest and response from agencies and organizations). Thereafter the 
Record of Decision would be completed not sooner than 30 days after the 
Final EIS is distributed. As a delegated EIS, the official responsible 
for the final decision is the Regional Director, Pacific West Region; 
subsequently, the official responsible for implementation will be the 
Superintendent, North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

    Dated: March 23, 2005.
Martha K. Leicester,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region.
[FR Doc. 05-10729 Filed 5-27-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-52-P