July 20, 2008

Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration in Yosemite National Park

During the past century, trout were introduced to thousands of naturally fishless lakes and streams throughout California's Sierra Nevada to create recreational fisheries. These introductions profoundly changed these aquatic ecosystems, often resulting in the elimination of numerous native species, including amphibians and large-bodied invertebrates. Today there is hardly a single watershed in the Sierra Nevada that still remains in its historic fishless condition.

Reversing some of the impacts caused by nonnative trout is a difficult challenge, and one that Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park began to tackle a couple of years ago with the preparation of a Park-wide aquatic restoration plan. A draft version of this plan is scheduled for release to the public sometime this fall. Now Yosemite National Park is following suit. According to a recent news release, Yosemite will soon be preparing
a "High-Elevation Aquatic Resources Management Plan and Environmental Assessment", the purpose of which will be to "guide management actions by the National Park Service to protect Yosemite's diverse high-elevation aquatic ecosystems and to restore natural composition, structure and function to systems that have been disturbed by past or ongoing human activities".

The document will consider the removal of nonnative fish from selected areas of the Park, but will not include removal of fish populations using chemical methods (e.g., rotenone). This will be an interesting process to watch. Public comments are being accepted until July 25. More information is available at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/aquatic.htm.

Back to The Mountain Yellow-legged Frog Site.

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