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Words from Washington

Stocking our lakes key to recreational, tourism industries

Washington residents enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities in our state, including fishing in the lakes of the North Cascades. For decades, the practice of stocking these lakes with fish has brought important recreational opportunities to the North Cascades, as well as an increase in tourism, which benefits the local economy.

It's vital that fish stocking be allowed to continue in the North Cascades, and that's why I'm pleased that my legislation to protect this practice passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

For over a century, the alpine lakes of the North Cascades have been stocked with fish - long before the lakes became a part of the North Cascades National Park complex. Volunteer groups, working with the State of Washington and the federal government in a carefully managed program, carry on this tradition by hiking into remote areas of the North Cascades to stock trout. Despite strong local support, and an Oregon State University study indicating that the practice can be conducted with no negative impact on the environment, the National Park Service has been moving away from fish stocking for the past several years.

In order for fish stocking to continue in the alpine lakes of the North Cascades, the National Park Service believes that congressional direction is necessary. That is why I authored my Fish Stocking Protection Act, which would ensure that the National Park Service has explicit authority to continue fish stocking in the North Cascades. My bill recently passed the House with unanimous and bipartisan support. It must now be passed by the Senate before it can be signed into law by the President.

As passed by the House, this legislation applies to 42 alpine lakes that have historically been stocked with fish located on National Park Service lands in the North Cascades National Park Complex. The complex includes the North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

I'm encouraged that my proposal is supported by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as Democrat and Republican lawmakers from Washington state. I'm hopeful that my proposal will be quickly passed by the Senate and sent to the President for his signature so that fish stocking will be able to continue for many years to come.

Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

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