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  • Saturday, May 02, 2009

    WANTED: Fishless Lakes

    Yellowstone Missed The Boat Once
    will they miss it again ?
    .. A note at HDW-Mobile caught our attention. We looked at the article in the New York Times. It piqued our interest.
    .. The state of Maine has over 6,000 lakes. Only about 107 of them were historically fishless. Now, about 50% of the previously fishless lakes contain fish. Of course the dedicated and rabid fishers amongst us rejoice at facts like this.
    .. It has been estimated that at one time more than 70% of Yellowstone's waters were fishless. However, as we've mentioned before, the 19th and early 20th century mentality could not abide a statistic such as that. Our desire to fish demanded that we stock, stock, and stock some more.
    .. Researchers in Maine have discovered an interesting phenomena that exists in fishless lakes. The assemblage of critters in fishless lakes is completely different than in lakes with fish.
    .. Fishless lakes are "hubs of biodiversity," according to biologists. The variety and abundance of species far outstrips that in lakes with piscine predators.
    .. California and Washington have taken note of the fact that not only are amphibians such as frogs toads, and salamanders present in greater abundance and diversity in fishless lakes, (#1, #2,) but that the general health of the lakes suffer when non-native fish are introduced.
    .. Recently we have been alerted to the double threat facing Yellowstone Salamanders. A change in the climate and the expanded populations of invasive fish. The Crystal Salamander and the Tiger Salamander are both affected.
    .. Yellowstone National Park is often touted as a natural wilderness. It is often touted as an intact ecosystem. Neither is true - particularly from an aquatic standpoint.
    .. The Bambi-ecologists love the large and cuddly and tend to ignore the complexities of the ecosystem. "If it's furry it's fine, if it's finny it's useless."
    .. Wolves and bison have friends that have rearranged management priorities. Salamanders, however, have fewer friends than do the invasive trout of Yellowstone.
    .. Feather merchants and rabid fly fishers have also rearranged management priorities. Whereas the friends of the bison and wolf have concentrated their efforts on what should have been or what can be; the rabid fly fishers have concentrated their efforts on protecting invasive species for their own selfish sport.
    .. It's time to reexamine the management priorities of the aquatic landscape in Yellowstone National Park.
    .. Currently, fishless lakes are probably not in danger of receiving "officially planted" fish stocks. But it's time to seriously address the rivers.
    .. We have seen the damage done to the native Cutthroat Trout population in Yellowstone Lake by the introduced Lake Trout. What we haven't admitted is the damage done to the Firehole River, Slough Creek, the Gibbon River, or Grebe Lake.
    .. The balanced dynamic ecology of the evolutionary history in lakes and rivers visa viz their inhabitants, be it 10,000 years or 10,000,000 years, is easily and quickly modified by the introduction of invasive species. We have demonstrated that.
    .. Brown Trout & Brook Trout & Rainbow Trout, (in most waters,) in Yellowstone are invasive species. It's time that the public servants that manage Yellowstone acknowledge it. It's time that they treat them in the same way that they treat Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa).
    .. As much as we would miss the eager Brook Trout and the reclusive Adfluvial Grayling of the upper Gibbon River, we would feel better about the park if they were eradicated.
    .. You will not find any mention of the damage done to Yellowstone rivers and lakes in respect to the invasive fish - other than Lake Trout - in the park literature. Managers have accepted these interlopers as a fact of the "new ecology."
    .. As pointed out by the New York Times article: fishless lakes and waterways could serve as refuges for species during the impending and present swing in the climatic regime.
    .. It's way past time for the managers of Yellowstone's waters to decide just what it is that they are protecting - and how.
    .. Are they protecting the feather merchants and rabid fly fishers along with their invasive trout? Or, are they protecting a National Park that is touted as an intact ecosystem - but isn't?
    .. Many decried the reintroduction of wolves as impractical. Many believe that the battle against invasive weeds shouldn't be continued. Many cry foul when the restoration of rivers is mentioned. We hope that the managers of Yellowstone are not among them - fly fishers though they be!
    --> National Parks Conservation Association: Invasive species in National Parks. Does not address invasive trout in Yellowstone.
    --> Wang Fang Database: Invasive trout impacts in the Frank Church Wilderness.
    --> SpringerLink Database: Invasive trout impacts on distribution of amphibians in the Frank Church Wilderness.
    --> USGS Data Sheet: Impacts of introduced trout on mountain lakes and ponds.
    --> Conservationevidence.com: The recovery of amphibians after the removal of invasive trout species in California.
    --> Conservation Biology: An evaluation of restoration efforts in fishless lakes stocked with exotic trout.
    --> USGS Data Sheet: Ecological Impact of Introduced Trout on Native Aquatic Communities in Mountain Lakes.
    --> International Journal of Wilderness: A Study of High Mountain Lake Fish Stocking in the U.S. Sierra Nevada Wilderness.
    --> NewsReview.com: UC Davis predicts a fishless future for California Waters.
    --> Yellowstone Science: Biodiversity and the "Crystal" Salamanders of Yellowstone.
    --> Science Daily: Global Warming Is Killing Frogs And Salamanders In Yellowstone Park, Researchers Say.
    --> National Park Traveler: Creature Feature: Yellowstone National Park, Home to Wolves, Grizzlies, Elk, Moose, and ... Crystal Salamanders.
    .. Well it's time for a mid morning snack. We'll clean out the fridge before the neighbors with badges get here.
    .. The starters should include smoked Cutthroat fins with salamander roe dip, and sauteed salamander tail with Firehole mushrooms.
    .. Stuffed spotted owl with sage gravy will be the main course. A sandwich of tomato and fresh Yellowstone dandelion greens will be thinly sliced and dipped in the broth of bald eagle feet and beaks, followed by fricassee of swan.
    .. Dessert will most probably consist of candied wolf liver and jellied moose nose - both favorites of us rabid fishers.
    .. We should probably follow the meal with a digestive aid such as a bit of toad-mint pudding and an El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme cigar. Of course it will be accompanied by a light Bacardi cocktail swirled with Brookie milt and decorated with chum salmon eyes on a toothpick, (imported from California.)