Trout eradication program under the radar
March 31, 2014
While under the radar, in 2008, a huge trout eradication program began in Eldorado National Forest to save a frog. The public comment process was practically nil at that time and the U.S. Forest Service didn't make a lot of noise either, lest the public be outraged at such an undertaking.
In a recent conversation with Eldorado National Forest fish biologist, Sarah Muskoph shared with me that tadpole-eating brook trout in seven lakes were the reason for an eradication program which had already been completed by 2011 and 2012.
Those high mountain lakes affected are located in Desolation Wilderness above the Echo Lake Resort, which are Ralston, Tamarack, Cagwin, Margery, Lucille, Le Conte, and Jabu lakes.
To date, there is still insufficient evidence that connects frog decline to the eating of tadpoles by trout yet the Forest Service clings to this assumption.
In my discussion with Sarah, I asked her if any yellow-legged frogs had yet been found in or around those lakes since the eradication and she said, with the exception of a few frogs in a pond, that there were none.
So much for the restoration of a frog. Now, that's real progress.
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Noteworthy is that the amphibian decline is documented worldwide. Besides the factors of drought and climate change, the decline of the frog from its historic range has been associated with pesticide drift from agricultural areas.
Frogs that have been reintroduced to water bodies cleared of fish have failed to survive, and analysis has isolated pesticides in their tissues.
Pesticides are considered by some authorities to be a greater threat to the frog than the trout.
The role that pesticides and introduced fish play in frog declines is still debated, and the loss of R. muscosa has probably been influenced by multiple factors.
Other research done by U.C. Berkeley professor Dr. Tyrone Hayes (Mother Jones/Jan.,Feb. 2012) confirms that frog decline is being associated with the popular weed killer Atrazine.
Presently, the Environmental Protection Agency is weighing the findings of Dr. Hayes as it reconsiders whether to ban or restrict Atrazine.
Marijuana cultivation and chemical weed control in the Sierra forests is still another major issue that seriously threatens amphibians and fish.
The latest proposal designating 2 million Sierra acres for the restoration of frogs and toads while chemicals are instrumental in their decline will accomplish nothing.
Rural economies of resorts and towns that depend upon anglers from spring through fall will fail because of the fish removal that is planned.
But the Fish and Wildlife still have another card up their sleeve.
Their aim is to not only use nets to capture the fish, they will also use electrical shocks and pesticides to poison trout in numerous bodies of water and 41 miles of streams.
Included in this mix are 80 lakes, 26 ponds and four marshes, if you can imagine.
Interestingly enough, fish purify the lakes and waterways for the benefit of our health and our drinking needs but the government wants to poison the water.
If this isn't the most outrageous "environmental" proposal yet, then what is?
Every person in California needs to write their congressman before it is too late as these programs need to be defunded and shelved immediately before there is an ecological meltdown in the entire state.
Healthy waterways and the lakes belong to all of the people, while not forgetting that our children are looking forward to catching their first fish.
These playgrounds have been set aside for reasons of health and recreation, and also for our own well-being and enjoyment to be experienced forever and a day.
It is now time to save the Sierra, the waterways, and our fish before it's too late.
Chuck Frank lives Penn Valley.