[Federal Register: March 1, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 39)]
[Page 10009-10011]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior, Forest Service, 
Department of Agriculture; and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service), and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(ODFW) intend to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The 
Forest Service will also cooperate in the development of the EIS. The 
EIS will consider Federal and State actions associated with an ODFW 
proposal to restore the recreational fishery at Diamond Lake, Oregon. 
ODFW has proposed to treat the lake with rotenone, a fish toxicant, to 
kill all fish present, and to restock the lake with rainbow trout. The 
associated actions are: (1) The Service granting Federal Aid in Sport 
Fish Restoration Act Program funding to ODFW for implementing a Diamond 
Lake recreational fishery restoration program; (2) the Forest Service 
issuing ODFW a special use permit for access through, and use of, 
National Forest lands to Diamond Lake for implementing a recreation 
fishery restoration program; (3) ODFW implementing a Diamond Lake 
recreational fishery restoration program.
    The EIS will also consider any actions by other Federal or State 
agencies that are necessary or appropriate to implement a trout fishery 
restoration program. This notice is being furnished pursuant to the 
Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the 
Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
Regulations (40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22) to obtain suggestions and 
information from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues 
and alternatives to be considered in preparation of the EIS.

DATES: As an opportunity for interested persons to comment on the 
issues and alternatives of the EIS, public scoping meetings are 
scheduled as follows: March 8, Jackson County Public Works Office, 200 
Antelope Road, Medford, Oregon, 3:30-7:00 p.m.; March 9, ODFW Regional 
Office, 4192 N. Umpqua Highway, Roseburg, Oregon, 3:30-7:00 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the scope of the EIS should be addressed 
to Mr. Jerry F. Novotny, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 N.E. 11th 
Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232, 503/231-6128. Comments should be 
received on or before March 31, 1999, at the above address. Written 
comments may also be sent by facsimile to 503/231-6996. Comments 
received will be available for public inspection by appointment during 
normal business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) 
at the above office; please call for an appointment. All comments 
received will become part of the administrative record and may be 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact Jerry F. Novotny at the above 
address and telephone number. Specific information regarding National 
Forest lands may be obtained from Liz Stevenson-Shaw, Supervisor's 
Office, Umpqua National Forest, P.O. Box 1008, Roseburg, Oregon 97470, 
541/957-3391. Information concerning ODFW fishery management programs 
may be obtained from Charlie Corrarino, Oregon Department of Fish and 
Wildlife, 2501 S.W. First, Portland, Oregon 97207, 503/872-5252.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Diamond Lake is located in the Umpqua River 
basin in Douglas County, Oregon. It is within the Umpqua National 
Forest and just north of the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park. 
Diamond Lake is a natural lake situated at an elevation of 5,182 feet 
in the Cascade mountains. The Lake has a surface area of approximately 
2, 930 acres and is relatively shallow, with a maximum depth of just 
over 50 feet. Diamond Lake drains into Lake Creek, which empties into 
Lemolo Reservoir, an impoundment on the North Umpqua River. Two other 
impoundments are located downstream from Lemolo Reservoir on the North 
Umpqua River. The flow of water from Lemolo Reservoir and the other 
impoundments is regulated by Pacificorp, a public utilities 
    The lake is a popular recreation destination; as such, it is 
important to the economy of southern Oregon. In recent years, the 
lake's trout fishery has deteriorated due to competition from tui chub 
(Gila bicolor), an illegally introduced species of minnow. Prior to the 
introduction of the tui chub, Diamond Lake was recognized as a premier 
recreational trout fishery. Growth of the tui chub population has 
caused a severe decline in the survival of fingerling rainbow trout and 
the subsequent growth of the surviving trout. The same chain of events 
and outcomes occurred in the 1940's and 1950's, resulting in treatment 
of the lake with rotenone in 1954. Treatment was followed by about 40 
years of a very successful trout fishery.
    Two bald eagle and 6-12 osprey pairs nest in the vicinity of 
Diamond Lake and rely heavily on rainbow trout as a food source for 
both adults and young. The reduced survival and abundance of rainbow 
trout may have a negative effect on the breeding success of bald eagles 
and ospreys since tui chub are much smaller, may be less available, and 

[[Page 10010]]

require more catch effort per energy gained than rainbow trout.
    Rapidly increasing tui chub populations may be affecting other 
wildlife populations in and around the lake by severely reducing the 
invertebrate food base of the lake. This reduced food base affects the 
entire food chain of the lake, ultimately affecting amphibian and 
reptile populations as well as insectivorous birds.
    In 1990, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a 
management plan for Diamond Lake which set objectives for its trout 
fishery: an average of 100,000 angler trips annually, with a harvest of 
2.7 fish per angler trip, and fish averaging 12 inches in length. The 
annual yield of trout should be about 90 pounds per acre. That 
objective was based on observed performance of the fishery for more 
than two decades.
    As tui chubs have become increasingly abundant, the trout fishery 
has substantially declined in terms of catch, effort, and return on 
fish stocked (survival). While the return on fingerlings stocked was 
about 70% in the 1960's, 70's and 80's, it has now declined to less 
than 10%. The decline is due to reduced survival (= increased 
mortality) of stocked fingerlings; fewer fish surviving means fewer 
fish to be caught.
    In 1990, ODFW spent several months examining available data and 
consulting with the Forest Service, other agencies and parties, 
including extensive public outreach regarding the management of the 
recreational fishery of Diamond Lake. Several options, including doing 
nothing to change the situation, were evaluated during that public 
process, including the following:
    A. No Action--The recreational fishery will continue at its current 
very low level, and angler use will decline in response to diminished 
catch rates and smaller fish. Experience at Diamond Lake and at many 
other lakes and reservoirs suggests that tui chubs will eventually 
drive trout survival to near zero. Dissatisfaction with fishing may 
lead some anglers to introduce new species to ``help'' fishing.
    B. Manipulate Stocking Strategies--Several strategies have been 
examined for use in the near-term while a lasting resolution is sought. 
These are management actions intended to mitigate the decline of 
fingerling trout survival, but which do nothing for the underlying 
problem. Strategies include stocking larger fingerling rainbow which 
may be more competitive with chubs than the currently stocked 
fingerlings, and substitution of catchable-sized rainbow trout for a 
substantial portion of the fingerlings. Both pose logistical problems 
in the hatchery system and will come at a cost to trout production for 
other fisheries; none is capable of solving the current management 
problem or restoring the quality of fishery desired at Diamond Lake.
    C. Reduce Tui Chub Abundance--Tui chub abundance could be reduced 
through extensive netting or partial treatment of shorelines with 
rotenone. The exploitation rate needed to alleviate competition with 
trout is unknown but is certainly very high. There is no hard evidence 
that partial control of tui chubs is a feasible fishery restoration 
strategy; in fact, partial treatments at Diamond Lake in the 1950s 
killed millions of chubs without relieving the effects of competition 
with chubs.
    D. Manage for Different Fishery Objectives--Instead of attempting 
to restore a fishery which meets current management objectives, a 
predaceous fish could be introduced into the lake to feed on chubs. It 
would be expected to grow to a large size, and provide a fishery on 
larger fish than at present. This strategy could be used to meet new 
objectives with much lower catch rates but larger average fish size, 
fundamentally different than the current high volume, moderate catch 
rate fishery. Initial survival of fingerlings could still be a problem 
due to early competition with chubs. This approach would require a new 
species (such as brown trout) or new stock of rainbow trout (such as 
the Williamson River stock) capable of feeding extensively on tui 
chubs. Introduction of new species or stocks will be controversial. 
There is no basis for assuming that any stocked trout will control 
chubs (i.e., cause a substantial reduction in abundance due to 
    E. Manage for Current Fishery Objectives--The eradication of the 
naturally producing population of tui chubs would result in conditions 
which would allow a return to the fishery described in the ODFW 
management plan. The Diamond Lake fishery has substantially met those 
objectives since the early 1960s, and the fishery has been very popular 
with anglers. In 1996 the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission 
reaffirmed those objectives and directed ODFW staff to begin planning 
for restoration of the rainbow trout recreational fishery.
    On February 2, 1998, the Forest Service published a notice of 
intent to prepare an environmental impact statement addressing the 
impacts associated with the temporary drawdown of Diamond Lake to allow 
ODFW to treat the lake with rotenone. The Forest Service began internal 
scoping of this proposal in November, 1997. The public was given notice 
of the proposal in January, 1998 through the Forest's Schedule of 
Proposed Actions. An informational letter with a copy of the ODFW 
proposal was mailed to the interested public in January as part of the 
agency's external scoping effort. Following the mailing, an Open House 
was held in Roseburg and in Medford, Oregon, as a continuation of the 
scoping effort. As a result of the scoping performed to date, a number 
of issues have been identified. These include:
    (1) Rotenone treatment (if chosen alternative) would have an 
adverse effect on other components (non-target species) of the lake 
    (2) Reducing lake volume (for rotenone treatment) would flush/flood 
Lake Creek, the downstream tributary.
    (3) Effects of high water releases, in the process of lowering 
Diamond Lake, and added nutrients from rotting fish carcasses, could 
adversely affect the downstream reservoir.
    (4) Re-introduction of non-indigenous hatchery rainbow trout could 
lead to a repetition of past history (good fishing--tui chub 
introduction and overpopulation--expensive renovation with a fish 
    (5) This action may not be consistent with the Aquatic Conservation 
Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan.
    (6) Not restoring the recreational fishery would be an economic 
hardship to local businesses and would deprive anglers of a traditional 
sport fishing opportunity.
    (7) This action may not comply with appropriate use/diversion of 
the waters of the lake as implied by ORS 538.140, which states that 
waters of the lake will not be ``diverted, interrupted, or appropriated 
for any purpose whatsoever, except for domestic use.''
    (8) Introduction of species other than the Oak Springs hatchery 
strain of rainbow trout currently used may pose ecological risks for 
fish populations downstream of Diamond Lake.
    Following the first round of scoping, the Service and the Forest 
Service agreed that the environmental review of the proposed action 
should be broadened. The scope of the EIS, was then expanded to include 
all anticipated effects of the proposed project, not just the effects 
of the proposed drawdown of the reservoir. The Service, as the funding 
agency in this proposed action, agreed to take the lead role, with the 
Forest Service and ODFW as cooperating agencies. The original Notice of 
Intent issued by the Forest Service was withdrawn on May 22, 1998.
    The expanded EIS will cover the ODFW current proposal to restore 

[[Page 10011]]

trout fishery using Federal Aid funding through the USFWS. Possible 
alternatives include:
    (A) Treat the lake with rotenone, a fish toxicant, to remove all 
fish from the lake and re-stock the lake with hatchery rainbow trout. 
The lake has been managed for a fishery on hatchery rainbow trout for 
several decades, following treatment with rotenone in 1954 to eradicate 
tui chubs.
    (B) Take no action to eliminate the tui chub, but begin a program 
to stock the lake with species of trout that can compete successfully 
with tui chub. This strategy would fundamentally change the character 
of the fishery which has been very popular.
    (C) Take no action to improve the trout fishery.
    Diamond Lake was successfully treated for the same problem in 1954, 
and there is considerable historical data that documents the biological 
effects of alternatives A and C. Some recent information is available 
that indicates limited success with approach B. The agencies are 
seeking public comments on issues and/or alternatives not identified 
through previous scoping efforts.

    Dated: February 23, 1999.
Thomas Dwyer,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 99-4922 Filed 2-26-99; 8:45 am]