Decision to not stock lakes irks some mountain counties

Alpine County depends heavily on fishing.

Plentiful trout in the sparsely populated area 45 miles southeast of Placerville draw anglers who, in turn, keep restaurants and hotels running.

So when the state Department of Fish and Game this week released a list of lakes and streams that won't be stocked with fish until at least 2010, it landed in Alpine County with a thud.

"These waters are our economy," said Skip Veatch, an Alpine County supervisor and its former sheriff. "If they are not populated our economy is going to go down the drain."

Last week, state Fish and Game officials agreed to stop stocking fish reared in hatcheries – including trout, bass and catfish – in lakes and streams where the practice threatens 16 native fish and nine native frog species. The deal was struck with environmental groups pushing reforms of state hatchery and stocking programs.

After a tense weekend, several communities got the news Monday: The Sierra would be hit hard.

Eleven lakes or streams in Alpine County won't be stocked until at least 2010. Sixteen El Dorado County fishing spots, including large swaths of the American River, won't be stocked. Twenty-two lakes or streams in Nevada County won't be stocked.

In Sacramento County, Lake Natoma will not be supplemented by the state.

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