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Fish Lake Cleanup

Trail Maintenance
06/30/2016 - 7:49 pm
Member Since: 10/13/2010
Forum Posts: 445
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I thought I'd post this in historical items because I'm hoping that in a few years we can say, "Remember when Fish Lake was party central up near Olallie....?"


Dock Removal Project Improves Scenic Quality and Fishing Experience at Fish Lake

Dock RemovalSandy, OR – Sport fishers, hikers, and campers can enjoy improved quality in the High Cascades now that trash, an unauthorized dock, and associated structures were removed from Fish Lake in June of 2016.

Prior to the project, a large party barge-raft and a smaller raft were constructed and used by groups of people that drove off-highway vehicles into the roadless area. Besides the illegal travel on a user-built access into the Olallie Lake Scenic Area, private structures are not allowed on National Forest land without a permit or other authorization.

Forest Service fish biologist Tom Horning said, “For about three years, a very large, unauthorized anchored raft was moored in the middle of Fish Lake, in a remote area of Mt. Hood National Forest. In recent years there has been an increasing presence of partiers driving unauthorized vehicles cross-country to the lake from the nearby BPA powerline access road and parking and camping in the lakeside riparian to its detriment.  It’s nothing new, but impacts and complaints by other users have gone up. Detrimental activities are increasing, like gunfire at the lake, trash dumping (including glass), and felling of lakeside trees for firewood."

There was even a metal and stone fireplace and toilet built on the raft.

Fish Lake is a deep glacial pothole lake and is bordered by old growth forest. Portions of the shorelines are wetland meadows and talus slopes. This lake is unique because it is one of the few, if not the only, high mountain lakes in the Clackamas watershed that had native fish (e.g. coastal cutthroat trout) before settlement - and it still does.  It also has freshwater sponges, is very deep at 67 feet, and is one of the larger roadless lakes at 24 acres on the Mt. Hood NF. Fish Lake is accessible to non-motorized use such as bicycling, hiking, and horse travel via Forest Service Trail No. 717. The trail can be reached by Forest Service Road 4690-120. 

The Clackamas River Chapter of Trout Unlimited offered to help disassemble and remove the large anchored raft as volunteers in coordination with the Forest Service. Five Trout Unlimited volunteers got the initial work in high gear in early June. Mt. Hood National Forest fire personnel and Timber Lake Job Corps students continued to decommission and remove plywood and barrel floats mid-June. Volunteers and six Timber Lake Job Corps students have removed about 30 large plastic drums used for floatation as well as decking and plywood.

“There still is a small amount of trash remaining at the site that we plan to clean up, but when we finish, the lake will have been restored to its scenic quality, and will help maintain the great fishing," said Jack Williamson, fish biologist.

The last step is to haul in large boulders and root wads to block the unauthorized access later this season. From then on, the lake will offer once again pristine conditions with great trout fishing, backcountry camping, and other opportunities to enjoy a scenic lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

For more information about access and regulations, stop by the Clackamas River Ranger District office in Estacada, OR.

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