National Park Service

North Coast and Cascades Network (NCCN)

Mountain Lakes Monitoring

Mountain lake sampling at North Cascades National Park
Mountain lake sampling at North Cascades National Park

Resource Briefs

Monitoring Reports

Mountain Lakes Monitoring Protocol

For more information contact:
Steven Fradkin (OLYM), Rebecca Lofgren (MORA), or Ashley Rawhouser (NOCA)

Importance & Issues

Mountain lakes and ponds serve as integrator sites for impacts occurring in their watersheds and consequently may be the most economically efficient sites to detect early warning signals for some non-point pollutants. Primary stressors that affect Network montane lakes and ponds include global climate change, air pollution (metals, pesticides and other semi-volatile organics, acidification, nutrient deposition), visitor disturbances, and introduction of non-native fish species.

Parks Monitored


Monitoring Objectives

  • Determine the natural variation and long term trends in selected physical, chemical, and biological water quality parameters in reference lakes and ponds.
  • Determine the status and trends of amphibian assemblages in focal lakes.
  • Determine long-term trends in the abundance and condition of non-native fish assemblages in selected reference lakes.
  • Document trends in direct effects of visitor use on shoreline condition for reference lakes.

Potential Measures

Lake physical characteristics (temperature, clarity, volume, depth, habitat, riparian disturbance); water chemical characteristics (pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, acid neutralizing capacity, total dissolved solids, nutrients, anions and cations); biological characteristics (algae, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, amphibians, non-native fish)

Management Applications

  • What are the status and trends of the ecological condition of small lakes and ponds in the Parks?
  • How are climate change and air quality related impacts affecting the ecological condition of lakes and ponds?
  • Are non-native fish species expanding their abundance and distribution, and what are the effects on native biota (zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, and amphibians)?
  • Is visitor use related disturbance increasing, and what are the effects on the ecological condition of lakes and ponds?

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster