USGS Washington Water Science Center
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Snow and ice are major sources of water for plants and animals in the parks and forests of the Puget Sound Basin, including Olympic, North Cascades, and Mt. Rainier National Parks, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic National Forests. In the North Cascades National Park alone, there are more than 300 small glaciers that feed 245 mountain lakes and a myriad of streams, wetlands, and aquifers. The waters from these snowfields and glaciers can also become a trap for airborne contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides,and heavy metals. A study of the Canadian Rockies has already found the contaminants in some fish.
To help the USDA Forest Service and the National Park Service know where and to what levels the contaminants are present, the USGS is studying aquatic organisms in glacier- and nonglacier-fed lakes for the presence and concentration of contaminants.