Category Archives: Conservation

Cleaning out the inbox- IV?

Four sounds good.  Meet the new fishing dog:

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Mitch.  One year, three weeks, five days.  Named after Jon Benjamin’s seminal performance in Wet Hot American Summer.  I thought of the name before I found the dog.  Mitch is a she.

….a-doy.

Turns out regardless of party affiliation, America’s anglers and hunters overwhelmingly support clean water initiatives.  Remember this, dear reader- and register, AND VOTE, in your upcoming elections.

 

Charismatic megafauna. 

It’s the term biologists studying less cuddly and enigmatic things give to pandas, dolphins, whales, wolves, cheetahs, tigers, lions, rhinos, and other critters that steal the spotlight.  In the arguably best case, these species are used to draw awareness and conservation initiatives which benefit entire ecosystems, as opposed to the individual species.

Wisconsin’s taking a different tack, deploying mermaids to keep the St. Croix River clean.  Whatever works!

 

Art and Advocacy. 

Many communities stencil storm sewers so residents know where they lead.  Blacksburg, Virginia is taking it a step further- allowing local artists to paint the drains, using art to connect residents with the local environment.

 

A primer on Magnuson-Stevens.

As much as recreational anglers bitch, marine fisheries in the United States are among the best managed on the planet.  That’s in no small part due to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which insisted upon science-based management of marine fish stocks and input from local stakeholders including state agencies and commercial and recreational anglers.  The Act isn’t perfect, but it’s been credited with recovering numerous commercial and recreational species- and it’s currently under threat by HR 200.  The Pew Charitable Trusts put together a great primer on the changes HB 200 represents, and what it could mean for protection of coastal fisheries.

One thing before the weekend…

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Breeding pairs of our national bird went from 791 in 1974 (just after creation of the Endangered Species Act) to nearly 10,000 today.  Their populations have outperformed wage growth in the United States for nearly a half-century.  The incongruity of a bronze Bald Eagle sitting on the desk of a senator who insists the Endangered Species Act doesn’t work shouldn’t go unnoticed, and should raise a lot of questions in the public’s mind.

Scores of plants and animals have been recovered and delisted since the 1970’s.  The system isn’t perfect, sometimes it’s too little, too late, and by definition, different species are different: our knowledge of their life history and habitat needs are imperfect, and there is no standard strategy which guarantees across-the-board success.  But the Endangered Species Act does work; a species was de-listed just days before draft legislation to “update” the Endangered Species Act was released.

The bill’s gained a lot of support among the ag industry, timber, petroleum, off-road vehicle advocates…plus a head-scratching number of Red State fish and game agencies- Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arizona.  If you live in those states, I’d suggest contacting your Department and asking what’s up.  The bill ostensibly seeks to increase state-level leadership in endangered species conservation…through the sort of initiatives already in place.  Parts of the bill which really left me scratching my head were:

  • An emphasis on using the best scientific and commercial science available (emphasis mine).  Are we talking about robust, rigorous data collected from private contractors and consultants…or provided by industry lobbyists?

And perhaps more ominously…

  • ” any comment submitted to the Secretary of Interior by a State (as defined in section 3 of that Act (16 U.S.C 1532)) should be afforded greater weight by the Secretary than a comment received from any other individual or entity…

How would this effect groups like Trout Unlimited and their ability to advocate for coldwater fisheries?  Heck, how would it effect my constitutionally protected rights to petition my government?!

Find the entire draft bill here.  I certainly have a lot of questions and if you do too- contact your senator, or the members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Cleaning out the inbox: salmonid edition.

HAmptoN-bROOKIE

 

Restoring the brook trout of southern Appalachia.

The Tennessee Aquarium and Appalachian Chapter of Trout Unlimited have been hard at work restoring genetically distinct southern brook trout to streams of eastern Tennessee- their latest efforts added nearly 300 fish to Little Stony Creek in the Cherokee National Forest.  Read more about the restoration effort here.

The Plight of Atlantic Salmon.

For the second year in a row, the number of adult Atlantic salmon returning home to spawn has fell below expectations.  There are bright spots- streams in Quebec and Labrador seem to be doing alright, but the overall outlook is gloomy for recovery of these species.  Want to learn more?

Quick clip on Yellowstone cutthroat restoration.

Check out the work Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is doing in league with state, federal, and private landowners to protect Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the inter-mountain west.

Summer stewardship.

temps

Question:  I’ve seen these big fish at the bottom of the deepest pools, they’re refusing everything I throw, and I’m determined to catch one.  What do I need to do?

Answer:  It’s alright to leave them alone.

Fish are cold-blooded; they can’t regulate their own body temperature, they have to seek out environmental conditions which are best for their survival.  Most fish species don’t grow throughout the entire summer.  They have a range of temperatures which optimize growth.  Above that, they’re eating just to stay alive- taking in enough energy to maintain homeostasis.

Those big fish in a deep pool are down there because it’s the coolest, most thermally stable, most groundwater-fed portion of the flow.  They’re not eating because they’re not expending a lot of energy in still water- they don’t need to, they don’t want to, and dragging a streamer across their nose to elicit a territorial response isn’t doing them any good.  Feeding them a zero-calorie Zebra Midge and then having them expend valuable energy on the fight, the photo, and the release isn’t doing them any good.  To crib a line from John Gierach: sometimes, they need the sanctuary of deep water.

We talk a lot about values like C&R, barbless hooks, and leaving fish on redds alone.  If a fish spawns in October but dies in June from a combination of high water temperatures and angling pressure, we’re undermining our own cause.  Think about it.  Pay attention to the temperature.  Go on an overcast day.  Make it a half-day morning trip, a night trip when temps have cooled off, switch to bass or carp or gar that can stand higher water temperatures.  But know what you’re doing, and the effect it has on the fisheries you value.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Best Streams: #1233.

 

It’s been fifty years since Congress’ great idea:  federally designating the nation’s most exceptional and historic rivers and streams for the sake of posterity.

This one was among the first- the surrounding land bought up after farms and sawmills failed during the Depression, with massive public works projects to reforest the landscape and build roads, bridges, lakes, and picnic areas.

It’s dramatic, the difference between the privately-held top and bottom portions of the river and the publicly-owned middle section.  There aren’t cows wading and shitting in that middle section.  County highway departments aren’t shoveling gravel out at bridge crossings to rock small roads.  All-terrain vehicles aren’t tearing up banks and gravel bars.  Paranoid locals cry foul about Big Government and how resources are better managed at the local level…but for all the faults of the Feds, the difference between public and private is stark on a ten mile float.

Monday Video: Yes for responsible mining.

Yes for Responsible Mining from Trout Unlimited on Vimeo.