Tag Archives: Conservation

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.

 

Cleaning out the inbox.

GibbonBuff

 

Wyoming Woes

            Changing demographics and the death of 40 hour work week mean outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to watch birds and hike trails than take days off to hunt and fish.  It isn’t bad, but here’s the rub:  state conservation agencies are largely funded by hunting and fishing license sales.  A birdwatcher may not be paying into the system that protects their quarry, a hiker may not be paying into the system that maintains their trails.

            Western state agencies are among the worst off.  More than 90% of the Wyoming Game and Fish department’s funding comes from license sales- the state legislature provides practically no financial support, and many legislators prioritize mining, timber, grazing, and private property interests over stewardship of natural resources.

            The decline in license sales has left state agencies scrambling for new revenue.  One idea is a non-consumptive recreation fee attached to Yellowstone National Park.     The big question is whether revenue would be directed toward non-consumptive activities like hiking and birdwatching, or into the old hook-and bullet crowd.  Time will tell if we can find a compromise- and if hikers, campers, photographers and the like are willing to foot a bit of the conservation tab. .

 

Dolores River Review

I’ve written a bit about tensions on the lower Dolores River in southwest Colorado: Dolores County officials want the lower river protected; officials in neighboring Montezuma County fear protections would impact water extraction and development.

A few days ago, a Colorado court ruled the lower Dolores River should be managed, in part, for the protection of native fish species- specifically flannelmouth sucker and bonytail- fishes of the Colorado River found nowhere else on the planet.

 

Fortress of Solitude

Crazy.  That’s what I thought when I saw the new fly fishing clubhouse in Redding , California.  The new facility provides opportunities to engage the public in fly fishing, casting, tying, and other aspects of the sport- looks pretty neat.

 

One up, one down.

The good news?  Conservation efforts in Texas (of all placess) have led to delisting of the black-capped vireo.

The bad news?  The  Island Marble butterfly, found only in Puget Sound and rediscovered in 1998, is now a candidate for federal listing.  The species only occupies about 800 acres of our entire planet, mostly on public land.  Hopefully that’ll improve its prospects for survival.

Cleaning out the inbox.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Wyoming Woes

Changing demographics and the death of 40 hour work week mean outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to watch birds and hike trails than take days off to hunt and fish.  It isn’t bad, but here’s the rub:  state conservation agencies are largely funded by hunting and fishing license sales.  A birdwatcher may not be paying into the system that protects their quarry, a hiker may not be paying into the system that maintains their trails.

Western state agencies are possibly the worst off.  More than 90% of the Wyoming Game and Fish department’s funding comes from license sales- the state legislature provides practically no financial support, and many legislators prioritize mining, timber, grazing, and private property interests over stewardship of natural resources.

The decline in license sales has left state agencies scrambling for new revenue.  One idea is a non-consumptive recreation fee attached to Yellowstone National Park.      The big question is whether revenue would be directed toward non-consumptive activities like hiking and birdwatching, or into the old hook-and bullet crowd.

 

We’ll see.

 

Fly Fishing Clubhouse

Crazy.  That’s what I thought when I saw the new Shasta-Trinity clubhouse.  The new facility provides opportunities to engage the public in fly fishing, casting, tying, and other aspects of the sport- looks pretty neat.

 

One up, one down.

The good news?  Conservation efforts in Texas (Texas!) has led to delisting of the black-capped vireo.

It makes you hopeful to see multiple state and federal agencies plus private landowners come together, across thousands of acres, for the sake of a single species.  It makes you hopeful about the Island Marble Butterfly, recently rediscovered and native to about 800 acres in Washington’s Puget Sound.

 

A tale of two counties.

usgsdelores

Two thousand people live in Dolores County, Colorado, a population in decline since the recession.   As with much of the west, Dolores County’s history lies in extraction- logging, ore, agriculture in the arid southwest corner of an arid state, where an average year yields fourteen inches of precipitation.  A third of the county’s jobs are in agriculture, with most of the rest in “regional services”- local government, schools, utilities and the rest.  One percent of the folks in Dolores County, Colorado are employed in the tourism sector.  Protecting their namesake river- home to Colorado River fishes found nowhere else on the planet- may improve that sector, adding diversity to the local economy.

Montezuma County, just to the south, has ten times the population in the same arid corner of southwest Colorado.   Historically, Montezume county developed by supplying hardrock mines of the Animas River with the supplies that helped turn that river toxic orange a couple years back.  Modern Montezuma county is driven by commuters to and from nearby Durango, by retirees, and by tourism- 15% of the local economy.  Montezuma county officials are suspicious of efforts to protect the Dolores River.

Montezuma County fears any federal involvement could affect water management.  More water for fish and wildlife, less for hay.  Restrictions on development of pipelines to carry oil and gas across the country.  But it’s mostly the potential reallocation of water they say native fish don’t need.  They worry designation is a federal plot to benefit downstream users without irony- without understanding they’re downstream users.

Over the past decade the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies have worked to partner with local governments to protect vulnerable species before they become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Those efforts hinge on local governments’ willingness to compromise, to find solutions which allow for responsible development and protection of valuable habitat.  Without that ability to compromise, local managers tie the hands of federal agencies, precipitating the outcomes those local managers worry about.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We’ll see what happens on the Dolores.