Tag Archives: Conservation

Cleaning out the Inbox: V.

Another solid read.

Ostensibly we walk to fish, but really, we move at the urging of men long since past—of John Burroughs and John Muir, of Loren Eiseley—and of my parents, Norman and Paula, who are alive today but live far from this Kenyan valley. Walk in the woods, their voices advise, along the banks of a river where, in the blue end of a day well spent, you may find the rhythms that elude you. There, among the fish and the flowers and the forces that bind them, you might make peace with your worried mind.

New conservation initiatives for the lower Mississippi Valley.

We’ve forgotten what the Delta was before The Blues.  Sluggish rivers feeding tremendous trees.  Cherrybark and willow oak which fattened flocks of waterfowl headed south and rotted cavities for ivory-billed woodpeckers.  Cypress trees whose seeds fed Carolina parakeets with bass panfish, gar and bowfin, amphuimas and sirens slithering among their knees.  Panthers, otters, beaver, bear, swamp rabbits, and who knows what else used the ridges and spits of land to propagate their species for untold eons.

The ecosystem died for the sake of progress.  In one of the continent’s largest reclamation projects the swamps were ditched and drained, and entire rivers re-routed to maximize production of rice, wheat, soybeans, cotton, corn, and sorghum.  Spots too wet for rowcrops spring up in cottonwood and sweetgum on twenty year rotations to be chipped into paper and fermented into wood alcohol.  Ivory-billed woodpeckers are gone.  Carolina parakeets are gone.  And a whole host of species are on their way out.

Which is why I’m glad to see cooperative efforts between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NGOs to repair some of the damage, to provide some opportunity for native species to recolonize their former range.  These groups have a track record of improving fish and wildlife habitat- let’s hope that continues.

Cleaning out the inbox V: two good reads.

One.

the pristine Jamaica of James Bond’s creator is in danger. Overfishing has imperiled the barracuda’s habitat: Fewer algae-eating fish spurs coral die-off, and the practice of fishing with dynamite has had catastrophic effects. But over the past seven years, a former record company executive has slowly built a network of conservationists to help protect the ecosystem near Fleming’s home, dubbed Goldeneye, creating a template for others in the process.

Two.

You learn about knots and water flow and snowmelt and follow the mating habits of bugs like they’re Kardashians — and how climate change means bark beetles are surviving the warming winters, killing off unprecedented acres of Ponderosa pines across the West. Ponderosa pines smell like vanilla cake. Not just vanilla and not just cake, but vanilla cake. I love knowing that, and I love knowing that you practically have to hug them to smell it. But every year I go back to Montana, I see more dying off and know the world is changing and it makes me sad.

This cynical girl from Harlem, USA, didn’t grow up with anyone who fished this way.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Last Best Streams: #855.

It’s a headwater tributary of a stream I’ve fished before, notable for tall bluffs and sparse development, excellent water quality and rare plants.  Forty miles long and smaller than it should be, the stream lends its water through underground channels to feed springs further downstream.  The fishing’s alright for little smallmouth that like brown woolly buggers.   These guys, limited by food and space, can be eight inches long and three or four years old- not runts, just perfectly suited to their home.

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.