Welcome to the latest installment of a new feature on the Orvis Fly Fishing blog, the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a weekly roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, Bullsugar.org, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.
If you know of an important issue–whether it’s national or local–that anglers should be paying attention to, comment below, and we’ll check it out!
1. Mines, Mines, and More Mines
We’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on the proposed Pebble Mine, in Alaska’s Bristol Bay Region, and for good reasons: at stake are the health of the world’s largest wild-salmon population, thousands of jobs in renewable industries, and a sport-fishing Mecca. But as a great article by Miles Nolte in Hatch magazine makes clear, “Pebble isn’t the only mine you need to know about.”
After giving a nod to Pebble, Nolte draws attention to four other mine projects that threaten fisheries in Minnesota, Montana, and Michigan. The revered waters that could suffer include the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Smith River, the Menominee River, and the Yellowstone River.
The video at the top of this page describes how contamination from industrial mining is threatening the safety of the wild food sources and the indigenous way of life on Alaska’s Admiralty Island. You can learn more about the issues involved on the website of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. And if you wonder how all of these mining projects in Alaska continue to have some legislative support, an article in yesterday’s Alaska Daily News describes how much money mining companies pour into state political causes.
2. Florida Water Board Picks Smaller Everglades Reservoir
Last Thursday, the South Florida Water Management District Board announced which of the five proposed plans for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee they will support. As expected the SFWMD chose a “best buy” option that will result in a reservoir that’s too small to really be effective. The folks at bullsugar.org explain why things are playing out this way:
People from outside Florida are puzzled when they hear SFWMD has the power to sentence the Everglades to death. But Florida is different: This state grew out of the swamps–and continues to grow–by draining water and selling off land. Here, controlling the water means controlling the future, and Florida Crystals and US Sugar–already development powerhouses–control a future empire. A few billion in government subsidies every year means the industry can be patient, but that’s pocket change compared to the payoff for developing a property the size of Rhode Island. Everglades restoration projects like the EAA reservoir pose a threat to those plans, and no one has more authority than SFWMD to protect the sugar industry’s interests.
The best option now is for the legislature and the public to push for a larger footprint for the reservoir.
3. Should You Drive Your Jeep Down the Middle of a Stream?
Many trout lovers enjoying the Super Bowl were a bit taken aback by a Jeep commercial that featured a vehicle right down the middle of what looked to be a pretty nice stream. Among those nonplussed viewers was Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited’s CEO, and he decided to do something about it. He wrote a letter to Sergio Marchionne, Chairman & CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, asking that the ad be pulled. In the letter, Wood argued:
Upon seeing your ad, my eight-year-old son asked, “Dad, isn’t that really bad for the stream?” Why would my son–seven or eight years from getting his driver’s license–know that driving right up the middle of a healthy waterway is harmful to fish, riparian wildlife and clean water, but Jeep would not?
Although FCA defended the ad, they did say that there were no plans to air it again. For his part, Wood hopes that the debate sparks a dialogue about protecting streams and clean water.