Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a 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. Bristol Bay Needs Permanent Protection
Back in November, we celebrated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to deny a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, which seemed to mark the end to more than a decade of fighting for those who want to protect the region and its pristine habitat. But we always knew the battle wouldn’t be won definitively until permanent protections for Bristol Bay were in place. Last week’s announcement that the administration of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy will file an administrative appeal to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision denying a key permit for the proposed Pebble copper and gold project in Southwest Alaska.
“The flawed decision by the Alaska District creates a dangerous precedent that will undoubtedly harm Alaska’s future and, any potential project can fall victim to the same questionable standards,”Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a prepared statement on Friday. “We have to prevent a federal agency, in this instance, the Alaska District of the Army Corps of Engineers, from using the regulatory process to effectively prevent the state from fulfilling a constitutional mandate to develop its natural resources.”
For more coverage, check out these stories from around the Web:
- Let’s Talk About Long-Term Protections for Bristol Bay on Save Bristol Bay.
- We learned a lot about Pebble in 2020. Let’s keep it top of mind in 2021 on Alaska Daily News.
- 3 Things to Watch for Bristol Bay in 2021 on Save Bristol Bay.
- Major Conservation Rollbacks Finalized in Alaska Despite Opposition from Hunters and Anglers on TRCP.com
2. $250M in Funding for Everglades Restoration Approved
Eric Eikenberg, the CEO of The Everglades Foundation, has released the following statement in response to the Congress’ passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 and an omnibus year-end spending bill.
“This year’s water bill shows that, when it comes to restoring America’s Everglades, people of all political stripes can put their differences aside and work to improve our environment.
This legislation goes further than any previous measure in protecting Florida’s coastal communities against algae-causing discharges of Lake Okeechobee water and takes major steps forward to ensure timely completion of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.
We are especially pleased that the final measure includes an appropriation of $250 million for Everglades restoration, an essential first step as we begin to speed up construction and an improved baseline for future funding.
On behalf of The Everglades Foundation, I want to express our gratitude to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell and especially the members of the Florida Congressional delegation, Democrats and Republicans alike, who have helped advance this measure.”
3. Genetically Pure Brook Trout Discovered in Northern New York
A genetically unique strain of brook trout has been discovered in remote streams of Northern New York State’s “Heart of Tug Hill” region. The group of citizen scientists responsible for the discovery collected fin-clip samples of the trout and then forwarded those samples to SUNY Albany for DNA analysis. The Tug Hill-Black River Chapter of Trout Unlimited coordinated with the Rome-based group Trout Power for the field study.
The discovery of these “heritage strains” of brook trout is significant. “The persistence of these unique populations indicates that the places and the fish have a resilience that holds hope for the future,” Miller said. “Brook trout are the state fish of New York and other eastern states and are an important part of our environmental heritage.”
4. America’s Newest National Park is a Smallmouth Mecca
When the emergency COVID-19 stimulus bill was passed last week, it created the U.S’s newest National Park: New River Gorge in West Virginia. Previously designated as a National River, the park encompasses 73,000 acres of stoke-heavy canyon landscape. More than 65,000 acres of the area is designated as a nature preserve allowing for fishing, hunting, and backcountry hiking. As this great article in Field & Stream and another in The Virginia Sportsman detail, the gorge offers some remarkable fly fishing for smallmouth bass.