Welcome to the latest installment of 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.
The video above is from last fall, leading up to the vote on Ballot Measure 1 in Alaska, which failed. However, the video offers some great information about just who opposes Pebble Mine and who is funding the propaganda war to get the mine built.
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. Senate Passes a Sweeping Land Conservation Bill
Yesterday, the Unite States Senate passed a massive public-lands conservation bill, with remarkable bipartisan support. With a vote of 92-8, the National Resources Management Act now heads to the House of Representative. Among the provisions of the bill are:
- Permanently authorizes and funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Protects Yellowstone and North Cascades National Parks from nearby mining.
- Protects steelhead and salmon habitat in Oregon.
- Automatically makes all federal lands open to hunting and fishing, unless they are specifically designated otherwise.
There’s lots more in this sweeping legislation, which you can read about on Outside Online.
2. Pebble Mine Comment Period Looms
Late this month or in early March, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is due release a draft environmental-impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Pebble mine, and that will kick off a 90-day public-comment period. This is the best opportunity to make our voices heard in opposition to this proposed mine, which threatens a unique and prolific ecosystem in Bristol Bay. As Jenny Weis argues in her excellent article “The Pebble Mine Threat is More Real Now than Ever,”
If issued, this permit would authorize the destruction of many miles of salmon streams and thousands of acres of crucial wetlands, and could pave the way for Pebble to begin digging within the next few years and get its foot in the door to turn the Bristol Bay region into an industrial mining district within this decade.
So keeps your eyes and ears open for the release of the EIS. Trout Unlimited and other organizations are hoping to generate 1 million comments in opposition.
Click here to learn more, and take the time to watch the forum above to educate yourself about the issues.
3. Remembering the Legacy of John Dingell
On February 7, former U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) passed away. The longest serving congressman of all time, Dingell represented his home state for 59 years. Two of his biggest accomplishments were the 1972 Clean Water Act and the 1973 Endangered Species Act, both of which have benefited anglers and lovers of native species.
4. Idaho’s Bounty on South Fork Rainbows
Anglers on the South Fork of the Snake in southern Idaho have a chance to go fishing and get paid. Since 2010, in an effort to reduce the number of rainbow trout to give pure-strain cutthroat trout more of a chance, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has released rainbows with tiny coded wire tags in their snouts.
Anglers can’t tell if a fish is tagged, so they must turn in the head to see if they’ve caught a winner. This incentivizes catch-and-keep fishing for rainbows, and biologists hope anglers keep 30 percent of the caught rainbows in 2019. Prizes range from $50 to $100.