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.
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. Public Comment Period on Draft Pebble EIS Opens on Friday
Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A tool for decision making, the Draft EIS describes positive and negative environmental effects of Pebble’s current proposal, lists four alternative actions that may be chosen, but does not consider impacts of mining the full Pebble deposit.
Starting on Friday, March 1, a 90-day comment period will open, during which citizens can voice their support or opposition to the project. Now is the time for sportsmen and -women to make their voice heard. Opponents of the plan argue that 90 days is much too short. Save Bristol Bay argues,
[T]his comment period is woefully insufficient to allow all stakeholders to digest the enormous amount of information in the draft EIS and meaningfully comment on the proposed alternatives. The timing could not be worse. Bristol Bay contains a web of towns and villages arrayed around the coast, lakes, and rivers. Communities are connected by air and water in this roadless region. As a result, it takes longer to get together and share information in Bristol Bay than elsewhere in the United States. This comment period is scheduled to occur primarily during breakup, when the rivers are difficult to impossible to travel.
Even U.S. Sen Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, says he believes that the comment period should be extended. An op-ed by commercial fishermen and representatives of native corporations in the Alaska Daily News agrees and offers a detailed argument for extending the comment period.
For more information and to make your voice heard, visit Save Bristol Bay.
2. Congress Authorizes Land and Water Conservation Fund
Yesterday, Congress passed a massive land protection package, the
Natural Resources Management Act, that includes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular program that uses pays for land and conservation efforts with revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling. The bill now goes to the President’s desk for signing.
“The good that has been done with today’s vote will reach communities across the country,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “For all those who love these places, who worry about what will become of them, your moment of peace that comes with protection is almost here. Today is truly a day for a sportsman’s heart to feel full.”
3. Everglades Advocates Issue Call to Arms
Florida Bay advocates meeting in Islamorada praised wholesale changes in the state’s management of Everglades restoration but cautioned that the massive ecosystem remains in peril.
“We’ve got to get the federal government to fork over its share,” Shannon Estenoz, chief operating officer of the Everglades Foundation, said. “Keep the conversation going. Talk about what is happening in Florida Bay because there is no Plan B.”