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. Algae from Lake Okeechobee Threatens Both Florida Coasts
As algae blooms increase on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee–at the same time that lake levels rise–the possibility that more of that toxic water will be released into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers looms large. Currently, only the Caloosahatchee is receiving the algae-laden water, but three of the 5 options laid out in an Army Corps of Engineers plan on May 7 also include St. Lucie releases.
In 2016, less severe conditions later in the season produced catastrophic algae blooms along both coasts–killing fish, sickening people who breathed near the water, and virtually shutting down the tourism industry in South Florida. Already stressed fish stocks are ill-prepared for a repeat or an even worse algae bloom this year.
Unless the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) moves forward in the near future, these catastrophic events could become more frequent.
For related stories on South Florida water issues, check out these stories from around the Web:
- State calls on the Corps to reduce harmful discharges through new lake operations, from Captains for Clean Water.
- Water experts worry blue-green algae and red tide could create ‘perfect storm’ on nbc-2.com.
- Blue-green algae toxins showing up in Caloosahatchee River on winknews.com.
- ‘Impending disaster.’ Worsening algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee threatens coasts again in the Miami Herald.
- Read the letter that Gov. Ron Desantis sent to the Army Corps, asking them to change the way they manage Lake Okeechobee water levels to make these discharges less harmful, from Captains for Clean Water.
2. What Hunters and Anglers Need to Know About “30 by 30”
Almost immediately after the inauguration, the Biden Administration announced its support for a global conservation initiative known as 30 by 30—the goal of conserving 30 percent of the planet’s lands and waters by 2030.
News about the initiative spread fast across several media outlets and has left many, including sportsmen and sportswomen, wondering what this effort is and where it is headed. Words like “protection” or “designation,” often strike fear among landowners, politicians, industry executives, and even some conservation groups. Especially when used with broad strokes that allow people’s imaginations to wander and reach sweeping conclusions. Predictably, many immediately criticized the 30 by 30 initiative and expressed fear of classic top-down federal restrictions.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
Related: Kickstarting 30X30: Look to Alaska on postalley.org
3. Are we Reaching the Tipping Point for Salmon and Steelhead?
President and CEO of Trout Unlimited Chris Wood delivered a speech at the 2021 Environmental Conference at the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University last week, arguing that we cannot continue to “half-measures”–such as hatchery fish, reducing irrigation water, and adding harvest restrictions–or salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest will “slip away into extinction.” Instead, we should remove the four lower Snake River dams.
Or, we can decide that we won’t be the generation that let these most magnificent of God’s creatures slip away. Congressmen Simpson and Blumenauer have offered a good faith proposal that could lead to the recovery of salmon and the revitalization of energy development and transmission, ag and irrigation, and community development in the Pacific Northwest.