Wednesday Wake-Up Call: 06.29.23

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 UnlimitedBackcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation PartnershipThe Everglades FoundationCaptains for Clean, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.

1. The First of Four Klamath River Dams Comes Down

One of the largest dam-removal projects in history has begun on the Klamath River in California and Oregon. Last week, Copco No. 2 Dam was breached, the first step in reconnecting more than 300 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat that his been blocked for nearly a century. The fight to bring these dams down has taken decades and thousands of hours of community activism, testifying at government hearings, and grassroots organizing by a coalition comprising many organizations and the native Yurok, Karuk, and Klamath tribes.

“If you truly believe in something, you have to fight for it. We’ve been fighting through generations; my children have been brought up in this,” said Annelia Hillman, a community activist who’s been advocating for dam removal for 20 years.

Tucker said dam removal never would have happened without the leadership of tribes, especially the Yurok Tribe and the Karuk Tribe.

All four dams are slated to be removed by the end of 2024, and what was once the third-most productive salmon river in the West will begin to heal.

The four dams that will be removed: 1. Iron Gate, 2. Copco No. 1, 3. Copco No. 2, and JC Boyle.

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2. Outfitters Seek Independent Study of Declining Trout in Big Hole River

Wade Fellin of Big Hole Lodge discusses the future of his home waters.

Outfitters and those in the fly fishing business are so concerned about the dwindling trout population in the Big Hole River and other Rivers in Southwest Montana that they’re starting to put up their own money to fund scientific research that they hope will solve this problem.

“I don’t think this is a sky-is-falling, rivers-are-dead scenario. This is a call to action now so that we preserve the integrity of these rivers for the future,” said Big Hole Lodge Co-Owner Wade Fellin.

A coalition of outfitters and fishing guides recent formed Save Wild Trout in response to a report showing low numbers of brown and rainbow trout, especially young trout, in the Big Hole River. The group is raising money to pay for a pathologist to conduct an independent study of fish in the Big Hole, Ruby, and Beaverhead rivers.

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3. Work begins to clean up train derailment in Montana’s Yellowstone River

Work is underway to clean up rail cars carrying hazardous materials that fell into the Yellowstone River in southern Montana after a bridge collapsed over the weekend, officials said Monday.

Montana Rail Link is developing a cleanup plan and is working with its unions and BNSF Railway to reroute freight trains in the area to limit disruption of the supply chain, Beth Archer, a spokesperson for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in a joint statement issued with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Montana Rail Link.

Contractors and a large crane were on site to stabilize and remove cars from the river once a plan is set, officials said.

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4. New York Protects ‘the Birds and the Bees’ with Nation-Leading Legislation

Photo by Ted Fauceglia

In last week’s podcast, Tom Rosenbauer spoke with biologist Michael Miller about how certain pesticides in use of the past 30 years have led to serious declines in aquatic-insect life in our trout streams. Earlier this month, the New York State Legislature passed a first-in-the-nation bill that would rein in the use of neurotoxic neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”). The Birds and Bees Protection Act bans the neonic uses that in-depth Cornell University shows provide no economic benefits to users or are replaceable with safer, effective alternatives—specifically neonic coatings on corn, soybean, and wheat seeds and lawn and garden uses (with an exception for invasive species treatments). This eliminates 80%-90% of the neonics entering New York’s environment yearly. 

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