Wednesday Wake-Up Call 08.18.21

The current Drought Monitor map shows little relief for the western half of the U.S.
The U.S. Drought Monitor courtesy the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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 WaterBullsugar.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. Drought conditions stretch from Southern California to Upper Minnesota

More than 20 miles of the Big Hole River–from Dickie Bridge to North Fork Big Hole River–were closed to fishing today by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Rivers throughout the West and Upper Midwest continue to run very low and warm, a result of the ongoing drought that has caused problems for fish and anglers alike. (Things are just as bad just over the border in Canada.) Most states have enacted fishing restrictions–from “hoot owl” rules to outright closures–to protect fish populations. The guides and lodges we’ve spoken to have often gone beyond the mandated rules to protect the resources they cherish and rely on, and they ask all their clients to show the same care.

It’s impossible to cover all the stories, but here are some useful links from across the region to keep you informed.

2. Finalizing of New Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) Under Way

On July 20, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its recommendation of alternative CC as the preliminary preferred alternative for the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. (Click here for a primer on the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual.) Now comes the next phase of the process—optimization—which will go for the next couple of months. This is really the last chance for any outside influence on how the plan is written. According to the folks at Captains for Clean Water, more than 9,000 people sent emails to the USACE demanding a more balanced plan. But there’s still more work to be done to make sure that optimization plan addresses damaging water releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, as well as includes plans to send more water south to the Everglades.

“Operational flexibility will further contribute to the reduction of harmful wet season discharges and can substantially improve water supply performance,” said Dr. Stephen Davis in a statement by the Everglades Foundation. “We are also happy to hear that the Corps will be exploring ways to better address impactful discharges to the Caloosahatchee.”

Click here to urge the Army Corps to optimize Plan CC to benefit all stakeholders and make the distribution of water more equitable for the Caloosahatchee estuary.

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