Wednesday Wake-Up Call 11.18.20: Big Conservation News

Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, aroundup 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.

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. Pebble Partnership Submits Mitigation Plan

Anglers from around the world flock to Bristol Bay each year, supporting a lucrative tourism industry.
Photo by Cory Luoma, Fly Out Media

On Monday, the group behind the prosed Pebble Mine announced that they had submitted the new mitigation plan to the Army Corps of Engineers, to address the issues laid out in a letter the Corps sent back in August. The crux of that letter was this remarkable statement:

[The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska] District made Clean Water Act Section 404(b) (1) factual determinations that discharges at the mine site would cause unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources and, preliminarily, that those adverse impacts would result in significant degradation to those aquatic resources.

The linchpin of the ecosystem is the world’s largest wild-salmon run.
Photo by Cory Luoma, Fly Out Media

The Pebble Partnership’s plan to mitigate these “adverse impacts” has not yet been made public, but few in the anti-Pebble camp believe that the plan can possibly meet the threshold required allow the project to go forward. Nelli Williams, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited, called on the powers that be to simply deny the permit and move on:

It’s telling that the Pebble Limited Partnership didn’t immediately release its mitigation plan to the public. For more than a decade they have worked either to hide details from the public or tell outright lies, which we’ve all now seen on tape. Nothing they put in a mitigation plan changes the fact that this project cannot and should not qualify for a permit. The Army Corps of Engineers should end this charade by immediately rejecting Pebble’s permit application.

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2. Plan to Free Klamath River from Dams Moves Forward

The long battle to remove dams on California’s Klamath River seemed in trouble last July, when Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that the dams’ owner, PacifiCorp, could not simply hand off the dams to a nonprofit created specifically to remove them. PacifiCorp, fearing liability, then backed out of the deal. But an announcement yesterday of a new way forward has lovers of free-flowing rivers celebrating:

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom today joined with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes and Berkshire Hathaway-owned PacifiCorp in announcing an agreement to provide additional resources and support to advance the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history. The project, when completed, will address declines in fish populations, improve river health and renew Tribal communities and cultures.

The Memorandum of Agreement signed by the states of California and Oregon, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe, PacifiCorp and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) describes how the parties will implement the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) as negotiated and signed in 2016. The KHSA sets the terms for the removal of four Klamath River dams.

“The Klamath River is a centerpiece of tribal community, culture and sustenance and a national ecological treasure,” Governor Newsom said. “With this agreement, we are closer than ever to restoring access to 400 miles of salmon habitat which will be a boon to the local economy. I am grateful for the partnership between California and Oregon, the Yurok and Karuk Tribes and Berkshire Hathaway that proves when we work together, we can build a better, more inclusive future for all.”

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3. Film from Captains for Clean Water Connects the Everglades and Pebble Mine

Last week, Captains for Clean Water released a powerful film called “Everyone in Between,” about two of the nation’s greatest conservation battles are being waged in our lifetime. Florida’s Everglades and Alaska’s Bristol Bay are the battlegrounds. The film explores the value, wonder, and threats to these bucket-list fisheries through the eyes of fishing guide, Captain John Landry.

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