Bristol Bay Forever Initiative raising campaign funds

Bristol Bay Forever has an Indiegogo campaign running to raise money in support of their efforts to persuade Alaska voters to approve the Bristol Bay Forever Initiative in November.

The initiative would amend the 1972 Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve (which already protects  the watershed against oil and gas development) to include mining operations as well.

Here’s some inspiration to share:

(Via Flyfish Journal)

Senate tries end-around EPA protection for Bristol Bay

Via TU’s Save Bristol Bay website:

Alaskans expressed extreme disappointment with Senator Lisa Murkowski’s co-sponsorship of the Regulatory Fairness Act, a bill designed to severely curtail the EPA’s authority to protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine. The legislation, which was recently introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and David Vitter (LA), would severely limit the EPA’s Clean Water Act authority to restrict a project whenever it would have an “unacceptable adverse effect” on surrounding wetlands and waterways.

This follows the EPA’s decision in February to begin a Clean Water Act process to block the proposed Pebble Mine, and an announcement by Pebble investor Rio Tinto on Monday that it was dumping its 19 percent stake in the mine.

Thompson River Action Alert

The Native Fish Society is partnering with the Steelhead Society of British Columbia to raise awareness of a plan to loosen the rules in place surrounding the salmon net fisheries, which currently limit the bycatch of Thompson steelhead.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is suggesting a change to current regulations that protect steelhead in their new Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for 2014-2015.

Read more and sign the NFS petition here.

Take Action for Little Fish

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Maybe you have seen this going around about the Little Fish our big fish eat?  Pew has been pushing this around for a while, and you know what, they are spot on.  As fishermen, sport and commercial, we fight over allocation, we fight over hatchery releases, and we all are overwhelmed with the issues of habitat.  All this has to do with what is going down on land.  There is something we can do that is pretty simple and gets us ahead of the curve on a major issue in our oceans.  The increase harvest of Forage fish.

Forage fish are the herring, anchovies, sardines, dace, smelt, squid etc. that eat phytoplankton turning it into protein for the big stuff, like seals, salmon, steelhead and birds.  This increase in harvest in a volatile ocean, see the sardine issue, turns commercial fishermen to seek out new species to target for harvest often to feed fish farms.  Of all these little fish, only anchovies, market squid, Pacific herring, and sardines are regulated on the West Coast in the L48.  What Pew is suggesting, along with Trout Unlimited, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Wild Steelhead Coalition and a slew of others, is they actually manage for the majority of species on an eco-system level.  This is the proposal from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council that fish folks are supporting.

These fish feed Steelhead and salmon, making them strong so they can swim to places as near to the ocean as Siletz, Oregon or as far as Salmon, Idaho, healthy fish are strong spawners and fight hard as well.  The other thing these little fish do is create massive bait balls at the mouths of some of our biggest rivers, like the Columbia. This provides incredible cover for outgoing smolt who run a gauntlet of birds, seals, and predator fish as they enter the ocean.

So take a minute and Take Action – Tell the Pacific Fisheries Management Council the time is now to protect unmanaged Forage Fish – Deadline for Comments is March 30th.

Head over to http://www.tu.org/take-action and find the link titled “West Coast TU Members: Urge Fishery Managers to Protect Our Forage Fish”

The Buckaroo of the Great Basin

IMG_0536[1]It was a heavy mist morning south out of Corvallis.  The Willamette Valley smelled like low tide, a storm was building as I stepped out of the car at Eugene International.  Mendo Brown met me a few texts past  security for coffee.  We walked slowly to be those guys who wait till the last minute to get on the plane, until I realized I forgot my rod at the coffee shop, and then I was the guy running to the plane.  We were headed to Reno for the Western TU meeting and a little fishing.

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We were staying at the Atlantis casino, a neon pink, butane lighter palace by the airport.  Even in that establishment of compulsive nicotine laced Americana, the Sierra Nevada and high desert glowed in a piscatorial light.  The cartoon glass elevator showed snow fields and canyons, leading into cottonwoods, all said fishy, even if it was Nevada. But this was Reno and the Truckee River Valley.  These dudes were cool, hell they had their own fish, Senor Lahonton, The Buckaroo of the Great Basin.

Reno Life

Quarter-ton native Lahontan.

The Lahonton is as much a mystery as a tragedy in fish conservation.  Pyramid Lake is now filled with hatchery fish, a remnant of the great fish that used to spawn up a once wild Truckee River.  Like the salmon runs on the Columbia, settlers filled wagons of Lahonton cutthroat for food and fertilizer, also like the Columbia, the Truckee began getting dammed and diverted eventually bringing a once prolific fish to near extinction. What is so cool about Lahonton is they are a closed basin trout one of 5 cutthroat trout in the Great Basin.   There used be 6 but Oregon’s Alvord cutt is now extinct. photo 2

What is also cool about Reno, beyond the fish is the side without casino’s – See Brewers Cabinet or St James for brews or Michael’s Deli for best sandwiches around.IMG_0532[1]

One our flight back into the Willamette Valley, we had missed a deluge of rain.  Descending into Eugene The Big Willy was out of its banks, showing old bends and sloughs of the Calapooia and Santiams in grass fields and pastures.  It was a stark contrast to the high dry closed basin fishing of Nevada.  We arrived just in time for descending rivers and steelhead.photo 3

‘Roots to Rivers’ Dinner and Auction to Benefit Local Conservation Groups

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Proceeds from April 5th event at the Vue in Corvallis to support Calapooia Watershed Council, Greenbelt Land Trust, Marys River Watershed Council, and Ten Rivers Food Web

Four local conservation and advocacy groups are teaming up to host Roots to Rivers, a benefit dinner and silent auction on April 5th, 2014 from 6-9:30pm at the Vue in downtown Corvallis (517 SW 2nd St.).  Calapooia Watershed Council, Greenbelt Land Trust, Marys River Watershed Council, and Ten Rivers Food Web  are joining together to celebrate the land, water, and farms that make the Willamette Valley a unique and beautiful place to live, work, and play. Guests will enjoy a delicious Mediterranean feast showcasing local foods and the finest local craft brews and wines. A silent auction will feature unique services and adventures such as a garden package including 5 yards of organic compost, seeds, and plant starts; a Benton County distillery tasting and tour package; a McKenzie River fly fishing trip for two; and more. The evening’s entertainment will include strolling minstrels, tarot readings, belly dancing, and magic! As the evening stars come out, we will enjoy the sweet sounds of the Portland-based three piece band Sagebrush Sisters!

Tickets for the event are available at both First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op locations in Corvallis, partner office locations, and online.

Proceeds from the evening will directly benefit the partner organizations working to host Roots to Rivers:

  • Calapooia Watershed Council promotes voluntary actions to improve the health of the Calapooia Watershed and its communities. (calapooia.org)
  • Greenbelt Land Trust protects in perpetuity native habitats, working lands, and lands of natural beauty, which provide a connection to the natural world for the residents of the mid-Willamette Valley. (greenbeltlandtrust.org)
  • Marys River Watershed Council inspires and supports voluntary stewardship of the Marys River watershed. (mrwc.org)
  • Ten Rivers Food Web builds stronger communities in Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties by nourishing a local food system to ensure healthy food for all. (tenriversfoodweb.org)

Interested in participating in Roots to Rivers as a sponsor, donor, or volunteer? Contact Kyle at ksmith@calapooia.org or 541-466-3493.

BIG news on the Pebble front

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The Environmental Protection Agency will announce Friday it will examine whether to block a massive gold and copper mine proposed in Alaska, according to people familiar with the issue — a major win for environmentalists, native tribes and commercial fishing companies that have been seeking to kill the project for more than three years. [LINK] from Washington Post

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is initiating a process under the Clean Water Act to identify appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine. The Pebble Mine has the potential to be one of the largest open pit copper mines ever developed and could threaten a salmon resource rare in its quality and productivity. During this process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot approve a permit for the mine. [LINK] From the EPA.

This is what we have all been waiting for. “404 C – YA” ~ Kyle Smith.