Welcome to the latest edition of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Unlimited trout, Backcountry hunters and anglersThe Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Clean water captains, VoteWater.orgAnd Conservation Falcon (among other things) we make sure you have the information you need to understand the issues and form an informed opinion.
1. Montana FWP is committed to combating the decline in the trout population of southwest Montana
Two weeks ago we reported on the problems with the trout population in the Big Hole watershed. A coalition of lodge owners, outfitters, guides, shopkeepers and conservationists sent an urgent letter to Governor Greg Gianforte, urging him to act quickly to address the issues. Unfortunately, the governor never responded to the letter, but last week the director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) committed all of the department’s resources to respond to historic population declines at some of southwest Montana’s most famous trout fisheries.
New FWP Director Dustin Temple said: “I just want to reassure the Commission and the public that all hands are on deck.” As part of that effort, the Commissioners approved new regulations restricting fishing during brown trout spawning season and reducing numbers of fish that anglers are allowed to keep on some stretches of the Big Hole, Beaverhead and Ruby Rivers.
Click the arrow below to listen to an interview with Matt Kiewiet, Editor-in-Chief Montana standard And Independent record about the state of the Big Hole.
- One river is still in danger: trout numbers in the Big Hole are at historic lowsat helenair.com
- Decline in trout: FWP proposes new regulations and invests in research and monitoringat fwp.mt.gov
- The Big Hole Crisis – too little, too late and far too badat dailymontanan.com
2. Blue-green algae are blooming around South Florida
Blue-green algae are found in South Florida every year, but conditions appear ripe for a repeat of the disastrous 2018 bloom after Hurricane Ian churned up the bottom of Lake Okeechobee, releasing excess nitrogen and phosphorus that had been deposited for decades. When the lake reaches a certain level, this toxic lake water is dumped into the Calloosahatchee River, bringing the algae into the waters around Fort Myers and Sanibel Island.
This week, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation issued an urgent recommendation to the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the flow of lake water:
As the rainy season begins, Lake Okeechobee has reached worryingly high levels and has already begun to develop worrying cyanobacteria blooms. This presents a potential scenario in which the Caloosahatchee will experience adverse high lake discharge events in addition to watershed runoff, resulting not only in increased nutrient loading and reduced salinity, but also in the transport of harmful algae into the Caloosahatchee River.
We strongly encourage the Corps to use all options to reduce lake level rise to prevent harmful high releases into the Caloosahatchee Estuary and to confirm the absence of cyanobacteria…before releases resume.
The Everglades’ overall cleanup efforts are aimed at channeling this toxic water south to clean it naturally, rather than channeling it to the shores via the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. (Watch the video at the top of the page to learn why restoring the Everglades is important to all of South Florida.)
- Blue-green algae are blooming in Fort Myers Shoresat winknews.com
- Eikenberg to Senate Committee: “Don’t stop now!” at evergladesfoundation.org
- Blue-green algae bloom spotted in South Florida, local businesses brace for potential impactat cbs12.com
- Toxic Algal Bloom in Pahokee Marina Triggers Health Alert (Video)
3. Other important stories
● The Colorado Supreme Court dismisses the lengthy Stream Access case
On June 5, the Colorado Supreme Court dismissed a case that could have expanded public access to the Centennial State’s creeks and rivers. With its unanimous decision in a case called Hill against Warsaw, the court ruled against an angler who sued after being threatened and harassed and ultimately denied access to a popular fishing spot on a popular river. The ruling maintains the status quo of river access in Colorado, where anglers have no legally protected right to wade with fish on waterways that cut through private property.
● 16 Montana children are suing the state over climate change
A judge in Montana on Monday will hear arguments in a unique lawsuit deciding whether the state’s contribution to climate change violates its constitution, which expressly guarantees the right to a “clean and healthy environment.”
In Hero vs Montana, brought by 16 Montana youth as young as five years old, plaintiffs argue that state lawmakers have put the interests of the state’s fossil fuel industry ahead of its climate future. Legal experts say if the plaintiffs win, the case could be used to boost climate protection efforts in other states.
● The US Supreme Court abolished federal protection for wetlands – now what?
(The recent judgment of the US Supreme Court in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency . . . overruled federal wetland protections under the Clean Water Act, the key federal law responsible for improving the country’s water quality over the past 50 years. For example, previously, oil and debris in Ohio’s Cuyahoga River often caught fire.
The court’s decision is devastating, but state and local governments still have the power to defend wetlands. There has never been a more important time for scientists and the public to take action to protect state and local wetlands wherever they live.