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. The first of four dams on the Klamath River falls
One of the largest dam removal projects in history has begun on the Klamath River in California and Oregon. Last week, Copco’s #2 Dam was breached, the first step in reconnecting more than 300 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat that had been blocked for nearly a century. The fight to demolish these dams has taken decades and thousands of hours of community activism, testimony at government hearings, and grassroots organization by a multi-agency coalition and the indigenous Yurok, Karuk, and Klamath tribes.
“If you really believe in something, you have to fight for it. We have fought for generations; My kids grew up with it,” said Annelia Hillman, a community activist who has campaigned for dam removal for 20 years.
Tucker said the dam dismantling would never have been possible without the leadership of the tribes, particularly the Yurok tribe and the Karuk tribe.
All four dams are scheduled to be removed by the end of 2024, and what was once the third most productive salmon river in the West will begin to recover.
- Drain (and restore) the Klamath. at northcoastjournal.com.
- Klamath River Restoration Project at klamathrenewal.org.
- Klamath River at americanrivers.org.
2. Outfitters seek independent study on Big Hole River trout decline
Outfitters and fly fishermen are so concerned about the dwindling trout population in the Big Hole River and other rivers in southwest Montana that they are beginning to allocate their own money to fund scientific research they hope will solve this problem.
“I don’t think this is a scenario where the sky is falling and rivers are dead. This is a call to action so we can preserve the integrity of these rivers for the future,” said Wade Fellin, co-owner of Big Hole Lodge.
A coalition of outfitters and fishing guides has recently formed Save wild trout in response to a report showing that brown and rainbow trout, particularly juvenile trout, are scarce in the Big Hole River. The group raises money to fund a pathologist to conduct an independent study of fish in the Big Hole, Ruby, and Beaverhead rivers.
- Southwest Montana’s trout population decline is sparking research and advocacy efforts at montanafreepress.org
3. Work begins to clean up the Yellowstone River train derailment in Montana
Officials said Monday work is underway to clean up railroad cars carrying hazardous materials that fell into the Yellowstone River in southern Montana after a bridge collapsed over the weekend.
Montana Rail Link is developing a recovery plan and is working with its unions and BNSF Railway to reroute freight trains in the area to limit supply chain disruptions, Beth Archer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in a joint statement with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Montana Rail Link.
Contractors and a large crane are on site to stabilize cars and remove them from the river once a plan is finalized, officials said.
4. New York protects “the birds and the bees” with state-leading laws
In last week’s podcast, Tom Rosenbauer spoke with biologist Michael Miller about how certain pesticides used over the past 30 years have led to a severe decline in aquatic insect life in our trout streams. Earlier this month, the New York State Legislature passed a state-first bill that would curb the use of neurotoxic drugs neonicotinoid pesticides (“Neonics”). The Birds and Bees Act prohibits the use of neon lights detailed Cornell University Shows offer no economic benefits to users or are substitutable for safer, effective alternatives—particularly neon coatings on corn, soybean, and wheat seeds, and lawn and garden applications (other than treating invasive species). This eliminates 80-90% of the neonics entering the New York environment each year.