Thanks to the bipartisan work of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and other senators, the Natural Resources Management Act passed the Senate Tuesday evening (Feb. 12). The bill bundles together over 100 pieces of legislation that in many cases have languished for years.
Among other things, the bill permanently authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular program for acquiring new public lands and access for hunting and fishing, without costing taxpayers a dime. The bill also protects iconic rivers such as the North Umpqua, Rogue, Chetco and Elk in Oregon, and headwater streams to the Yellowstone River in Montana.
Pebble Mine is not dead. Pebble is running a massive and misleading PR campaign as they forge ahead in their permitting process. Their first major permit is currently under review. If it is granted, it will trigger dozens of additional permits to be issued, and Pebble could be given a green light to begin mining the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
As their permitting continues, Pebble mine backers are on a mission to gain support from Alaskans around the state. They’re doubling down on a robust PR stunt full of misrepresentations and outright lies about the benefits and impacts of their mine They want to distract you from the truth: the science remains crystal clear that Pebble mine poses immense, irreparable risk to the thriving fishery in Bristol Bay.
We’re going to need your help at every step of the way over the next 12-18 months to ensure that our decision makers say NO to Pebble’s key permits. There will soon be another, very important opportunity for us to weigh in on Pebble's permit application. We will let you know when that comment period opens. When it does, please tell your friends and neighbors to join you in submitting a comment.
To summarize, here’s what’s at play: Bristol Bay is a world class fishery, perhaps the greatest wild salmon fishery in the world. Time and time again, Americans, Alaskans, and the communities of Bristol Bay have overwhelmingly said NO to a mine in Bristol Bay. As currently designed, Pebble would exceed the levels of impacts that the United States EPA has already stated would cause significant and unacceptable impacts to the waters and fisheries of Bristol Bay. Yes, the size of the mine proposed is a mere fraction of the size of the mine potential, but the initial permit would open the region up to millions of additional acres to be mined.
Not only has Pebble refused to provide an economic feasibility study of their mine, their permit application to the United States Army Corps of Engineers is woefully incomplete and only covers a small portion of what Pebble tells investors is possible to mine in Bristol Bay. In the end, Pebble will do and say anything to mislead Alaskans and rush through the permitting process. But after all these years, nothing about the crux of this proposal has changed. The impacts to the fisheries, economies, and communities of the region will be profound and irreversible.
Helen Neville has rarely been inspired performing grant reporting. But in a recent effort to compile progress toward metrics for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Keystone Initiative, which funds much of TU’s work on LCT, she had one of those wonderful “Wow!” moments in seeing—distilled into just a few numbers—what TU has been able to bring to the table for LCT conservation since the Initiative’s inception in 2010. Read the Full Story.
Historic records reveal abundant numbers of steelhead once migrated from the Pacific Ocean to Southern California's coastal waterways in search of spawning grounds. The presence of steelhead in southern California is memorialized in places like Steelhead Park, which sits along the the Los Angeles River near Dodger Stadium. In the early 1900s, anglers visited this park in hopes of filling their creel with the formidable fish.
Images from the early twentieth century also portray successful steelhead fishing in Orange County at San Juan Creek, and in San Diego County in lower San Mateo Creek and lower Santa Margarita River.
Today, steelhead are nearly non-existent in Southern California - a strikingly different picture than the one painted by historic accounts. See The Story of Recovery.
Handpicking places for protection is becoming the conservation norm. As mass extinctions and climate flux confront ecosystems with the most unpredictable challenges the natural world has seen in millennia, scientists and land managers are discarding their efforts to resist all change. Cindy Noble, chair of Trout Unlimited’s Feather River Chapter reports “We don’t want to dump a bunch of time and money into a problem we can never fix, We are not going to do this the stupid way.”
Assessing where fish seem to be thriving, and where threats are most prevalent, will allow scientists to prioritize their efforts to protect and restore aquatic habitat in the upper Feather River region. The project is part of Trout Unlimited’s mission to sustain California’s cold-water fisheries. Read the full story to understand the work.
Beaver Dam Analogs, BDAs, have become popular in meadow restoration. Our chapter has worked with them in Audrain Meadow. Simultaneously they have contributed to a significant restoration in Squaw Valley.
Trout Unlimited believes that conservation work begins with people. This belief was affirmed again when over 75 volunteers gathered recently to renew one of the Lake Tahoe region’s most popular places—Squaw Valley—and begin the process of restoring its namesake stream to a more natural state. Squaw Creek is that stream. Once home to native Lahontan cutthroat trout, it is now the focus of a partnership-driven restoration project with TU at its heart. Read full story
Ten years ago, on a river revered for its huge wild steelhead, more than a ton of dynamite reduced a 47-foot high dam to rubble. At the time, it was the largest dam ever removed in the United States. It was also the first dam to be removed without first removing entrained silt. The operation was a success in removing the silt within a few days and long term return of steelhead.
As with subsequent dam removal projects on rivers such as the Penobscot, Elwha and Carmel, it didn’t take long for migratory fishes such as salmon and steelhead to begin moving into the upper reaches of the Sandy River, habitat they hadn’t reached for more than a century.
But would taking out the dam lead to a real boost in anadromous fish numbers in the system? This October, in a 10-year retrospective, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife looked at the numbers and offered the answer: an “unqualified yes.” The action was also revealing in that all of the silt was removed in days with the river returning to normalcy.
Four members of Trout Unlimited El Dorado joined with other groups to assist in restoration work on the Audrain Meadow. The work was done on August 29 and 30 in support of owner Dale Pierce. Beaver dam analogs, bda, created last year were repaired and extended to further water retention in the meadow.
Dams installed last year survived the severe winter and seasonal runoff with minimum damage. Dams were reported to be over topped with water during the spring. They were effective in retaining water in the meadow and sustained minimal damage.
The meadow appears very healthful after this winter. Grass has grown taller and more dense and filled many of the open channels seen last year. Vegetative growth and downfall is plentiful this year.
The project will continue to retain water in the meadow and correct the down cutting experienced in the last 60 years. Replacement of a culvert under the access road is a major item of future work.
Jann Williams, John Sikora, Bill Burden, Pat Barron and Stan Backlund participated in the work.
The Eel River is on the brink of disaster, its ocean-going fish species threatened with extinction, its nurturing estuary diked, drained and diminishing.
At the same time, this massive watershed in California’s northwest corner offers the state’s best hope of ensuring a future abundance of wild anadromous fish.
This paradox of the Eel, California’s third largest river system, is driving an urgency to save it while there’s still time. For the Eel’s diverse and often adversarial stakeholders, this is a rare and fleeting opportunity to set aside differences out of a common commitment to what they share.