TU sues EPA over removal of Bristol bay protections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

Contact:  

Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited CEO, (571) 274-0601 

Nelli Williams, Trout Unlimited Alaska program director, (907) 230-7121 

Trout Unlimited sues EPA over removal of Bristol Bay protections 

Sportsmen argue EPA ignored sound science, prioritized advancement of Pebble mine over fishing industry. 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Trout Unlimited, represented pro bono by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its recent decision to withdraw protections for the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. Called the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, the protections would have limited the scope and scale of impacts from the proposed Pebble Mine to the world-class salmon, trout and water resources of the region. 

“The practical effect of the EPA’s decision was to help out a mine that would devastate a fishing and hunting paradise,” said John Holman, who grew up in the area and is a second-generation owner of No See Um Lodge, a Trout Unlimited member business. “I cannot in good faith pass a business down to my family that will become a financial burden if the Pebble Mine is built. Who does our government work for? This decision made it seem like the EPA and our elected officials are writing off thousands of American jobs, and businesses like mine so a foreign mining company can obliterate the land I depend on, then walk away.”  

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Trout Unlimited’s lawsuit alleges the EPA ignored science and the potential impacts of developing the mine when it withdrew the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, and in doing so violated the Administrative Procedures Act and Clean Water Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a permit to Pebble if the EPA’s decision on the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination is overturned.  

“Billions of dollars have been spent in attempt to restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Bristol Bay sets records for its salmon returns year after year. All we need to do is have the humility and common-sense to leave this landscape alone,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Sacrificing a place such as Bristol Bay for some gold is a short-sighted fool’s errand. We are not a litigious organization, but we and millions of other sportsmen and women will not allow greed to compromise the most important salmon fishery on the planet.” 

The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska supports the world’s most abundant sockeye salmon run, Alaska’s best Chinook salmon run, and a world-famous trophy rainbow trout fishery. These fisheries are the foundation for a robust sportfishing industry, a rich cultural history and subsistence way of life supporting more than 30 Alaska Native Tribes, and a valuable commercial fishing industry. Bristol Bay fishing—including sport, commercial and subsistence—accounts for thousands of sustainable local jobs and more than $1.5 billion in annual economic activity.  

Citing this unique and wild character, and the economic and cultural importance of the region, the EPA prepared the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination after years of scientific research and multiple peer reviews, with many thousands of Alaskans and millions of Americans voicing support for protecting the region.  

“Any action that jeopardizes this fishery and extremely unique place is unacceptable,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited. “The proposed Pebble mine is widely opposed by anglers and hunters across Alaska and the country. This lawsuit is a step to hold the EPA accountable to their own science and American sportsmen and women, not a foreign-owned mining company.” 

Photo by Fly Out Media.

Photo by Fly Out Media.

“Look at what’s at stake and the maddening progress Pebble is making here at our expense,” said Nanci Morris Lyon, local resident and owner of Bear Trail Lodge, a Trout Unlimited member business. “Contrary to science, the will of the people, and common sense, Pebble is advancing toward their key permit, thanks in part to agencies giving them handouts. This lawsuit calls that out. We can’t afford Pebble in Bristol Bay, and that means we need science, oversight, integrity and persistence.” 

“Removing the Proposed Determination was one of the most poorly justified decisions in the history of the Clean Water Act and is an affront to the fisheries, local communities, and sportsmen and women around the world,” said Wood.  

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Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. In Alaska we have worked in the Bristol Bay region for almost two decades along with thousands of members and supporters including dozens of businesses that depend on the fishery of the region. Follow TU on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation. For more information on the Save Bristol Bay campaign go to SaveBristolBay.org. 

October Currents

Celebrating 50 years of coldwater conservation in Colorado


Colorado Trout Unlimited celebrates its 50th anniversary this month and we couldn't be more thankful for those that have made our past successes possible. From our corporate sponsors to our individual volunteers, our devoted chapter board members and our relentlessly passionate staff, our business partners and our national support team- if you're reading this issue of Currents, we owe you a big thanks. Come celebrate our heritage of science-based conservation, youth education and non-partisan policy advocacy at Avanti on October 15th.

Preserve in Arkansas Valley will protect 90 acres of land plus a mile of public fishing

Picture provided by Central Colorado Conservancy.

Picture provided by Central Colorado Conservancy.

The Central Colorado Conservancy (CCC) in the Arkansas Valley announced this week that it had raised the final $50,000 needed for the Ark River Community Preserve in southern Lake County – ensuring that the $1.1 million project can move ahead with the purchase of eight properties along the Arkansas River.

Thanks in part to the generous support of Anglers All and the Jones Family Foundation, Colorado Trout Unlimited and our Collegiate Peaks Chapter were able to make gifts that brought the fundraising total past the goal line for this important project. National Trout Unlimited, the City of Aurora Water Department, Lake County, Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Habitat Program, Gates Family Foundation, Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, and Climax Mine Community Investment Fund, as well as many individual gifts, were also contributors to this project.

When completed in the next few years, the Preserve will protect 90 acres and open a mile of river to public fishing on Gold Medal Trout Waters.  The area is also an important corridor and wintering ground for wildlife, including bighorn sheep, elk, moose, mountain lions, bobcats, and bears and bald eagles and red-tailed hawks hunt this stretch to feed their young.

The CCC newsletter included this quote from outgoing Executive Director Andrew Mackie, “This project is the result of an incredible collaborative effort among the property owner, John Andrick, Lake County Open Space Initiative, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and many other organizations and community members who contributed to the final phase of our fundraising campaign.  So it's fitting that the Preserve is a true community asset that everyone can access and enjoy – from anglers and kayakers to hikers and birders. The broad support also demonstrates the significant role natural areas play in our community identity and quality of life.”

Thank you, Anglers All and Jones Family Foundation, for helping us to help CCC so that this great property will benefit the public in perpetuity.

 

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers aim to cut protections for millions of stream miles across the United States 

What’s happening now? 

Early in 2017, President Trump directed the EPA to first repeal and then replace the Clean Water Rule. The Administration’s efforts to rescind the 2015 Rule have been partially blocked, as the 2015 Rule is in effect in 22 states. The new rule, unveiled today, is an unwarranted effort to replace the 2015 Rule. The new rule is NOT based in science and is NOT consistent with the goals of the Clean Water Act. The new rule proposal will undermine long standing protections for wetlands and small streams, it will harm hunting and fishing in America. However, it is not the final chapter to the story.

We expect the Administration and the agencies to unveil a replacement for the 2015 Rule which may well be a true gutting of the Clean Water Act, leaving millions of stream miles and millions of acres of wetlands permanently unprotected. We expect the replacement final rule later this year.

Why should sportsmen care? 

The Clean Water Act and the 2015 Rule are vital to TU’s work and to anglers across the nation. Whether TU is working with farmers to restore small headwater streams in West Virginia, removing acidic pollution caused by abandoned mines in Pennsylvania, or protecting the world-famous salmon-producing, 14,000-jobs-sustaining watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, we rely on the Clean Water Act to safeguard our water quality improvements. 

TU members, and sportsmen and women nationwide, want to move forward with progress on cleaning up our nation’s waters, not go backwards. Thus, the Clean Water Act needs to be improved, not weakened, as is the case in today’s announcement. Learn more.

September Currents: Catch up on the latest from CTU

Public Lands Month & LWCF Action Alert 

September is Public Lands Month and we celebrate our nation's rich legacy of public lands and the natural resources that depend on those lands - including the amazing fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities that our public lands support. National TU is preparing a series of blog posts about the major agencies responsible for managing our federal public lands - the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read the first post - featuring the story behind the Forest Service- here.

One of our nation's most successful programs investing in public lands and outdoor recreation is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). We celebrated earlier this year as Congress passed and the President signed legislation permanently authorizing this program, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Colorado's great outdoors from our iconic national parks to community trails and parks in our own backyards.

LWCF doesn't depend on your tax dollars but rather is funded by a portion of revenues from offshore drilling royalties. Unfortunately, these funds are anything but secure and are regularly raided by Congress for other purposes during annual appropriations. Now, Congress is considering legislation to secure those dedicated funds on a permanent basis so that LWCF can continue to support public lands and outdoor recreation for generations to come.

You can help by asking your Representative to support this important legislation. Please take a moment this Public Lands Month to speak up for continued investment in our public lands!

 See all the upcoming volunteer opportunities, events, fishing stories, and more. Click below!

Need Volunteers for the last Greenback Stockings of the year!

Greenback Stocking: Herman Gulch
Monday, September 23, 2019
9:30 AM 2:00 PM

Learn More & Sign Up Here

Greenback Stocking: Dry Gulch
Monday, September 23, 2019
9:30 AM 2:00 PM

Learn More & Sign up Here

Upcoming STREAM Girls - Volunteer or Sign up your Girl Scout

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2019

Longmont, CO 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Sign Up to Volunteer | Sign up Girl Scout

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27TH, 2019

Montrose, CO 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. 

Sign Up to Volunteer | Sign up Girl Scout

What is STREAM Girls? Learn more about this exciting program!

Take Action for YOUR Public Lands

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September is Public Lands Month and we celebrate our nation's rich legacy of public lands and the natural resources that depend on those lands - including the amazing fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities that our public lands support. National TU is preparing a series of blog posts about the major agencies responsible for managing our federal public lands - the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read the first post - featuring the story behind the Forest Service- here.

One of our nation's most successful programs investing in public lands and outdoor recreation is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). We celebrated earlier this year as Congress passed and the President signed legislation permanently authorizing this program, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Colorado's great outdoors from our iconic national parks to community trails and parks in our own backyards.

LWCF doesn't depend on your tax dollars but rather is funded by a portion of revenues from offshore drilling royalties. Unfortunately, these funds are anything but secure and are regularly raided by Congress for other purposes during annual appropriations. Now, Congress is considering legislation to secure those dedicated funds on a permanent basis so that LWCF can continue to support public lands and outdoor recreation for generations to come.

You can help by asking your Representative to support this important legislation. Please take a moment this Public Lands Month to speak up for continued investment in our public lands!

CTU 50th Anniversary Film headed to Zimmerman Lake this summer (Behind the Scenes)

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On July 2, 2019 passionate TU volunteer and native trout angler, John Trammell headed up with CTU and Josh Duplechian of Trout Unlimited to participate in filming for CTU’s 50th Anniversary Film featuring the native trout work on Zimmerman Lake. Below is his personal account of the day. Enjoy!

John and his daughter Melissa.

John and his daughter Melissa.

MY LIFE AS A FLY FISHERMAN PART 21: Greenbacks and Zimmerman Lake

by John Trammell

Up front I’ll confess that not much of Part 21 is about fishing, but about what I observed at Zimmerman Lake on July 2 this year. What I saw was a team of government agencies and Trout Unlimited volunteers working scientifically and physically to preserve and propagate our state fish - the greenback cutthroat trout. I could not have been more impressed by the skills and hard work I saw. Really amazing.

Zimmerman lake is 40 miles east of Walden, near the continental divide, at 10,000+ feet elevation. It has a population of a few hundred greenbacks, placed there to become the source of eggs for the purpose of increasing the numbers of our state fish. On the day my daughter Melissa and I were there, the steep trail up to the lake was both rough and muddy, with numerous snowdrifts. (The day before, the workers had shoveled away drifts that were impassable to ATVs.)

The ancestors of the greenbacks in Zimmerman Lake were a small number of fish rescued from their only remaining natural habitat, Bear Creek near Colorado Springs, when the habitat was threatened by a wildfire. Being so few, when they’re artificially spawned it is important to preserve genetic diversity. Observing how that is done was fascinating - not only because of what was done, but how it was done under difficult field conditions.

When we arrived at the work site the fish were already being held in floating mesh pens. Wader-clad workers separated them into categories to be processed on a long table set up amid mud, snow and trippy exposed tree roots. They were given an anesthetic bath to make them more docile and to reduce shock while they were being processed.

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CPW’s project leader Kevin Rogers told me that his agency knows each greenback in the lake individually. Each has a little VIE tag behind its eye that he identifies to a person who then uses a hand-held electronic device to read an internal pittag. Each fish is described verbally (e.g, “ripe female, good condition; immature male”), its pittag recorded, measured, weighed, and photographed beside its PIT number. Then the fish is put into a five-gallon bucket of water, to recover from the anesthetic. This all occurs rapidly as the trout are passed down the table. This information is used to select males and females to have their eggs and milt combined. Records of the combinations are kept with the intent to achieve maximum genetic diversity.

After the anesthetic has worn off and the greenbacks are trying to swim out of the buckets, they are returned to the lake. Forest Ranger Chris Carrell hustled those 40-pound buckets down to the lake all afternoon, quickly returning the empties back to the table for more greenbacks. After a while, realizing the physical toll it was taking on him, Melissa helped. Although she wasn’t there as a representative of her agency, the National Park Service, she also helped with the work at the table. Being somewhat enfeebled by the trip up to the lake, I just sat, and observed.

Fertilized eggs are treated with an iodine solution, and taken to CPW’s Mt. Shavano hatchery to be hatched and reared for stocking into suitable waters. In addition to the objective of saving them from extinction, the aim is to have a sustainable population of greenbacks for Coloradoans to enjoy.

I’ve long been a fan of native cutthroat trout, so I’m grateful to the State of Colorado for going to the expense and trouble to save the greenbacks. And I’m grateful to the agency people and TU volunteers who do the work.

“I know I volunteer because I love trout, trout habitat, and trout fishing. Of those three, I think it’s the habitat I love best, and not just because without it we can’t have the other two. It’s because I just love it, everything about it. I get a thrill every time I approach a trout stream.”
— John Trammell

Swan River Restoration received $270K grant

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REPOST from Summit Daily by Deepan Dutta

BRECKENRIDGE — As part of its Fishing is Fun grant program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has awarded $755,000 to 11 projects across the state. The program aims to improve angling opportunities by funding projects that improve angling access, fishing habitat, or trail and boat access.

One of the beneficiaries is Summit County’s Swan River Restoration Project, the county’s effort to restore the Swan River after it was destroyed by dredge mining during the twilight of the Colorado gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

After the first phase of the project, which also received a Parks and Wildlife grant, a mile of stream channel has been restored, establishing year-round flows, creating 16 acres of new riparian habitat and improving habitat for fish like the mottled sculpin.

The project has been awarded $270,000 from the Fishing is Fun program for a second phase covering another mile of stream channel. Another $2.4 million in funding will come from sponsors.