Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, VoteWater.org, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.
1. White House Proposes $407 Million for Everglades Restoration
President Joe Biden’s 2023 budget request includes $407 million for Everglades restoration projects, including the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir designed to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. If Congress approves the request, a “substantial amount” of the proposed Everglades money will go toward building the EAA reservoir, according to Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
In a statement The Everglades Foundation website, CEO Eric Eikenberg wrote, “The Everglades Foundation is excited by the steadfast support and recent momentum for Everglades restoration investment. We thank President Biden and the bipartisan Florida Congressional delegation for their support for robust funding and look forward to continuing the progress in advancing the restoration of America’s Everglades.”
2. Take Action to Protect Atlantic Striped Bass
In early May, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will convene for their spring meeting, at which time we’re expected to see their Atlantic Striped Bass Board finalize Amendment 7 to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Under the current management plan, which was approved in 2003, we’ve observed a historically abundant stock degrade to overfished levels, and little has been done to curb overfishing or reverse this declining trend. To put it simply – management changes are needed, and the stakes for the future of the Northeast’s most iconic recreational fishery couldn’t be higher.
Forage fish like menhaden, river herring, and shad are the foundation of the marine food web, serving as prey for sportfish like striped bass, speckled trout, and bluefin tuna. But depletion of forage fish populations and habitat loss are threatening our fishing opportunities. Tell lawmakers to support the Forage Fish Conservation Act, a legislative solution that will modernize forage fish management so it accounts for the needs of sportfish and anglers.
3. The Key to Sage Grouse Recovery Is Partnership
As most sportsmen and sportswomen know, a major conservation challenge that requires an even larger solution is the plight of the greater sage grouse. The sagebrush steppe ecosystem, which once spanned nearly 500,000 square miles across the Intermountain West, has shrunk by half, due to a variety of issues including invasive species, drought, land conversion, and development. These stressors have each contributed to population declines of over 95 percent and brought sage grouse to the brink of an endangered species listing in 2014. . . .
As any wildlife biologist or land manager can attest, the issues that threaten a species and its associated habitats do not exist in a vacuum—nor do effective solutions. That’s why the careful collaboration and negotiation of conservation measures for sage grouse on public land are not enough.
4. We Must Have Permanent Protections for Bristol Bay
It’s been well over a year since the key federal permit for the formerly proposed Pebble mine was denied. When the Army Corps of Engineers cited Pebble’s failure to meet Clean Water Act standards and being “contrary to public interest,” it halted a mine from advancing and developing in the headwaters of the most prolific sockeye salmon fishery on the planet.
We have cheered and celebrated the November 2020 permit denial. The decision aligns with the Clean Water Act and what Bristol Bay residents, scientists, mining experts, and a diverse coalition of Tribes, hunters, anglers, and commercial fishermen have been saying for over two decades. But even with Pebble’s permit being denied, Bristol Bay is not safe, and we have just seen the first example of the new reality for Bristol Bay: a new mineral exploration permit for the Groundhog project, adjacent to the Pebble deposit.
Watch the video at the top of this page to learn more about what’s at stake in Bristol Bay.