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. Lake Okeechobee Water Policies Enter the Home Stretch
One of the keys to Everglades restoration is cleaning the water of Lake Okeechobee, so that water can be sent southward. The other benefit of a cleaner lake is that less toxic algae and pollutants will be sent to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) is the first attempt in over a decade by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise how Lake Okeechobee’s water is managed.
The Corps is accepting public comments on the draft LOSOM through September 12, and it’s important that we generate as many supporting comments as possible. The plan is the the best available, given the constraints of the system, until we can complete more Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects, such as the EAA Reservoir which will allow us to treat and store and send even more water south.
2. The New Mexico Stream Access Battle Is Far From Over
Anglers and other river-users in New Mexico have been engaged in a years-long battle against landowners who restrict access to water that they deem “private.” The landowners, of course have a different opinion on the issue, seeing themselves as protectors of critical habitat. A recent court case, which many access-supporters have viewed as a victory may, in fact, have made the issues as confusing as ever:
The pro-public-access crowd has put out statements saying the public can now wade and boat on streams that pass through private property—as long as they access the stream without trespassing over privately owned dry land. Meanwhile, private landowners and their supporters are arguing that until the justices release a written opinion, the status quo remains unchanged.
“Let’s be clear,” the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides wrote on its website in April. “Walking and wading in a privately owned streambed is still illegal.”
Writer Dac Collins does a great job of breaking down the issues and perspectives of all stakeholders.
3. An Overwhelming Majority of Anglers and Hunters Recognize the Dangers of Climate Change
Last week, we led our Wednesday Wake-Up Call with a story about how the newly signed Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $370 billion in funding for climate- and energy-related projects. Many commenters took to social media to make arguments like “get off the climate change bs already, it is trash science, and you show your ignorance by supporting it!” These folks noted that the majority of commenters seemed to agree with them (ignoring the fact that the number of “likes” on the post dwarfed the number of comments).
But a recent poll shows that such climate deniers are, in fact, in the minority:
According to a survey commissioned by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), an overwhelming majority of hunters and anglers — a demographic commonly regarded as conservative — believe our climate is changing and many of those sportsmen and women believe warming temperatures are negatively affecting their hunting and fishing. What’s more, the vast majority of respondents who acknowledge the reality of a warming climate also see humans as bearing most or part of the blame.
Writing in Hatch magazine, editor Chad Shmukler breaks down the findings of the poll and explains why the numbers may be important in upcoming political battles.