OK, I embellished a little bit on that last part (I'm now going off on a tangent here---seriously, though, if you don't have a fisheries biology degree and currently working on some fish diet study, stop pumping the stomachs of fish. Yes, some days it is hard to catch fish, but everyone seems to understand that warm water stresses these fish, yet you don't understand that sucking out their last few meals isn't a huge no-no? You just caught a fish on something, keep using that something until you lose it in a tree. Then go home.), but listen when anyone goes off half-cocked (including yours truly) on something new, take it with a grain of salt or maybe the whole salt shaker if you are younger than 40 and don't have blood pressure issues.
Yes, I get it, you guys want to catch fish and we've (humanity, at least humanity of European ancestory) essentially made wild steelhead and salmon commercially extinct or at least commercially extirpated in the lower 48 (I probably can get away with that mostly), so you want to keep hatcheries because you, like me, fear losing these great fish. But, you, unlike me, seem to be satisfied with the notion that the species that destroyed these great wild fish, somehow are going to keep them around in clone hatchery form. OK, your argument is as valid as mine, no matter how wrong you are. So let's get into what Wild Steelheaders United is asking...
First, they asked their members/supporters to encourage the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to designate the Skagit, Elwha and Pullyaup river basins as wild steelhead gene banks.
Anyway, here is what they are asking their lockstep, brainwashed commie supporters to go and do. (In all seriousness, I think you should go and do this, too, BTW)
Recommend the Skagit, Elwha and Puyallup river basins as wild steelhead gene banks
The opportunity to make major progress toward rebuilding abundant, fishable wild steelhead populations does not occur often, but that is precisely the opportunity before us between now and August 13th.
During that period the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive public comment on which rivers to designate as "wild steelhead gene banks" - rivers that will be managed for wild fish and will not receive hatchery plants. We are asking all Wild Steelheaders United supporters to make their voices heard.
Below are priority rivers we recommend for wild gene bank designation in each of the three geographic areas in which at least one gene bank must be designated. While other rivers may qualify, we believe that wild steelhead in these rivers will benefit the most from such a designation. When choosing these rivers on the WDFW Comment form, choose STRONGLY SUPPORT, as in you support making them a wild steelhead gene bank.
Skagit River Basin (Skagit and Sauk)
- Meets all of WDFW's guidance criteria for a wild steelhead gene bank.
- The Skagit system has proven that it can produce abundant, fishable numbers of wild steelhead without hatcheries. It is currently producing over 9,000 wild winter steelhead - far and away the most wild steelhead produced of any Puget Sound river.
- Roughly $10 million in public money has been spent to restore habitat in the Skagit Basin for the purpose of recovering wild fish. This restored habitat, including over 100 miles of newly accessible habitat, will produce more wild fish if given the chance.
Elwha River Basin
- Best habitat quality of any river system in Puget Sound. 91% of the basin is in public ownership, including 83% of the basin protected within Olympic National Park.
- The public made a $350 million investment to remove two dams on the Elwha for the purpose of restoring wild steelhead and salmon. The system should be managed exclusively for wild fish to give the taxpayers the full benefit of their investment.
- With the dams removed, all of the habitat historically available to steelhead has been reopened providing enormous wild steelhead production potential.
Puyallup/Carbon/White River Basin
- Large watershed (over 1,000 square miles) with diverse habitats.
- Highest abundance of wild steelhead in recent years of all the central and south Sound rivers.
- Headwaters in Mt. Rainier National Park make it likely to provide good habitat conditions even with a warming climate.
- Managing for wild steelhead increases the incentive to address fish passage problems at Electron and Buckley dams in the Puyallup and White rivers, respectively.
Additional reasons applicable to all three rivers.
- We need a few large river basins free of hatchery fish to conduct the large scale experiments sorely needed to better understand the relative fitness and survival of wild and hatchery fish, and how the presence of hatchery steelhead effect wild steelhead.
- Large river basins offer more habitat and more diverse habitat than smaller basins, which increases the potential for diversity among wild steelhead. The more diverse a wild steelhead population, the less variability in annual returns and the more resilient it is to catastrophic events, like drought and poor ocean conditions.
- All three recommendations were strongly supported by the Puget Sound Hatchery Action Advisory Committee, a citizen committee appointed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to advise the agency.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has scheduled several public meetings in July to inform its selection of Puget Sound wild steelhead gene banks. The meeting schedule is below:
6PM-9PM on Tuesday, July 21th - Seattle, Phinney Center; 6532 Phinney Ave N
6PM-9PM on Monday, July 27th - Mount Vernon, Skagit PUD; 1415 Freeway Dr.
6PM-9PM on Tuesday, July 28th - Sequim, Trinity Methodist Church; 100 S Blake Ave
Wild Steelheaders United encourages you to attend one or more of the three public meetings or comment online. It is time to Be Steelheaded!"
END LONG QUOTE BEGIN SARCASM
(OMG, they want us to participate in a democratic process that has been clearly laid out by law. That's when you know there are soon going to be bread lines. And I don't even like bread, OK that's not true, but I wouldn't stand in line for it. No, wait, I stand in line all the time at the grocery where I buy bread. There are communists everywhere!!!)
Then they asked their supporters to...
- Tell Congress you support legislation to permanently protect the headwaters of the Smith River and other famous steelhead streams in southwest Oregon, and that the BLM's proposed 5-year mineral withdrawal for lands and waters covered in this legislation is a good idea. Please send a note to Reps. Peter DeFazio(OR) and Jared Huffman (CA) and Senators Wyden and Merkley (OR) saying, as an angler, you strongly support this legislation. You can communicate via mail, Twitter or Facebook. For more information, see this Op-ed from the Medford Mail Tribune. "
Anyway, I'm not sure that these bills are going to do what that editorial says it will do, but it is a step in the right direction, but nothing short of a complete environmental overhaul of the Mining Law of 1872 is going to remove the ticking time bomb that is grandfathered mining claims (or vampire mining claims, ya know stuff some person who long ago died, but willed into the present to some descendant who sold it to some likely Canadian, but maybe Australian mining company). The Wilderness Act of 1964 is powerless to stop a road being built into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness so a mining company can validate its claims (Golden Hand Mine).
And just because a river, East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River and the South Fork of the Salmon River for that matter have endangered steelhead and chinook salmon is no bullet proof vest that another mining company can't put about a mile of the former river into a pipe for a good number of years while the company tries to prove to its investors that the river bed really was loaded (Midas Gold). (Man, I've really got to begin writing shorter sentences.)
So, I like the intent, but I'm not sure how much protection this will really provide. Also, I don't know how likely this passes in light of this Congress who seems to love to pass riders to all sorts of bills that weaken the Endangered Species Act. So, sure, I support this, but my support and five bucks might get you some overpriced coffee.
The third one seemed fairly straightforward and something I already do. (Sadly, this website is going to list it as the first thing. And why is there never a disappointed in copy and paste emoticon emoji or whatever it is called these days?)
- Commit yourself to not fishing when river temps exceed 70F. To learn more about ways you can reduce impacts on steelhead when fishing during warm summer months, read The Long Hot Summer: 3 ways for anglers to minimize their impact on steelhead.
OK, seriously, for a second. I really like this new group's message. I'm glad I joined.