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Trump is attacking trout streams on multiple fronts

By Troutnut on January 24th, 2017, 1:33 pm
I would love nothing more than to be able to keep this website apolitical and stick to fishing.

Unfortunately, a sizable minority of our population voted for Donald Trump, and now those of us who care about the environment are in for the fight of our lives. All of us with a platform to reach the public now have an obligation to call attention to what he's doing and why it's wrong.

The Pebble Mine

One key battle concerns the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. If built, it would be the world's largest open-pit gold and copper mine. I do not categorically oppose all mining, because we need materials to build things, and there are many places to extract minerals without major long-term risks to the environment. However, the Pebble Mine might be in the single worst location on the entire planet for this type of mine. Even the late Republican Senator Ted Stevens, an ardent supporter of resource development if ever there was one, called Pebble, "the wrong mine in the wrong place."

As an ore mine that would use chemical leaching processes to extract minerals, the Pebble Mine would store a massive reservoir of toxic chemicals behind the world's largest earthen tailings dam in a very seismically active area. Worse yet, it straddles the headwaters of two of the major river systems (the Kvichak and Nushagak) feeding into Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world and an estimated $1.5 billion in annual economic activity. Of all salmon species, sockeye are especially susceptible to a major spill because so much of their reproduction depends on lakes rather than small tributaries, meaning a spill in any tributary that flows into the lake could be devastating. Leaks from the mine into the Kvichak system would flow into Lake Iliamna, the largest lake in Alaska and a major sockeye producer.

For more details on the Pebble Mine, see the efforts to stop it by Trout Unlimited, the Natural Resources Defense Council. It's also opposed by the locals, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. Conservationists were hopeful that this long battle had been won when the Anglo American and Rio Tinto mining companies walked away from the project.

Just about the only ones who want this mine built are Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Canadian mining company that owns the mineral rights, and now Donald Trump. The CEO of Northern Dynasty said today that the Trump administration has a desire to permit the mine and they're looking for a new partner to develop it. In short, Trump is trying to fast-track a project that would endanger a priceless treasure of the natural world, and thousands of American jobs that depend on it, solely to create profits for a foreign corporation.

The Clean Water Rule

Trump is also targeting the Clean Water Rule, a set of EPA guidelines clarifying how existing law applies to water bodies such as small streams. You can view a series of fact sheets about the Clean Water Rule on the EPA website right now. (I've downloaded them all to mirror in case they get scrubbed from the site.) As a fish ecologist I can vouch for the rich scientific literature documenting the importance of headwater streams to the water quality and productivity of downstream rivers. They need protection for that reason, but they're also treasured in their own right by small-stream anglers everywhere. This one could directly affect the streams you fish. The rule also protects wetlands critical to fish and wildlife.

Just as importantly, the rule exists to close a loophole being used by developers in response to the Clean Water Act legislation. The Clean Water Act prohibited dumping toxic waste directly into major rivers, so polluters started dumping it into smaller water bodies that drain into those clearly protected rivers. The Clean Water Rule closes this loophole.

Small streams. I like them. Preferably without toxic waste.

The Trump administration is committed to eliminating the rule. From their new website:

For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.

They made that $30 billion number up -- it's one of those "alternative facts." An analysis by actual scientists and economists found that the rule has a positive economic impact. The protected waters contribute value to the tourism industry, and the act of protecting them creates jobs because companies have to spend money (and hire people) to do right by the environment. So the rule is good for everyone in the economy except the people at the very top who want to increase their profits by cutting environmental corners and paying fewer employees.

For more details, see coverage by Hatch Magazine.

More to come

I'm sure this is just the beginning. I will continue to speak out as much as I can when it's necessary, and I'm afraid it's going to be necessary a lot.

Most recent comments on this post (latest on top)

MartinlfMarch 30th, 2018, 5:11 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2885
I would LOVE to catch a pike on a fly, one of my goals this year

My experience with pike was in Canada, and different waters and different times of the year probably require different approaches, but I used minnow flies tied with Puglisi synthetic fibers. They were easier to cast than some rabbit fur strip flies a friend had recommended. I let them sink and began to twitch them subtly, and wham, the pike slammed them. No fast retrieve needed for those fish. Just a crippled looking white and red fly. It was a blast. I'll see if I can bump up the thread. Nothing huge, but one day the action was almost nonstop.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
AdirmanMarch 30th, 2018, 6:42 am
Monticello, NY

Posts: 488
Cool, there’s some reservoirs in the Catskills with Lakers but haven’t tried for them yet. During most of the season, I’ve read their very deep so flyfishing isn’t as effective a method . Time to get em with a fly I guess is now. Wish I had the time!
Jmd123March 30th, 2018, 6:23 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2368
Haven't done it yet but there's always a first time...yeah, the lakers like it COLD so they are only in shallow when the water is like below 50F. So at this time of the year for a while they are within flyrod range instead of needing a freaking cannonball to reach them. I am gong to give it a try, gotta get a warmer day though!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
AdirmanMarch 29th, 2018, 7:45 pm
Monticello, NY

Posts: 488
Ok cool, catchin a laker with a fly would definite be cool and I assume that you have done this? There only susceptible to this approach in the spring though right, shortly after ice out?
Jmd123March 29th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2368
Depends on water depth...if I do take the kayak out for lakers, for example, I would let the flies sink for a while because its 15-20 feet of water. But for shallower water I would probably start your retrieve soon after it hits the water. Pike look upward, not down, so if you keep it above them they're more likely to notice it.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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