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The Ghosts of Salmon Past


The recently failed Omnibus Bill that Senator Harry Reid and his cronies tried to bully through Congress contained an $80 million earmark for Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery. Nevada, Reid's home state, was included among those states eligible to receive grants from that pot of pork.

At, one of my favorite sites, much was made about the fact that Nevada is landlocked, far away from coastal waters. Many commenters viewed that state's inclusion as an example of either extreme ignorance on the part of politicians or blatant corruption, since salmon couldn't possibly be native to Nevada.

Actually, those commenters are the ignorant ones, sad to say. Salmon once did migrate all the way from the Pacific Ocean into rivers of northern Nevada to spawn. Dams and  other alterations to the waterways put an end to that, as they did throughout much of the West. 

What has enabled us to thrive as a species is that we harvest nature's bounty and we alter habitat through dams, irrigation, mining, introduction of exotic plants and animals, and other means. Well into the 20th century, we little realized or even considered how our actions affected other species. Brook trout, Atlantic salmon,  buffalo, elk, grizzly bears, passenger pigeons, and many other species suffered the consequences of our ignorance, along with Pacific salmon.

Today we know better. 

Knowing the environmental devastation that is possible, we don't have to mine in and around Alaska's Bristol Bay, threatening one of the world's greatest remaining salmon fisheries. Knowing that Asian carp outcompete native spcecies, we don't have to allow them into the Great Lakes, where they could destroy a billion-dollar sport fishery.

The big question now is whether we, as a species, have the character to make the tough decisions to protect our aquatic resources when ignorance is no longer an excuse.


Help Keep America Fishing

Hey, make a $30 donation to Keep America Fishing --- your friend and mine --- and you will receive a free Rapala Pro Bass Fishing game for Nintendo Wii bundled with a rod and reel adapter for your Wii controller. That's a $49.99 value.

Your donation will help preserve our right to fish.


Why anglers aren't environmentalists





I’m for a stronger Clean Water Act. I want to preserve old-growth forests. I think that it’s a disgrace that our federal government hasn’t acted more decisively to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. I believe that we need stiffer regulations to protect our streams from strip mining, our groundwater from herbicides, and our estuaries from the runoff pollution of urban sprawl and farm fields.

But, alas, I’m also an angler, and anglers aren’t environmentalists. It’s not that anglers don’t want to protect the environment. They do. It’s that they don’t want to be called “environmentalists.” They associate that term with agenda-driven campaigns for preservation policies that often are not backed by scientific evidence.

For anglers, “conservationist” is the term of choice. Conservationists believe in both protection and sustainable use of our lands, waters, and other natural resources. They follow an ethical code of behavior and embrace a stewardship philosophy in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt.

So we have two factions, conservationists and environmentalists, sharing many of the same values, but more often viewing each other as enemies than allies.

Perhaps the most climactic moment of that divide now is occurring as environmentalists embrace a strategy to use Marine Protected Areas and other designations by governments at all levels to deny recreational anglers access to public waters. In doing so, they are shamefully insulting and dismissing a constituency that does more to protect those waters than any other.





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