Which fishery will freshwater anglers lose first? Lake Erie? Lake Okeechobee? Lake Amistad? The Potomac River?
Unless we stand tall and push back assertively, we’re going to lose access to at least a portion of one of these or some other notable freshwater fishery in the years to come. You can count on it.
Preservationists and their close allies in this administration do not want us fishing on public waters, and they are going to use the National Ocean Policy and the National Park Service (NPS) to deny us access wherever they can.
Thus far, the focus has been on saltwater, notably Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Biscayne Bay.
But with this latest assault on access at Everglades National Park, they are moving their focus inland. A NPS proposal for managing the park would prohibit combustion engines in about 80,000 acres of the eastern Everglades, south of the Tamiami Trail. In other words, it would create de facto no-fishing zones in much of Florida Bay.
“Boaters would be allowed to use push poles or trolling motors in these areas, but because many of these areas are several miles wide and lack channels or corridors for motorized access, many popular fishing areas would become virtually inaccessible,” says Keep America Fishing.
And the Miami Herald reported this:
“Said David Olsen, board member of the angling group CCA-Florida, to park officials at Tuesday’s meeting:
‘There’s growing concern in the angling community . . . a lot of people frankly believe you don’t want us there.’”
That’s correct. Disdain and/or disregard for recreational fishing permeate this administration.
What can you do about it? Speak out. Go here to do so.
Keep America Fishing offers this sample letter:
As an angler and conservationist, I fully support efforts to restore and conserve the magnificent natural resources in Everglades National Park. I want to ensure that current and future generations have the ability to enjoy this national treasure.
I am concerned, however, that the proposed management actions in the draft General Management Plan would unnecessarily restrict public access to large areas of the park’s waters far beyond what is needed for resource protection. In particular, the pole and troll zones proposed in the park’s preferred alternative are so large and lacking in sufficient access corridors that the majority of these areas would become de facto closures. Closing these prime fishing areas would burden anglers and hurt local recreational fishing-dependent businesses.
It is my understanding that several local fishing organizations have provided a detailed set of maps that identify existing boating access corridors in relation to the proposed pole and troll zones. I strongly urge you to incorporate these concepts for improved access into the management plan.
I am also concerned with complications that may result from the proposed mandatory boater education program. While I support improved boater education, rather than enacting a mandatory boater education program specifically for Everglades National Park that has different requirements from surrounding federal and state waters, I believe that federal agencies and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should work to develop a boater education program that would apply to all appropriate federally managed areas in Florida.
Thank you for your consideration.
Go to this Everglades National Park website to learn more.