SnorkelElwhaRiver3 1024x568Wild summer-run steelhead in the Elwha were extinct before the dams came out. That’s right, extinct. Now – just six years after the dams were removed – hundreds of wild summer-runs have emerged, in all likelihood from the rainbow trout population that persisted above the dams, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

No hatchery was used to produce summer-run steelhead. All it took was unimpeded access to the ocean for these amazing fish to reappear. And, let’s remember, this resurgence happened during a period of poor ocean conditions that have depressed other salmon and steelhead runs up and down the West Coast.

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Nearly everyone agrees that Western rangelands will produce even larger and more frequent wildfires in the future. But are engineered fuel breaks the best answer?

Jack Williams, a scientist who worked for multiple federal agencies and Trout Unlimited says, “The primary culprit for larger fires in the Great Basin is cheatgrass, but warming temps compound the problem. Creating periodic firebreaks would help by breaking up and slowing down the flames. We can do that in a way that benefits the natural systems by expanding riparian and wet meadows along our small streams.”

The answer may be a small dose of much less expensive firebreaks and, surprisingly, strategies involving cows and beavers. Ranchers who fence streamside areas and/or rotate cows to rest pastures occasionally and allow streamside vegetation to grow back help re-establish natural firebreaks of lush green vegetation.

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The Pebble mine would be one of the largest open pit gold and copper mines in the world and multiple times larger than every hard rock mine in Alaska combined. This would be an open-pit mine, recovering low-grade copper, gold and molybdenum. It would create a mountain of overburden containing the exact ingredients to produce sulfuric acid and result in a massive toxic tailings pond that will require intense water treatment and maintenance forever.

Pebble Mine would not simply be an open-pit mine. More accurately, the Pebble Mine would be a twisted serpent of ecological and irreparable impact culminating at the head with one the largest mines in the world and fangs full of toxic tailings and sulphuric acid for venom. Help stop the snake before it bites us. Please comment today.

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The objective of many BLM management efforts is to shift streams that have been degraded by stressors such as drought, wildfire, and historical grazing practices from a non-functioning designation to a proper functioning designation, and then make sure they stay that way. But how exactly do you do that, especially for such a massive landscape?

Land managers are increasingly turning to two natural approaches to restore degraded riparian areas and improve stream habitats, a one-two punch involving grazing management and beaver. New research led by TU scientists and BLM biologists shows just how effective these can be.  Read More

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A new study commissioned by a Bristol Bay seafood marketing group paints a doomsday scenario if the bulk tailings dam at the proposed Pebble mine ever suffered a catastrophic breach, an outcome the U.S Army Corps of Engineers has called very remote and one the mine developer has taken steps to avoid.

Billions of gallons of mud would smother valley bottoms, covering vast stretches of salmon habitat, according to an executive summary released Friday. Finely ground-up waste material from mining would travel downstream and spill into Bristol Bay more than 200 river miles from the mine site, threatening the valuable salmon fishery.

“Given the fine-grained nature of the material, it is extremely likely that these tailings would continue to Bristol Bay, where they would eventually settle out in the Nushagak River estuary,” the summary says.

The impact could last decades. Read the Summation of Findings. Comment to the Corps of Engineers.

Friends of the River Director Ron Stork identifies many current actions by the government which endanger our California Rivers. Read his February "River Currents" .

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Thanks to the bipartisan work of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and other senators, the Natural Resources Management Act passed the Senate Tuesday evening (Feb. 12). The bill bundles together over 100 pieces of legislation that in many cases have languished for years.

Among other things, the bill permanently authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular program for acquiring new public lands and access for hunting and fishing, without costing taxpayers a dime. The bill also protects iconic rivers such as the North Umpqua, Rogue, Chetco and Elk in Oregon, and headwater streams to the Yellowstone River in Montana.

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Pebble Mine is not dead. Pebble is running a massive and misleading PR campaign as they forge ahead in their permitting process. Their first major permit is currently under review. If it is granted, it will trigger dozens of additional permits to be issued, and Pebble could be given a green light to begin mining the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

As their permitting continues, Pebble mine backers are on a mission to gain support from Alaskans around the state. They’re doubling down on a robust PR stunt full of misrepresentations and outright lies about the benefits and impacts of their mine They want to distract you from the truth: the science remains crystal clear that Pebble mine poses immense, irreparable risk to the thriving fishery in Bristol Bay.

We’re going to need your help at every step of the way over the next 12-18 months to ensure that our decision makers say NO to Pebble’s key permits. There will soon be another, very important opportunity for us to weigh in on Pebble's permit application. We will let you know when that comment period opens. When it does, please tell your friends and neighbors to join you in submitting a comment.

To summarize, here’s what’s at play: Bristol Bay is a world class fishery, perhaps the greatest wild salmon fishery in the world. Time and time again, Americans, Alaskans, and the communities of Bristol Bay have overwhelmingly said NO to a mine in Bristol Bay. As currently designed, Pebble would exceed the levels of impacts that the United States EPA has already stated would cause significant and unacceptable impacts to the waters and fisheries of Bristol Bay. Yes, the size of the mine proposed is a mere fraction of the size of the mine potential, but the initial permit would open the region up to millions of additional acres to be mined. 

Not only has Pebble refused to provide an economic feasibility study of their mine, their permit application to the United States Army Corps of Engineers is woefully incomplete and only covers a small portion of what Pebble tells investors is possible to mine in Bristol Bay. In the end, Pebble will do and say anything to mislead Alaskans and rush through the permitting process. But after all these years, nothing about the crux of this proposal has changed. The impacts to the fisheries, economies, and communities of the region will be profound and irreversible.

Lahontan RecoveryHelen Neville has rarely been inspired performing grant reporting. But in a recent effort to compile progress toward metrics for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Keystone Initiative, which funds much of TU’s work on LCT, she had one of those wonderful “Wow!” moments in seeing—distilled into just a few numbers—what TU has been able to bring to the table for LCT conservation since the Initiative’s inception in 2010. Read the Full Story.

Historic records reveal abundant numbers of steelhead once migrated from the Pacific Ocean to Southern California's coastal waterways in search of spawning grounds. The presence of steelhead in southern California is memorialized in places like Steelhead Park, which sits along the the Los Angeles River near Dodger Stadium. In the early 1900s, anglers visited this park in hopes of filling their creel with the formidable fish.

Images from the early twentieth century also portray successful steelhead fishing in Orange County at San Juan Creek, and in San Diego County in lower San Mateo Creek and lower Santa Margarita River.

Today, steelhead are nearly non-existent in Southern California - a strikingly different picture than the one painted by historic accounts. See The Story of Recovery.

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