From the President . . .
The recent tragedy that has beset our country occupies out thoughts and prayers. The plight of our rivers and some fish just don’t seem to have the scope of importance in our minds right now.
We approach a new season of trout fishing on the Guadalupe. GRTU will continue to work to make the Guadalupe a premiere trout fishery for all to enjoy. Hopefully our fishing pursuits can soothe our personal stresses. Hopefully they can provide some healthy distraction.
We have put together an intertaining program for the upcoming October meeting. Colorado’s Ed Engle will be the guest speaker. Read Ed’s bio in this newsletter. We will also get updated by Stuart Henry, our attorney for our legal efforts on the Guadalupe Defense. Information on this year’s lease sites and membership will be discussed. We will have some terrific raffle items: a Sage DS2 rod/reel outfit and, coming up in April, a Perception Prism kayak.
I extend an invitation to all GRTU members to attend and have lunch together. Let’s all get a dose of healing “trout fishing stories” Saturday, October 27th.
Trout Tailwaters in Peril:
Time to Write Washington
Please be advised of recent hydro/energy laws passed by the House and pending before Congress. If passed, they will have disastrous effects on trout populations in some great Western Rivers we all have fished.
Read the attached letter By Charles Gauvin, President of National Trout Unlimited, then access this site to Contact your Senator:
Let's See A Texas Deluge of Letters and Donations.
The Green River, the Bighorn, the Platte River—these are the western rivers that quicken anglers’ heartbeats. But the survival of these premier western trout fisheries now depends on TU’s ability to stop an obscure provision in energy legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives from becoming law.
Buried in a 510-page House energy bill that emphasized coal, oil, gas, and tax credits is a quiet, but dramatic change in policy that could obliterate the trophy trout fisheries below federal hydropower dams on these and other premier western rivers. This hydropower provision sacrifices some of the nation’s premier recreational rivers—rivers full of wild trophy trout—in order to squeeze the highest value of kilowatts from federal hydropower plants.
Over the past decade, Trout Unlimited has fought hard to create many of the outstanding trout fisheries in the river reaches below federal dams. Today, we need your help to keep the quest for cheap hydropower from killing these great fisheries, and the local communities that are thriving because of them. Please help us with a donation to aid in the fight against unbalanced energy policy, against energy policy run amok. Further, please let your Senators know of your concern for these fisheries by signing the enclosed letter.
What rivers are at risk? Rivers you read about in TROUT and other fishing magazines. Rivers that you voted as among America’s 100 Best Trout Streams. Rivers you have fished or one day plan to fish. Rivers such as:
Ø Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam
Ø Bighorn River below Yellowtail Dam
Ø South Fork of the Flathead below Hungry Horse Dam
Ø Missouri River below Canyon Ferry Dam;
Ø Lower Sacramento River below Shasta /Keswick Dams
Ø Gunnison River below Crystal Dam
Ø Colorado River below Glen Canyon
Ø South Fork of the Snake River below Palisades Dam
Ø North Platte River’s Miracle Mile below Seminoe Dam.
Consider Utah’s Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam. Huge river-run browns, cutthroats, and rainbows inhabit the reach below Flaming Gorge Dam, where thousands of anglers today wade or float a spectacular canyon in their pursuit. How good is the fishing? Two years ago, the Green was voted one of Trout Unlimited’s America’s 100 Best Trout Streams because it produces so many large fish.
Not too long ago, flows on the Green would fluctuate from 800 cfs to 4500 cfs—a nearly six-fold increase—on summer afternoons in a matter of hours. When people turned air conditioners on, demand for electricity would skyrocket and the Flaming Gorge generators would run flat-out, flooding the river. In the evening, flows would drop just as quickly.
That was a disaster for trout and trout fishing. Fish and aquatic life simply cannot thrive in rivers that go from trickle to torrent every day. They are accustomed to natural floods and flows that change from season to season, and over the course of days. When a river’s flow is suddenly shut off, fish, aquatic insects, and even anglers find themselves stranded or washed downstream: When that happens daily, populations plummet. Rivers below dams operated in this manner to generate “peaking” power don’t support thriving fisheries, and with their rapidly changing flows, are often unsafe for angling and other types of recreation. That’s the way it used to be on the Green.
But a few years ago, the federal Bureau of Reclamation changed the flows and electricity generation on the Green. The Flaming Gorge project still produces more power in the summer afternoons, but not as much, and flows are more moderated than they once were. And now the Green has fish that lure anglers from around the country.
Fishermen aren’t the only winners here. The area surrounding the Green benefits from guiding and outfitting businesses, hotel and restaurant revenues, and increased tourism.
The story of the Green has been repeated over and over on western rivers. On the Bighorn, the Flathead, the Missouri, the Sacramento, and elsewhere, a more balanced approach among electricity, water supply, and natural resources has brought big benefits for anglers and local communities.
So just as fish, fishing, and fishing-related business have benefited from changes in the operation of federal hydropower projects, fish, fishing, and fishing-related business will all suffer dramatically if the hydropower provision in the House energy legislation becomes law.
What exactly does this new hydropower provision say? The provision in question, Section 6403, requires the Department of the Interior to maximize energy production at federal hydropower plants, regardless of all resulting impacts—including impacts on fish, fishing, boating, water quality, river health, or any other resource impacts. Unless these trout fisheries are protected by the Endangered Species Act or some other law (and none currently are), power generation will take precedence over all else.
Maximize power at any expense? No. Balance power with natural resources? Yes. President Bush and Vice President Cheney recognized the need for balance in the hydropower portion of their National Energy Plan, writing “[t]he challenge is to efficiently and effectively balance national interests in natural resource and environmental preservation with energy needs.”
The House energy bill’s hydropower provision rolls back that delicate balance. Using a blunt instrument, it “maximizes” electricity at the expense of fish, aquatic life, and recreation. It is as if Congress decided that because putting scrubbers on coal-fired power plants costs a little money and energy, clean air was not worth the cost.
Tragically, maximizing power at these hydropower plants will not contribute a single new kilowatt to the nation’s energy supply! Balancing power with natural resources does not cost a single kilowatt of power. The water all goes through the turbines, yielding power from every drop.
But this debate is not about electricity; it is about money. We know that a thriving fishery can be worth millions every year to rural economies. But the House bill ignores that fact. If the tiny amount of extra money from peaking power production were fairly balanced against the strong recreational economies developed around these dams, the balance would be firmly in favor of fish, fishing, and fishing-related business.
Given the stakes involved here, we can’t rely on the unlikely prospect of a presidential veto to save these cherished fisheries. We must make sure that the energy bill the Senate passes this fall restores a balanced approach to operating federal dams. To do that, we need you to urge your Senators to reject any energy bill that rolls back consideration of fish, wildlife, and recreation in hydropower generation. And the House hydropower provision, while urgent, is only the tip of an iceberg that threatens our tailwater fisheries. For both federal and non-federal hydropower dams, other energy legislation is pending in the Senate that would devastate fisheries and reverse Trout Unlimited’s work to improve river health and fisheries.
I am proud to say that today Trout Unlimited is the leading conservation group working on improving operations of western federal hydropower and water projects to benefit fish, wildlife, and recreation. Federal water projects dominate western rivers, and we are working hard to tilt the balance toward natural resources, and especially wild trout.
If you want to stop this unbalanced raid on some of our most treasured rivers, then I urge you to take the following two steps right away:
FIRST: Urge your Senators to follow a balanced energy path for hydropower, not a path of maximizing hydropower at the expense of fish, wildlife and local economies. Tell your Senators that you will oppose any energy plan that destroys public rivers.
SECOND: Please do even more by sending Trout Unlimited a contribution to strengthen our campaign to prevent the House’s hydropower provision from becoming law. We need your support right now to get the truth out about the House’s hydropower provision and to build a groundswell for striking a balance between water and power use on the one hand and healthy rivers with terrific fishing on the other.
This battle for America’s rivers and premier trout streams is important. I want to be able to take my children and, someday, my grandchildren, to western rivers in the hunt for trophy wild fish. But unless we act now, our children and grandchildren may never have that chance.
Your contribution will allow Trout Unlimited to ALERT the millions of trout anglers to this outrageous power grab. We will make sure that the media, decision makers, Congressmen, and the Administration know that maximizing hydropower is like running coal-fired plants without scrubbers or like strip-mining coal without reclaiming the sites, practices no one thinks are acceptable. We will mobilize those who care about fish and rivers, to make sure that our children and grandchildren can fish where we do.
Please do your part by contacting your Senators. You can go to the Trout Unlimited website, www.tu.org, for more information and an easy way to send a personal e-mail or, better yet, print out a letter and send it to your Senators. Tell your Senators that we need hydropower balanced with natural resources, not maximized at the expense of natural resources.
And please send Trout Unlimited your most generous, tax-deductible gift. Our western rivers need your help.
Charles F. Gauvin