An Open Letter to IFFF members in Washington from Danny Beatty Past President of the IFFF
WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE
IS IN SESSION
Most Fly Fishers I know hold Salmon and Steelhead as icons of the Pacific Northwest. Many of the “spawning runs” of these species are endangered. They have certain protections under the Endangered Species Act which can limit fishing in both the Ocean and the Streams where they spawn. Protecting these runs is important and we carefully read the fishing regulations and follow the law. Members of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers have been in the forefront for working in organizations such as the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and Skagit Land Trust to improve the Environment for these fish.
But there is another stage of the fish’s “spawning runs” that needs our attention. After the salmon and steelhead spawn their fertilized eggs are left unprotected in the stream gravel.
Small portable suction dredges, mostly used by hobby miners, can cause almost unlimited damage to the spawning redds in our streams. State Regulators have taken only cursory steps to solve the problem. Fish and Wildlife biologists are limited in any steps they might take to mitigate the problems. “Oregon has stepped up in recent years and banned suction-dredge mining techniques, long known to alter stream flows, reduce water quality and harm fragile, recovering fish populations.” (Sarah Uhlmann, Center for Biological Diversity)
There are two Bills in the Washington State House of Representatives that would begin to fix these oversights.
House Bill (HB) 1077 would create important safeguards in environmentally sensitive areas to protect redds and water quality.
An example of a portable gold suction dredge shown in use in a stream that could be where salmon or steelhead have recently spawned. Use of these dredges needs to be regulated so that they do not damage the areas where fish have spawned. They can also stir up long settled sediments such as mercury that harm the life of insects which provide food for the fish.
Members of the IFFF can help pass the above legislation by contacting your state representative asking them to support these important bills. Your involvement is very important to the process.
Please contact your State Representatives and Senators. An easy way to send your message in support of the bills is to call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000.
I like to use an email to send a message and have my legislators in the email address section. That way you will sometimes get a response.
Thank you. Danny