Federal Agencies are Planning for the Infrastructure Bill

Published April 20th, 2022 at Harvesting Nature.

In August 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), also known as the “Infrastructure Bill”. While the $1.2 trillion dollar bill is geared toward improving roads, bridges, airports and ports, broadband internet, and water and energy systems across the nation, it also contains around $20 billion aimed at natural resources management, enhancement, education, and protection.

Projects to be funded include but are not limited to wildlife road crossings, reauthorization of the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Funds for fisheries conservation, drought planning in the west, and other water quality improvements.

Funds earmarked for federal agencies will go toward projects of this nature, and other specific uses and programs identified by agency missions, and the agencies are thinking big. Summarized here are the funding amounts and planned uses for the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service over the next five years.

US Forest Services

  • $10 million – Decommissioning and removal of non-hydropower dams on Forest Service lands
  • $80 million – Collaborative aquatic-focused landscape-scale restoration
  • $100 million – Invasive species eradication at points of entry to Forest Service lands
  • $180 million – Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • $250 million – Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program

US Fish and Wildlife Service

  • $17 million – Lake Tahoe
    • Aquatic invasive species removal
    • Invasive species monitoring pre- and post-removal
    • Bio-security infrastructure investments
    • Develop a Tribal Trust for Lake Tahoe resources
  • $26 million – Delaware River
    • Fund the Delaware River Basin program, which provides matching grants for habitat conservation in the Delaware River Basin in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
  • $50 million – Sage-Steppe
    • Build on the current collaborative process with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and other federal, state, and nongovernmental partners
    • Defend and grow high quality sagebrush habitat “cores”
    • Sustain the region’s rural, natural resources-based economies and communities, including tribes
  • $162 million – Klamath
    • Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery construction
    • Securing water for Klamath Wildlife Refuges and improving water quality
    • Implementing Tribal and stakeholder basin-wide Klamath restoration priorities
  • $200 million – Fish Passage
    • Fund the National Fish Passage Program to work with Federal agencies, State governments, private landowners, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to restore fish passage and aquatic connectivity by removing or bypassing barriers.

NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service

  • $77 million – Habitat Restoration: National Estuarine Research Reserves
  • $172 million – Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery
  • $207 million – Habitat Restoration: Coastal Zone Management Program
  • $400 million – Fish Passage
  • $491 million – Habitat Restoration
  • $492 million – National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund

What all of the above points to is better public lands access, fish and wildlife habitat expansion, and increased connectivity and genetic diversity for fishes at the landscape scale. Where and how the myriad projects to be funded through each of these avenues will occur remains in the works. Many will be funded through grant programs facilitating an application and award process to ensure the money is well-spent.

Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon see Record High Returns

Published at Harvesting Nature December 17th, 2021

In a year when salmon and steelhead returns were seeing historic lows across the Pacific Basin (2021), Bristol Bay, Alaska noted record high sockeye salmon returns at over 66 million fish, shattering the 2018 record of nearly 63 million. Bristol Bay salmon returns have been studies since the 1940’s and this year was only the third time a sockeye return has broken 60 million fish. Conversely, Alaska’s Yukon River saw some of the lowest Chinook and chum salmon returns on record.

While a number of anthropogenic and environmental variables currently influence Pacific salmon populations, climate change may have played a role in both the record high and low returns.

“Climate warming seems to have actually benefited Bristol Bay sockeye” said University of Washington Researcher, Dr. Dan Schindler. In cold northern climates, warmer water temperature leads to more food and better growth, and the sockeye of Bristol Bay are currently experiencing optimal conditions. The watersheds draining into Bristol Bay are undeveloped, providing optimal physical habitat as well.

Climate models predict range shifts for virtually all species of flora and fauna in North America, and while the Bristol Bay sockeye are booming, salmon and steelhead from California up through Washington are struggling from warming waters and myriad other environmental factors. Because fish populations fluctuate naturally, the sockeye returns to Bristol Bay may not persist at the present exceptional level, but fishery scientists do expect the runs to remain strong for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to habitat and genetic structural diversity in the Bristol Bay tributaries, these sockeye may prove to be one of the few future Pacific salmon strongholds, barring significant or unpredictable changes in ocean conditions.

Sierra Gold: Striking it Rich

Our last mile of ascent traversed what appeared to be a glacial spillway. What looked like a talus slope from afar turned out to be a massive boulder-strewn drainage between two granite walls. The fisherman’s trail was no longer discernable, so in classic Chas fashion, he picked the most difficult route; straight up.

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The feeling of amazement as I gazed for the first time upon the rich auburn belly, buttery yellow flanks, olive-sized parr marks, and overall marvel of a true golden trout in the Sierra Nevada backcountry will not soon depart.

But a trip into the Sierra Nevada range has its challenges. Learn what every angler should know to be successful in the Sierra Nevada alpine at Angler Pros.

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Think Pink for Silver Salmon on the Fly

Doing your homework prior to a salmon fishing destination trip to Alaska can help cut out the guess work and manage expectations. In this post, I present some key information from an epic experience that will put you on silver (coho) salmon on the fly. The best advice? Think pink!

Read the full post here at Anger Pros.

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Fly Fishing Essentials for Deep Summer Salmonids

Lake fishing for trout species can be dynamite almost any time of the year, but water temperature and heat can dictate when and how to fish for trout more than other species. When dry fly, or even nymph action slows during the dog days of summer, one fail-safe method is deep water streamer fishing. In my prior post, Flying Deep for Desert Cutthroat, I discuss deep water streamer tactics specifically for Lahontan cutthroat, but there are essential gear items every fly fisherman needs to beat the odds of a mid-summer salmonid shutdown.

Flying Deep for Desert Cutthroat

I went for my fly buried deep in the underside of his snout, then realized it was not mine. My streamer, lodged in its tongue. The barbless hook easily popped free. The former, losing fisherman apparently succumbed to the death rolls as a length of tippet and a small, olive, beaded streamer were wrapped tightly around its snout. I unwound the line, freed the fly, and quickly released the behemoth to dash the hopes of yet another angler who will no doubt break him off out of excitement or being too aggressive.

Lahontan Cutthroat are an Entirely Different Animal

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Read the full post here, at Angler Pros.