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Boundary Waters Protection, FF Editor on Wet Fly Swing Podcast, Steelhead Fundraiser, Pennsylvania Dam Removal and More

Fly Fisherman News Briefs for July 6, 2022

Boundary Waters Protection, FF Editor on Wet Fly Swing Podcast, Steelhead Fundraiser, Pennsylvania Dam Removal and More

A 30-day public comment period opened after the U.S. Forest Service released its Environmental Assessment for a 20-year moratorium on mining activities on federal lands in the Boundary Waters drainage. (Ryan Bergan photo)

Whatever your vacation plans the remaining weeks of summer, here’s another round of Fly Fisherman news items to keep you updated and informed about your favorite pastime.

Boundary Waters Public Comment

The battle for the fish-rich Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most-visited wilderness area in America according to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, rolls on as a new period of vital public comment takes place through July 28, 2022.

That 30-day public comment period comes after the U.S. Forest Service recently released its Environmental Assessment for a 20-year moratorium on mining activities on federal lands in the Boundary Waters drainage. At stake is a huge section of pristine wilderness waters and remote landscapes, an area that holds some of the country’s best fishing, hunting, paddling, and camping opportunities, all of it threatened by potential mining in the region.

“Our public lands and waters belong to all Americans, and we have a collective obligation to the stewardship of our wildest places to ensure that future generations may experience them as we have,” states BHA on a “Take Action” website page urging comment in the next several weeks. “The Boundary Waters are no exception.”

To let your voice be heard, visit the BHA website by July 28, 2022.

Wild Steelhead Coalition Fundraiser

Mike Savlen of Savlen Studios is offering a unique chance to help wild steelhead, possibly win a tremendous piece of original collectible art, and support the Wild Steelhead Coalition. By collecting a digital art NFT (non-fungible token) ticket, there's a chance to win a $15,000 Savlen original of a steelhead slashing through the water column.

Mike Savlen Studios, steelhead fundraiser
The painting is titled “Vanishing Native," an impressionistic work of art featuring a wild steelhead valued at $15,000.

For the Steelhead Bronze ($25) contribution level, digital ticket purchasers will receive a NFT art collectible, a $25 Savlen Studios gift card, and one entry into the drawing for the original painting. For the Steelhead Silver ($50) level, there's the digital art collectible, five entries to the contest, and a $50 gift card. At the Steelhead Gold ($100) level, there's the digital art collectible, a $75 gift card, and 10 entries.

According to the event's website, the original Savlen painting to be given away is titled “Vanishing Native," an impressionistic work of art featuring a wild steelhead. If the featured original painting–valued at $15,000, by the way–is not your style of art, then you can choose one of any available originals at Savlen Studios after your name is drawn.

“This piece was painted in an effort to help the Wild Steelhead Coalition raise awareness about the declining numbers of wild steelhead returning to our watersheds each year," Savlen said in the contest information.

Savlen Studios says that the ultimate goal is to raise $1 million dollars over the next 12-months. And one path towards that lofty financial goal is through the fundraiser’s unique Steelhead Platinum ($25,000) giving level. For this Steelhead Platinum threshold, there's a one-of-a-kind mint-issue NFT and the original 11x24-inch "Sipping in Sunlight" painting on canvas, with the frame of your choice. That Platinum level donor will also receive 20 entries for a second Savlen original of their choice, a limited-edition Savlen Sportswear Steelhead t-shirt, and a meet-and-greet opportunity with the artist.

For information on this steelhead conservation fundraiser, visit the website or call 207-569-4340.

Difficult Path for Dam Removal, Salmon Recovery

According to Seattle Times story by Lynda V. Mapes and Hal Bernton, there's a simple path towards salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest.


But their story also reveals that the path towards that recovery–and the breaching of four Lower Snake River dams in the process–could be an expensive one costing $10.3 to $27.2 billion.

Mike Savlen Studios, steelhead fundraiser
Removing the four lower Snake River dams could cost $10.3 to $27.2 billion. (Photo courtesy of the Backbone Campaign)

And that’s not to mention the firestorm of political controversy such removal will bring, since proponents of the dams and their presence across the region remind that the river barriers deliver energy, support irrigation, and provide for recreation and other benefits across the Pacific Northwest.

The Times newspaper report comes following a draft report released last month, one that U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Washington Governor Jay Inslee had authorized.

“We continue to approach the question of breaching with open minds and without a predetermined decision,” Murray and Inslee said. Supporters of wild salmon and the perilous future they face in the Pacific Northwest, haven't been so accommodating.

“It is saying what we have been saying all along, that salmon need help, and it is time for leadership to step up,” said Shannon Wheeler, vice chairman of the stake-holding Nez Perce Tribe. “We can’t sit and wait and study this another three years with a task force that is kicking the can down the road and that is leading to extinction.”

While the political hot-potato remains very much in the news, the report may be a moot effort since Congressional approval would still be necessary if the dam-breaching efforts were to move forward.

Dam Removal in Pennsylvania

On the positive side of the dam removal news, the Van Reed Paper Mill Dam on Pennsylvania’s Cacoosing Creek was recently removed.

The Cacoosing Creek watershed rehab project is for a vital stream that flows 8.4 miles before joining with Tulpehocken Creek. As the primary coldwater tributary for Tulpehocken Creek (below Blue Marsh Lake), the waters from the creek reportedly give trout thermal refuge during the hot summer months, creating a year-round fishery.

According to Berks County Conservation District Environmental Education and Outreach Director Jennifer Brooks, the project–a part of the Coldwater Conservation Plan for the Cacoosing Creek Watershed and one funded by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission–is vital. The stream is listed as Class-A Wild Brown Trout Fishery by the Commission. Additionally, Cacoosing Creek is designated as a Natural Reproduction Trout Stream as it flows from its headwaters to its confluence with the Tulpehocken.

California Trout Woes

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have reported that two trout hatcheries in the Eastern Sierra region continue to fight an outbreak of Lactococcus petauri. While that is a naturally occurring bacteria, it’s also one that sickens fish and will have a big impact on catchable trout in portions of California this summer.

According to a CDFW news release, the current outbreak first came to light in April this year. In the aftermath, the state agency notes that fishery managers now indicate that as many as 350,000 infected catchable size rainbow trout are showing signs of disease and are going to be humanely euthanized as a result.

The state also reports that the two affected hatchery facilities–Black Rock and Fish Springs hatcheries–typically provide fish for stocking waterways in CDFW’s Inland Deserts Region. With the significant loss of trout that would normally be stocked for anglers in this region, CDFW is working to contract with an external vendor to provide catchable trout in the Mono County area. This contract is expected to be approved in July and fish could be delivered shortly after that.

“This loss is a huge disappointment, but we were prepared for this possibility and are doing all we can to ensure to continued angling opportunity for the public,” said CDFW fisheries supervisor Russell Black, in the news release. “The fish from the private contractor and stocks from non-infected hatchery facilities will help bridge the gap while we work to vaccinate the remaining stocks at the affected facilities. We are doing all we can to stock as many fish as possible.”

FF Editor on Wet Fly Swing Podcast

Longtime editor of Fly Fisherman magazine Ross Purnell recently joined the 333rd episode of the Wet Fly Swing podcast, telling his story, discussing those who inspired him, and reflecting on the mentors who have helped him on his career path.

Purnell grew up with a dream about living the adventuresome life he now leads, as well as thinking about a future where he led the long-standing and best-in-class magazine that serves the enthusiastic community of fly anglers around North America and other parts of the globe.

Tune into the podcast and get a firsthand look at what’s ahead for the rest of 2022, how Purnell crafts the magazine and deals with top contributors, and probably, a pretty good fishing tale or two as well.

Keep Fish Wet Challenging Anglers with "No Fish Dry July"

The non-profit Keep Fish Wet has launched a no-fish-photo campaign for the month of July called "No Fish Dry July". The group will "encourage anglers to post other artful shots of their summer angling experience. This simple shift in the fishing community’s catch-and-release behavior could do years of good for your fish’s home water. After all, fishing is rarely just about catching fish." Follow Keep Fish Wet on the socials to follow along, and visit to enter the content and post your own shots. 

North Umpqua Summer Steelhead Counts

Although still lower than average, a recent fish count at the North Umpqua River's Winchester Dam revealed a higher number than last year's low of 450 fish. Nearly 550 summer steelhead were recorded on June 21. 

“We expected an increase over last year’s run because of improving ocean conditions, and it’s nice to see that play out,” said Evan Leonetti, Assistant District Fish Biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re also seeing increases in some summer steelhead runs in other systems like the Columbia Basin and think this trend will continue in the near future.”

The department expects total fish number to exceed the 1,200-steelhead threshold, which would avoid triggering fishing closures in the North Umpqua drainage. 

Click here for more information.

Lynn Burkhead is a senior digital editor for Outdoor Sportsman Group.

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