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Welcome to Part 4 of the Anglers Fund conservation update, which summarizes our recent successes to protect and restore important fish habitat. The theme for this report is “healthy fish need healthy rivers”. We hope you’ll enjoy seeing how our work has a positive impact on fisheries.Gila River | Sinjin Eberle
American Rivers is working with several local groups to develop a proposal for the USDA’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), encompassing the Upper Gila watershed in Arizona and New Mexico (listed #4 on this year’s Most Endangered Rivers list). We have obtained solid support from potential partners the University of Arizona, the Gila Watershed Partnership, the Arizona Land and Water Trust and local TU chapters. Included in the project’s objective are restoring and enhancing at-risk fish and wildlife habitat, as well as establishing conservation easements to protect and restore working agricultural lands and/or wetland/riparian areas.Protecting floodplains on the Mississippi:
American Rivers continues to push to keep the New Madrid Floodway connected to the Mississippi as the largest remaining natural floodplain on the river. The river was included on the 2014 list of Most Endangered Rivers. A recent study by scientist Quinton Phelps and his team evaluated how large floodplains can impact big river fish. They found that the inundation of the 75,000 acre New Madrid Floodway significantly increased Mississippi River species diversity, abundance, and growth. Their work cements the notion that allowing big rivers access to their floodplains is “extremely important to riverine fishes.” Read moreTwo legal victories for Southern rivers: Kayaker on the Catawba River, SC
July saw two critical legal victories in the South. First, in Georgia the State Court of Appeals ruled that all state waters are protected by a 25-foot vegetative buffer, which will benefit thousands of miles of river by naturally filtering pollutants before they reach the river. The second was a settlement reached by American Rivers and our partners with Duke Energy and the State of South Carolina that includes protections for the Catawba and Wateree rivers and their fish and wildlife. Read moreProgress from America’s Most Endangered Rivers report:
In April American Rivers released our annual report on America’s Most Endangered Rivers, drawing attention to significant threats facing our rivers, including such important fishing rivers as the San Joaquin and its tributaries, the Upper Colorado, the Gila, the White rivers of CO and WA, and the Clearwater. In addition to the progress on the Gila, the Mississippi, and the White rivers, another success story from this year’s listing is the Haw River in North Carolina, where our listing helped encourage the State to include an initial $1M to clean up the up-river pollution. Read more
American Rivers has created the Anglers Fund for anglers who understand the importance of healthy rivers and want to support them. Visit the Anglers Fund website for more information on our work.
The iconic Hoover Dam went into service on October 9, 1936 to manage the Colorado River water supply for cities of the Southwest and to irrigate the region’s farmland. It also generates hydroelectricity, which is sold to the states of Nevada and Arizona, Southern California Edison Co., the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the city of Los Angeles, and ten other downstream cities. The revenue generated by that hydropower is used to cover the Federal Government’s costs of plumbing and operating the Colorado River basin’s water supply.
Hoover’s hydropower cash cow is starting to run dry, though. The Colorado River Basin is in its fourteenth year of drought, causing a one and one-half to two foot drop in water levels per month at Lake Mead, leaving the reservoir at 40% of capacity. Water is the fuel for hydropower, and as that fuel rapidly evaporates, the Bureau of Reclamation is projecting that Hoover Dam will be producing a lot less electricity by May 2016.
The drought has affected federal dams and their reservoirs across the Southwest. This year, for the first time ever, The Bureau had to reduce the amount of water released from Lake Powell through Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, from 8.23 million acre-feet to 7.48 million acre-feet. That’s three quarters of a million acre feet of water that isn’t flowing into Lake Mead and that can’t be used to generate power at Hoover Dam..
Until recently, Lake Mead needed at least a 1,050-foot water level for Hoover Dam to generate electricity. The Bureau of Reclamation recently spent $11 million to install new wide-head turbines and upgraded controls that allow Hoover Dam to operate more efficiently . Those improvements will soon make it possible for Hoover to keep generating power until the water level gets down to 950 feet.
That will help keep the system running for now. But will climate change in the American Southwest eventually render these upgrades moot? Technology upgrades won’t change the fact that there is increasingly less water to go around. It’s a vicious cycle: less water means less hydropower, which means less revenue to pay to maintain a secure water supply. Here are five affordable solutions that can help provide a reliable water future for the Colorado River. Together, they could save nearly 4.5 million acre feet of water:
These common-sense and money saving approaches offer the best path forward. They will help make sure engineering marvels like Hoover dam serve the purpose for which they were built and help to keep the Colorado River flowing for generations to come.
You probably know the importance of clean water when it comes to your health, but did you know that clean water is also imperative to the health of our economy?
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote about the importance of clean water for economic growth in her op-ed that appeared in the Huffington Post September 29, 2014. The Administrator, a native of Boston, wrote about the great impacts the Clean Water Act has had on Boston Harbor, once the dirtiest harbor in America. Thanks to the Clean Water Act, Boston Harbor is now a celebrated tourist attraction, recreational hot-spot, and a thriving business hub.
At the Water Environment Federation’s annual Technical Exhibition and Conference Administrator McCarthy gave the keynote address on the importance of clean water. The Administrator stated in her speech, “Clean water isn’t just a health priority, it’s an economic necessity.” She went on to state that since the enactment of the Clean Water Act, “ the U.S. economy tripled, which goes to show environmental protection doesn’t stifle economic growth; it strengthens it.” Providing protections for America’s rivers and streams will also protect America’s economy.
Unfortunately, not all waters in America are protected equally. Many of America’s wetlands and streams are lacking clear safeguards under the Clean Water Act. In order for our major rivers and harbors to have clean water we must protect the headwaters that feed into them.
Luckily the EPA and the Army Corps have a proposed Clean Water Rule that will protect these important waters. The proposed rule will specifically provide protection for all tributaries including intermittent, ephemeral, and headwater streams. These seemingly small streams make up 60% of the total number of streams in the US and provide drinking water for 117 million Americans Yet they are currently vulnerable to pollution and degradation. That leaves 1/3 of Americans without a guarantee of safe water to drink, cook with, or bathe in.
Watch the EPA’s video to learn more about the importance of clean water and ask yourself, Do You Choose Clean Water? If you do, show your support by commenting on the proposed rule. It is open for public comment through October 20, 2014. There is still time for you to protect clean water.
Bike challenges abound for a reason: There’s something about matching yourself against other riders or the clock or the calendar that gets people rolling. If you’ve been logging your miles in the National Bike Challenge that just wrapped up yesterday and are already missing that extra inspiration, have no fear — coffeeneuring is here just in time!
The brain child of Joe Platzner (@thatsrando on Twitter), a former board member of both Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club and a Seattle International Randonneurs member, coffeeneuring provides a caffeinated excuse for leisurely bike rides. Seven coffee shops in seven weekends — nothing to it, right? That’s why this is the challenge for everyone.
A randonneuring bike blogger from the other Washington, Mary Gersemalina at Chasing Mailboxes, put together the rules and launched the Coffeeneuring Challenge in 2011. Now in its fourth year, it seems tailormade for the bike-riding coffee lovers (coffee-drinking bike lovers?) of our Washington.
We’ll give you something to get started: Sign up for our e-news below and we’ll send you 7 “I arrived by bike” business cards you can leave at those coffee shops or anywhere else. (Supply limited so sign up now.)
The cards, developed by Cascade Bicycle Club and sporting our logo and theirs, provide a brief message illustrating why bikes mean business and help inspire business owners to be bike-friendly. If you don’t want to wait for the mail and you’re in the Seattle area, stop by our Pioneer Square bike gift shop/offices at 314 1st Ave. South, sign up for our e-news, and we’ll give them to you on the spot.
Mary’s offering a coffeeneuring patch at her cost ($4) to those who successfully complete the challenge; request those directly from her following the instructions below (also on her 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge post).Coffeeneuring Rules
The rules, repeated here from Chasing Mailboxes for your convenience and with a couple of notes for our Washington twist:
If you own a great destination for the coffeeneuring crowd and want to invite biking customers to your front door, sign up on the form below and tell us why you’re a great bike destination, along with any special offer you want us to highlight. We’ll include you in our social media and e-mails to people who sign up for the challenge so they can go hunt down your two-wheel deal.Sign Up to Get Awesome “Bikes Mean Business” Cards Name * First Last name * Last Email Address * Address 1 * Address 2 City * ZIP code * Optional: tell us about your biking interests (check all that apply): Travel Rides/Events Safety Education Policy/Advocacy Infrastructure/Connections Other (describe below) If other, please describe Business Name Website Phone Number What Makes Your Business a Great Coffeeneuring Destination Suggestions: Mention bike parking, adjacency to bike routes/lanes/trails, and any special offers for biking customers. Recognized as a Bicycle-Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists? Tell us! (If you're not, ask us how you can be.) We send e-news, action alerts, and emails asking for your support of our work Check here if you prefer not to receive emails asking for your financial support of our work. Check here if you do not want us to exchange your email information with other organizations whose missions complement ours By filling out this form, you opt in to receive email updates about bicycling events and issues in Washington State.
Whether you're trying to capture family memories of your outdoor adventures or help inspire other Washington families by entering WTA's Northwest Exposure Photo Contest, capturing images of your kids on trail isn't always easy. Below are a few tips, as well as advice from last year's winners to help you capture the joy, beauty and spirit of your family outings.6 tips for taking great photos of your kids on trail (or in camp)
Take lots (and lots) of photos. There are plenty of reasons for snapping lots of shots, from capturing surprise moments to getting your family used to having the camera pointed at them. Especially if you are just getting familiar with outdoor photography, take lots of photos. When you review them back at home, you might be surprised at the winner among them.Capture kids and teens being themselves. If your child is camera-shy, try letting him or her become engrossed in what they are doing. Let them relax and just be themselves. You'll have better luck when you photograph them in ways that don't make them self-conscious.
Be ready for action. One of the best things about kids is how dynamic they are, especially when they're on trail. Action shots usually end up being more interesting photographs than posed or static shots, so experiment with capturing your kids in motion on trails or in camp. Play around with the action settings (like burst mode) on your camera, and see what turns up.Enter WTA's Photo Contest Categories include:
See the world from a kid's eye-view. Play around with the height and angle of your family photos. Do you always shoot your kids looking down at them? Try squatting or even laying down to capture the world from their perspective.
Subjects are stories. And the best stories show relationships—between your kids and the natural world, or between the members of your family. When you've got multiple subjects (siblings, friends or families), try to capture the photo that tells the story of their relationship.
Hand over control to the non-professionals. If your kids are tired of being your subjects, let them turn the tables. Give your kids the camera once in a while, and encourage them to take photos of whatever captures their interest along a trail. Seeing what they choose focus on may shake up your perspective, and may earn you a little more of their patience.Advice from last year's Northwest Exposure winners Being ready is more important than expensive equipment
"I love great lighting, I love my special lenses, and I love having time to capture just the right shot. However, I had none of these things when I took this picture. I simply grabbed my point and shoot, the only camera I had with me, and snapped away, hoping to capture even a snippet of what I was seeing," says Kristin Elwell of her Grand Prize winning photo. (Her subject was a mountain goat, not a family, but the advice is sound).
"I saw the scene in my backpack mirror, how we'd be able to capture our whole family—and couldn't resist," says Shannon Huffman Polson, who took 3rd place in our Offbeat Outdoors Category. "I just used the iPhone and tried to keep my hand mostly out of the photo, letting the beauty of the surroundings be subject and frame for the reflection of our family in the baby backpack mirror."
Andrew Monks, who took 3rd place in the Families Go Hiking category describes his strategy for staying ready: "Develop a system to keep your camera accessible when hiking (i.e. not in your pack). I suspend a lowepro bag between my shoulder straps, over my chest, or hang it from my waist belt when climbing. Anything that will allow quick access will enable quick shots when a subject/composition presents itself."Slow down and remember to put the camera down occasionally
Tushar Sharma, who took 2nd place in the Families Go Hiking category, gives this advice to aspiring outdoor photographers: "When you are outdoors with a camera, put down the camera every so often and take the time to observe what's around you. You may find things to photograph that you hadn't seen before. Photography, and kids, have taught me that beauty exists in the entire journey, not just the destination."
Eric Mickelson, who took 3rd place in the Hikers in Action category echos the sentiment. "Don't forget to take the time to appreciate the amazing places these trails take us to. I often get so focused on photographing a beautiful scene that I forget to step back and simply take in the view. Photography is a great way to document your experiences in the outdoors and share them with others, but it is important to not let the camera come between you and the things that led you to be there in the first place. This will benefit your photography too—I’ve found that if I first slow down and take some time to soak it all in, I am better able to notice small details and nuances of light, which helps me make stronger images."
Share your trail-tested wisdom? What has made taking great photos of your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews easier?
Rivers are the lifeblood of our communities, providing clean drinking water and supporting local businesses and recreation opportunities.
That’s why we’re launching a new site, Blue Trails Guide, which is designed to help communities connect with their hometown river.
Whether you’re looking to improve recreational opportunities in your hometown, protect your river for future generations, or embark on a river adventure, the Blue Trails Guide has the tools and resources for you:
To help you get started with these tools and resources, join us for a short webinar on Tuesday, October 14 at 1 p.m. ET/11 a.m. You can RSVP here.
If you have any questions or resources that would help you, please let us know.
About 2 months ago, my colleague Katie Rousseau posted a blog on the drinking water ban in Toledo and what caused it. Unsafe levels of algae-specific toxins got into the drinking water supply, and people were dependent on water being shipped in from other areas. It still is a very powerful reminder of what clean water means to us and why we can’t take it for granted.
In response to this clean water crisis, American Rivers worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to create a video reminding us all of the importance of clean water to our families and livelihoods, and urging people to act to keep it from happening again.
There are things we can all do at home to keep our clean water protected: even if you don’t live in Toledo, it’s important to be aware of the threats to our clean water. But the most pressing issue today is the rule that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have proposed to restore Clean Water Act protections to river tributaries, wetlands, and other critical water systems through a Clean Water Protection Rule. These small streams and water bodies are critical to the health of our rivers and lakes and thus our drinking water. Wetlands and tributaries play vital roles in the filtration and provision of clean water into our rivers and lakes. The U.S. has already lost a majority of its historic wetlands, and tributaries are being degraded regularly by unchecked development, agriculture pollution, and sewage overflows. And not only do these waters protect clean water, they can prevent flooding by absorbing excess flood and stormwater. They are an economic boon to our nation.
But it’s not hopeless – the Clean Water Protection rule can help us protect our drinking water and ensure clean water for our rivers and our communities. And we’re all working together: check out this blog from my colleague Karen Hobbs at NRDC.
So please take action and click here to send comments to the EPA telling them that you want a rule that protects Clean Water. You can make a difference!
Two dam removals are planned for Summer 2015 on Evans Creek, a tributary to the Rogue River in Oregon. Fielder Dam, a 19 foot tall, 259 foot long dam is located 3 miles from Evans Creek’s confluence with the Rogue River. Wimer Dam, a 19 foot tall, 77 foot long structure is located 6 miles upstream from Fielder Dam. Both privately owned dams are abandoned irrigation diversions that impede fish passage, and both have signed landowner agreements in place demonstrating support for removal. Constructed in the early 1900s, the dams diverted flows into an irrigation canal. The structures were abandoned in the 1980s when the irrigation districts disbanded. The current owners are now stuck with structures they did not build and do not need.
Fielder and Wimer dams significantly hinder fish passage for migrating salmon attempting to reach high quality habitat upstream. The dams’ existing fish ladders do not accommodate juvenile salmonid movement or adult upstream passage under low flow conditions. Their poor design does not meet current criteria for jump heights, velocities or attraction flows, and debris jams accumulate in the ladders rendering them unusable. In addition, the dams limit natural channel processes including sediment distribution and wood transport. The Rogue is one of the West’s most iconic salmon streams. The mainstem Rogue River has benefited from three mainstem dam removals in the 2000s. However, more than 560 dams on Rogue tributaries remain.
When these two dams are removed, Evans Creek will provide an additional 16 miles of Chinook habitat, 60 miles of coho habitat and 70 miles of steelhead habitat. Salmonid spawning and rearing habitat will be made accessible as well as off-channel refugia habitat. Federally-endangered Coho salmon, fall chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, native suckers, Pacific lamprey and cutthroat trout will all benefit from the dam removals.
The instream work to remove these dams is nearly a year away, but the engineering design work is in progress. Removing a dam from a river is the culmination of months of planning and meetings, studies and reports and receipt of local, state and federal permits. It requires communication and coordination across multiple levels of government and a cooperative landowner. Removing the dam is the easy part. It’s like that analogy of the iceberg— the part you see is only a fraction of the total weight of what is really involved in bringing the project to reality.
These dams are on the State of Oregon’s top 10 priority list for removal. American Rivers, along with partners Water Watch of Oregon and Geos Institute, have raised the funds to conduct the engineering analysis, including understanding the composition of the stored sediment and analysis of cultural and historic impacts. The next phase of grant writing and fundraising to implement the projects is underway.