Well, 2019 has come and gone. The endless conservation priorities of fly fishermen around the country and world will continue. That is not to say that there were no conservation victories in 2019–because there were many. However, sustained conservation work and activism must continue! Let’s take a look back at 2019, before we jump into 2020.

In 2019, fly fishermen and those who similarly cherish our environment and ecosystems accomplished a lot. 115,937 comments were submitted in regard to Pebble Mine’s (flawed) Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Protecting Bristol Bay brought so many people and groups together; it was a great sight to witness. We at Flylords were glad to lend our support, but the folks at Trout Unlimited and other organizations have been steadfast in protecting this pristine salmon fishery.

By @Flyoutmedia

Also, in 2019, the many conservation organizations and fly fishing companies continued their respective work to preserve and protect the environment. Patagonia raised $20 million for grassroots organizations such as Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the Wild Salmon Center, and many others.

In the muddled waters of 2019’s politics, there was good and there was bad. Congress worked in bipartisan fashion to fund conservation priorities such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Chesapeake Bay restoration, and the Everglades Restoration, to name a few. The Natural Resources Management Act, which includes numerous provisions that benefit our fisheries, was signed into law. Additionally, Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, agreed East coast recreation fishermen, when he imposed a moratorium on Virginia’s Menhaden fishery.

And then, there was the BAD. the Trump administration moved to weaken the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, which are two of America’s strongest environmental protection laws. Also, the Trump administration deliberately worked to open up Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest–which provide habitat to millions of salmon, steelhead, and other species–to the benefit of environmentally damaging corporate interests. These are examples of this administration’s tangible attacks on the environment. However, the administration’s wide-ranging attacks on sound science, climate denial, and key conservation agencies will have lasting impacts for America’s delicate natural resources.

But, out with 2019 and bring on 2020. There are some big conservation developments that are expected to gain momentum 2020. Dam removal projects on the Klamath River are set to begin in 2020. The Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project is expected to make big strides in 2020, with the help of $200 million in federal funding. This is huge project that seeks to address the chronic mismanagement of Florida’s water, which will ultimately improve habitat in Florida’s Everglades and the Keys and benefit all the amazing fisheries that South Florida has to offer. Captains for Clean Water has been working on this issue for years now, and they are excited for 2020. Click on this link for more information on the project. Captains for Clean Water, in a recent blog post, wrote, “We must push for increased state and federal funding so Everglades restoration projects such as the EAA Reservoir can be constructed in expedited timelines.”

Another project we are actively keeping our eye on is the Klamath river’s restoration. The 260 mile long Klamath river historically was one of the most productive salmon and steelhead rivers in the contiguous United States. However, dams have decimated the once productive river. Well, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation–the leading organization for dam removal–will be busy in 2020 as they continue their work to secure the necessary permits and license transfers. This is an incredibly complex project, which we will be dissecting in a future article. In the meantime, check out the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, if you are interested!

Photo by Ben Moon

2020 will undoubtably be a contentious–and dare I say ugly–year in politics. Being a presidential election year, the nation’s focus will be on primaries and election news. But, in the background conservation work will continue. Hopefully bills like Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would provide $1.4 billion in funding for America’s most at-risk and vulnerable species, and work in both Houses of Congress on the National Fish Habitat Partnership, a state driven conservation program that directly funds local fish habitat restoration projects, continue through Congress and become law!

As fly fishermen, we can only hope for continued work on conservation and habitat improvement. But, we also must understand that our voices make a difference. Commenting on federal issues through forms may seem unimportant and repetitive, but it is essential for preserving what we love. Good fishing and pristine environments cannot be taken for granted; it takes effort, on-the-ground enthusiasm, and conscious voting to protect our resources. Flylords is excited for 2020 and, as always, will continue to highlight important fly fishing related conservation developments!

If you know of any big conservation stories going on in 2020, please send an email to news@theflylords.com. We’d love to hear what’s important to you, personally.