Conservation Update: Brook Trout Recovering from Acid Rain Damage

Virginia Trout Making Progress on Long Road Back from Acid Rain

Members of Congress trying to roll back or prevent new air pollution regulations might want to have a chat with Virginia trout anglers. It's been two decades since acid rain regulations went into effect, but the state's native brook trout population is only now making a significant comeback from that abuse.

A new report from the University of Virginia found that between 1987 and 2000 only 55 to 57 percent of streams sampled were suitable to brook trout reproduction. But between 2000 and 2010 that number had jumped to 77 percent. According to the researchers, the lag in improvement reflected "the streams' ability to purge acidification that has settled for years into surrounding soils and that continues to leach into streams."

The lesson here is that turning back regulations might allow polluters to make a quick buck, but results in long-term expenses for the rest of society.

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C02 Emissions Rising Faster Than Expected**

When the International Panel on Climate Change issued its report on global warming in 2007, skeptics claimed the researchers were off-base with their predictions. Well, turns out the skeptics were partly right. New research from the U.S. Department of Energy shows heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than the IPCC's worst-case scenarios.

Bottom line: The polluters' successful campaigns to prevent carbon regulations is leading us faster toward disastrous impacts on fish, wildlife and humans. It's important for sportsmen to remember that their leading organizations have looked at the evidence and consider global warming the most serious threat to the future of hunting and fishing. For more information, go to the aptly-named online report "Season's End."

Sportsmen Laud Administration's Adjustment to Solar Development Plan

Here's some refreshing news: The system for protecting fish, wildlife and humans can work--as long as conservationists get involved, and political administrations listen. The latest example is the Department of Interior's recently released "Supplement to the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development," which addresses many of the concerns sportsmen's groups had over the way solar energy was being developed.

While solar is obviously preferable to fossil fuels, it also has environmental drawbacks if not developed with fish and wildlife values in mind. Specifically, the huge footprint for large-scale solar development can unnecessarily disrupt important fish and wildlife areas.

Sportsmen groups entered the discussion over solar development early, and now are pleased with the results.

"The original draft solar plan recommended leaving a number of areas open to development and transmission--this could have negative impacts to hunting and angling opportunity by reducing habitat and local water resources," said Steve Belinda, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership's Center for Responsible Energy Development. "But the Bureau of Land Management clearly recognized these concerns and has made a solid effort at resolving those issues. We thank them for it."

A more detailed evaluation of the adjustments can be found here.