Conservation Update: TU Asks President Obama to Keep Wild Salmon on Our Plates

When the going gets tough in conservation battles, the tough should get going right at the top.

That's one of the strategies Trout Unlimited chief Chris Wood is employing in the group's continuing effort to keep Alaska's priceless Bristol Bay fishery from being corrupted by development. Wood penned this op-ed in The Huffington Post urging President Obama to help save that gem.

Among Woods' words of advice: It is not often that a fish can define your life's work. Rarer still can the most powerful man on earth, the President of the United States, determine the future of that fish. President Obama must decide before his re-election campaign is over whether nearly one-third of the wild salmon consumed in the United States can continue to provide an important source of delicious and healthy protein for millions of Americans (try, for example, grilled salmon with ancho honey porter glaze). Or, whether an ill-conceived, open pit mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska, is more important.

Of course that doesn't mean sportsmen shouldn't contact their individual congress people to add their weight to the protest. You can find out who your reps are and how to reach them at www.contactingthecongress.org.

Plan to Suck Water from Flaming Gorge Dead--For Now

Conservationists appear to have won another water skirmish in the west after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a preliminary permit by a developer for pipelines to pump millions of gallons of water from Flaming Gorge on the Green River over the Rockies, to a sprawling development along Colorado's Front Range (Yes, you read that right).

Green groups joined with anglers and others to protest the move, and the feds agreed--at least for now. According to the Salt Lake Tribune the developer, entrepreneur Aaron Million (yes, you read that right, too), intends to try again.

Gulf Sportsmen See Hope as RESTORE Act Deadline Draws Near

The sportsmen's community joined green groups in a full-court congressional press this week pushing for passage of the RESTORE Act before BP reaches an out-of-court settlement with the federal government over penalties due for violations of the Clean Water Act during its Deepwater Horizon spill. If a settlement comes before the act is passed, the estimated $20 billion in fines could drift away from Gulf restoration and into the federal treasury--a result the act is designed to prevent.

Early reports indicate the lobbying was successful. Buras, La. charter skipper Ryan Lambert said "I'm confident that they get the message and they're behind us. I think we made a difference."

The RESTORE coalition includes some unusual bedfellows--green groups, sportsmen, and oil companies--and they're apparently spending big on the drive. The Hill reported that green groups had hired high-powered lobbyists such as Patton Boggs to help in the effort.

The biggest roadblock continues to the Congressional budget agreement requiring any loss in federal revenue by one bill be offset by other budget cutbacks--a so-called "fiscal note"--which, in this case, could be about $1.2 billion. So RESTORE Act supporters will need to convince Senators from no-Gulf Coast states to cut programs that may be dear to the hearts of their constituents.

Some experts say a court settlement between BP and the federal government could still send billions to the Gulf. This could be done with an agreement that saw the feds lowering the official fines in return for BP writing checks for coastal restoration programs. The total official fine, which would go to the federal purse as per current law, would be much lower, but the benefits of the total settlement would remain with states most impacted by the spill.