Note: Normally, as the Head Blogger of TenkaraGrasshopper.com, I try and stay as apolitical as humanly possible with all my posts. But now that the asshats who are doing their best to destroy our country from the top down, have made the decision to close our federal government, I decided that I needed to enter the fray. The following post is based on a conference call hosted by the Trout Unlimited (TU) Government Affairs Team and Chris Hunt, the National Communications Director for Trout Unlimited (TU). The conference call occurred on Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
Day 5 and still no light at the end of the tunnel for the federal government shutdown! Because of the shutdown YosemiteNational Park was to celebrate its 123rd birthday on October 1, 2013 but sadly the gates to one of America’s most iconic parks were closed on the eve of its birthday.
At almost the same exact moment all national parks and monuments were closed nationwide because a bunch of gray-haired, old douche-waffles aka “men and women in a leadership role” started acting like a bunch of pre-pubescent hormonal little girls! I apologize to my female readers for this comparison and ask that you don’t hold it against me!
And this is only the beginning to my rant. Now is your opportunity to exit unnoticed or you can continue reading and learn a few key factors in relation to the Environmental Apocalypse!
If you have decided to continue reading, thank you for wanting to learn more. And I think it is in the best interest of everyone and me that I start with the dangers we are currently facing in Colorado. What I am about to say might not be new to all of you but I think it will be very eye opening to many of you.
As many of you know, Colorado recently experienced devastating flooding of almost biblical proportions. The damage that the Northern Front Range suffered is truly staggering as many of you saw from TV broadcasts and newspaper articles and maybe a blog post or two. Over a whopping $1 billion in total damages was estimated to have been incurred by the state of Colorado due to these floods. (See Notes 1)
Obviously, this is a staggering amount of money for Colorado to have to try and find to rehabilitate our state. And the question arise from this, “Where are we going to find funds like this without some kind of help from the tourist industry that has thrived in these areas for quite some time now?” And to compound this problem, with the closure of the federal government and the closure of OUR national parks and national forests and the related campgrounds that money is now even hard to find.
With the federal shutdown, the communities that border Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) have taken extreme financial hits because of the inability of tourists to visit the park. What seems to have slipped past our “esteemed” leadership is that fact that closure of RMNP does not simply affect the park employees and the tourists who want to visit the park, but those individuals who take advantage of the environmental opportunities that the park offers to make money. These individuals include outdoor entrepreneurs like backpacking guides and horse packers as well as fishing guides. With the closure of RMNP these individuals are blocked from making a living.
Sadly, from what I have been told by a number of these people that are a part of the outdoor industries, the financial impacts are not even remotely insignificant. One resident of Estes Park even told me that he may have to close his doors to survive financially. I guess OUR elected officials should pay closer attention to their constituents and these issues if they poop in their diapers and refuse to wipe their own butts! We The People deserve to be respected and honored as citizens of the country.
After the floods TU came to Colorado to offer help to both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Forest Service. TU has offered Hydrology services to both offices to help with the rehabilitation of the rivers and the surrounding lands affected by the flooding. But due to the closure of the federal government many of the efforts to protect and preserve our waterways have been severely impacted and even stopped cold in some cases.
Recently, there have been rumblings of the thought of channelizing the rivers in Colorado to mitigate the effects of massive flooding like we have experienced. Hopefully, with the help of TU and readers like yourselves, my loyal readers, the idea will be diverted or completely stopped before any damage is done by making the knowledge of how bad this idea is by making our voices heard.
There are real world examples of trying to channelize natural waterways and also the permanent environmental catastrophes that were perpetuated because of poor decisions like this. Keep an eye out for a post on exactly this subject in the very near future.
Let’s move on to another example of the Environmental Apocalypse currently being exacerbated by the federal shutdown this time in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). The damage being caused will affect the piscatorial environments we as anglers thrive on, the lakes and rivers of YNP as well as major impacts on the wildlife found throughout YNP. And, let us not forget the members of TU who have donated money and time to avert a natural disaster that has been progressing with terrifying rapidity within YNP.
The issue at stake is the removal of lake trout, a non-native species by the way, from Yellowstone Lake. Lake trout, besides being considered and invasive species in Yellowstone Lake are also known to be ravenously piscavorious – basically, they get their sustenance from eating other fish. The horror of this invasive species is the fact that in almost 20 years the population of native cutthroat trout has been decimated by a shocking 95%. But up until now TU has been working with the National Park Service (NPS) and TU volunteers to avert this environmental disaster cold.
Over a couple of years, through the help of TU members in states like Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho and with donations from TU members across the country over $200,000 was raised to purchase radio telemetry equipment to track the movement and spawning grounds of lake trout found in Yellowstone Lake. Using this equipment, TU and the NPS were able to locate the spawning grounds of the lake trout and using commercial netting techniques the NPS, TU and its volunteers were able to remove several hundred thousand lake trout. By doing this these groups were able to at least temporarily stave off any more damage to the population of native cutthroat trout found in the lake.
Before the closure of YNP, there had been plans to re-enter the park and using the data obtained from the telemetry equipment more lake trout were going to be removed from the lake while they were staging for their spawn, thus decreasing even more drastically the total population of this invasive species. But, since the gates are now closed, no one is able to get in and continue this extremely important work. It is not just about removing the fish from Yellowstone Lake, there is a secondary issue that irks me and I hope it will raise your ire as well. The telemetry equipment used to track and map the locations of the lake trout was purchased using money raised by TU and the local TU chapters around the country. Because of the closure much of that equipment may not be able to be retrieved before the weather makes it impossible to get into the backcountry of the park. The equipment in question may not last through a winter and could be completely worthless by next summer. Only time will tell whether the equipment can be retrieved before it is damaged and beyond repair.
With the lake trout spawn either starting or in full swing at the time of this writing the environmental damage may continue at least for a few more years until the lake trout can be totally eradicated from Yellowstone Lake. Had there not been a federal closure significant progress would have been made.
Environmental Apocalypse is here and the closure of OUR national parks and forests has done both financial damage and put a stop to efforts by groups such as TU to help avert these horrors from happening. We all need to be aware of these things and make sure we let OUR elected officials know how displeased we are with their actions. And we have more than a few avenues for doing this like showing our support or lack thereof at the polls, by calling the offices of these individuals, sending emails stating our displeasure, and by spreading the word to those outside of the outdoor industries we participate in.
Now is the time for action and I ask each and every one of you to act in the way that you feel is appropriate. But, I admonish you to not sit back and wait and see what others do, just remember that “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” and that change starts with one voice, may that voice be yours!
Tenkara and Tight Lines
Closing Notes: I must apologize for some of my language and characterizations of certain people in this post but I felt it was necessary for you as the reader to truly understand my displeasure about the occurrence of the federal closure. As I said before, I try to stay as apolitical as possible but in this situation it is just not possible. The characterizations are my own and are in no way officially recognized by TU or any group connected with TU.