Arizona Flycasters CONSERVATION UPDATE

Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Rim Country EIS Launched

The US Forest Service Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Team has announced the 4FRI Rim Country EIS for forest restoration across much of the Mogollon Rim and into the White Mountains and has released the “Proposed Action” for that Project.  Many of our favorite trout streams and prime fishing on and under the Rim are included in the “Footprint”.    The Proposal already includes stream restoration for 350 miles of streams.     We’ve got a great opportunity for real improvements in our Fishing Landscape, and this is an opportunity to directly help decide what actually gets done.  Arizona Game and Fish, Trout Unlimited, and the Forest Service are already working together on this restoration, so let’s jump in, too.

The 4 Forest Restoration Initiative “Rim Country” EIS, which covers 1.24 Million Acres over significant parts of the Coconino, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, will include up to 350 miles of stream restoration work for both native and wild non-native trout.  Release of the Scoping Documents last week started a 45 day comment period that will close Thursday August 11th.  AZ Trout Unlimited is working this opportunity very hard, together with AZGFD.  We can all ask AZGFD Aquatics Branch Chief Chris Cantrell about this during his presentation to DFC on July 13.

The “Rim Country” EIS will have a huge impact on All trout streams across the Mogollon Rim and through much of the White Mountains.  It’s our fishing area!  Even those streams that don’t see direct stream restoration will likely benefit from improved stream flows as the surrounding forest is restored to a more natural structure.  See the Map below for an idea of just how widespread the streams are.

And of course, there are public comments being solicited and collected at meetings in Payson (Thursday night, July 21) or Show Low (Thursday night, July 14).  I hope and encourage DFC members to make one of those meetings, learn more, talk directly to the planners, see detailed maps, and provide specific comments.  It’s another great reason to leave the Valley early for a long weekend of fishing on the Rim or in the White Mtns. The Public Scoping Comment Period will close on Thursday August 11, so our August meeting will be just in time for a final reminder to comment.

The public inputs and comments obtained at the Scoping Meetings and during the Scoping Comment period will be used to perform analysis, develop Alternatives and proposed actions and a Draft EIS is expected next year.  We’ll have another chance to submit comments at that time, but the earlier we get involved, the more influence we can have.

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Here’s the Major Information from the Forest Service Press Release:

  • Forest Service seeks public input on Rim Country Proposed Action
  • Four Forest Restoration Initiative Stakeholders Group hosts two public meetings

Flagstaff, AZ – June 29, 2016 – For Immediate Release: The Forest Service has released the Proposed Action (PA) for the Rim Country Project and the public is encouraged to provide comments. These comments will help the Interdisciplinary Team as they conduct a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impacts of the proposed restoration treatments.

The Rim Country Project is the second landscape scale, multi forest analysis within the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). The Forest Service is proposing restoration activities on nearly 1.24 million acres along the Mogollon Rim near the communities of Happy Jack, Payson, Young, Heber-Overgaard, Show Low, and Pinetop-Lakeside. The objective is to re-establish forest ecosystems that support natural fire regimes, promote functioning populations of native plants and animals, and reduce the threat of destructive wildfire. Proposed treatments include thinning, prescribed fire, reforestation, spring and stream restoration, and decommissioning and improving roads.

The following two public meetings have been scheduled by the 4FRI Stakeholder Group. These meetings are open to all members of the public.

  • Thursday, July 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Frontier Conference Room in Show Low.
  • Thursday, July 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Julia Randall Elementary School gymnasium in Payson.

The next step in the planning process will be to review and respond to comments and develop alternatives to be described and analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft

EIS is expected in July 2017 and the Final EIS is expected in September 2018.  To be most helpful, comments on the PA should be submitted by August 11.

Send written comments to the Four Forest Restoration Initiative at 1824 S. Thompson St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, by fax to 928-527- 3620, or by email to 4FRI_comments@fs.fed.us. The public can review the Proposed Action and follow the project as the planning process continues by visiting www.fs.usda.gov/goto/4FRIRimCountry.

The Complete 32 page Proposed action, with maps, details of analysis to be done, discussion of Desired Conditions and proposed treatments, etc., can be viewed at the website address above.  Here it is again: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/4FRIRimCountry.

For more information, you can always contact Joe Miller, at jam@prairietriz.com

Good Fishing!

Arizona’s Conservation Resources

Trout Unlimited’s Conservation Approach

Trout Unlimited believes that conservation should be a true partnership between landowners, agencies, municipalities, and all stakeholders. We work to protect critical habitat, to reconnect degraded waterways, and restore populations to coldwater fisheries. The National Conservation Agenda is set by the National Leadership Council of Trout Unlimited, a body of representatives from the grassroots and volunteer leaders. Through sound science, we inform our priorities with critical data on the health of these fisheries.

The Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited

Zane Grey Trout Unlimited

Phoenix and surrounding area

Consult the Zane Grey Trout Unlimited website for a meeting schedule, calendar of events, and information about all active projects.

Established in 1978, ZGTU was named in honor of Zane Grey, the renowned author who resided in Arizona during part of his life. Grey wrote prolifically on the variety of fishing and the outdoors he enjoyed.

Currrent Projects include an effort in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department to improve riparian habitat on Canyon Creek . This effort includes new “catch and release” signs to help protect the wild brown trout fishery.

Grand Canyon Trout Unlimited

Flagstaff

The Grand Canyon Chapter #190 of Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization established to protect, enhance and restore cold water fishing in Arizona. The chapter is currently working to establish new programs and is looking for current TU members or those looking to become TU members to provide assistance. To contact us with any questions please email us at info@gctu.org..

Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited

Tucson

“Friends of the Apache Trout”

The Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited (OPTU) chapter in Tucson is a thriving group with activities centering around conservation and restoration efforts to preserve and protect the Apache and Gila trout.

Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Payson and surrounding area

The Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited is located in the town of Payson, Arizona, at an elevation of 5000 feet, close to numerous trout streams. The chapter is fully supportive of efforts to maintain healthy populations of native fish species, with a particular interest in preserving, conserving, restoring and enhancing cold water fisheries in the Payson, Arizona area.

The Gila Chapter of Trout Unlimited retains a close working relationship with the Payson Flycasters Club. Information about this organization is at www.paysonflycasters.org.

Consult the websites for current projects, meeting schedules and calendar of events.

AZGFD adjusts trout stockings in some high country fishing holes

azgfd-logo180x150PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department will be adjusting trout stockings in some high country lakes to enhance opportunities for fishing adventures and to protect wild trout populations and important trout fishing resources.

AZGFD is adjusting some trout stockings due to a few of Arizona’s state and federal fish hatcheries having tested positive for Bacteria Kidney Disease. The Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD) pathogen is specific to trout and salmon, and in some cases can be lethal to trout and salmon. BKD does not affect humans. ==>read complete Article

From Eric Swanson

Arizona Wild Trout Challenge – Apache Trout

by Tyler Coleman

Just getting to a stream that holds native Apache trout (Oncorhynchus gilae apache) can require a lot of work, as Tyler Coleman found out on a recent trip. Found only in headwater streams high in the White Mountains, the state fish of Arizona requires pristine habitat, including cold, clean water and undisturbed, forested banks. After precipitous population declines in the first half of this century, the species has made a remarkable—although still ongoing—comeback.====>Read More

Conservation News

Eric Swanson, Conservation Chair

Increased Conservation Participation Sought by Board

Increasing participation in conservation activities and conservation committees has been identified as an important AFC goal for 2016. AFC is looking for conservation-minded members to:

1) identify and participate in future fishery conservation projects,

2) advocate for local, state, and federal conservation issues of concern to AFC, and/or

3) contribute to conservation activities that enhance fish populations and aquatic habitats in Arizona.

If you are interested in any of the above-mentioned aspects of conservation, please contact our

Conservation Chair Eric Swanson at a monthly meeting or conservation@azflycasters.com.

AZSFWC 2015 Conservation Highlights

Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation recently compiled an impressive list of accomplishments for 2015. Here’s a list of the 2015 fishery-related accomplishments:

  • Supported AZGFD efforts with Willow Beach Fish Hatchery to support continued trout stockings
  • Supported the Lees Ferry trout fishery through the Lees Ferry Management Plan and Long TermEnvironmental Management Plan (LTEMP) Environmental Impact Statement
  • Supported wildlife and fishery management issues at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
  • Provided forest planning input to Coconino, Tonto, and Kaibab National Forests
  • Awarded almost $40,000 towards fishing clinics and events, Trout in the Classroom, and Wild Trout Conference (and another $53,000 toward hunting and wildlife related activities and projects)
  • Actively opposed proposed legislation regarding the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument and the transfer of federal lands to the state
  • Actively supported the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act and permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Fostered continuing coordination, communications, and relationships with the Game and FishCommission and Department

More advocacy and Wildlife Conservation License Plate Grants are planned in 2016. AFC has been an active member of AZSFWC for the past decade with key participation by Gary Stinson, Chuck Howey, Jim Walker, and Eric Swanson.

Lees Ferry Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS)

ltemp-email-joe-millerConservation Alert
Lees Ferry Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS)
Comment Period January 8 – April 7, 2016

LTEMP DEIS

The National Park Service, both Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park, and the Bureau of Reclamation have released on January 8, 2016 the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Long Term Experimentation and Management Plan (LTEMP) for the Glen Canyon Dam which will have control over the flows and conditions of Arizona’s Colorado River Lees Ferry Blue Ribbon Rainbow Trout Fishery for effectively the next 20 years.

A PUBLIC Comment Period is now open on that DEIS. That comment period will continue now through April 7, 2016. There will be Public Meetings in both Flagstaff and Tempe in February in which the NPS / BOR will present the contents of the DEIS, with charts, Graphs, maps, and the rationale behind the Draft contents. Comments can be submitted at those February meetings, or in writing, or via the internet.

Lees Ferry Recreational Trout Fishery Management Recommendations

A number of member organizations of AZSFWC such as members the Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited (AZ-TU), the Arizona Fly Casters, and several other fly fishing clubs especially the Desert Fly Casters have worked long and hard with the formal sponsorship of the Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited and the International Federation of Fly Fishers and with the strong support of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), to influence the direction and content of this long expected document. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has provided invaluable assistance. Many other organizations, ranging from many members of the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, to the guides and guiding businesses around Lees Ferry, to the Orvis Company, have also endorsed this effort.

That working group, with its many contributors, has developed and distributed a Lees Ferry Recreational Trout Fishery Management Recommendations Report (See at www.az-tu.org). That report has been used as a basis for the new and formally issued AZGFD Fisheries Management Plan for Lees Ferry, and has been vetted by the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center in Flagstaff (GCMRC). The working group continues to advocate for and support the use of those Recommendations in the Adaptive Management Plan (GCDAMP) Work Group (AMWG) for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam, an on-going Department of the Interior effort that is related to but separate from the LTEMP DEIS.

We recognize this is all somewhat confusing to a sportsperson who just wants to enjoy fishing in Lees Ferry, BUT IT’S NOT OVER YET!!!!! Many of the concerns and issues addressed in the Recommendations report are subject to restrictions and findings in the Draft EIS, BUT that DEIS is still just a draft, and WE can get it CHANGED, if weGO TO those meetings and / or SEND IN well thought out comments, based on the Recommendations Plan.

The Working Group is continuing to work with AZGFD, GCMRC, the NPS, BOR, USFWS, the Western Area Power Authority (WAPA) and the several states’ Water Boards and other organizations to hopefully

make the final EIS more Rainbow Trout Fishery Friendly. We’ve made progress, but there’s more to do. We will be providing guidelines on key issues and problems we’ve identified in the DEIS (The DEIS and attachments totals about 2,000 pages). We’ll have those “Talking Points” out shortly, with a “How to Comment” guide, in plenty of time to submit comments BEFORE the April 7th Deadline.

The DEIS is available for reviewing on the internet at: http://ltempeis.anl.gov/.

In the Meantime, Anybody interested in The Lees Ferry Fishery should go to one of those Public Meetings, and express their desires and concerns with what they see and hear.

Public meetings and webinars to provide information and receive written comments will be held as follows:

• Webinar – Tuesday, February 16, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. MST;

Public Meeting – Monday, February 22, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. MST, Flagstaff, Arizona;

Public Meeting – Thursday, February 25, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. MST, Phoenix, Arizona; and

• Webinar – Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. MST.

Staff will be available to take written comments and answer questions during this time.

For specific information about the web-based meetings, please refer to the LTEMP EIS website at:http://ltempeis.anl.gov/.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by the following methods:

• Website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/LTEMPEIS.

• Mail: Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP Draft EIS, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass

Avenue – EVS/240, Argonne, Illinois 60439.

Public meetings will be held at the following locations:

• Flagstaff – USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, 2255 N. Gemini Road, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001.

• Phoenix – Embassy Suites Phoenix-Tempe, 4400 S. Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona 85282.

We’ll have more information available for the March AZSFWC Newsletter, with suggested comments guidelines and a simplified process to submit comments to help protect and improve this valuable Blue Ribbon Trout Fishery. For information in the meantime, contact AZ-TU Council Member Joe Miller,jam@prairietriz.com, or 928-978-1315 (m).