Wolf River #1 endangered U.S. river, Aug. 1999:

Verne Lehmberg - V.P. Conservation FFF
409-258-8505 - vernelehmberg@yahoo.com
David J. Halblom Sr. - V.P. Communications FFF
515-274-5833 - davidhalblom-bugtyer@worldnet.att.net
The geese are flyig.

The Federation of Fly Fishers announced the five most endangered fisheries in the nation at its August International Show in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

These fish habitats face immediate danger, with some of the world's most prized species on the verge of extinction.

The five fisheries and the reason each is endangered includes:

  1. Wolf River, Wisconsin - Potential new mining hazard.
  2. Crooked Creek, Arkansas - Existing Gravel Mining degrading water quality.
  3. Big Spring Run, Pennsylvania - Improper Hatchery operations creating poor water quality.
  4. Snake River, Idaho - Federal Dams impeding the migration of salmon and steelhead.
  5. San Joaquin River, CA - Devastation of steelhead by development, logging and mining.

These endangered fisheries represent a snapshot of the appalling state of many of America's fish habitats. The threats to species like bass and salmon, and their ecosystems, are urgent and steps must be taken now to prevent further irreversible decline.

"Several priceless species have nearly been wiped-out by habitat destruction, pollution and poor watershed management," said Greg Pitts, President of the Federation of Flyfishers. "But more than the health of fish is at stake. The value of these fisheries, both the direct economic value to the region and the intrinsic value of the species themselves, are tremendous."

The Federation is the leading voice of education and conservation through the sport of flyfishing. These five U. S. fisheries were determined by the FFF Conservation Committee to face the most immediate danger, in the first of these annual announcements.

WOLF RIVER, WISCONSIN: Rio Algom is proposing to build one of the largest zinc and copper mines in North America along the Wolf River. The pristine river is one of America's best preserved waterways, flowing roughly 250 miles from its headwater lakes in Northern Wisconsin to Lake Michigan. It is one of the midwest's few remaining clean, large, whitewater trout rivers. Mine waste from the project would cover an area the size of 350 football fields and would stand 90 feet high.

"No copper sulfide has ever been successfully mined anywhere in the world," said Bob Molzahn, chair of the Endangered Fisheries Committee. "It's frightening to think we would risk this magnificent and irreplaceable waterway with a technology that is unproven, and with such a tremendous potential for environmental devastation."

CROOKED CREEK, ARKANSAS: Arkansas's famed Crooked Creek is being decimated by in-stream gravel mining. The creek is a beautiful Ozark limestone stream that flows for 82 miles, and is considered the finest smallmouth bass stream of its size in the U.S. The mining companies are gouging the landscape, taking hundreds of thousands of tons of sand and gravel and leaving huge scars along the course of this scenic stream. A recent aerial survey found 43 gravel mines on Crooked Creek. Efforts to have the stream designated an Extraordinary Waterway have failed in the Arkansas Legislature, as have attempts to strengthen mining laws.

BIG SPRING RUN, PENNSYLVANIA: One of the largest limestone springs in Pennsylvania, which becomes Big Spring Run, is endangered by the effluent release of a trout hatchery. Big Spring Run was once among the most productive wild brook trout stream fisheries in the eastern half of the United States. But the organic loadings and nutrients discharged from 20 years of operation of a Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission hatchery has caused the near extinction of a reproducing trout population. Fishing is now mostly confined to a 300 yard long section immediately below the hatchery, leaving the remaining ten miles of stream essentially devoid of trout.

SNAKE RIVER, IDAHO: A prime habitat for wild salmon and steelhead, this is a fishery on the verge of extinction. Eight Federal Dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers block the passage of 95% of young salmon trying to transverse them. The health of the river is so poor that every species of salmon in the entire Snake River basin is either extinct or listed under the Endangered Species Act.

SAN JOAQUIN RIVER, CA: Naturally spawned Steelhead in the San Juaquin River have been exterminated from most of their historic range because of habitat blockages by dams, extensive water diversions, and reduction in instream water quality due to development, logging and mining in upland habitats.

According to FFF President Pitts "These five endangered fisheries are important to the fishing community because of their ecological and recreational significance on both a regional and national level. If we allow these impacts to go unchecked without drawing attention to their significance, we may lose an opportunity to protect and restore these valuable fisheries for future generations."

The Federation of Fly Fishers is the voice of the millions of people who fly fish throughout the world. The Federation is dedicated to supporting fisheries research and restoration, improved water quality and flows, the perpetuation of wild fishery stocks, Catch-and-Release angling regulations where appropriate, and the establishment of a more adequate voice for

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