Each year the Northwest Fly Anglers club makes a donation (typically $500) to a conservation organization whose work is consistent with the Constitution and By Laws of the NFA. We look for work that preserves, enhances and generally supports game fish waters as well as fly fishing and catch and release fishing rules. The selection for the Award is a process that begins in April with the naming of the first nomination and announcement in the May issue of the Fly Paper. There are usually four organizations nominated and the final selection is made by members in attendance at the general membership meeting in October. The Award is sometimes presented in person at the annual awards banquet. Below are the four organizations which will be voted on this year.
Western Rivers Conservancy now has the rare opportunity to acquire and protect nearly all of the Kennedy Creek stream corridor, from its Summit Lake headwaters in Capitol State Forest, to the mouth at Totten Inlet. In doing so, we can ensure that this unique stream stays healthy for salmon and remains a vibrant outdoor classroom for school communities throughout the south Puget Sound.
Our efforts at Kennedy Creek are crucial. Chum salmon once returned to Puget Sound by the millions. By the mid-20th century, runs in Kennedy Creek had been reduced to an average of 100 fish a year. Thanks to local recovery and conservation efforts, those numbers have been dramatically improved, and WRC’s acquisition will ensure this vital stream is forever protected and these gains are not lost.
Coastal cutthroat trout are native only in North America, from northern California to south-central Alaska, and have been described as the ancestral salmonid in the Pacific Northwest. Anadromous coastal cutthroat trout are not listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and are not of commercial value. Therefore, they have received little attention from the scientific community. Information regarding spawning behavior, marine migrations and population size is limited. Counts at artificial barriers and anecdotal information suggest that cutthroat trout abundance has declined across their range since the early 1980’s. As a result, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) relies on conservative angling regulations (catch and release, selective gear rules, stream closures) to maintain/increase populations while providing fishing opportunity. Recent work by WDFW staff and volunteers has improved understanding of coastal cutthroat trout in Puget Sound.
At nearly 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is our country’s largest and most unique national forest. This magnificent landscape of western hemlock, Sitka spruce, western red cedar and yellow cedar trees is part of the world’s largest remaining intact temperate rain forest – and hosts some of the rarest ecosystems on the planet. The Tongass comprises thousands of mist-covered islands, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers and soggy muskegs that provide ideal habitat for a vast array of wild plant and animal species, including healthy salmon and trout populations. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Tongass includes roughly 17,000 miles of clean, undammed creeks, rivers and lakes that provide optimal spawning and rearing conditions for the region’s copious wild Pacific salmon and trout. Each year, abundant wild salmon runs return from the ocean to Tongass streams to spawn and die. In this process, these fish bring nutrients from the productive North Pacific Ocean to the much less nutrient-rich land. Because Tongass ecosystems are sustained by the annual salmon returns, the Tongass is literally a “salmon forest.”
Native Fish Society
What many people don’t realize is that, by and large, America’s most significant conservation victories start with a small group of concerned locals determined to make a difference. That’s why Native Fish Society’s River Steward Program exists: to empower, inspire and grow a region-wide network of local grassroots advocates dedicated to science-based solutions for their Northwest home waters and wild, native fish.
Native Fish Society believes that no effort for wild fish protection and recovery is stronger or more effective than those based on science and initiated and sustained by local communities. Our River Steward volunteers become the local voices for wild fish, connecting the dots between the best-available science, latest policy decisions and their own place-based knowledge. River Stewards engage in policy making, coalition building, watershed monitoring, community outreach, habitat protection, serve on their local watershed councils and lead entity groups to ensure state and federal funding for habitat restoration is invested in the projects that provide the best result for wild fish.