By Sandy Compton
The news today about the expansion of bull trout habitat (http://bit.ly/6jWqUj) is good news for fish and good news for humans, too. A government agency which under the Bush Administration had been reluctant, at best, to enforce laws it is supposed to is signaling a new era has begun within its ranks. Thursday, January 14, coincidentally the fifth birthday of FSPW (see Phil Hough’s blog post below), the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a massive increase in the protected habitat for the beleaguered char species; a whopping 23,000 miles of streams and over a half million acres of lakes and reservoirs.
This is huge for bull trout and a great sign for all human lovers of the wild world that the Bush era is coming to an end. If this attitude spills over into the rest of our federal land agencies, it bodes well for endangered species and wilderness all over the country.
The affected land is in the four states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana, and it will be interesting for us to see how this proposal affects the upper reaches of the Columbia drainages, especially in northern Idaho and western Montana, where the waters of the Scotchman Peaks once were a prime spawning ground for Salvelinus confluentus.
The second half of the scientific name, confluentus, reminds me of my grandfather’s stories of fishing during the fall at the confluence of the East and West Forks of Blue Creek for what he termed “Dolly Vardens.” His tools were pitchfork and gunny sack, such was the size and number of the fish running into the Scotchmans to spawn.
Not since the dams were built on the Clark Fork/Pend Oreille river have such things been seen in the Scotchmans, but it is good to know that the US Fish and Wildlife Service is at least nudging itself and us in that direction by undertaking this proposal. Anytime we undertake to save another species, I believe, we are doing a bit to help save our own.