Coldwater Fisheries Issues

Fish Creek, Wyoming Range, fly fishing, Wyoming, Colorado River cutthroat trout

Challenges to our Fish and our Fishing

From coast to coast, Trout Unlimited works to address serious threats to our country’s trout and salmon fisheries, and our ability to pursue them. From fracking in the Marcellus Shale region of the Eastern Seaboard to a proposal to construct the continent’s largest open-pit mine in the headwaters of Alaska’s greatest salmon streams, there are many significant challenges facing America’s trout and salmon and our angling opportunity: 

Those Issues include: 

  • Climate change: TU’s own science team has conducted extensive studies on climate change and its impact on trout and salmon in North America. The data is alarming—we could lose as much as half of our viable trout and salmon habitat by mid-century—but there is some good news, too. The work TU does to reconnect and restore coldwater fisheries will help arm our trout and salmon for a warming world.
  • Roads and Development: The best remaining trout and salmon habitat left in the United States is contained within large swaths of unmarred backcountry. Constructing roads into roadless lands and bringing development into quality habitat obviously takes a toll on our prized fisheries. Roads contribute silt and sediment, and industrial development introduces threats of pollution and degradation to our prized backcountry habitat.
  • Poor Water and Land Use: All over the country, TU works with farmers, ranchers and irrigators to make better use of limited water resources, and to put in place the best agricultural practices that protect our trout and salmon. Centuries of poor water and land use across the country have left significant scars, but we’ve proven over time that these scars can be healed.
  • Invasive species: From microscopic whirling disease spores to larges mats of invasive rock snot, our trout and salmon are facing very real threats from invasive species. These attackers either go directly after the fish themselves, such as non-native fish species that eat our native trout, or they work to make habitat unsuitable. TU is working with our volunteers to educate and mobilize anglers against the introduction and spread of invasive species.
  • Irresponsible logging: Trout and salmon depend on cold, clean water for survival, and trees in our forested lands do a remarkable job of keeping water habitable for our prized fish. Unfortunately, logging operations around streams have not always been conducted with trout and salmon in mind—streamside buffers have been eliminated, making it possible for streams to suffer from sedimentation and erosion, making spawning and rearing difficult.
  • Dams: Existing dams are well-documented barriers to fish migration, and threats of new and unnecessary dams exist all over America. TU works with local communities, state and federal agencies and its volunteer base to decommission and remove outdated dams and to fight poorly conceived dam proposals that would be harmful to our trout and salmon.
  • Irresponsible energy development: Across the nation, the search for oil and gas, when rushed and poorly planned, has left hundreds of thousands of acres of public land scarred and degraded. Fracking  in places like the Marcellus Shale region of the East Coast is stressing water resources and wild and native trout habitat. TU works with industry, agencies and sportsmen to ensure responsible energy development in places where the impacts would be greatest to our trout and salmon.
  • Irresponsible mining: Threats from poorly-conceived mining are two-fold. First, about 40 percent of the West’s headwater streams are impacted in one fashion or another by abandoned mines and their toxic runoff. Second, new mining proposals are often in places where the mere construction of a mine would trash irreplaceable trout and salmon habitat. TU works with the industry, local communities, agencies and our volunteers to clean up abandoned mines and ensure new mining operations are done thoughtfully, with our long-term, above-ground resources in mind.

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