by Tom Nickelson, a member
Anglers have historically been at the forefront of conservation issues. We support conservation efforts financially through the Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as the Dingell–Johnson Act, whereby the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides funding to the states for fish restoration and management projects using monies collected from an excise tax on fishing equipment. Anglers also provide “boots on the ground” as a volunteer workforce for many conservation projects around the country. The Santa Lucia Flyfishers support conservation efforts through our fund-raising and subsequent donations to conservation organizations and through individuals volunteering on various conservation projects.
The primary local conservation issue of interest to anglers on the Central Coast is restoration of Central Coast steelhead populations. There are active programs in stream bank stabilization, barrier removal, exotic weed removal and education.
Central Coast Salmon Enhancement Inc. (http://www.centralcoastsalmon.com) is involved in both stream restoration and science education activities. Restoration activities include removal of barriers to fish passage on Arroyo Grande Creek and Pismo Creek which will directly benefit steelhead. They also run a K-12 educational program called Trout in the Classroom which provides youngsters with an appreciation for stream ecology. “Students raise fish from eggs while learning salmonid life-cycles and the importance of a healthy watershed for human and animal habitats.”
The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County (http://lcslo.org) was founded in 1984 and has conserved over 14,500 acres of land throughout San Luis Obispo County. The land trust has worked with conservation-minded landowners to protect working farms, partnered with state and local agencies to provide open space for public use, and restored hundreds of acres of dunes, wetlands and streams.” They are well on their way to eradicating the invasive plant Arundo donax from the San luis Obispo Creek Watershed.
The Steinbeck Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited is a new chapter of the national Trout Unlimited organization whose mission is: “To conserve, protect and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.” As this new chapter matures, it will provide opportunities to get involved in conservation activities on the Central Coast.
The two primary statewide conservation issues of interest to anglers are the restoration of threatened and endangered salmon and trout species throughout the state and the protection of non-listed species. Habitat protection and restoration are the keys to success. Organizations such as California Trout (http://caltrout.org/), Trout Unlimited (http://www.tucalifornia.org/), and the International Federation of Fly Fishers Northern California Council (http://www.nccfff.org/ ) and Southwest Council (http://southwestcouncilfff.org/) are all active in these efforts.