Save Bristol Bay: A Special Event
Guest Contributor: Andrew Reichardt
Andrew Reichardt is the President of the National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited. He is also the Vice-Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Council of Trout Unlimited as well as a Fly Fishers International Certified Casting Instructor. Andrew lives in Washington, DC with his wife and dog, and is an avid angler. On most weekends, Andrew can be found on one of the various trout streams in his home state of Maryland.
I’ve been a big fan of Surf to Stream since I first became aware the website and blog several months ago. As both an angler and a conservationist - one that primarily focuses his attention on the rivers and streams of Maryland and the greater Mid-Atlantic region - it’s been great to see a resource that helps anglers find opportunities to get outside, find new waters, and of course, catch fish.
Evan and I first connected over a matter in which we share a common bond and passion - saving the wild trout streams of eastern Maryland, where we live. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Paint Branch lies in the Anacostia watershed, and until just about a decade ago harbored a robust and self-sustaining population of wild brown trout. Paint Branch, and its ultimate decline in the face of development and the building of the inter county connector (Route 200), has left a mark on both of us. Conserving the local trout streams that remain in our area is my greatest passion and one that frankly takes up an inordinate amount of my free time, much to my wife’s consternation.
Just a month ago, I wrote an article for another fly fishing publication about the importance of fishing and conserving locally. So, it’s ironic that I’m writing today about Bristol Bay, in Alaska.
Next week, on September 19th, my organization, the National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited, is hosting the largest, and most important event in our chapter’s history. We are bringing “The Wild” to Washington DC! The film is a joint screening with our partners at Trout Unlimited Alaska and the Save Bristol Bay Coalition, and issues a stark warning: that unless the fishing community - commercial, conventional and fly - can band together to fight the negative impacts which are being proposed, the greatest salmon fishery remaining on earth, Bristol Bay, may be forever lost.
In my three years since joining TU as a volunteer leader, I’ve grown increasingly and painfully aware of the legacy that human development and industry has left on the lands of the East Coast. Whether we are discussing the acid mine runoff that stains the upper North Branch of the Potomac a deep orange, the loss of a suburban trout stream like Paint Branch, or the decline of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, the impacts and scars of human activity are ever-present in life on the highly developed East Coast.
But Bristol Bay is different. One of the last truly untouched fisheries remaining in the world, Bristol Bay not only produces millions of salmon each year, it also produces jobs (to the tune of over 14,000 permanent well-paying jobs) that mean gainful employment, healthy communities, and economic opportunities in a rural part of America. All of that is placed at risk by Pebble Mine, a massive open pit mine that is slated to be built in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
Without wanting to give away the entire film, lets just say that time is running short and the threat to the fishery is grave. Once Bristol Bay is gone, it is gone forever. Next week's event is one of many across the country trying to save this pristine and beautiful place for generations to come. We are thrilled to be able to advocate for Bristol Bay all the way over here on the east coast. I hope that you will join us!
Exclusive for Surf to Stream readers: Use promo code 'surf2streamwild2019' to get 50% off the price of admission (limited to the first 20 tickets - act fast!). Visit the link below to buy your tickets!