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Old 04-20-2012, 06:28 PM
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T Gunn T Gunn is offline
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The Lees Ferry Trout Fishery, The LTEMP , & Other News

CURRENT NEWS: 4/20/12 The Bureau of Reclamation and the Park Service hosted a meeting in Flagstaff, April 4 & 5 to present the preliminary Concept Management Alternatives that have been put together at this stage of the Long Term Experimental & Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (LTEMP). The Bureau and the Park Service drafted eleven different versions as a starting point. The meeting was for all interested parties to comment and share input at this very early stage of the LTEMP process. The participants included angling, environmental, and rafting interests. The initial eleven versions were presented and discussed with all participants providing comment, content suggestions, and possible means for consolidating and reducing the number of alternatives. For detailed information on the preliminary alternatives see this website: http://ltempeis.anl.gov/documents/do...Newsletter.pdf

The encouraging news at this stage is that all of the alternatives include the fishery management plan the Park Service is preparing. The formal public scoping period for the plan is expected to start during April, 2012. It will again be essential that the angling community submit comments supporting Lees Ferry and the restoration of the Blue Ribbon trout fishery of the past. See the BACKGROUND below for more info on the Park Service’s fishery management plan.

LTEMP BACKGROUND: In 2011 the Department of the Interior designated the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), which is responsible for Glen Canyon Dam operations, and the US Park Service to be the lead agencies in preparing the LTEMP that will establish Dam flow operations and direct Federal, State, and Tribal agency actions on the Colorado River for the next fifteen to twenty years. In addition to the two lead agencies there are a number of other Federal, State, and Tribal agencies that are cooperators for the LTEMP process. Up to April 2012 the preliminary work has been done by the BOR and the USPS with only minimal input from the cooperators. The Arizona Game & Fish Department is a cooperator and the agency representing angling interests.

The formal scoping period, which provided the opportunity for interested parties to submit comments on what should be included in the LTEMP, ended January 30, 2012. A coalition of angling groups and individuals along with the Marble Canyon guiding and business interests was assembled to focus comments related to the Lees Ferry fishery. The coalition includes the Federation of Fly Fishers, the Arizona State Council of Trout Unlimited, Arizona fly fishing clubs, individual anglers, and representation from the Marble Canyon guide and lodge businesses and the local Navajo community. The coalition’s primary issue advanced in the scoping comments was implementation of a comprehensive fishery management plan for the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead; a plan managing the total fishery in a coordinated manner that includes the recovery and maintenance of a Blue Ribbon trout fishery in the Lees Ferry reach along with the restoration, recovery and maintenance of native fish throughout the River while addressing the threat to both from invasive non native warm water fish.

There were nearly 450 public comments from all interested parties during the scoping period. Many of these comments came from angling groups and individual anglers supporting the Lees Ferry trout fishery. A summary report on the scoping and edited excerpts from all the comments received is available from the documents section of the main LTEMP website: http://ltempeis.anl.gov/ .. The comments related to the fishery were of great importance in confirming the value of the fishery and the depth of support.

Coincidental with the LTEMP process the Park Service set in motion the development of a comprehensive fishery management plan. The goal is to complete the plan and have it in place ready for inclusion in the LTEMP by the end of 2012. There is split Park Service jurisdiction of the River below the Dam. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) is responsible for the lands including the Lees Ferry reach from the Dam to the Paria River. The Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) is responsible for the lands including the River downstream from the Paria. The importance here is that the GCNRA’s mission assigns more prominence to recreational fishing than the GCNP’s mission which has a more complex range of responsibilities. The GCNRA with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGF) will develop the future management plan for the Lees Ferry fishery with a focus on the trout in that reach of the River.

On March 5, 2012 the GCNRA hosted a pre planning stakeholder meeting with GCNRA, GCNP, AZGF and other agencies to receive input into the shape and content of the plan prior to the formal scoping period. The stakeholders including angling interests, the Marble Canyon lodge and guide businesses and the Navajo community joined with AZGF in supporting the restoration of a Blue Ribbon trout fishery for the Lees Ferry reach. Their appeared to be a favorable response from the Park Service to the concept of a Blue Ribbon fishery in lieu of only a basic recreational fishery. The next step in the process will be initiating formal scoping for a fishery management plan sometime in April.
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