Year in review: Conservation's impact
CELEBRATION, Fla. BASS Conservation positively impacted the legal and environmental landscape surrounding the sport of fishing in 2005.
Conservation has been a cornerstone philosophy of BASS since its inception in 1968 and each year the organization acts as an activist for millions of American anglers and their waterways. "It was a busy year for the Conservation department," said Conservation Director Noreen Clough. "And it's been a really productive year. We have positively impacted a number of issues in the name of conservation and the angling community."
Included was a visit to Washington, D.C., to participate in the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies President's budget briefing. Clough attended the meeting on behalf of the bass-angling community and evaluated proposed budgets for different federal agencies that have mandates for resource conservation.
Clough also testified before the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans regarding the National Fish Hatchery System. She spoke about BASS' support of the system - a network of more than 70 facilities operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service devoted to mitigating for fisheries lost to federal water projects throughout the United States, recovering species protected by the Endangered Species Act and restoring native fish populations.
"The National Fish Hatchery System is extremely important for fish health, fish management technology development and the continuation of healthy aquatic resources," said Clough.
There was more progress made in 2005. BASS Conservation successfully opposed a permit request for a new marina on Lake Guntersville in Alabama that would have negatively impacted spawning fish and nursing areas. That lake continues to be a prized fishery, in part because of the efforts to maintain its spawning and nursery areas and adequate aquatic vegetation. It also will play host to the "Southern Challenge," the fourth CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series stop, on April 20-23, 2006.
Also on the fishery front, BASS Associate Director of Conservation Chris Horton helped successfully petition to have additional fisheries mitigation components and funding added to the Arkansas River Navigation Project, which if left unchanged, would have had major and adverse impacts to the Arkansas River fisheries.
BASS has a vested interest in the Arkansas River, as it was the site of the 1984 and 1985 CITGO Bassmaster Classic and also will host the third Bassmaster Major, Aug. 24-27, 2006.
On the West coast, Clough and Horton worked closely with the California Fish and Game Department to implement new regulations allowing the culling during bass tournaments.
Horton also worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on tournament culling studies and analysis to provide tournament anglers permanent culling opportunities in one of the last three states where it is still prohibited.
"There has been no demonstrated negative impact with regards to culling," said Horton. "A prime objective is to allow anglers to make logical decisions regarding culling and not rob communities of the positive impact tournament fishing could have on an area."
Although Clough and Horton have garnered numerous accolades over the years, Clough was named a director of the Berkley Conservation Institute's Conservation Leaders advisory board and nominated to the American Sportfishing Association's Future Fisherman Foundation's board of directors in 2005.