Wild Steelhead Coalition Board Member and longtime BHA member Josh Mills celebrates at the new access point
Salmon and steelhead populations from California to Alaska are on the decline, with a number of species being listed as threatened or endangered. With the trend of diminishing returns, opportunities to sportfish for these iconic species are also waning. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and its members are concerned with current recovery efforts and the fact that the status quo will not work going forward.
Listening to our chapter leaders in AK, BC, WA, ID, OR and CA, and following our mission, “Backcountry Hunters and Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters”, BHA is now engaging into salmon/steelhead recovery, starting by educating our members on the issues.
On Nov. 7, in Spokane, WA we started what will hopefully become the start of a tour on how you can be more involved in the efforts to recover large and wild salmon and steelhead. At Spokane's newest restaurant and meeting place, Hunt, the Washington Chapter of BHA and the Wild Steelhead Coalition co-hosted the “Spokane Steelhead Social”, where we talked about fishing, anadromous fish recovery and access. Passionate people, some not members of either organization, came together to learn more about each other and our current work. Josh Mills, a board member for the Wild Steelhead Coalition, said, “what a great collaboration between two organizations committed to keeping their members informed on the biggest issues in each other's court.”
The Wild Steelhead Coalition brought public access to the center stage by highlighting their fundraising campaign for a land acquisition project on the Grande Ronde in Southeast Washington. The anglers in attendance did not disappoint, raising over $5,000 and putting the total funds over the goal line to complete the purchase.
The WA Chapter board contributed $3,000 to the project, and thanks to a generous donation of a spey rod setup from corporate partner Sage Fly Fishing, another $1,000 was added to the total donated by BHA. BHA's Public Waters Access Coordinator Rob Parkins was excited to see such a successful event. “Having two energetic groups working towards a common goal is a huge win for access in Washington," Parkins said. "The support from the angling community is overwhelming and I am excited to co-host more events like these in Western Washington and Oregon. Great things happen when concerned sportsmen and women get together at events centered around conservation.” Mills added, “Having everyone come together to raise money for this key public land acquisition was awesome and a rewarding experience for all involved.”
On Feb. 10, the Wild Steelhead Coalition announced that they had secured the purchase of the eight-acre parcel, which includes 2,000 feet of riverfront. WSC will donate the parcel to Washington's Department of Wildlife, thereby securing the land for public access in perpetuity.
For more info on BHA's public access mission and salmon/steelhead work, contact Public Access Coordinator Rob Parkins at [email protected]