A healthy river can increase property values, boost recreational opportunities, attract tourists, reduce water pollution, and protect people and property from flooding. But dams, levees, and other man-made structures disrupt the natural rivers, leaving many of them cut off from their communities. As the humans continue to effect more harm than good to the earth there could soon be no healthy rivers at all. My love of fishing started on the river banks of the Big Lost in Idaho when I was 12 years old. Fishing is something that I wish to continue for the rest of my life. But I may not be able to if we do not conserve our fisheries. For this project, I will be investigating the restoration efforts of the Big Lost in Idaho and the conservation efforts for the Mccloud River.
The McCloud River is one of California’s gems. Located near the top of California, north of the Sierra Nevada and at the southern end of the Cascade Range, the McCloud snakes its way down a scenic canyon beneath the rugged slopes of 14,000-foot Mount Shasta. The cool waters of the river are full of life. In the spring, clouds of emerging insects dance across the waters as they hatch, and trout are driven to fits of feeding frenzy. The McCloud has been a fisherman’s paradise ever since its original inhabitants, the Wintu Indians, speared and trapped salmon and steelhead as the fish made their seasonal journeys from the sea. The Conservancy’s initial objective for the McCloud River Preserve was to protect native fish and the watershed in which they occurred. An extensive biological study indicated that a portion of the preserve could be opened to carefully managed public use, including catch-and-release fishing. Three miles of the river were opened to the public in 1976; the remainder of the preserve is closed to fishing by State Regulation.
The Big Lost
The river starts in the Rocky Mountains and flows in a generally southeast direction into the Snake River Plain. True to its name, the Big Lost River’s surface flow does not reach any larger river, but vanishes into the Snake River Aquifer at the Big Lost River Sinks, giving the river its name. The river is one of the Lost streams of Idaho, several streams that flow into the plain and disappear into the ground. About fifteen years ago, the Big Lost was seemingly on its last legs and it was being overfished and the cattle on the surrounding properties were collapsing the river bank and forcing silt and unwanted debris into the river, clogging it up. With the changing landscape and habitat for the fish, they began to migrate out of the area, and in some cases die off. To this day there are still some species of fish that have never come back to the region. A few of the property owners and avid fisherman in the area noticed their beloved fishery was falling apart so they decided to do something about it. They made it very hard to fisherman to come fish the area from out of town and they enforced private property laws more than they had in the past. Also, they helped build the river banks back up and created a new way for the cattle to access the river without harming it. After a few years they began to see some changes and the fish began to move back into the area. Their efforts were immesly important in restoring this beloved and one of the best fisheries in the country, if not the world.
How You Can Help
Reduce carbon footprint
Attend volunteer opportunities near you
Visit nature conservancies to learn more
Do your own research to learn about these issues