Thursday, November 11, 2010

Henry's Fork Call To Action

Click on photo for full size image.

The Henry's Fork needs your help. I've copied a piece from Tom Chandler on his Trout Underground Blog that outlines the issue and suggests helpful action.


The Henry’s Fork Motorized Access Issue Boils Up (or, Yet Another Public Official Thinks You Don’t Spend Money)

by TOM CHANDLER on NOVEMBER 11, 2010 · 1 COMMENT
The Henry’s Fork of the Snake is one of the best-known fly fishing destinations on the planet, yet – astonishingly – the Fremont County Commissioners (at least one of them) would have you believe its recreational value is negligible.
Thus continues the fight over motorized boat access to one of the world’s best-known fly fishing destinations, which has boiled over recently – and with the ugliness that rural fights seem to engender.
Here’s the overview: County Commissioners originally refused to implement a new motor ordinance on the Henry’s Fork (for years, everyone thought motors were forbidden, but they were wrong), but after angling groups voiced a lot of concerns, they’re finally offering up a plan, though it seems they’re not going far enough.
How far is not far enough? Imagine trying to fish a PMD hatch on a wadeable version of Fall River – with motorboats zooming through the fish.
That’s what Henry’s Fork fly fishermen are facing from Vernon Bridge to the Fun Farm area – at least under the proposed ordinance.
First, this from InTheBackEddy blog)
The proposed ordinance would allow motors up to 10 horsepower on several sections of the river, including the very popular stretch of the lower river below Vernon Bridge and the stretch upstream from Mack’s Inn. While this proposed ordinance protect The Ranch and Box Canyon, Fly Fisherman will have to hope the effect on these other important sections of river will be minimal.
Perhaps even more disconcerting is this line from the story:
Commissioner Skip Hurt said he doubted a Henry’s Fork Foundation study of the economic benefits the sport of fly-fishing brings to the county.
I remember the quote that spawned this line. Hurt questioned the validity of the study after Trafton and the other HFF folks had left the meeting.
This is the kind of attitude I have often encountered in Eastern Idaho (unfortunately). Many folks fail to recognize they live near one of the most iconic, beloved, and famous trout streams in North America.
And lest you think the proposed ordinance – which the county commissioners seem to favor – is a solution, then read this email comment from a fly fishing local:
because the proposed ordinance, though it is far better than the absence of any regulation, allows motors on a section of the lower Henry’s Fork from the Vernon Bridge to the Fun Farm area, a very heavily used stretch of the river (and excellent fishing, early and late summer). Motors would disturb fish, wading and drifting anglers, trumpeter swans and other wildlife.
Motors on the river are totally unnecessary, with plenty of boat access, ease of drifting from one launch to the next. Private landowners along the stretch are opposed because of noise from motors and shotguns, poaching and litter on their land from the same guys who would use motors (individuals known to many of us).
The local newspaper has covered the story thusly (though adds an odd comment at its conclusion):
From the Island Park News:
In a recent discussion with the Island Park News about motorized watercraft, Commission Chairman Paul Romrell said he thought it has been the most divisive issue the county has had to deal with. When the county decided not to pass the original ordinance but to let a nearly 20-year old ordinance stand, public outcry from the fly fishing community was fierce. The original ordinance and an amendment to it essentially allowed motorized watercraft in nearly all the county by not restricting it in most places. But for years, the public thought motors were off limits because fishing regulations erroneously stated that they were not allowed.
… It also revealed that some county residents do not want any restrictions and some resent favorable treatment toward the fly-fishing community.
The newspaper story ends with: “The News is awaiting comments from the fly-fishing community.

Here’s What You Can Do

In the past, the local politicos responded only after a massive campaign (this around the issue of park closures), and that’s what’s probably needed here.
1. Stay tuned to the InTheBackEddy blog, which offers the best coverage of the issue.
2. Write a simple email to these three commissioners, reminding them (nicely) as a fly fishermen, you don’t vote locally but you do visit one of the world’s best-known fly fishing destinations (checkbook in hand), and want to see it protected.
Commissioner Paul Romrell, Chairman
Represents St. Anthony
208-624-4304
512 Park St
Saint Anthony, ID 834451122
promrell@co.fremont.id.us
Commissioner Le Roy Miller
Represents rural St. Anthony
233 N 2400 E
St. Anthony, ID 83445
208-458-4528
lmiller@co.fremont.id.us
Commissioner Skip Hurt
Represents Island Park & Ashton
208-623-4271
shurt@co.fremont.id.us
The more they hear from fly fishermen, the better the odds you won’t be dodging jet skis on the Henry’s Fork next year…
See you writing three emails, Tom Chandler

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