Trout Unlimited today thanked the Environmental Protection Agency for its strong proposal to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Trout Unlimited’s scientists and their partners have already begun to document the impacts from climate change on trout and salmon across the country.
“Trout and salmon are already being threatened by a changing climate,” said Jack Williams, senior scientist for Trout Unlimited. “Many scientific assessments, including TU’s own research, show that more frequent and intense floods and droughts, warming water temperatures, wildfires, and other landscape changes have and will continue to impact some of our most loved trout and salmon streams.”
A recently published study showed that native cutthroat trout in the Flathead River in Montana have increasingly been hybridizing with introduced rainbow trout as streams have warmed and water flows decreased, conditions better suited for non-native fish. A study conducted by TU in 2011 predicted that across the West, suitable habitat for these cutthroat trout could decrease by 50 percent by 2080.
“By removing barriers to fish passage that also increase flood risk, improving irrigation efficiency, and making degraded streams more resilient, we will continue to do work we’ve always done that is beneficial to fish and human communities regardless of what happening to the climate”, said Chris Wood, CEO and President of Trout Unlimited. “However, at the end of the day, if carbon pollution continues unabated, we stand to lose much of the progress we’ve made for trout and salmon, leaving behind fewer fishing opportunities for future generations.”
TU has a history of supporting the Clean Air Act as a tool to protect trout when sound science dictates action is necessary. In 1990, strongly bi-partisan amendments were made to the Clean Air Act to reduce the acid rain causing pollution which had been significantly damaging brook trout habitat across the Appalachians. In the more than 20 years since the program was implemented, acid rain deposition has decreased by 59 percent at less than a quarter of the predicted cost of the program, allowing many trout streams in the East to recover. TU believes a well-crafted carbon pollution program can achieve similar benefits for trout and salmon. TU scientists and policy experts will review carefully the EPA proposal and will provide comments to the agency in the coming months.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.