Conservation Corner

Download the current Northern California Council of Fly Fishers International (NCCFFI) Monthly Activities Report here.

In our region conservation issues seem to be important to a lot of people, for various reasons. For those of us in the fishing world, protection of our fisheries and the habitats our fish occupy is important, but it can be more complex than that for many. Forestry demands, mining, water diversion, boating, recreation, and many other considerations makes conservation for fish more difficult. There is no doubt that as our world gets more complex, conserving our environment gets more challenging.


Our GCFF Conservation Committee does its best to focus on local issues and local concerns. We want to focus on local groups and organizations that can help us with advocasy that protects our concerns - Sierra and valley fisheries and water sheds. It is why we limit our relationships to groups like SYRCL, Sierra Streams, and the Sierra Nevada Alliance. There are literally hundreds of groups we could support, but our focus is local, and these groups work on issues pertinent to our concerns.


Why focus on the Sierra? Well, some may not realize, but the Sierra is the 3rd fastest growing area of California. With this come increasing recreational and commercial demands from both the residents of the area, as well as those that come to visit. We work with others as a way to broaden our interests, increase knowledge of others to fishery concerns and needs, and have a voice in actions that will or could impact our club interests. We cannot do it alone. As the challenges get more complex we must be willing to partner with other groups who can have influence where we can't, and can reach decision makers we don't have access to.


After working on local, State and national conservation issues for the past 12 years, it is obvious to me that groups working alone have little chance to influence decision making. I was told in a visit with a past Departement of Fish and Game director that he and the Govenor are only open to talking with coalitions that represent a broad array of interests. They want to see organizations coming together to develop a more broad based approach to complex issues before coming to agency directors or the higher levels of government. We have to remember that California is a state with 37 million people, so decision makers have hundreds of organizations trying to make their voices heard on a multiplicity of issues. Working together with other groups with similar or even different interests give us a better opportunity for success.


The Conservation Committee remains focused on local issues and working with local groups to improve and maintain our fisheries and their habitats. That said, working alone is not the way forward, and being a part of coalitions and supporting other groups with similar interests gives us the leverage we need to have success with our interests.


October 2020 Northern California Council, Fly Fishers International Report

Mark Rockwell

Former GCFF Conservation Committee Chair and current President of the Northern California Council of Fly Fishers International


In the past month we have been deeply involved in the on-going Klamath River negotiations for dam removal. This has hit a snag when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allowed license transfer but kept PacifiCorp on the license. The states of California, Oregon and the Advisory Board of our decommissioning corporation, along with Tribes, fishing groups and lawyers are working to find

solutions to allow PacifiCorp to move forward with decommissioning without increased liability or cost. We have until December to get it done.

We’re also deeply engaged in Bay-Delta water issues, mostly around what are called voluntary agreements on water flows in the Bay-Delta, which will be increased to meet State Water Board minimums. We have spent the last 18 months working with water agencies to ensure flows will get better, but success has not been achieved. As of today, we are hearing the State Water Board is working to once again begin the regulatory process to establish flows for the Sacramento River system and Bay-Delta outflows. Back in December of 2018, the Board finalized minimum flows in the San Joaquin River system at 40% of unimpeded flows, with anticipated higher flows in the Sacramento system. We’ll work to achieve it.


The state of California has filed a federal court suit to intervene in how power dam relicensing is done under the FERC process. At issue is meeting EPA water quality standards and California Environmental Quality Act standards below power dams. FERC changed its long-standing policy and now allows only one year from filing to evaluate water quality issues, and if more than a year is needed FERC simply waives the requirement. What this means is that dam operators will no longer need to meet water quality standards, meaning pollution maximums are removed. This is unacceptable for both the state and fishery groups, and partners are likely to join this lawsuit in the future. We have to win this!

We ask each club to place a club representative on our Board. Please contact Mark Rockwell, , 530-559-5759 to answer questions or simply join us.