Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 20th, 2000

Seeing Red

I'm just livid. Seeing RED would be pretty accurate.

Today's local newspaper is the cause. An article on the environment, entitled "Cities, counties meet to talk salmon." The gist of it is the country we live in, Kitsap County Washington state, is "hoping to gain a legal exemption for its land-use rules under the Endangered Species Act."

Endangered Species Act? Washington and Oregon are both now under federal scrutiny following the demise of most of the Pacific Salmon species. There are rules to which the state and counties must adhere or get nailed by the feds. Well, almost. It seems the counties can try to get legal exemptions which might keep local govenments and developers from being sued in potential lawsuits for "harming threatened species of salmon under federal law."

The National Marine Fisheries Service is the federal agency which regulates enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

Stick with me here - the NMFS has decided ground water, which flows into any stream falls under the 'regulated' area. In fact, quoting the paper again, "everything accessible to the protected salmon should fall under the plan, which means every stream, shoreline and watershed in the county."

The county, quoting again says, "no Kitsap stream is probably significant enough to make the NMFS list of protected waters." Then there is the city council member who wanted to know if " that thing [water] that runs off my driveway when it rains an intermittent stream?" Gosh, probably not, but that stuff that runs off your driveway when you wash your car and either flows through the storm sewer into Liberty Bay or into our little Jump Off Joe Creek (both of which have spawning cutthroat trout and used to have spawning salmon) is affecting the fish! Duh. Brilliant - exactly what we need in government!

OK . . . now I get it. It's the same old garbage. We don't have any salmon, it's not my fault, I didn't do it, I didn't know dumping so much sewage into our waters could affect anything, I didn't know unregulated use of fertilizers, pesticides, (you add your own list of stuff here ) could affect water quality. In other words "I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE!" (I'm not even going to get into overfishing of the Salmon which is the height of total irresponsibility.)

This is the same bloody mind set of the guy who fishes Yellowstone Park, and several weeks or months later shows up on the San Juan. (Name your favorite stream here.) And is surprised to hear or read the San Juan (or your favorite water) now has Whirling Disease! Our traveling fisherman either didn't pay any attention to the warnings and proper washing of waders, boot etc. to avoid transmitting the spore, is flat stupid, or is of "I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE!" group.

Just in cast you missed the Whirling Disease information here, click here! This is not rocket science, it is simple precautionary methods to keep from spreading the horrid disease to even more waters. Regardless of where you fish - disinfect your waders!

It doesn't matter what you fish for, nor your specific fishing methods. What matters is that as a fisherman - as a human being - you take specific responsibility for your own personal actions. It can be as simple as picking up after yourself on the stream - maybe making a little effort and picking up after some nerd who wasn't responsible. Or it can be a little more involved such as telling someone else to pick up after themselves.

Teaching your kids to be responsible for their own actions will carry them through life with flying colors! By that I mean in all phases of their lives, not just picking up after themselves! Taking them fishing is a great lesson too!

Folks, it has to stop. "I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE!" is in every section of life, every community, even the smallest town and government. You and I are the ones responsible for the rest of them getting away with their cop-out. You and I are the ones who need to let them know it is not alright.

It starts here. Wake up! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE! ~ LadyFisher

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