This letter was written in response to Mr. Tom Moore’s disparagement of efforts to reintroduce The Steelhead Trout to Solstice Creek.
Sponsors of the reintroduction of Steelhead Trout to Solstice Creek include the Southern California Steelhead Coalition, California Department Of Fish and Game, National Park Service, National Marine Fisheries, Caltrans, Heal-the-Bay, the 21 Southern Californian Fly Fishing clubs from San Diego to Santa Barbara, etc. This group meets regularly under the auspices of the Steelhead Coalition. This involves the time, effort, personal expense and interest of how many people. Are all these people wrong, misguided, and chasing a foolish idea? The several hundred people involved don’t think so.
1. The steelhead is a magnificent fish. Certainly one of the freshwater fisherman’s top choices, almost all fish caught are released immediately. The fisherman’s interest is economically meaningful. Tourism is California’s major dollar producing business, fishing is our single largest tourism and recreation sport. Fishing accounts for about $12,000,000,000 (20 percent) of our $60,000,000,000 annual tourism business. Tom worries about money, maybe he should worry about preserving the very meaningful sport fishing industry, there’s some pretty good money involved there.
2. There’s the reality of keeping this great fish in the pantheon of West Coast animals. The Southern California strain is an endangered species, there is no fishing allowed anywhere for this strain of steelhead, there’s just the beauty of keeping an endangered species with us, we simply don’t want to lose this fish.
Sure, that’s a subjective wish, but Tom, I’ll bet you have a subjective interest that’s of serious interest to you, and I’ll bet taxpayers contribute to supporting your subjective interest. Do you go to the beach, ride a bike, use horse trails, hike in the mountains, play golf, have an interest in the arts, use the library, fly a plane, listen to the radio, watch TV, drive a car, etc.?
Preserving this strain of steelhead is a poster child for the type of long-term environmental planning we must assume. It’s an effort to anticipate the reality of our earth’s inevitable and constant change, our earth is not static. Global warming is a fact, we won’t get into the causes here, but we must plan for it. As the West Coast becomes more arid, we’re going to need the Southern California strain to perpetuate this fish from California to British Columbia. Our fish has the wonderful ability to live and prosper in streams that flow to the ocean only 10 percent of the time. Our fish looks like stock for West Coast steelhead 100, 200, 300 years from now.
In short, Tom, we who want to keep this fish do have our reasons.
Wilderness Fly Fishers, Southern California Steelhead Coalition