Calendar Item: Help clean up the East Fork

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Will East Fork again become vulnerable to suction dredging?

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-4-13-17-pmFellow anglers,

In a political time, it’s once again time to get political.

If you thought that suction dredging mining was banned for good from the East Fork of the San Gabriel River outside Los Angeles, and other once-pristine California waters, think again.

You can read my coverage from 2012. I thought it was a done deal that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would be allowed to stop illegal activities even on federal lands, even within a national monument. But Pasadena Casting Club Conservation Chair John Tobin recently alerted me that, sadly, it might not be the case in the future.

As Tobin wrote in an email, “California Senate Bill 637, effective January 1, 2016, created a path for the statutory prohibition against suction dredge mining on our California streams to be lifted.”

Currently, there’s a case before the California Supreme Court challenging whether state environmental law that makes a particular mining claim on federal land commercially impractical preempted by the federal mining laws, according to the brief.

In other words, can California through its police power protect the environment, even on federal land?

For anglers, this means a choice between antiquated, destructive machinery disrupting the stream bed and scattering whatever trout may have thrived there for a largely recreational activity. Imagine trying to wet a line next to one of these contraptions. Imagine the downstream effect to the water.

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Can you imagine trying to fish downstream from this suction dredging mining operation? (Photo courtesy of Trout Unlimited.)

You can lend your voice either at Trout Unlimited  on suction dredging issue or at Friends of the River alert on suction dredging.

You use our national lands to enjoy one of the best parts of your recreational life. Help make suction dredge mining a thing of the past.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends: San Gabriel River faces increased human pressures

Could this sign soon include “national recreation area”? (Courtesy Forest Camping)

The only time I’ve been up to the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, I got the last parking spot, passed by a pretty rough crew, and — most importantly — got skunked. The last part is why I haven’t been back.

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Louis Sahagun pens a remarkably scary portrait of a river that’s facing real problems, both from budget cuts that make law enforcement difficult and from the interests of competing groups.

What I found telling is that of the players Sahagun interviewed, not one was a fly fisherman. Believe me, we’re out there in the Sab Gabes, but I think word is out that the East Fork needs some serious work before it once again becomes a local fishing destination.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick Mends follow-up: Forest Service reaffirms all mining prohibited on East Fork

A recent post on this site stirred up the pro-con constituencies about suction dredge mining, with the arguments basically boiling down to habitat vs. access. Although the petition was directed at the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Forest Service has just posted this on its site:

All mining operations (location of mining claims, prospecting, and mining, including panning, sluicing, and dredging) under the 1872 Mining Law are prohibited within withdrawn areas of the Angeles National Forest.  Public Law No. 578 (1928 withdrawal) withdrew areas from entry and location under the mining laws.  There is no provision in PL 578 which provides for even a limited right to enter the withdrawn lands to prospect.  Therefore, National Forest System lands within the East Fork of the San Gabriel River are not open to prospecting or any other mining operations.

When I called for comment, the Arcadia office was closed (at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday), but without further reporting on this topic, looks to be a win for fishing habitat.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Which is your fav, the West or East Fork of the San Gabriel River?

Got Fish? You want to have caught plenty before filling out the survey. (Jim Burns)

Spurred on by an article in the current California Fly Fisher magazine, I spent most of Friday hiking and fishing on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. Richard Alden Bean’s enticing article made me do it.

“The East Fork is a truly wild river in its upper sections and has recently been added to both the Wild Trout Program and the Heritage Trout Program of the California Department of Fish and Game,” he wrote.

This was good news, if for no other reason than I’ve got a golden trout and squat else toward my plaque. As the DFG website says, “By catching six different forms of California native trout from their historic drainages and photographing these fish you can receive a colorful, personalized certificate featuring the art of renowned fish illustrator Joseph Tomelleri.”  Your specific prey, according to Bean, is the coastal rainbow trout.

But …

First off, I loathe Friday, Saturday and Sunday fishing in the San Gabes, because what you end up with is people, people and more people. You’ve got your hikers, your waders, your drinkers; you’ve got your families with young children and water-wading dogs trying to help a fisherman by pointing at the one fish in the pool before pawing at the splash. I mean I’m very happy all sorts of different folks use the water on the weekends … just not so happy to be confined to using it with them, due to that little thing called making money (Remember the adage, “You’ve either got time, or money.”).

Long story short, I got Friday-skunked on the East Fork, and it’s never a fun feeling. As I tramped out near dusk, I vowed to come back soonest, but I wonder if readers of this blog wouldn’t share some inspiration in the meantime.

Which is your favorite fork?

Don't you just hate getting skunked? (Jim Burns)

Do you prefer the West with its accessible bike path and easy downhill ride back to the parking lot? Its fishable access ramps?

Or, do you like the East Fork, known for its pack-station appeal, and winding path to the fabled “Bridge to Nowhere”?

See you on the river, Jim Burns