Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BLM scoping letter re Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument                     Feb 15, 2014

The BLM Taos Field Office is initiating an effort to prepare the Río Grande del Norte National Monument (Monument) Plan. This plan will provide management direction for the 242,500-acre Monument designated in March 2013.
The BLM is requesting input regarding relevant issues, potential conflicts, or any pertinent information that should be considered during the planning process. These public scoping meetings are scheduled to assist in this effort.
For more information, please call 575-758-8851 or refer to the Monument website at: www.blm.gov/nm/riograndedelnorte

Email comments to  Shasta- sferranto@blm.gov

Here is Taylor's letter to the BLM

My name is Taylor Streit and I own Streit Fly Fishing . I have several books on the subject and have written extensively about the “Rio” as it is truly one of my favorite places to fish on earth. (And I have fly fished from Alaska to Argentina.) I worry that monument status—and the increased attention--could have some negative effects. And as a BLM permitee on the Rio Grande for 30 years I hopefully have some sway in the planning process. Plus my son Nick of Taos Fly Shop and our guides and clients have a wealth of experience in the gorge and our observations might be of use.

First-off, and of greatest importance, is that, of all the fisherman of the Rio I know, no one wants to see any new trails or developments in the gorge itself. Yes it is true that I owe part of my living to taking people fishing on the Rio but the health and preservation of the canyon in its unaltered state is the bottom line. We have an impact but it is minor as we are very limited in the number of anglers we can take per day and go to secret little bajadas where no one else does-- and then throw the fish back unharmed. As true with many New Mexicans –who generally have a different set of priorities then most Americans’—the health of this very special land outweighs the lure of the fast buck. I spoke briefly at the scoping meeting in Taos and when I mentioned that “enough has been built and paved by BLM already and it is time to switch the focus from taking care of people to taking care of the environment.” This comment got an instantaneous applause from the audience.

So I can safely say that for myself and my fishing mates we would be happy to see things stay just as they are; but it seems the Taos BLM always has funding for construction and instead of more creature comforts for the humans  there are some improvements that might be made to the environment. (Taking care of the enviro being the real long-term foundation for acquiring the tourist dollar anyway.) Siltation is the number 1 threat to the fishery and a siltation control project on lower portions of Rio near Pilar might be very helpful (it has apparently been quite successful on the San Juan). Pollution monitoring and consequent actions to curb it would be great.  (But I am deeply concerned about any such projects to even be considered as there are rumors that the vacant post of fishery biologist is not going to be filled.) 

Other worthwhile projects that couldn’t make too much of a fuss would include repair of the trials at Wild Rivers. The shelters there are all a mess too. The bridge over the lower Red has been out for years and might be a benefit to hikers (we wade across). At the south end of gorge, extension of the Visa Verde trail deeper into “the box” might be a good idea.

With the prospect of more people coming to fish the river—balanced against the fact that we all want to see it stay wild—I suggest a compromise that might make everyone happy. That would be to get more use out of the lower portions of the Rio around Pilar (not in Monument actually but BLM owned lands). The area right along the highway is excellent trout water but there is no place to park and the banks are dangerously steep; and in reality it is only lightly fished (despite the great amount of traffic on highway.) Trails and parking could be put in. The state already puts a lot of trout in some of this area, and with the poor conditions of many NM waters many fish in the states hatcheries need a good home. (And other agency stocking could be an option as actually buying trout is not that expensive and is a very valuable tool to draw tourist dollars. Pagosa Springs stocks huge trout and people come from all over to fish there.)

And if fishing was that good in this accessible section of the Rio it would help prevent overuse of the walk-in sections of the canyon upstream. (in truth, of all our clients, only about 10-20% are fit to hike and fish  in the canyon.) but if the miles of water around Pilar are stocked with utilized and stocked with big fish, anglers can catch (and release, we hope) their fill of fish from downstream and then drive up top and look into the box--trusting that the wild trout teeming in the inaccessible waters below remain forever wild.

575 751 1312

741 0202 cell

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