War hero and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers know that steelhead are worth fighting for.
Steelhead trout have found a loud, determined voice thanks to the work of steelhead advocate Frank Moore and sportsman's group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA). A current plan sponsored by the group is to designate 104,000 acres of the North Umpqua River Basin in Oregon to act as a sanctuary for the wild trout that spawn there.
The Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary and the bill that would create it are named after 93-year-old North Umpqua fly fisherman Frank Moore, a lifelong advocate and defender for steelhead. The sanctuary would cover a stretch of river on BLM and the Umpqua National Forest lands, an area that consists of 80 miles of prime steelhead spawning habitat, as well as some of the best clean and cold water in the basin.
BHA considers the campaign ideal for the group. "Its about what we do and what we're about - protecting pristine landscapes," said Brian Jennings, BHA's Oregon coordinator in an interview, adding "Its an amazing area that should be protected, its a no-brainer for us."
Protecting the river would have a "ripple" effect on the land around it, preserving and enhancing the local flora and fauna and improve the ecology of the area. If the designation is achieved, no new roads would be created and there would be a priority in decommissioning existing roads. Future mining plans would be halted, though exiting mining operations would continue.
The bill to designate the sanctuary was sponsored by Democrat senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley in May of 2015, but has been held up by the State Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
That's not stopping BHA or Moore though, who still hope to see the bill pushed through. Getting the bill passed would mean long term protection for the river. "It'll remain out of the hands of the individuals who don't think things need to be protected," said Moore.
The 93-year-old Moore is no stranger to a fight, and obviously has got a lot of fight left in him. Since the 1950s, the veteran of the invasion of Normandy and recipient of the French Legion Honor for bravery has used the drive, focus and dogged determination that kept him alive during the war to advocate for the protection of steelhead waterways. Decades of conservation work followed, including serving on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Moore is a former National Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year, has been awarded the Wild Steelhead Coalition Conservation Award and was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in 2010.
Here's to you Mr. Moore. From steelhead fisherman everywhere, thanks for striving to make your home waters better than when you found them. I look forward to someday spying a trout in the sanctuary that would bear you name.