A poorly constructed fracking waste pit in Doddridge County, West Virginia (photo: Ed Wade Jr./Wetzel County Action Group).

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), released an updated draft of a proposed revision to rules that would govern hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) on federal public lands. The proposed rule updates have been criticized by many as insufficient, though some groups -- such as the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition, -- have called the rules a "step forward" while acknowledging that more work needs to be done.

The SFRED stated that the "updated [rules] regulating hydraulic fracturing practices on federal public lands was welcomed ... [and] commended the Bureau of Land Management for moving forward with regulations that will improve transparency and the management of all fluids in the drilling process." According to the SFRED, the new rules would "update current regulations, which are more than 30 years old ... are outdated and do not address modern fracking activities, including their impacts on water quality and quantity."

Other groups, have been much more critical of the new rules, claiming they fail to meet even the most basic necessities for regulating fracking on public lands. The BLM has faced sharp criticism for failing to include pre-fracking chemical disclosure (the rules propose that operators can wait until after chemicals are injected into the ground before disclosing them), requiring only that some chemicals be disclosed while allowing operators to continue keeping 'trade secret' chemicals private, failing to ban dangerous fracking wastewater pits and failing to establish any guidelines preventing fracking in sensitive habitats or other natural areas.

This could be you.

On Friday, May 31, the EPA will close the currently open public comment period regarding the feasibility of large scale, open pit mining in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska (UPDATE: The EPA has extended the public comment period to June 30th). In late April, the EPA released an updated draft of its assessment of risks related to mining operations in this sensitive salmon habitat. The assessment made it clear that mining proposes grave risks to the salmon rivers of Bristol Bay and that, even without any accidents or failures, mining operations in Bristol Bay would result in the loss of over 24 miles of salmon streams and the destruction of almost 5,000 acres of wetland habitat.

As we reported earlier this month, the results of a recent study by researchers at the University of Alaska estimated the annual value of Bristol Bay's salmon fishery. The study determined the combined value of the bay's commercial, subsistence and recreational fisheries to be worth $1.5 billion annually, a number which seriously challenges even arguments which weight solely the economic benefits of mining.

Tippet Rings: Use Them

Unless you like wasting money, you should probably be using tippet rings
That is magnified. Big time.

Unless you're fishing for what would traditionally be considered big game species, you should be using tippet rings. It doesn't matter whether you're fishing machine-made extruded leaders, furled leaders or hand tie your own. Tippet rings have their place in all of these scenarios.

In an earlier featured entitled Tip: Stop Wasting Money on Leaders, we detailed how we feel machine-made tapered leaders are one of the biggest money pits a fly fisherman encounters. Adding tippet rings to the tips found in that article take the whole picture to the next level of practicality and good sense.

A shot of the Florida Keys from the International Space Station.

Studies that endeavor to estimate the values of a particular fishery aren't rare. They form the basis for a number of planning and policy decisions, many of which pit conservation against development. And these studies often produce big numbers, as they calculate the cumulative values of immense commercial fishing operations, sport fishing and tourism, and more. When numbers for these diverse fisheries reach into the hundreds of millions or even billions, as was the case with the recent results of a study on the value of Bristol Bay, Alaska's fishery, most people aren't overly shocked. However, when a virtually purely recreational fishery like that of the Florida Keys bonefish, tarpon and permit flats is deemed to be worth over $400 million each year, it serves to turn some heads.

According to the study, which was commissioned by the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the recreational sport fishery that surrounds the bonefish, tarpon and permit of the Florida Keys generates an estimated $427 million annually. The study considered the multiplier effects of angler expenditures, the wages and salaries generated by angler spending, the jobs created, and the federal and state taxes resulting from flats fishing expenditures. Data was collected through surveys of licensed resident and non-resident anglers and flats fishing guides.

Mountain brook trout love a parachute adams.

Newcomers to the sport of fly fishing can feel overwhelmed and lost at times. The challenges faced by the novice fly fisherman can be significant and the lack of positive feedback from successfully enticing a fish to take your imitation can make the prospect of learning the ropes a daunting one. Especially here in the eastern United States where the fish populations are lower and pressure is higher, more selective, more "educated" fish can make the task facing the unexperienced fisherman seem, at times, impossible.

Take for example my experience last week on the West Branch of the Delaware River, albeit one of the most technical and difficult rivers to fish anywhere in the United States. After a day of nothing much at all except prospecting with nymphs and streamers under sunny skies and through low, gin clear water, fish began to rise readily after the sun dipped below the horizon and a number of bugs appeared on the river. With at least a dozen fish to target from my spot in the river, surely success was about to be had, no? No. With no less than 6 different bugs on the water and in various life stages, the next hour was spent blowing through patterns and rigs and all to no avail. Walking off the river in the dark and straddling a boulder in the process, led to a pathetic, helpless slide into the water and a pair of filled up waders.