TRAVERSE CITY — A coalition of conservation clubs across the state is calling on legislators to do something to protect waterways and wildlife from climate change.
The Michigan United Conservation Clubs warned lawmakers that action is needed in order to prepare for changes to streams, rivers and lakes after generations of fossil fuel use.
The Chief Executive Officer for Michigan United Conservation Clubs Amy Trotter said they’ve noticed cold water streams warming along with an explosion of ticks and changes to the forestry system. Trotter explained those changes are hurting the state’s hunting and fishing industry which has earned the state $11.2 billion and created 171,000 jobs.
“All of that has a direct impact on our hunting and fishing,” Trotter explained.
The group says hunters and anglers have been advocating for years for legislators to make sure the state’s fish and wildlife are healthy. They say the state can do that by protecting winter deer complexes, citing renewable energy sources, investing in the habitat and possibly removing dams. Trotter said removing a dam can lower the temperature of a stream or river from anywhere between two and 13 degrees.
“There is definitely urgency but a lot of what we can do today is invest in those habitat solutions. Those are going to provide both immediate and long term protection for our fish and wildlife,” Trotter described.
A local anglers group called the Anglers of the Au Sable, is now on year two of the Au Sable Resilience and Sustainability Project. The project allows the group to gather data to look at opportunities to protect the river from climate change.
The immediate past President of the Anglers of the Au Sable Joe Hemming, says while they haven’t seen any affects to the river yet, they’re doing their due diligence in order to keep the fish biting and the bucks plentiful.
“I think it’s a valid topic to look at and examine. Any action you do take, do it based on the science,” Hemming said.