After getting an earful from anglers and other constituents, the
authorities who manage the reservoirs that feed the Catskill Mountains trout rivers are going back to the drawing board.
The Delaware River Basin Commission this week officially decided not to write the now-controversial Flexible Flow Management Plan into regulation. The FFMP will, however, continue to govern how much water is released from New York City’s reservoirs on the upper Delaware River while new rules are drafted.
The constant flow of cold water from Cannonsville Reservoir on the West Branch of the Delaware, Pepacton Reservoir on the East Branch and neversink Reservoir on the Neversink River is vital to the blue-ribbon trout fisheries in those rivers. The amount and timing of the releases from the dams has been the subject of arguments and rule changes for decades.
The FFMP seemed promising back in September 2007. It was supposed to replace complicated, hard-to-follow rules for reservoir releases with a simpler formula, based on the idea that the more water is in the reservoirs, the more that is released to the rivers below the dams.
But it turned out the program wasn’t so flexible, after all.
In September, following the rules to the letter, the flow from Cannonsville Reservoir was cut from 900 cubic feet per second to 100 cfs — barely enough to wet the middle of the riverbed — in one day. Trout Unlimited, which had helped write the FFMP, protested, as did the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and lots of anglers.
There was also widespread displeasure that the flows as set forth in the FFMP failed to keep the main stem of the Delaware, below the confluence of its branches at Hancock, cool enough for trout fishing.
Now, the Delaware River Basin Commission says it will propose new rules, perhaps as early as next summer, that will take more information into consideration when deciding how much water is released. The next plan, the DRBC says, will incorporate the results of studies being conducted now by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service — not to mention the nearly 2,000 comments from anglers (and from local communities who think the plan fails at flood control, too.)
Jim Serio, a Delaware River guide and president of the Delaware River Foundation, maintains the FFMP concept will work — the releases just need to be larger, and the transition from one season’s release schedule to the next should be more gradual and less of a shock to the ecosystem.
SIMMS DROPS FELTS
Simms has become the first
major manufacturer to agree to Trout Unlimited’s request to end production of felt-soled waders, which are thought to spread didymo, the nasty invasive algae, and other nuisance species.
Beginning with its 2010 product line, Simms wading shoes will have an “ultra-grippy, super-sticky rubber sole that works, as well as felt in virtually all wet and aquatic conditions” made by Vibram, the Italian-based company that invented rubber-soled hiking boots in 1936.
“We know felt is not the only material that has spread invasive species and disease,” Simms president K.C. Walsh said, “but felt is surely part of the problem. At Simms, we’ve decided to be part of the solution.”
The Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its monthly meeting Monday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at the Best Western Sovereign Hotel at 1228 Western Avenue in Albany.
This month’s program will be a fly-tier’s roundtable with several gust fly-tiers and a holiday social gathering with light refreshments. There will be a fly-tying demonstration before the meeting at 6:30. As always, the meeting is free and open to the public.