The Top Fundraiser For West Coast Striped Bass Conservation
For the great striped bass fishery of the Sacramento - San Joaquin Bay-Delta Estuary, Striperfest is hands down the largest fundraiser. Since its inception in 1997, Striperfest has raised $168,192.66 and has granted $24,470. Striperfest has been routinely recognized in national and local fly fishing publications, as well as local news media. Striperfest 2011 was the most successful event ever, raising $28,461 (net) for Bay/Delta conservation and other worthwhile grants.
Grants from Striperfest have included youth fly-fishing programs, totaling $7,370. The youth grants have emphasized putting young fly fishers on the water by paying access fees and buying equipment. Striperfest has put more than 300 budding fly fishers into fish under the supervision of local high school and fly-fishing clubs.
One of our more effective grants has been to Earthjustice, supporting their lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to protect salmon and steelhead from the Delta water pumps. Striperfest donated $12,500 to Earthjustice for this effort. As a result of the lawsuit, the NMFS was directed to revise its salmon and steelhead protections, resulting in a new plan, presented in 2009, supporting a decrease of about 25% in water exports. Striperfest continues to support this lawsuit during appeal by the water exporters.
The majority of Striperfest grants have been used to oppose a lawsuit filed in January 2008 by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta (‘Coalition’ - a mis-named organization) against the California Department of Fish and Game. The purpose of the lawsuit was to take away gamefish status from striped bass. The Coalition claimed that striped bass are “harming” native species, including endangered Central Valley chinook salmon and steelhead and Delta smelt. However, best available science demonstrates that is not the case. Rather, the greatest danger to the listed species comes from water diversion from the Delta.
The lawsuit was very expensive and while the California Striped Bass Association donated approximately $12,500 toward the lawsuit, Striperfest and its participating fly fishers carried the weight of this legal burden. Striperfest spent $84,181 on attorney’s fees, with another $5,337 for supporting activities such as pubic opposition and public relations. Expenditures related to the lawsuit totaled $89,518.
The beginning of the end of the lawsuit took the form of a settlement agreement, which required the DFG to draft a striped bass regulations change that would need to be approved by the California Fish and Game Commission. The DFG presented the proposal to the Commission in February 2012. Striperfest spent $13,865 to hire biologists and consultants who used the best available science to totally refute DFG staff claims that were used to justify their proposed regulation changes. This resulted in a unanimous 4-0 decision by the Commission not to pursue the proposal and ended the lawsuit once and for all.
But while the ‘Striped Bass Trial’ has come to an end, it is anticipated that the striped bass will continue to be scape-goated; so, the need to defend the striped bass does not end here.
By far, the primary recipient of Striperfest grants has been the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). The CSPA has provided the attorney for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta lawsuit at a cost of $84,181. Striperfest has additionally granted $6,000 to CSPA for its conservation efforts - in total CSPA has received $90,181.
To provide tax-exempt status for Striperfest, the Northern California Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (NCCFFF) is the recipient and dispenser of Striperfest funds. The NCCFFF is a 501(c) 3 organization. The NCCFFF dispenses grants at the direction of the Striperfest committee. The NCCFFF has not charged any administrative fees - 100% of Striperfest donations are dispersed for conservation, legal, and youth grants.
Striperfest grants have been a powerful force for the preservation and restoration of Bay-Delta fish, particularly striped bass. The Striperfest raffle is renowned for its cache of quality gear. The fly fishers of the Dan Blanton Bulletin Board who attend Striperfest and participate in the raffle, along with the contributors and vendors, who donate the raffle prizes, make this possible. Now more than ever, we need generous donations. We must save our California Striped Bass!
Every year we look to make Striperfest the most prosperous fundraiser ever and look for growing support from concerned individuals from all over the world.
Lastly, a big thanks to all of the previous and ongoing supporters of this profoundly important event.