Week of January 12, 2004
December 29, 2003 -- WASHINGTON - Startling new Army statistics show that strife-torn Baghdad - considered the most dangerous city in the world - now has a lower murder rate than New York.
The newest numbers, released by the Army's 1st Infantry Division, reveal that over the past three months, murders and other crimes in Baghdad are decreasing dramatically and that in the month of October, there were fewer murders per capita there than the Big Apple, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
The Bush administration and outside experts are touting these new figures as a sign that, eight months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, major progress is starting to be made in the oft-criticized effort by the United States and coalition partners to restore order and rebuild Iraq.
"If these numbers are accurate, they show that the systems we put in place four months ago to develop a police force based on the principles of a free and democratic society are starting to work," said former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who traveled to Iraq to oversee the rebuilding of the police force.
According to the Army, there were 92 murders in Baghdad, a
city of 5 million people, in July. The number dropped to 75 in August, 54 in September and 24 in October. In New York, a city of 8 million people, there were 52 murders in July, 51 in August, 52 in September and 45 in October.
John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute, who recently published an extensive analysis on Iraqi crime figures, says the numbers indicate that Baghdad's murder rate dropped from 19.5 per 100,000 people in July to a rate of five killings per 100,000 people in October. By contrast, New York's murder rate is seven murders per 100,000 people, Los Angeles' murder rate is 17 per 100,000, and Chicago's is 22, Lott said, citing FBI crime statistics.
The Army's statistics do not take into account "political" attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel by Ba'athist death squads - or the terrorists showing up in Baghdad morgues after having been killed by the U.S. military in those battles.
Nevertheless, there appears to be good reason for the Bush administration to cheer. "When you consider that Saddam released thousands of criminals from prisons onto the streets during the war when his military and security apparatus completely collapsed, the progress has been measurable," Lott said.
Change would severely restrict boat, fishing and camping traffic
Recently the National Park Service has proposed designating the majority of the Apostle Islands in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior as wilderness. While promising minimal impact on current motorized and non-motorized boat traffic, the change to wilderness designation, while seemingly a benefit to the overall protection of the islands, could prove to be just the opposite.
At issue is the authority the designation would give the Park Service to control access to the Islands as well as restricting boat traffic at a later date without needing to solicit further public input to do so. Currently the majority of the Apostle Island’s are managed as a National Park and the National Park Service has been doing extensive lobbying in both Government circles and with the public to develop support for inclusion of them in the Wilderness Act.
As an organization whose members love and respect the Apostle Islands as well as the pristine waters surrounding them, The Apostle Island's Sport Fisherman’s Association (AISA), since 1980 has worked to help protect and improve the Lake Superior fishery in the Apostle Island’s waters. The AISA's membership is comprised of sportsmen from Wisconsin and Minnesota that utilize and enjoy the Apostle Islands. The Apostle Island Sport Fishermen’s Association recently unanimously voted to oppose this designation.
The following points are further reasons for our opposition:
► Since even before European Settlement, the Apostle Islands have never been wilderness
Even before European settlement, both Oral and Archeological histories document a very concentrated population of Native Americans peoples and culture within the Apostle Island area. Since European settlement, logging, quarrying, commercial fishing, and tourism have provided livelihood for the people who chose to live here. As the nature of economics and the American culture has changed so has the utilization of the islands to an area that is enjoyed primarily as a destination for recreational purposes, with a history of tourism in the islands that extends back over a century.
► It is not needed
Anyone who has spent any time in the Apostle Islands knows that the Weather, Nature, and the Lake itself protect the Islands from over-exploitation better then any unnecessary legislation that the Park Service desires. Indeed potential restrictions on the islands utilization under the Wilderness Act might very well serve to act to discriminate against certain groups in American society- such as the elderly and the handicapped, and their ability to access and utilize the Apostle Islands for recreation. Current utilization census methods to measure visitor counts overstate the use of the islands by counting people both coming and going and serve mainly as a tool to develop statistics to support the Park Service’s agenda.
► The Wilderness Designation would give the Park Service authority over, and the authority to prohibit in the future, traditional wildlife and fishery management practices and traditional recreational uses of the Apostle Islands as they so desire, with no checks and balances on Park Service Authority.
Issues in this regard have already happened. A case in
point is the prohibition by the Park Service on the planting of brown Trout from Park Service property on Little Sand Bay by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, on the basis that Brown Trout are considered an ”Exotic Species” by the Park Service. Brown Trout were originally planted in Lake Superior in the late 1800’s at about the same time that Rainbow Trout were introduced in Lake Superior. To take the uninformed action of classifying them as an “Exotic Species” in the same league as Sea Lampreys and Zebra Mussels is an example of the potential abuse in the exercise of authority that could become commonplace under the Wilderness Act designation.
In addition, although they currently claim it will not be used, the Wilderness Act gives the Park Service the power to restrict the use of motors out to ¼ mile from any of the Islands under the Wilderness Designation with no further approval from other governmental bodies necessary.
If that happens, will the Apostle Islands become a haven for the elite few that can journey to the islands by kayak or Park Service approved boat ferries? Again, in the name of protection, the potential to discriminate against many citizens exists, and it would be dependent on the whim of the current or future Park Service administrations.
► What we have now works quite well
The Park Service claims the Wilderness Designation will make it easier to “protect” the Apostle Islands in the future. From what - the Park Service?
In our Association’s collective 200+ years of experience in the Islands, we have not seen significant changes occur in the environmental health of the Islands. Indeed the worst offender in that regard is often the Park Service and their efforts to “improve” on nature by soil stabilization, or dock building in areas known for high storm sedimentation, leading to even more sedimentation.
Instead of spending so much time lobbying for increased protection, perhaps the Park Service would be better served by listening to the people who both use the Islands, and who’s economic livelihood depends on the Islands, as well as improving and refining their current management techniques.
The membership of the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen's Association has requested of the appropriate elected officials that they oppose any legislation to designate the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as wilderness. We ask that concerned members of the public add your voices to ours.
Alfred House, President, AISA,
On behalf of the collective membership,
Apostle Island Sport Fishermen's Association
P.O. Box 794, Ashland, WI 54806
2004 programs to break all records
KETCHUM, Okla. Heading into its eighteenth year, the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby is expecting that 2004 will break all previous records for numbers of events and numbers of young anglers. In 2003, a record breaking year, the popular derby program held 1,822 events for an estimated 300,000 young anglers from 5 to 16 in the U.S. including select U.S. military bases in Europe, Korea and Japan.
The producers say the key to breaking the record is securing the support of local adult volunteers. Hooked on Fishing International (HOFI) of Ketchum, Okla. has set a deadline of Feb. 15 for adult volunteer groups to submit an electronic application for a free kit with a how-to handbook, event promotion materials, fishing items and other goodies for each young angler, and even prizes for the winners. Qualifying organizations are expected to arrange, publicize and manage the half-day fishing events. HOFI has designed the official website for easy online registration:
1. On the internet go to www.kids-fishing.com
2. Click the yellow box in the middle of home page: "Registration is now open!"
3. Complete the application and submit it online.
Returning derby organizers who hosted events last year can simply update and re-submit their event information after entering their user name and password from the Organizer Admin section of the website.
In addition to title sponsor Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Kids All-American Fishing Derby program benefits from its 2004 partnerships with Bar-S Foods, Berkley Powerbait, Berkley Trilene, DMF Bait Company, Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum, Eagle Claw, Edy's Grand Ice Cream, EverStart Batteries, FishingWorld.com, Fujifilm U.S.A., Johnson & Johnson, Kool-Aid, Kraft Foods, Laker Fishing Tackle, Nestle Waters North America, Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, Repel Insect Repellent, and Zebco.
The popular youth fishing program also receives strong support from state fish and game departments, the U.S. Forest Service, parks and recreation departments, chambers of commerce, YMCAs, fishing clubs, scouting groups, and civic and service organizations such as the Optimists, Lions, Kiwanis, and Elks. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
First Person to Use New Technology in the Contiguous United States
A Cleveland, Ohio, man was rescued by the U.S. Army Fort Drum Air Ambulance Detachment outside of Watertown, N.Y., Friday through the help of a personal locator beacon (PLB). This rescue was the first using PLB technology since they became available for use in the U.S., July 1, 2003.
Carl Skalak, 55, was in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York when he activated his PLB. At 10:45 a.m. EST, personnel at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), at Langley Air Force Base, Va., were notified of the distress call via the Search and Rescue Satellite Aid Tracking System (SARSAT), operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The AFRCC notifies the appropriate state emergency rescue agency in the area where the PLB was activated.
According to Lt. Daniel Karlson, SARSAT Operations Support Officer for NOAA, "the system worked like a gem." Mr. Skalak decided to activate his PLB after he had become disoriented from his camp and then realized he was facing a life threatening situation due to the isolated conditions, his lack of supplies and the brutally frigid weather. "In a matter of a few hours Mr. Skalak might have become acutely hypothermic putting his life at risk," Karlson explained. "Since he had properly registered his PLB we were able to immediately
confirm his whereabouts and set the wheels in
motion for his rescue."
Prior to July, PLBs had only been available for use in Alaska under a test program to evaluate their usefulness in search and rescue. The success seen in Alaska paved the way for the technology to be used throughout the rest of the nation. "This particular rescue demonstrates how well our agencies work together when it comes to saving a life," said Ajay Mehta, NOAA's SARSAT Program Manager.
PLBs send out digital distress signals on the 406-megahertz frequency, which are detected by NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) and Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). GOES, the first to detect a beacon's distress signal, hover in a fixed orbit above Earth and receive the signals, which contain registration information about the beacon and its owner. The POES constantly circle the globe, enabling them to capture and accurately locate the alerts to within a few miles.
The satellites are part of the worldwide satellite search and rescue system called, COSPAS-SARSAT. The COSPAS-SARSAT system is a cluster of NOAA and Russian satellites that work together to detect distress signals anywhere in the world transmitted from PLBs and from beacons carried aboard ships and airplanes.
Current Lake Levels:
Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Erie are 7, 18, 6 and 2 inches, respectively, below their long-term average. Lake Ontario is 10 inches above its long-term average. All of the Great Lakes are above last year’s levels except for Lake Superior, which is 1 inch below the level of a year ago. Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are 1-3 inches above last year’s level, while Lake Ontario is 18 inches above its level of a year ago.
Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:
The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be below average during the month of January. Flows in the St. Clair, Detroit, and Niagara Rivers are also expected to be below average, while flow in the St. Lawrence River is expected to be near average in January.
Late this week, a clipper system will move across the
northern Great Lakes. There will be little moisture associated with the system, so no significant accumulation is expected. Cold air hovering over northern Ontario will slide south and east over the next couple of days and bring the coldest air of the season to western New York. Any snow associated with this system will be lake effect, but no more than a few inches is expected.
Forecasted Water Levels:
Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and St. Clair are expected to continue their pattern of seasonal decline over the next four weeks. The levels of Lakes Erie and Ontario are not expected to change much over the next several weeks.
Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels. Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.
"Many fishermen aren't aware of a major problem that's developing in the Midwest due to the popularity of bottled water," claims Jim Chapralis, a concerned angler, writer and conservationist.
"Perrier/Nestle wants to extract spring water from the headwaters of some of our pristine streams, to meet the increasing demand for bottled water. It's doing it in Michigan now, and many believe Perrier is back in Wisconsin after two previous aborted attempts."
Perrier, which markets its water under Ice Mountain, Poland Spring and other labels, tried to take water first from the headwaters of the Mecan River, one of Central Wisconsin's famous trout streams, and then from nearby Adams County. After fierce battles with local citizens groups, sportsmen and environmentalists, Perrier/Nestle decided on Mecosta County, Michigan where similar battles are being waged.
"I'm sure that Perrier/Nestle is behind the huge Polar Ice Water company that is starting up in Langlade County, Wisconsin," says Chapralis. "If allowed, this would be a shame because it would affect the Little Wolf and big Wolf Rivers. Some of the local citizens, Wisconsin Trout Unlimited chapters, the Menominee Tribe and environmentalists have initiated legal action against the Wisconsin DNR for providing a permit for a high-capacity well without an environmental impact study (EIS) or hearing.
"If Polar Ice succeeds, you can be sure that other water bottlers will head for that area and soon the sensitive ecological balance of the region, and eventually the state, will be adversely impacted. This can very well be the start of destruction to Wisconsin's waters, lands and environment." A high-capacity well can easily extract 400 gallons per minute or about 700,000 gallons per day.
Chapralis presents details and an alternative to purchased spring water in his website segment, The Water Wars, which you can get by clicking on http://www.anglingmatters.com/water_wars.htm .
"Not only do huge extractions adversely affect the trout streams," he says, "but it also removes that amount of water from the normal evaporation/precipitation cycle, when it is transported to other regions. And when you have severe droughts, like this year, the destruction cannot be
overestimated. Right now there are towns in Michigan and Wisconsin that have run out of water. Why do we allow a multinational giant to take our water, bottle it, and sell it right back to us at enormous profits?
The 'Nestle Nation' pays nothing for the water, and according to one document obtained through the Freedom of Public Information Act, a single pumping station can make from $500,000 to $1.8 million a day. Repeat a day. And they only pay about $100 per year for a high-capacity well permit. It doesn't make a bit of sense to me."
Chapralis explains that this extraction is harmful not only to various fish species, but to the sensitive ecosystem of the region. "It affects animal life, vegetation, wetlands, lakes and ponds. In Michigan where Perrier/Nestle is extracting water for its Ice Mountain label, they've found dead pike, bluegills and other species. Furthermore, these waters eventually flow into the Muskegon River (trout and steelhead) and finally into Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is at the second lowest level in history and people are worried."
Approximately 85 % of the earth's surface is composed of water, but less than one-half percent (0.5%) can be used for drinking and most of that is underground; about 20 % of this groundwater is in the Great Lakes Basin. Experts predict that in 2025 two-thirds of the world population will not have sufficient drinking water. That's why the multinational conglomerates are trying to privatize water. They are trying to make water a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.
Just as oil was the precious commodity last century, water will be this century's liquid gold. Only many times more so. You don't need oil to live, but you certainly need water. The problem is that Wisconsin and Michigan and other states do not have laws in place that prevent companies from extracting huge quantities of water and selling it.
Furthermore, it's estimated that about 25 billion plastic bottles are produced annually for water. About 35 % of these are recycled and 55 % are burned or buried. That's a lot burning or landfill, and plastic bottles are never recycled back into bottles but into carpeting and other coarse fabrics.
With snowfall opening trails throughout the state, Michigan recreation officials are reminding snowmobilers to maintain safety as a top priority this winter. Last year saw 46 fatal snowmobile crashes in Michigan – a 39% increase from the 2001-02 season total of 33 fatal accidents. Alcohol was involved in 22 of the incidents. 'Speed too fast" was listed as a causing factor in 75 % of accidents.
"We want everyone to enjoy Michigan's great outdoors," said DNR Law Enforcement Chief Curtis Bacon. "As more and more enthusiasts take to the trails on snowmobiles, it is increasingly important that operators observe common-sense safety precautions. Slowing down and are keys to ensuring fewer accidents."
DNR Law Enforcement officials advise riders to get prepared before heading out. This includes exercising to get into shape, checking and replacing worn machine parts, dressing for the weather and packing emergency gear like a survival kit, map and
compass, and a trip plan left with a responsible adult.
Very few roadways are open to legal snowmobile operation. Ice conditions on water bodies can change daily, and riders are reminded to check conditions before every outing. Riders should avoid riding single-file across any frozen water. Breaking new trails is fun, but the snow can cover stumps, ditches, or other hazards. Snowmobilers must have the permission of landowners before entering onto private lands. Riders are expected to know and observe all state regulations, which can be accessed on the DNR web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr .
"Snowmobile operators should pay special attention to ensure that their enjoyment of the sport does not conflict with non-snowmobilers," Bacon said.
Youngsters age 12 to 17 are required to take a snowmobile safety class or be under the direct supervision of an adult 21 years or older. Available classes are listed on the DNR web site. Riders of all ages are encouraged to take a safety class.
Project will pay huge economic dividends for Southwest region
SPRINGFIELD, ILL - Progress continues on the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, a key project in Governor Rod Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns economic development plan for Southwest Illinois that he unveiled in December.
"This state-of-the-art facility will have an incredible economic impact on the Southwest region," Blagojevich said. “The World Shooting Complex will be a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts from across the region, the state and the nation. Opportunity Returns is all about giving more people the ability to earn a decent living, and this critical project will create more jobs and spur economic growth and development throughout the Metro East region."
The World Shooting Complex will have about 120 trap shooting stations over a 3.5-mile course, skeet stations, sporting clays, rifle and pistol ranges, and a 3-D archery range. In addition, it will have about 1,000 camp sites - 650 of which will have full-service hook-ups and another 350 that will have electricity only. The site will offer traditional outdoor recreational activities such as fishing and picnicking. Development of a large meeting facility and a full-scale camping/parking complex will allow the site to attract major motor home and camping rallies, car shows, conventions and entertainment venues, attracting thousands of visitors to the area.
"We are committed to making this site a mecca for the shooting sports and outdoor recreation" said DNR Director Joel Brunsvold. He noted the state is very close to completing negotiations with the Ohio-based Amateur Trapshooting Association to bring the ATA and its Grand American competition to Illinois. In addition, a variety of groups already have expressed interest in using the site, including the National Sporting Clays Association, the National Skeet Shooting Association and the Single Action Shooters
Cochran & Wilken, Inc., of Springfield is expected to have a master plan for the project completed later this month. That plan will provide a broad overview of how the World Shooting Complex will come together. The first phase of construction could begin as early as fall 2004.
As part of Opportunity Returns, the Illinois Department of Transportation is devoting $500,000 to building a left turn lane from Illinois Route 4 into the main entrance of the World Shooting Complex to make it easier for the thousands of people expected to attend events to enter the facility.
This project is in addition to the more than 50 projects announced by Blagojevich for Southwestern Illinois last month. His Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois' history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn't work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions - finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region.
This grassroots effort is a product of significant outreach over several months throughout each region, with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials. These economic initiatives are designed to be flexible and effective. Each plan is tailored to deliver real results that local businesses will see, feel, and, hopefully, profit from.
Development at the World Shooting Complex is expected to be phased in over several years. The city of Sparta, a key partner in the project, is assisting with sewer connections to the property.
State reports many successes
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Endangered Species Protection Board will hold a hearing on Friday Jan. 23 to take public comment on proposed changes to the list of endangered and threatened animals and plants in Illinois. While some plant and animal species on the endangered and threatened list have adapted fairly well to changes in their environment, it is hard work, habitat improvements and land acquisition that have allowed for a comeback for many species since the list was last revised five years ago.
"Many of the recommendations being made are a direct result of habitat preservation efforts and active management by the DNR, the Endangered Species Protection Board, the Nature Preserves Commission and their many partners in conservation," said Dan Gooch, who chairs the Endangered Species Protection Board. "These achievements are something in which we should take great pride."
Gooch pointed to gains by the peregrine falcon and the river otter, as just two of many examples. A restoration program in Chicago has assisted the recovery of the peregrine falcon, which the Board is proposing improve its status from endangered to threatened. River otters have made an amazing comeback in Illinois, following the release of these animals in the Wabash, Kaskaskia and Illinois river basins during 1994-97. They currently can be found throughout the state and are proposed to be removed from the list entirely. Not long ago (1989) the otters were so few in number they were classified as endangered.
The Henslow’s sparrow has benefited from increased habitat, the red-shouldered hawk is estimated to have doubled its numbers in less than 30 years and is found throughout Illinois and the pied-billed grebe has responded to wetland restoration efforts in Illinois.
The Board’s hearing is set for Jan. 23 from 1-5 p.m. at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Building, Lakeview Conference Room B at the north end of the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The hearing record will remain open for an additional two weeks. All written comments, which must be received no later than Feb. 6, should be sent to: Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271 or via e-mail to email@example.com .
"We want to continue the good work of the Board by building on those habitat improvements and acquiring land, even in tight budget years," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Director Joel Brunsvold, who noted IDNR acquired 7,000 acres during 2003.
The Board is not proposing any species be added as endangered, while the gravel chub, starhead topminnow, eastern narrowmouth toad, lined snake, Wilson’s snipe, cerulean warbler and gray/timber wolf are proposed to be added to the threatened list. The flathead chub, bluehead shiner, round hickorynut mussel, pyramid pigtoe mussel, rayed bean mussel, and Appalachian valley cave amphipod are proposed to be removed from their endangered classification; while the brown creeper, pied-billed grebe, red-shouldered hawk, river otter and Bousfield’s amphipod are proposed to be removed from their threatened classification.
The Iowa darter, eastern ribbonsnake, Henslow’s sparrow, peregrine falcon and little spectaclecase mussel would improve their status from endangered to threatened and the great plains ratsnake would move to endangered from threatened status. Dozens of plants also are impacted by the Board’s proposal. For a complete list of the Board’s recommendations go to http://dnr.state.il.us/espb.
Currently there are 478 animals and plants classified as either endangered or threatened in Illinois – 147 animals and 331 plants. With the Board’s proposal, the total number of species on the list would rise slightly to 482 – 143 animals and 339 plants. The list of endangered or threatened species is, by law, reviewed and revised at least once every five years. The current list was approved in 1999.
An animal species is considered endangered in Illinois if it is in danger of extinction as a breeding species in the wild within all or a portion of its range in the state, while a species is considered threatened if the population is low enough or declining to the point that it likely will become an endangered species in the foreseeable future. Species may be removed from the list for both positive and negative reasons – because its populations have recovered or because it is no longer found in the state.
A plant species may be considered endangered if fewer than 100 individual plants are found in the state in four or fewer areas, but such factors as decline in range or a reduced number of plants, even if its range in the state remains steady, also are considered, as is the existence of known threats to the remaining populations. A threatened plant species is not as few in number as an endangered species, but its continued existence is in doubt due to a declining population and fewer locations in which the species is found.
Cervid council meets - Public invited to participate
A citizen advisory group tackling the controversial subjects of regulating white-tailed deer ranching and hunting of cervids (deer and elk) within fenced enclosures will meet in Indianapolis on Jan. 17 at Fort Harrison State Park.
Anyone interested in presenting information to the group or learning more about the issue is invited to attend. The council's meeting begins at 9 a.m. Public input is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
and 5 p.m. This meeting was set on a Saturday to encourage public involvement.
More information and a meeting agenda are available online at: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/cervidcouncil/
Individuals who need reasonable modifications for effective participation in the meeting should call the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife ADA Coordinator at (317) 232-4080 (voice and TDD).
Angling's full year calendar
The fish are always biting in Heaven. But for those who can't wait, Indiana DNR provides this monthly fishing calendar for diehard piscators. Cut and paste these ideas into your executive calendar, or mix into your outdoor chores list.
stays cold, it's hard to beat perennial perch fishing favorite Summit Lake, near New Castle, for ice fishing. Try fishing frozen bays for big bluegill or under thick ice over deeper waters where cold perch like to hide. Locals use minnows, small worms or bee moth larvae as bait. Check at the park office for bait ideas and safe ice areas. Or check the Summit Lake fishing report online at: www.ai.org/serv/dnr_fishingreport?display=Summit+Lake
Young Lake Michigan coho salmon often show up in Indiana warm water discharge areas and lake harbors as early as February. Try orange-colored spinners or plugs on the terminal end of some light tackle. Grill fillets with butter and lemon over apple wood coals.
Hoosier sauger fishing usually peaks on the Ohio and lower White Rivers in March. Wait for a clearing and dropping river and fish with chartreuse or white 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jigs below river dams where these camouflaged members of the perch family congregate on late winter spawning runs.
When the redbuds are blooming, it's hard to beat the white bass action along rivers leading into Cecil M. Harden Lake near Rockville, Brookville Lake near Liberty or Lake Schafer near Monticello. Move up and down the creeks until you find a hungry mob of silvers. Almost any bait, jig or fly works well.
Catch a monster hybrid striped bass below the Oakdale or Norway dam. These are the dams on the Tippecanoe River that create lakes Shafer and Freeman. Since 1985, 18 of the 19 state record wipers were pulled from the Tippecanoe River below one of these dams. Most were caught between late April and June.
Fish for largemouth bass in Patoka Lake. In June, the lake is beautiful and the big bass are hungry all morning. Bass tournament catch rates (the number of fish caught per angler per hour fished) have increased steadily at the 8,800-acre flood control reservoir near French Lick since 1996.
Impressive numbers of channel catfish showed up in a recent DNR fishery survey at Brookville Lake. Channel catfish are second in numbers only to gizzard shad at the 5,260-acre reservoir near Liberty, and 60 percent of these catfish were in the 12- to 21-inch long range. Try using nightcrawler or chicken liver bait at a depth of 8 to 10 feet.
When big rivers like the White, Wabash and Ohio start to dry up, try fishing the deep holes below logjams and along bends with set poles baited with live panfish on a large hook. Get ready to wrestle a big flathead catfish for about 20 minutes.
When Indiana's king salmon run starts, there's no better place in the state for fighting big, strong fish. Make sure your reel drag is adjusted properly and troll gaudy spoons, plugs or flies on the lake outside Michigan City's Trail Creek, East Chicago's Indiana Harbor Ship Canal or Portage's Burns Waterway.
In October, acrobatic silver-as-a-dime steelhead trout start piling up against the Twin Branch Dam in Mishawaka. At this time of year, the dam is the end of the line for both Skamania and winter-run steelhead migrating up the Saint Joseph River. Try fishing with spawn bait or spinners and bass plugs below the dam or at nearby Frank Zappia Public Access Site.
Webster Lake near North Webster is one of the best muskie lakes in the Midwest. Muskellunge in the 40- to 50-inch long range are commonly caught. Most boats are off the lake by November, but the big muskie are still lurking. Try trolling spoonplugs or big crankbaits along dying weed lines near deep water. The heaviest concentrations of muskie, based on angler reports and radio-tracking data, are near the center of the main lake basin over large-leaf pondweed beds that grow in 12' deep water.
Spending a snowy winter afternoon strolling along Salt Creek near Valparaiso or Trail Creek near Michigan City can be reward enough. But throw in the chance to catch a finicky trophy steelhead trout hiding below a creek undercut and you've also justified your pre-holiday tackle present to yourself. Float small marble-size spawn sacks or nightcrawlers under small bobbers over fishy-looking runs. Take warm waders and fingerless wool gloves.
Public fishing access sites in Indiana:
Amphibian enthusiasts are needed to help monitor Indiana frog and toad populations. Speculation of a nationwide decline in frogs and toads has prompted the Indiana DNR to ask Hoosiers to leap into action.
The DNR is looking for volunteers to participate in the Indiana Amphibian Monitoring Program. Volunteers are needed to listen for frogs and toads from late February through July, the breeding seasons of Indiana's amphibians. Surveys are conducted at night, usually after rainy days, or on misty nights, when frogs and toads give their breeding calls. Information collected by volunteers will help DNR biologists better understand the distribution and abundance of amphibians in Indiana.
Volunteers must attend a training workshop in order to participate in the survey. Past participants are not required to attend. Each training workshop covers Indiana's 17 frog and toad species, their calls and breeding habitats, setting up surveys, and recording data.
Registration is not required to attend a training workshop. Attendees are asked to bring pen and paper to the workshop. Participants must be 18 or older. Anyone interested in volunteering is urged to come to a workshop and sign up for a survey route.
The Indiana Amphibian Monitoring Program is part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) by the U.S. Geological Survey. Two survey methods will be utilized starting this spring: national routes and stationary
sites. National routes are driving routes that take one to two hours to complete, not including drive time to the survey area. Stationary sites are completed at frog and toad breeding sites. Surveys are repeated three times during the breeding season. Internet access is required to participate in the program.
For more info: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/endangered/naamp/nindex.htm
North Judson, Sat Jan. 17, 11-1:30 p.m. Kankakee Fish & Wildlife Area 4320 W. Toto Rd. 574-896-3522
North Liberty, Sat, Feb. 14, 11-1:30 p.m., Potato Creek State Park Nature Center, 25601 State Road 4 - 574-656-8186
Fort Wayne, Sat, Jan. 24, 10-12:30 p.m., IPFW , Science Building (SB 168), Park in Lots 7 and 9, http://www.ipfw.edu/maps
Indianapolis - Sat, Feb. 7, 11 -1:30 p.m., Holiday Park Nature Center, 6349 Spring Mill Rd. 317-327-7180
Evansville, Sat Jan. 31, 11-1:30 p.m., Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, 511 N. Boeke Rd. 812-479-0771
Clarksville, Sat, Jan. 10, 11-1:30 p.m., Falls of the Ohio State Park, 201 W. Riverside Dr. 812-280-9970
Large amount of erosion immediately upstream of the berm with debris in White River
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has issued a notice of violation against The Heritage Group, owner of a Hamilton County sand and gravel mining operation. The notice cited an illegal, 20-foot-high berm that the company had built around its mining operation on the White River near Noblesville. It was issued Nov. 10.
The notice orders The Heritage Group to remove the berm and restore the site to within six inches of the previous land grades. The removal must begin by Thursday, November 20 - 14 calendar days from the issuance of the notice - and must be completed no later than 90 calendar days from the start of the removal.
The civil penalty for the construction of the berm, according to the Indiana Code, can be as much as $10,000 per day that the violation continues. And, if The Heritage Group fails to complete the required removal and re-vegetation, the permit that allows the sand and gravel mining is subject to revocation by the DNR.
After receiving a request from the county surveyor, engineers from the DNR's division of water inspected the White River between Forest Park in Noblesville to the 116th St. bridge.
The engineers found a berm with very steep sides at the large bend in the river south of Noblesville where Stony Creek enters the river just above 146th St. It is a site permitted for a sand and gravel operation. The company had constructed the berm along the perimeter of the gravel pit.
The DNR inspection also revealed a large amount of erosion immediately upstream of the berm and evidence that a large amount of debris had been left in the river because of a change in the flow of the river near the berm.
The DNR engineers later determined the mining site is owned by The Heritage Group; that the site had received a permit to operate in a floodway; specifically for the mining of sand and gravel; but that no permit had ever been issued that allowed the construction of the berm.
Using a computer model designed for flood control, the DNR used data from the site of the berm to determine the effects of the berm on water levels in the river. The computer model showed a likely increase in the river level of about 2.5 feet immediately upstream of the berm and as much as 1.5 feet further upstream in Noblesville.
DNR also analyzed data from a U.S. Geological Survey stream monitoring gauge in Noblesville which showed that the river was reacting to flooding differently than it had in previous floods. The July flooding brought the river to its highest stage since 1913. USGS data showed that the flooding in Noblesville was calculated to have been as much as 1.5 to 2' higher than what would have been expected. The same phenomenon was also seen in the September flood but at a lower level.
The computer modeling also demonstrated that the construction of the berm would never have been allowed and was, in fact, in violation of Indiana law and the federal flood control act.
The Heritage Group is required to provide proof of removal of the berm to DNR's division of water. The notice of violation also requires the company to dispose of the materials from the berm in accordance with Indiana law and under the oversight of both the DNR and Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
The Heritage Group also is required to return the riverbank to its previous condition through the planting of any plants or trees that were lost to the construction of the berm or through its removal. Any vegetation planted as a result of the violation must be approved by the DNR. The Heritage Group must also plant any additional plants required for proper erosion control along the riverbank.
Winter camping still available
All over Indiana, campers are logging on or phoning in to make reservations for spring and summer camping at our state parks. But not at Indiana Dunes State Park. While the park will continue to operate as usual throughout the winter months, the campground will close May 3, 2004 for construction. That is when demolition begins to make way for an entirely new campground on the site.
"We want to remind out friends in Northwest Indiana that they will not be able to make spring or summer camping reservations at Indiana Dunes State Park," said DNR Director John Goss. "We encourage them to join us for a winter camp. This summer they can use any of our other great parks or reservoirs. We'll be back at the Dunes in 2005 with a better-than-ever camping experience."
Virtually the entire campground "footprint" will be erased, beginning with the installation of all new utilities plus new comfort stations, a new campground shelter, and enhanced roads and parking. All play areas and equipment will also be replaced.
The campground will be reduced to approximately 140 campsites from its current capacity of 201. The reduction in the number of sites is designed to improve the quality of the camping experience by eliminating the overcrowded conditions that have existed for years.
Park entrance fees are $4 for in-state vehicles and $8 for out-of state vehicles. All fees are dedicated for the maintenance of the park. For more information, please contact the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center at (219) 926-1390.
Governor Granholm is backing Nestle Waters' appeal of a crucial water rights court decision in Macosta County. Last week, citizen groups defending Michigan’s water supply were stunned by the Granholm administration's filing of an amicus brief supporting Nestle.
Two weeks ago a circuit court judge had declared the company's extraction of Michigan water to be illegal but, with the state administration at its side, Nestle has now won a stay of the judge's shutdown order. The administration’s action comes in response to Mecosta County Circuit Judge Lawrence C. Root's ruling on November 25 that ordered Nestle Waters to shut down its spring water wells by midnight
on December 16.
In issuing the order, Judge Root determined that Nestle did not have the right to pump and sell drinking water for sale out of its natural basin, and that those very same wells were in clear violation of three state environmental laws because they were draining a system of lakes, streams, and wetlands and producing unreasonable harm to landowners and the environment.
Environmental groups are saying the governor’s support of Nestle is undermining her campaign promise to defend Michigan’s water from unwise use and extraction.
Michigan DNR officials, in partnership with the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance, today announced grants totaling $10,000 have been awarded to 50 Michigan communities and schools for Arbor Day activities under the DNR's Urban and Community Forestry Program.
"Arbor Day is a time to celebrate trees and their importance in our communities and our lives," said DNR Forest, Mineral and Fire Management Chief Mindy Koch. "These grants provide incentive and support to local schools and communities as they recognize the range of values trees provide."
Arbor Day was started in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, a journalist living in the Nebraska Territory, and has been observed as an official state holiday in Michigan since 1855. In 1965, former Governor George Romney proclaimed the last week in April as Arbor Week, and the Friday of that week as
Arbor Day – a tradition continued by every Michigan Governor and Legislature since. In Michigan, 2004 Arbor Day will be celebrated April 30.
The grant program, with funds from the USDA Forest Service, was created to assist schools and communities with Arbor Day celebrations, such as tree plantings or the purchase of forestry-related reference material for libraries. Grant recipients receive up to $200 in matching funds for projects performed under the grant.
For more info or a list of grant recipients, contact Kevin Sayers, Urban and Community Forester, 517-241-4632, or visit the website at www.michigan.gov/dnr . To learn about Arbor Day celebrations in your community, contact the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance at 517-676-2290, or visit their website at www.miarbordayalliance.org .
State conservation officials are seeking public input on proposed boundary changes for many state parks, forests and wildlife areas.
The boundary review is part of the Michigan DNR effort to update its land management strategy throughout Michigan. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission policy committee on land management called for the review early this year. The DNR serves as public land management steward for nearly 4.5 million acres of state forests, parks, recreation and wildlife areas. Boundaries for many of the areas have not been formally reviewed for 20 years or more.
"Ultimately, our goal is to review the state's land holdings and make necessary adjustments to ensure that public lands are still meeting public needs and the department's conservation mission goals," said DNR Deputy Director George Burgoyne, who has directed the review. "By carefully reviewing these boundaries, we will develop a clear management strategy for
Michigan's parks, forests and wildlife areas that identifies present and future needs as well as parcels that no longer meet the best public interest."
Maps detailing proposed boundary changes are available on the DNR web site at www.michigan.gov/dnrboundaries . Those without Internet access can request boundary information by contacting:
Forests: Steve DeBrabander, 517-241-3687, or Lynn Boyd, 517-373-7666
Wildlife: Scott Whitcomb, 517-241-3789, or Marshall Strong, 517-241-3102
Parks and Recreation: Paul Yauk, 517-335-4824, or Mary Nardo, 517-241-5121
Public comments, which can be submitted to the division employees listed above, will be accepted through January, 2004. The DNR and NRC will develop actionable plans later in 2004.
Recovering lake sturgeon populations on the Minnesota-Ontario border will receive more protection from harvest by anglers through new regulations announced today by the Minnesota DNR.
Regulations set to take effect this spring will allow sturgeon harvest from April 24 through May 7 with catch-and-release fishing through May 16. Harvest will also be allowed July 1 through Sept. 30 with catch-and-release fishing Oct. 1 through April 23. Anglers may harvest one sturgeon per season between 45 and 50 inches or more than 75 inches.
The regulations came after numerous discussions with the Rainy Lake Sport Fishing Club and a series of public meetings on further limiting the harvest. Changes implemented in 2001 - a shorter season with a slot limit and a one-fish possession limit -- were not enough to keep sturgeon harvest within recovery levels, according to DNR biologists.
"Anglers are pursuing lake sturgeon in greater numbers than ever before," said John Guenther, Director of the DNR division of fish and wildlife. "While that's good news, we have the responsibility to assist in the recovery of this population so future generations have similar fishing opportunities."
Lake sturgeon in the Minnesota-Ontario border waters are recovering from decades of low population levels due to over harvest and habitat degradation such as water pollution and the effects of dams. Records show that lake sturgeon have become more abundant, natural reproduction has increased and there are more sexually mature female fish in the population over the past 20 years. Despite these improvements, lake sturgeon populations are still recovering and have yet to reach their full potential in these waters. While smaller fish are more abundant, there are relatively few older fish longer than 55".
Known to live up to 150 years and weigh up to 400 lb, the lake sturgeon is one of the largest freshwater fish in North America. Females are at least 26 years old (57" long) and males are 17 years old before they are able to reproduce. Once mature, males may spawn once every two to three years while females may go from four to nine years between spawning cycles. Archeological records show that lake sturgeons have existed since pre-historic times but are sensitive to harvesting and habitat modification.
The DNR's long-range goal for lake sturgeon in the border waters area is to re-establish and maintain self-sustaining stocks of lake sturgeon, provide a recreational fishery, and provide opportunities to encounter large, trophy-sized fish.
Fisheries managers from the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and the Minnesota DNR recently concluded that the Red Lake walleye fishery is on track to be opened for harvest in 2006. Lakewide assessment data continues to indicate very promising progress towards walleye recovery.
“We are very encouraged by the progress that has been made in the past five years” said Dave Conner, Red Lake DNR administrative officer. “Barring unforeseen changes in current population trends, we fully expect that walleye harvest will resume in 2006”.
Walleye abundance has increased dramatically from the mid-1990’s when the walleye population crashed. Walleye fry stocked in 1999, 2001 and 2003 as part of the recovery plan have established a large population of young fish. Over the next several years, these fish are expected to mature and begin contributing to natural reproduction.
The Red Lake fisheries technical committee is composed of representatives of the Red Lake Band's Department of Natural Resources; the Band's Fisheries Association; Minnesota DNR's Section of Fisheries; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; the USFWS; and the University of Minnesota, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
The Committee will now focus their efforts on developing a
protocol for setting safe harvest levels and devising a suite of harvest management options that could be implemented when the lake is re-opened to walleye fishing. "The next phase of the walleye restoration project will be critical to the ultimate success of the recovery plan," said Henry Drewes, DNR regional fisheries manager. "The Band and the DNR will be working very closely with our constituents to determine harvest management strategies that are both sustainable and acceptable".
Members of the Red Lakes Technical Committee are fully committed to continue working together to manage this fishery when harvest resumes with mutually agreed upon safe harvest levels, seasons, and limits that will be implemented with the help of law enforcement officials.
During the winter, while people are ice fishing, they will likely catch some walleyes. It is important that these fish are released to give them an opportunity to spawn over the next few years so that the population can continue to recover at its present pace.
Walleyes that are over 20" in size are probably the original Red Lake walleyes, which need to be protected in order to preserve their genetics into the future. With continued support and compliance of the walleye moratorium for the next few years, the walleye population will recover and the Red Lake walleye will be available for generations to come.
The DNR is warning people to not risk their lives trying to save an animal that has fallen through thin ice. "It's very upsetting to see a beloved pet or other animal in a bad situation, but we strenuously advise against risking human life in an attempt to rescue any animal," said DNR water safety specialist Tim Smalley.
DNR records indicate that over the years there have been a number of people who have drowned in an attempt to rescue a dog. "Sadder still is that often after the person goes under, the animal gets out of the water without help," said Tim Smalley, MN DNR water safety specialist.
This comes after a 19-year-old man drowned after breaking through one inch thick ice on Wettles Lake in Becker County the day before his 20th birthday. He was trying to rescue his dog that had broken through while following some deer on the
ice. He fell into the water and was submerged for nearly an hour. He was recovered by a rescue diver, resuscitated and then flown to a Fargo hospital, where he died.
The DNR recommends if you are walking your dog anywhere there might be thin ice, keep it on a leash so it can't bolt out onto the lake. If you see an animal that has fallen through the ice, contact the local authorities or DNR conservation officer who will determine if the animal can be rescued safely.
Ice experts recommend at least 4" of new clear ice for activities such as ice fishing, 6" for snowmobiles and 8 – 12" of new solid ice for small to medium-sized cars and trucks. For more information about ice safety, Minnesotans may call the DNR toll free at 1-800-MINNDNR. Computer users can download ice safety information from the DNR website www.dnr.state.mn.us and click on "Danger Thin Ice".
Lottery entry forms available online at www.ohiodnr.com
COLUMBUS, OH -- Controlled trout-fishing opportunities on Cold Creek, one of Ohio's most unique streams, will again await fly-fishing enthusiasts who enter a special lottery conducted by the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife.
A half-mile section of the creek, located at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Erie County, will again be open to a limited number of anglers from April 5 through October 29 this year. Those interested in fishing the stream must submit an application form, along with a non-refundable $3 application fee, before March 1 in order to be eligible for the random drawing. Forms are available for download on the ODOR Division of Wildlife web site at www.ohiodnr.com .
Postcards will no longer be accepted for the drawing. Completed forms and application fees should be mailed to: Castalia Trout Fishing, c/o Division of Wildlife, 1840 Belcher Dr., Columbus, Ohio 43224. Successful applicants will be notified by mail of their fishing dates.
There will be two seasons: one for adults (April 5 through June 4 and August 23 through October 29), and one for youths under the age of 16 (June 7 through August 20). Individuals selected for either drawing will be allowed to bring two other adults and three youths under the age of 16 (six people total).
Special fishing rules will be in effect for this event to ensure that a quality fishing experience is maintained throughout the season. One of these special rules prohibits catch and release fishing, with wildlife officials requiring that anglers keep all fish they catch. The daily bag limit will be five trout per angler.
Anglers will be required to check in at the hatchery upon arrival and check out at the end of their session. Fishing sessions will be open from 7 a.m. to noon. Anglers 16 years of age and older will need a valid 2004 Ohio fishing license. An Ohio resident annual fishing license for 2004 costs $19; a one-day fishing license costs $11. Those who purchase a one-day fishing license may later return it to a license agent to receive credit toward purchase of an annual fishing license.
The briefs included in these reports are provided by the PFBC’s field staff – Waterways Conservation Officers, Area Fisheries Managers and Aquatic Education Specialists – from across the Commonwealth. During the winter months, reports will be issued every other week, with each compilation consisting of information from three of the Commission’s six regions on a rotating basis.
Manatawny Creek is still producing trout, although water temperatures are cold and the fish are sluggish. Try fishing the creek on a warm sunny day for the best success.
Trout are still being caught in Sacony Creek. There are no reports of big numbers, but there are enough fish to make it fun. Dress to match the scenery, keep a low profile, and work on stalking the trout in these streams to give yourself better odds at success.
Antietam Lake has been recently stocked with trout, though the fishing has been slow.
Ontelaunee Lake has been fishing rather well for panfish and largemouth bass. Find the weed edges and you will find the fish. Keep in mind that this lake is a great bet for ice fishing if the ice becomes safe as well, since no boats are allowed on it during open water times.
While some anglers are hanging up their hats and heading in to tie flies, others are just getting started. Good reports are coming from Donegal Creek near Mount Joy in eastern Lancaster County. This lesser known spring creek rarely freezes, and is a good bet through the winter. Indeed, the colder months can be the best time to fish this stream since it keeps the streamside vegetation down and out of the way of the angler. Fly fishing enthusiasts should try small nymphs, bead head varieties of pheasant tails and hare’s ears in sizes 14-18 are reported to be working well.
Check out the Little Lehigh Creek for consistent winter trout fishing. Fly anglers fishing the heritage section of the stream near the Queen City Hatchery report continued success on small mayfly nymph and midge patterns. Warmer days have brought midge hatches for those fly anglers looking for dry fly action. While the heritage section of the stream limits anglers to fly fishing, the remainder of the stream downstream from that section does not have special regulations, and has produced good fishing for anglers using minnows. As the weather becomes cold, the trout will become more lethargic, so target larger deeper pools where the fish may be resting.
While there isn’t any ice just yet, keep an eye on Tuscarora Lake in Tuscarora State Park. One of the first lakes to freeze up in the SE region, this lake offers great ice fishing if we get enough ice for safe travel. One thing to try while ice fishing at this location is tip-ups rigged for muskellunge. Fish & Boat Commission regulations permit the use of up to five tip-ups per angler, which can greatly increase your odds for success when targeting these elusive predators. Check your summary of fishing regulations for additional ice fishing regulations.
In general the unseasonably warm weather over the weekend after New Year's put a damper on the ice fishing in the region. Some waters did maintain enough ice to safely provide ice fishing. However, if the weather predictions hold true there will be lots of ice formed on water throughout the region!
Sayers Lake at Bald Eagle State park is seven feet above flood stage. Anglers should contact the Park for more up-to-date conditions before heading that way.
Spring Creek and the waters of Fisherman's Paradise remained fishable despite the higher waters. Anglers should be aware of the special Heritage Trout regulations in place on the Paradise.
Approved Trout Streams in the county are running high and fast, but still fishable to the hardy angler with cabin fever. One of the better bets is Fishing Creek, particularly the Trophy Trout special regulation section.
The heavy rains over the New Year's weekend have left the West Branch of the Susquehanna River high and muddy.
Cowanesque Lake is either open water or areas with unsafe ice, due in combination to the warm spell around New Year’s, melting snow and rising waters. Colder temperatures forecasted should help ice formation here.
Ice anglers on Hills Creek Lake have been catching walleye down near the dam. Anglers report a 24-inch fish caught there. Numerous panfish have been caught between the Beaver Hut access and the campers boat launch.
Hamilton Lake is scheduled to receive a late winter stocking the week of January 26. If weather predictions hold true, conditions should be ideal to produce ice on this lake. This will make for some ideal mid-winter trout fishing through the ice.
Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers
Due to heavy rains, flooding conditions currently exist on the three rivers. The rivers crested on January 3 at 23.5 feet in Pittsburgh. Flooding level for Pittsburgh is 25 feet. A small craft advisory is on the rivers and will be posted until rivers reach safe boating levels.
Before the heavy rains, the walleye fish at Lock and Dam #2 on the Allegheny River was at its peak. Members of the Sharpsburg Fishing Club landed several nice fish, including a 31.5-inch, 11-pound walleye and several others in the 25- to 28-inch range.
Rainbow trout have been taken at Lake Rowena on power bait and jigs. The water is open for shore fishing.
The water is open at Hinkston Reservoir where several nice bass have been caught.
The perch bite on Lake Somerset is slow, with some being taken before the heavy rains.
Quemahoning Reservoir is still producing pike with some bullhead catfish being caught.
LAKE ERIE and TRIBUTARIES
After unseasonably warm temperatures this past weekend, winter hit the Erie area with the first real storm of the season on Tuesday. Overnight temperatures in the low teens have started the formation of slush and ice on the tributaries. Forecasts indicate bitterly cold weather for the next week or so. Whether we are seeing the beginning of a long-term freeze remains to be seen. Significant rainfall last week brought a good number of fish into Walnut and Elk Creeks. Only a handful of anglers were fishing the project waters and the Walnut Creek wall but all seemed to be having good success. Anglers were doing very well at the Manchester hole.
Area temperatures have reached the point where iced up lines and cold feet are the norm, leaving plenty of elbow room for the hardiest of anglers. Almost all cold weather anglers have a remedy for iced up lines from the commercial sprays to Vaseline and lip balms. Generally any convenient substance that will repel water will work. If you are using a float, it can be thinly applied to keep the float ice free. Casting a heavily iced up line, particularly fly line, in most cases will do little more than spook the fish. Another tip is to avoid getting the inner workings of your reel wet. Once the inside of the reel takes on water it can freeze rendering the drag useless and possibly damaging the reel.
Talk about your great deals: 2004 Pennsylvania Fishing Licenses went on sale December 1 - at 1990s prices! A Pennsylvania resident fishing license is only $17 ($16.25 plus $0.75 issuing agent fee) - the ninth year at the same reasonable rate. A Pennsylvania Trout/Salmon Stamp is an additional $5.50 ($5 plus $0.50 issuing agent fee) - the same today as it was back in 1991! How many other things still cost the same today as they did 12 years ago?
Not only are the 2004 licenses available in December, they're also valid immediately at the time of purchase. In essence, buying a Pennsylvania fishing license in December is like getting an extra month at no additional fee. Get a head start on next year for yourself - or do a little holiday shopping for others with a gift license - by heading out to any of the 1,500 authorized issuing agents across the state. Pennsylvania fishing licenses are also available for purchase on-line in the "Outdoor Shop" at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's (PFBC) web site. A list of issuing agents can also be found on the PFBC site.
Of course the real value of a fishing license is the full year's worth of fun with friends and family on some of the best fishing
waters around. Best of all, there's water everywhere in Pennsylvania. With more than 83,000 miles of rivers and streams and some 4,000 lakes and ponds across the state (not to mention 470,000 acres of Lake Erie) there are great fishing opportunities close by for everyone.
Don't worry if you haven't fished for a few years and don't remember every rule. A free Summary of Pennsylvania Fishing Regulations and Laws is issued with each license purchase. A few things to know up front: a valid Pennsylvania license is required for anglers 16 years of age and older. Licenses must be signed in ink and clearly displayed on an outer garment while in the act of fishing. In addition, anglers must be prepared to furnish positive proof of identification when requested by a Waterways Conservation Officer.
More than just a permit to fish, a fishing license is a direct investment in Pennsylvania's aquatic resources. Unlike most state agencies, the Fish and Boat Commission receives no General Fund tax dollars to operate its programs. Instead, the PFBC relies on revenues from the sale of fishing licenses and boat registrations to provide fisheries management, stocking, habitat improvement and law enforcement for the anglers and boaters of the Commonwealth.
Fails to show benefits of merged Fish/Boat and Game Agencies
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) recently expressed concerns with "An Update on the Feasibility of a Combined Fish and Wildlife Commission for Pennsylvania" released by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. The recommended structure for a new fish, wildlife and boating agency for Pennsylvania as described in the report would sacrifice protection and management of the resource and customer service for possible cost savings that may never be realized.
The report was drafted by the staff of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee pursuant to House Resolution 15 of 2003. House Resolution 15 called for an exploration of a "broad range of options with regard to how to structure our wildlife agencies to best manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth." Instead, the report issued this morning focuses on a single model for restructuring the state’s two wildlife agencies. It devotes nearly all its attention to how this model might save money without regard for providing the best management for fish, wildlife and boating programs.
The report suggests that a merger of the Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission is feasible, but with the only real benefit coming in the form of potential savings from a reduction in core programs and services for anglers, boaters, hunters and trappers and a dramatic reduction in the number of field personnel enforcing regulations and serving as informational liaisons between the public and the new agency.
"The Fish and Boat Commission’s position on merger is not based on protecting our turf or the jobs of our employees. Instead, we believe Pennsylvania’s way of organizing our fish, wildlife and boating agencies should be grounded on what’s best for our customers and what’s best for the protection and management of the resource,” said Samuel M. Concilla, President of the Fish and Boat Commission.
According to Dennis Guise, PFBC Deputy Executive Director, "The single fish and wildlife agency described in the report will provide less – not best – management of Pennsylvania's precious fish and wildlife resources. It will provide less – not best – service to the anglers and boaters of Pennsylvania. It’s not enough to observe, as the report does, that merged agencies are feasible because other states have them. It must be shown that a merged agency would work better for anglers, boaters, hunters and trappers and would work better for the resource. The report fails to show that any particular organizational structure, let alone the one advocated in the report, will accomplish this goal."
The PFBC says the report fails in five critical areas:
• Willingness to sacrifice resource management and protection and customer service
• Overestimation of potential savings
• Failure to adequately address tangible and intangible costs
• Lack of focus on boats and boating programs
• Lack of adequate analysis of state-by-state comparisons
"The Fish and Boat Commission has staked out a clear policy
position on merger. Our position was – and is – that Pennsylvania should consider a single fish, wildlife and boating agency if, after a review of both tangible and intangible costs and benefits, it could be shown that there would be better services for anglers and boaters and better protection and management of aquatic resources. Pennsylvania should not copy some other state's organizational structure unless it is clear that there will be major benefits for our customers and the resource. This report contains nothing that would lead the Commissioners to support merger," said Commissioner Concilla.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the report comes from the notion that the cost savings should be generated by cutting areas critical to anglers and boaters. For instance, the report documents no overstaffing in the current agencies, but nonetheless suggests that, in a single fish and wildlife and boating agency, 71 positions can be eliminated. The report reaches this conclusion with no workload assessment, no workflow analysis and no recognition that, at least in the Fish and Boat Commission, many employees wear two or more different hats and perform many different functions.
"The principal flaw with this approach is that cost savings depend almost entirely on the elimination of staff positions, the majority of which are engaged in law enforcement or related activities. Without any assessment of current workflow or work output requirements, the report assumes that far fewer employees would be needed to accomplish the mission of a single fish, wildlife and boating agency. What's more, a majority of the cuts and the savings depend on restricting conservation officers from attending sportsmen’s meetings, attending sports shows, helping with fish stocking, or providing education programs. This approach won’t help the resource, and it will reduce customer service," Guise pointed out.
In addition to other concerns, the Fish and Boat Commission was struck by how little attention boating programs were given in the report. More people boat in Pennsylvania each year than hunt and fish. The model for the future of the conservation officer program does not adequately consider the needs for boating law enforcement to protect public safety. Boating education and boating access are core programs.
Given that the possible savings depend on cutting core programs and services, and the costs are understated, one could easily draw the conclusion that the proposed merger will cost more than it saves for at least a few years. Past studies have shown that net savings do not, in themselves, justify merger decisions.
The Fish and Boat Commission staff cooperated fully with the staff of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee in preparing the report. "We do not fault the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee or its staff for their work on this report. We're sure they looked hard for benefits that would flow from a proposed single fish, wildlife and boating agency. The fact that the report does not identify such benefits, except for possible cost savings from cutting core programs and restricting the duties of conservation officers, confirms past studies on this subject," Guise concluded.
You’d never know it to catch one, but there will be something a little different about a number of trout being stocked as part of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s winter stocking program next week. The 13,900 rainbow trout being stocked into eight lakes are part of a pilot program using commercially acquired fish rather than those grown in the state hatchery system.
The PFBC is conducting the pilot to examine the feasibility of augmenting stockings with commercial contracts. Tellico Trout Farms, a North Carolina-based hatchery, won a competitive bidding process to supply and stock the rainbow trout being used in the pilot.
The PFBC will examine the trout at the stocking site before the fish are released to ensure they are in good health and meet the Commission’s standards. The purchased fish will be in the same size range of the trout reared in the state-run hatchery system. All have been previously screened for chemicals of concern.
The pilot program for the commercial acquisition of fish is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to ensure it can meet
angler demand for stocked trout. Some 100,000 brook trout
reared at the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery near Warren, PA will be stocked next spring through a cooperative agreement between the PFBC and the USFWS.
"The state hatchery system faces major challenges in terms of maintaining adequate water supplies, treating effluent to meet new discharge standards and securing the funding for the infrastructure to make it all possible. By exploring alternatives for augmenting adult trout for our stocking program, the Commission is taking positive steps to ensure we can continue to provide the quantity and quality of trout Pennsylvania anglers expect," said Dennis Guise, PFBC Deputy Executive Director.
The first shipments of purchased trout were made the week of December 15 to the following lakes:
Twin Lake, LowerWestmoreland
Madison, Wis. – A wild white-tailed deer from Brighton township in Kenosha County, just north of Paddock Lake, has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
"Like the positives found earlier in Rock and Walworth counties, this Kenosha County positive is disappointing but not unexpected. The closeness of known CWD positives across the border in Illinois caused us to consider the deer population in our border counties to be at risk for the disease,” said Tom Hauge, Director of Wildlife Management with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Both the Wisconsin DNR and Illinois DNR increased CWD surveillance efforts in the border counties during the Fall 2003 deer hunt. So far, six Wisconsin deer have tested positive in Rock, Walworth and Kenosha counties. Illinois has identified 30 CWD-positive deer in their border counties to date.
"Deer hunters in both states are key partners in the effort to learn about and control CWD. We've asked hunters to have their deer tested in these counties and they’ve responded. The new information we're getting is due to their efforts. Test results are crucial to mapping the extent of infection in the states,” Hauge said.
In addition to increased surveillance, both states have begun reducing the deer population in previously identified CWD-infected areas to help slow the spread of the disease. The Wisconsin DNR will continue to work with Illinois to share information that will help both states manage the disease.
Throughout the winter, the DNR will be conducting ongoing
surveillance in Kenosha, Walworth and Rock counties where CWD-positive deer have been discovered. The DNR will continue to seek CWD samples from these counties, taking advantage of car-killed deer, municipal deer control projects, landowner permits, and targeted shooting and trapping on selected sites by agency personnel. Additionally, the DNR is encouraging people to call their local wildlife biologist if they see a sick-looking deer.
"We are very grateful to hunters and all others in Kenosha County who have helped us get the deer tissue samples needed in order to look for CWD. We would not have found this sick deer without their help," said Marty Johnson, Wildlife Biologist. "We are asking for their continued support so we can better determine the extent of CWD in the county."
To date, results have been returned from the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab on 45 of 56 deer submitted during 2002 and 2003 from Kenosha County for CWD testing. One has tested positive. This positive deer was taken by a hunter and brought in to the DNR for testing on November 22, 2003.
Like in all other areas of the state, hunters from Kenosha County that submitted deer for CWD testing will receive a postcard from the DNR if the deer they harvested tested negative for CWD. The DNR will contact hunters and landowners by phone if the deer tested positive. Additionally, hunters can access test results at www.dnr.state.wi.us , under "CWD Testing Results." The online results database will be updated automatically as test results are returned from the lab and hunters who harvested positive deer are properly notified.
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