Week of January 12, 2009

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National

EPA Predicting more Invasive Species

EPA has released a final report entitled, "Predicting Future Introductions of Nonindigenous Species to the Great Lakes". This report predicts the spread of aquatic Nonindigenous species into the Great Lakes to help resource managers focus monitoring activities on particular species at the most vulnerable U.S. Great Lakes ports. The report also demonstrates the use of a habitat suitability model and ballast water discharge data to predict invasion potential.

 

The U.S. Great Lakes have suffered ecological damage and incurred substantial economic costs from a number of aquatic Nonindigenous species (NIS) that have successfully invaded this region. Ballast water from commercial shipping is the primary means by which NIS have entered the Great Lakes. Preventing the transport of NIS to the region is the best way to avoid their potential adverse impacts, but if this is not possible, the next best alternative is to monitor for their arrival and control their spread.

 

To predict future invasions of NIS in the Great Lakes, the two most important determinants of successful invasions were evaluated: whether there is suitable habitat in the Great Lakes for nonnative species and whether there are a sufficient number of these organisms and their larvae arriving in the Great Lakes. First, a species distribution model was used to identify the areas of the Great Lakes which could provide suitable habitat for NIS of concern. Second, commercial

shipping and ballast water discharge data were used to evaluate if there are a sufficient number of these organisms entering the Great Lakes to become established.

 

The primary goal of this report is to help scientists and managers to better focus aquatic NIS monitoring activities and resources by identifying new invasive species, their potential to spread, and the U.S. Great Lakes ports most susceptible to invasion. Another goal is to demonstrate the use of a habitat suitability model and ballast water discharge data to predict invasion potential. Clients for this report include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office, Great Lakes port officials, the U.S. Coast Guard, environmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. and Canada concerned about invasive species, and invasion biologists.

 

This report was subjected to an independent external peer review and the reviewer’s comments were used to revise the draft report. These comments focused on the need to include ballast water discharge data in the analysis, discuss new regulations that were developed to better invasions from ballast water, and update the literature review of the quagga mussel. All of these comments have been addressed.

 

For more info:  http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=190305


Coast Guard to discontinue monitoring of 121.5/243 emergency beacons

CLEVELAND -- The Ninth Coast Guard District is urging mariners and aviators to start the year off right and make the switch to a digital emergency beacon.

 

Beginning Feb. 1, 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard and other search-and-rescue personnel will only receive distress alerts broadcast using digital 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons. Search and rescue satellites will no longer process older model analog EPIRBs that only transmit on 121.5 or 243 MHz.

 

The 406 EPIRB's signal is 50 times more powerful than the 121.5 beacon's, allowing satellites to better detect its signal and provide a more accurate search area for rescue crews.  Satellites are not capable of distinguishing between beacon and non-beacon sources using analog frequencies, making only about one in five alerts actually coming from a beacon. Many false alert signals come from ATMs, pizza ovens and stadium scoreboards.

 

With analog beacons, the only way to determine if an alert is an actual emergency is to send rescue crews to the area, which costs thousands of dollars, takes resources away from actual emergencies and puts the lives of responders at risk needlessly.  Furthermore, a GPS-embedded 406 EPIRB can shrink a search area to about 100 yards and can also pinpoint the position of a distressed mariner within minutes.

Additionally, the number of false alerts with digital beacons is

significantly lower than analog beacons.

 

"The signal from any emergency beacon activated on the U. S. waters of the Great Lakes and connecting waterways, or on land close to these waters, is automatically routed to the Coast Guard's Rescue Coordination Center here," said Mr. Jerry Popiel, Acting Chief of the Ninth Coast Guard District Incident Management Branch. "At the RCC, our round-the-clock duty officers assess the signal, determine the appropriate course of action and then dispatch a helicopter, boat or ship to the location to perform a rescue."

 

EPIRB owners are required by law to provide emergency contact information and a vessel description by registering their beacons with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This lets search and rescue personnel quickly confirm if a distress signal is real, and identify who and what type of boat or aircraft to look for. It also means accidental activation of an EPIRB may be resolved quickly with a phone call to the owner.

 

EPIRB users must register their beacons in the U.S. by logging in to www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov/.   Registering your EPIRB is free and easy to use.  Beacon registrations must also be updated at least every two years or when information such as emergency contact phone numbers and other vital information changes. Registration information is only available to authorized search and rescue personnel.


USFWS to Establish National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today approved the establishment of Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Pennsylvania.

 

The Service has established a boundary for the refuge, encompassing 20,466 acres in Monroe and Northampton counties, within which it may begin acquiring nationally significant habitat for wildlife as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

 

Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge encompasses rare ecosystems, several plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act, and numerous species of concern within the conservation community. Cherry Creek, in the bottom of the valley, ultimately flows into the Delaware River. Following the creek's path, Kittatinny Ridge is a major avenue for migrating birds and bats.

 

"The partnership approach to the planning for the Cherry

Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a model for future planning efforts," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. "The collaboration of officials from local, state, and federal offices, as well as non-governmental organizations made sure the process was efficient and comprehensive. The strong, grassroots support for the project shows that this habitat is nationally significant and Cherry Valley is the right place for a new national wildlife refuge."

 

The Service will work to provide opportunities for wildlife-related recreation--such as hunting, fishing and bird watching--and ensure these activities are compatible with the management goals and mission of the refuge.

 

The completed study, which includes the final environmental assessment, finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and other establishing documents, as well as answers to frequently asked questions regarding establishing national wildlife refuges, can be found online at www.fws.gov/northeast/


Three New Marine Monuments Prohibit Recreational Boating and Fishing Access

President leaves anglers and boaters a legacy of restricted access to public resources

Alexandria, VA –Using unilateral presidential powers provided under the Antiquities Act and bypassing long-standing environmental review and public comment processes, on January 6 President George W. Bush declared Rose Atoll, the Mariana Trench and the Pacific Remote Island Area (PRIA) as U.S. National Marine Monuments creating the largest marine protected area on the planet covering 195,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

 

The proclamation effectively prohibits recreational fishing out to 50 nautical miles within the monuments for an undetermined period of time until federal agencies can complete their compatibility assessments.

 

In 2006, the President first used the Antiquities Act to create the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Monument. The Antiquities Act historically has been used to set aside lands under a federal designation for historical or

cultural significance, as are some of the areas within the  

National Park Service. The Hawaiian Islands monument encompasses 140,000 square miles where all recreational fishing, even catch-and-release, is banned.

 

The American Sportfishing Association along with other members of the sportfishing community held a series of meetings with the White House over the past several months to highlight the conservation, economic and social benefits of recreational fishing and boating and voice their concerns about using the Antiquities Act to establish marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean.

 

“What most people will fail to realize is that this designation process took approximately 60 days to complete. There was no proposal or scientific information available for public review and comment,” said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman. “We in the sportfishing community have significant issues with any process where the outcome prohibits people from accessing public resources, particularly when there is no open, transparent process to do so.”


Conservationists Decry Secret White House Move          In its final days in office, the Bush Administration is bypassing the established regulatory process regarding marine conservation by issuing a proclamation that will arbitrarily lock out America’s sportsmen and women from 200,000 square miles of U.S. waters, officials at the Center for Coastal Conservation said today.

 

The Center expressed its disappointment in the

Administration’s planned January 6 announcement of marine

monuments in the western and central Pacific Ocean.  The Antiquities Act is being used to declare marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean at three locations: Rose Atoll, the Mariana Trench and the Pacific Remote Island Area (PRIA).  Each new monument will forbid recreational fishing out to a 50-nautical-mile radius.

 


Regional

Cold weather increases ice cover

But those venturing out still need to follow ice safety tips

MADISON, WI –Recent cold weather is attracting increasing numbers of ice anglers, skaters and others to frozen lakes, but a state recreational safety specialist cautions that people need to remember a number of safety tips if they venture onto the ice.

 

Knowing when it is safe to step onto the ice, how to travel on ice and what to do should the ice break is as important as knowing the hot fishing bait or best areas to skate, according to a Department of Natural Resources recreational safety specialist.

 

“The best advice is to remember that there is no such thing as safe ice,” said Todd Schaller, DNR chief of recreation enforcement and education. “And although a lake or river is frozen, there’s no guarantee it can be safely traveled. Ice may look okay, but it’s difficult to tell by appearances alone. Ice thickness may vary or a thin ice cover may hide weak or honeycomb ice and water pockets.”

 

Schaller offers the following safety tips to anglers and others:

►Local bait shops, resorts and anglers are often the best source of ice conditions. Conditions can vary from location to location and day to day. Avoid traveling on the ice unless you’re familiar with the conditions.

►Check ice thickness with an ice spud or auger starting from a few feet from shore and every 10 to 20 feet as one goes towards the middle of the waterway.

►Springs, lake inlets and outlets, and channels can alter ice thickness.

►Whether alone or with a friend, carry safety gear such as a

length of rope, ice grippers and a personal floatation device. Tools that can assist yourself or others if an ice break occurs.

►Proper clothing can increase chances of survival should a person break through the ice. A snowmobile type suit -- if it is zipped -- can and will trap air and slow the body’s heat loss. Once filled with water, however, insulated suits become very heavy and will hinder rescue. Newer model snowmobile suits have flotation material built in and anyone traversing ice should consider purchasing one of these suits. On early ice it is advised to wear a personal flotation device.

►You should never venture onto rivers, where currents may cause thin ice conditions that aren’t visible due to erosion of the ice from below.

►Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible. Travel in a vehicle, especially early or late in the season, can be very dangerous.

If you do take a vehicle on the ice be prepared to leave the vehicle in a hurry. Unbuckle the seatbelt, keep doors unlocked, and have a plan of action in mind if the vehicle breaks through the ice.

►When using a gas or liquid heater to warm an ice shack or tent make sure it is properly ventilated with at least two openings, one at the top and one at the bottom of the structure. Any flame eats oxygen so proper ventilation is required.

 

“We want you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice related accidents,” Schaller said. “That includes checking ice conditions and preparing oneself before venturing out. One rule of thumb remains the same. Treat all ice as unsafe and use caution when venturing onto our frozen lakes and rivers."


2nd Amendment issues

Gun Sales Continue to Increase

24 % Jump in December amid Gun-Owner Concerns

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Despite a weak economy, gun sales are continuing to increase amid concerns that incoming lawmakers will institute a new gun ban on law-abiding Americans. Data derived from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) show a 24 percent increase in firearm purchaser background checks for the month of December 2008 (1,523,426 checks) over December 2007 (1,230,525 checks). This increase follows a 42 percent rise in NICS checks for the preceding month, the highest number of checks in NICS history. FBI background checks are required under federal law for all individuals purchasing firearms from federally licensed retailers. These checks serve as a strong indicator of actual sales.

A recent poll of hunters and target shooters by Southwick Associates Inc., in which 80 percent of respondents said they expect it will become more difficult to purchase firearms under the incoming administration and congress, explains the increase in sales.

 

"Sales of firearms, in particular handguns and semi-automatic

hunting and target rifles, are fast outpacing inventory," said NSSF President and CEO Stephen L. Sanetti. "It's clear that

many people are concerned about possible gun bans under the incoming Congress and are reacting accordingly."

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and

Explosives (ATF), the large increase in demand for firearms has led to a shortage of Form 4473s -- the Firearms Transaction Record which must be filled out any time a person buys a firearm from a licensed retailer. As a temporary measure, ATF is allowing FFLs to photocopy the form 4473 in its entirety until they receive their orders from the ATF Distribution Center. NSSF has reminded retailers of the newly launched Electronic Form 4473 which is free and downloadable from the ATF Web site.

 

Final year-end NICS data reveals a total of 12,709,023 background checks reported in 2008, up 14% from 2007.   For more info on gun sale statistics, legislative issues and general firearm related questions, please visit the NSSF Web site at www.nssf.org.

 


Hunters/Shooters Fear Incoming Administration Will Make Firearms Purchases more difficult

By a large majority, hunters and shooters feel that the coming changes in Washington D.C. will make it more difficult for them to purchase firearms, according to a recent poll.

 

When asked to define their expectations regarding the new administration and Congress, a resounding 80% of respondents said they expect it will become more difficult for them to purchase firearms. Fewer than 1% said they expect purchasing firearms will become less difficult, while 16% said they expect their firearms purchasing ability will remain the same.

 

Slightly fewer than 4% of respondents said that they don’t know or have no opinion.

 

“These results show that most hunters and target shooters expect changes resulting from the 2008 elections will make it

more difficult for them to buy guns,” commented survey author Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates. “Increases in firearm sales since the November election are also a strong indicator of such sentiment.”

 

The online survey was conducted in December 2008. 

 

Source: Launched in 2006, www.HunterSurvey.com and www.TargetshootingSurvey.com help the firearms and outdoor equipment industries, government officials, and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. The list above represents only a small sample of the vast amount of information that is available from the complete survey results. The results are scientifically analyzed to reflect all U.S. hunters and target shooters. Find out how a subscription to the complete survey data can help your business, government agency, or organization. For more information, contact Rob Southwick at Rob@southwickassociates.com.


Illinois

Free Boat Show Coming To Bass Pro Shops

Bolingbrook, IL - If cabin fever is starting to set in, there’s no better cure than heading to Bass Pro Shops at 709 Janes Avenue in Bolingbrook and dreaming about spring at their FREE Boat Show going on January 9th through January 18th.

If you’re in the market for a new boat, it’s a great time to save thousands of dollars. When you buy one, you also get rewards points to spend on a boatload of gear to fill the boat or give them to your wife to spend on herself since she probably let you buy the boat. Better yet, you can give her the shopping spree cards you get when you purchase select boat packages. Or both!

 

The store will have free food, free laser arcade, free giveaways, free parking, and free admission

Bring the family with you. Bass Pro Shops is having FREE snacks and refreshments on weekends from 11 am – 2 pm courtesy of Coca Cola and Johnsonville so no one will have to cook. The kids will love the FREE laser arcade on weekends from 12 – 6 pm. They’ve even got FREE boating and fishing seminars going on that you might enjoy. You will also want to get in line to have your FREE photo made with the Busch Beer Outdoor Beauties.

 

In case your wife sees your FREE photo later, you can register her to win FREE giveaways like an Arctic Cat ATV, Tracker Jon Boat, Lowrance GPS, and Humminbird depth finder. All gifts I am sure she would enjoy winning as much as you will enjoy your FREE photo.


IDNR Reminds Snowmobile Operators to be Cautious

IDNR Snowmobile safety classes currently being offered

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois DNR is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to take extra caution this year as the snow begins to fall in Illinois. Every year throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles.  Many of these accidents could have been prevented had proper precautions been taken and common sense been used.

 

“Staying safe while riding doesn’t start after take off, but rather before the key is turned to begin the ride,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood.   “Snowmobiling can be an enjoyable activity but proper precautions like mapping out your route, making sure that route is safe, and thinking clearly while on the ride are essential ingredients to making it home safely.”

 

Last season in Illinois, 66 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in seven fatalities. 

 

In most instances, being alert, knowing the trail, and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most accidents.  In North America, more than 50 % of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.  While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the season, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have in possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.   For snowmobile safety information or a list of upcoming snowmobile classes, see www.dnr.state.il.us/safety/snowmobile.htm.

Current snowmobile safety education courses require students attend an eight-hour class where certified instructors

teach basic safety principles, maintenance, operation, winter survival, regulations and a proper attitude of respect for the student's fellow person and the environment.

 

Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling:

►Know your equipment and make sure that equipment is in proper working order.

►Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling like a full-size helmet, goggles, or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice chips, and flying debris.

►Avoid wearing long scarves. They may get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile.

►Know the terrain you are going to ride. If unfamiliar to you, ask someone who has traveled over it before.  Be aware of trails or portions of trails that may be closed.

►Drowning is one cause of snowmobile fatalities. When not familiar with ice thickness or currents, avoid these areas.

►Know the weather forecast and especially the ice and snow conditions in the area.

►Always use the buddy system. Never ride alone or unaccompanied.

 

Reminder to riders and hikers:  A minimum of 4" of snow cover must be present for snowmobile use on state-managed property.  Please call ahead to site offices to get the latest snow conditions and trail closures at individual sites.  Ignoring these closures can result in a minimum $75 fine and possible arrest.   Site offices: www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/index.htm.


Michigan

DNR Offers Women's Winter Outdoor Getaway Feb. 20-22

Michigan's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program has the cure for any woman (18 years and older) who is longing to get outdoors -- the traditional BOW weekend, Feb. 20-22, at the MacMullan Conference Center at Higgins Lake.

 

"This program offers classes in traditional winter activities, such as snowshoeing, ice fishing and river rafting," said Lynn Marla, BOW program coordinator, "And we're adding new classes in winter nature painting, women's self-confidence building and one designed to teach mothers and grandmothers how to get children interested in the outdoors."

Complete details and registration forms are available on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/bow.  "Registrations are filling quickly, but we still have room for a few more adventurous women who are looking to learn new outdoor activities and enjoy the company of other women who would rather be outdoors having fun than sitting inside and waiting for spring," Marla said.

 

Enrollment is limited, so register as soon as possible. For more information, visit the DNR Web site or contact Lynn Marla at marlal@michigan.gov; (517) 241-2225.

 


Black Lake Sturgeon Spearing Season Application Period Begins Jan. 12

The DNR is reminding anglers the application period for the 2009 Black Lake sturgeon spearing lottery is Jan. 12-16.

 

Interested anglers may register for the spearing lottery by calling the DNR Gaylord Operations Service Center at (989) 732-3541 or applying in person at the center between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the application period. All applicants 17 years and older must hold a valid Michigan fishing license. Those under 17 years old also may register for the season. Those applying for the drawing should have proper identification on hand during the application process. This may include a valid Michigan driver license, a Michigan ID card, a DNR Sportcard or a valid Michigan fishing license.

 

The limited sturgeon spearing season on Black Lake, located

in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties, opens Feb. 7, 2009, and runs through Feb. 15 or until the maximum harvest of five

fish has been reached. A total of 225 anglers, or 25 per day, will be selected to participate. The drawing to determine those participants will be held Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Chateau North, 10621 Twin Lakes Rd., in Cheboygan. Successful applicants will be notified of their date to fish by mail in advance of the season.

 

Last year, 704 individuals registered for the spearing lottery. No fish were harvested during the 2008 season, which lasted the full nine days.  Reasons for zero harvest were attributed to poor water clarity under the ice following a week of heavy rains prior to the season.   For more info: Gaylord Operations Service Center at (989) 732-3541.

 


Wisconsin

Winter mammal tracking course offered Jan. 23 at Sandhill

BABCOCK, Wis. – People interested in learning how to identify sign left by animals common to Wisconsin during winter can attend a Winter Mammal Tracking clinic on Saturday, Jan. 31 at the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include a two-hour walk a field following lunch to build skills in identifying animal signs.

 

Participants are asked to bring their own lunch and refreshments, and to dress appropriately for the weather.  The registration deadline is Jan. 23 and is limited to 20 people on a first-come, first-served basis and will be confirmed by mail about a week prior to the event. The cost of the clinic is $15. Participants may stay overnight in the center’s dorm either 

prior to or following the event for a donation of $15 per person per night.

 

Checks should be made out to DNR-Skills Center. Include the name of each participant, and the address and daytime phone number of one person in each party. Send your registration fee to: Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center, PO Box 156, Babcock, WI 54413. Inquiries on the status of registrations may be sent via e-mail to: Richard.Thiel@wisconsin.gov.

 

The Sandhill Skills Center is 20 miles west of Wisconsin Rapids on Cty Highway X, 1 mile N of Highway 80 near Babcock, WI on the 9,000 acre DNR Sandhill Wildlife Area.  For more info: Sandhill Center: (715) 884-6333 or (715) 884-2437


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