Week of January 17, 2005

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Club News

Milwaukee GLSF Auction – Saturday, March 12

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National

US Coast Guard proposes rules for Great Lakes Ballast management

Ballast Water Management for Vessels Entering the Great Lakes That Declare No Ballast Onboard
The US Coast Guard has issued a Notice of public meeting, and is requesting comments from interested parties.


The meeting and comments will pertain to identifying ballast water management strategies for vessels entering the Great Lakes that declare no ballast onboard (NOBOB). The goal for these strategies is to prevent the introduction and spread of nonindigenous species via NOBOBs. To aid in the development of ballast water management strategies for NOBOBs, the Coast Guard will also hold a public meeting in order to expand the opportunity for the public to comment. They encourage all interested and/ or affected stakeholders to submit comments and to attend the public meeting.

The public meeting will be held in Cleveland, OH, May 9, 2005, 9-4 PM and 5-7 PM, at the  Anthony J. Celebreeze Federal Building, 1240 E. 9th St, Cleveland, OH, 44419, Ph 216-902-6020. Comments and related material must reach the Docket

Management Facility on or before May 9, 2005.
 

You may also submit your comments and related material by only one of the following means: (1) By mail to the Docket Management Facility (USCG-2004-19842), U.S. Department of Transportation, room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.  (2) By fax to the Docket Management Facility at 202-493-2251. (4) Electronically through the Web site for the Docket Management System at http://dms.dot.gov 

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://dms.dot.gov> .

For further info contact: Mr. Bivan Patnaik, Project Manager, Environmental Standards Div, USCG,  202-267-1744 or via e-mail bpatnaik@comdt.uscg.mil

If you have any questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Ms. Andrea M. Jenkins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, Department of Transportation, Ph 202-366-0271.


U.S manufacturers unable to supply war bullets

Washington now buying military ammo from Taiwan

The US Govt. and BATF have made it so dang tough for American ammo and ordinance manufacturers to do business, these companies were quickly bankrupted courtesy of cumbersome legislation. This made it nearly impossible for these companies to sell ammo to the general public.  So, they ran for the hills.  They couldn't survive on governmental contracts alone.  Now, the U.S. Government is crying boo hoo over their lack of ammunition.  Heck, they can't have it both ways.)

 

So now the United States is planning to buy hundreds of millions of bullets from Taiwan in the first such deal as its supplies are running low after wars in Afghanistan and Iraq  a report said.  Citing Taiwanese military sources, the United

Evening News said Washington had made the request to acquire some 300 million 5.56-millimeter bullets for rifles for an estimated two billion Taiwan dollars (62.5 million US).  The deal was yet to be finalized pending price negotiations, it said.

 

An unnamed general quoted by the paper said it would be the first time for Washington, Taiwan's leading arms supplier, to acquire arms from the island.  In line with its usual practice, Taiwan's defense ministry declined to comment on the report.

 

Taiwan produces some 400 million such bullets annually, according to the paper. It added most rifle bullets were manufactured by an arsenal in southern Kaohsiung which has storage problems due to declining demand in the absence of any military conflict across the Taiwan Strait.


Alaska plans sues feds over water rights

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The state plans to challenge the federal government's right to control certain Alaska waters, contending the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture have overstepped their bounds and failed to follow proper procedure in setting forth reserved water rights.

 

The state filed the lawsuit against the two federal agencies in U.S. District Court.

 

The lawsuit challenges the expansion of federal jurisdiction over certain waterways and water bodies, over marine waters beyond the mean high tide mark and over state and private lands.  But it's also part of a broader dispute that for decades has divided people over Native rights, subsidized rural living, employment and recreational opportunities in commercial and sport fishing, and governmental powers in and out of Alaska.

 

"The state's jurisdiction over navigable waters has been an issue for many years," Becky Hultberg, a spokeswoman for Gov. Frank Murkowski, said Tuesday.  "Alaskans have a connection to their rivers and to those fisheries, for commercial purposes, for sports purposes. Maintaining state jurisdiction over those areas is important to the state."

 

Among the waterways in dispute are the Nushagak River, which flows into Bristol Bay; the Egegik River on the Alaska Peninsula and marine and tidelands on the Situk River near Yakutat and the Tuxedni Bay on Cook Inlet.

The dispute arises from the Katie John subsistence case that originated with an Athabascan elder who was denied a fish camp on the Copper River.  In 1995, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the feds had the power to take over fisheries management on waters on or near federal lands - such as national parks and wildlife refuges - to ensure hunting, fishing and gathering rights for rural people who do it to feed themselves and their families rather than for sport or commercial purposes.

 

The lawsuit will not challenge the 9th Circuit's decision in the Katie John case, the state said. Instead, the state said it is attempting to protect its sovereign interests.

 

The lawsuit will contend that the two federal agencies have not followed the process laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court for defining federal reserved water rights and that they have improperly expanded federal jurisdiction. The regulations, written during the Clinton administration, failed to properly support the water rights claims as determined by the Supreme Court and laid out in the Katie John decision, the state contends.

 

Republican House Majority Leader John Coghill applauded the decision. "Good for the governor," Coghill said. "I think this is a good challenge. The federal government has processes that are sometimes very difficult to work with, and this challenge is a very good one."


Regional

Waterway shippers rattled over safety issues with electric waterway barrier

Coast guard attempt to shut it down repelled by Army Corps and Congressional leaders

A new, more powerful barrier to keep Asian carp from swimming into the Great Lakes is almost complete, but questions about how the jolts of electricity could affect commercial shipping and recreational boating almost turned it off indefinitely reported the Chicago Tribune earlier this month.

The shipping industry has complained to the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard about electrical arcing occurring while some barges are passing through the electrical field.

 

Federal and state officials met in emergency session to determine if boats can safely pass through the electrical current designed to block Carp and other invasive species from the world's largest freshwater ecosystem.

A temporary barrier of electrical cables strung across the bottom of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 2002 became an issue with commercial shippers last spring  and again recently when a string of barges drifted into the fish barrier and crew members spotted an arc flashing between two of the barges.

Nobody was hurt, but the incidents raised concerns that the fish barrier could prove to be a hazard for barges carrying petroleum, chemicals and other flammable commodities through the canal, which links the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

 

"We don't want anybody to blow up," Coast Guard Cmdr. David Fish said.  "We have to make this safe while being sensitive to commercial concerns and the environment."  However, the contractor stated the barge shippers basically had neglected to implement safety guidelines previously suggested to them.

The Tribune reported questions about the barrier's safety could be another setback for a project that biologists say is desperately needed to protect Great Lakes commercial and sport fisheries, which bring an estimated $4.5 million to the region each year.

 

However, the first electrical barrier will remain operating and the second one will be completed and opened as planned after federal officials announced new navigation rules to protect commercial ships and recreational boats from jolts of electricity.  What had originally been a suggestion by the general contractor to the Corps and Coast Guard will now be mandated by the USCG as a rule for the shipping industry.

 

Studies conducted last spring by Smith-Root, the general contractors, and the Illinois Natural History Survey showed that arcing is eliminated by tying barges together with steel cables rather than rope as has traditionally been done.

 

The USCG and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to impose the rules after re-enacting the incident from last spring when a string of barges drifted into the fish barrier and crew members spotted an arc flashing between two of the

platforms.

 

After the barge operators had contacted the Chicago branch of the US Coast Guard of their concerns, the Washington DC office of the US Coast Guard was notified  and some high level USCG official suggested the barrier be turned off until such time as assurances could be made of the shippers safety.  It was apparent DC officials were not privy  to the critical need for the barrier, the studies that had been conducted and the resulting suggestions made to the Corps, Coast Guard and shipper.  Fortunately the Corps demurred on turning off the barrier without authority at the highest level.

 

Washington DC officials were also obviously not aware that President Bush had sent EPA Administrator to Chicago recently to address a press conference where Leavitt said “the president wants this barrier built”  recognizing the need to protect the region’s resources.  These same officials were also evidently unaware of the legislation passed by Congress some years ago and signed into law mandating this same barrier.

 

Federal officials brokered an agreement after U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) and other local members of Congress made it clear that turning off the barrier or blocking commercial ships from moving through the canal were not acceptable.
 

Signs already are posted warning boats not to tie up near the temporary fish barrier. The new rules will make those warnings enforceable and are intended to prevent situations where the electrical current could cross between barges passing through the more powerful barrier under construction.

 

"We're thrilled," said Lynn Muench, vice president of the American Waterways Operators, a trade group representing the barge industry. "Nobody wants to see another invasive species in the Great Lakes, but we wanted to make sure our crews are safe and there are no threats of economic damage to our operators."

On average 30 barges pass every day through the canal, which connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Until the electrical arc was reported last spring, it was assumed there was no danger to ships passing through the barrier.

Construction of the new fish barrier is expected to be completed next month. Federal and state officials have not agreed who will pay the estimated $500,000 needed annually to operate it. An aide to Biggert said the Illinois congressional delegation plans to introduce legislation this spring that would require the Corps of Engineers to cover the operating costs.

 

Shippers that use the canal to move grain, coal, chemicals and other commodities are questioning whether either barrier should be allowed to operate until officials have resolved safety concerns.

More than 17 million tons of goods moves through the canal each year, according to the Coast Guard. On average, 30 barges cross the electrical field every day.

 


Study: Efforts failed to control invaders in Lakes

MUSKEGON (AP) -- A study due out next year is expected to show that efforts to keep more invasive species from entering the Great Lakes have been a failure, according to a published report.  The Muskegon scientist who worked on the study says dramatic action is needed now to stop the army of non-indigenous species of fish, mussels and microorganisms marching into the Great Lakes.

 

"It's time to close the Welland Canal," said Gary Fahnenstiel, director of NOAA's Lake Michigan Field Station in Muskegon. "This a simple problem with a simple solution."  The Welland Canal connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The canal, which is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, allows ships traveling through Lake Ontario to bypass Niagara Falls and reach lakes Erie, Huron, Superior and Michigan.

"We have a natural choke point and we can shut off the flow of exotics into the Great Lakes," Fahnenstiel said. Fahnenstiel's study found several exotic species of algae living in foreign ships with empty ballast tanks. Some of these species thrived when put in fresh water.

 

Since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, ballast water from ships has accounted for an estimated 77 % of new exotic species in the lakes. At least 160 exotic species have entered the Great Lakes since 1800.

 

Although freighters are the No. 1 source of exotics entering the lakes, industry officials said banning foreign ships would devastate the region's economy. Closing the Welland Canal would require ships to unload in Buffalo, N.Y. That cargo would have to be transported by rail or truck to the region.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for January 14, 2005

Current Lake Levels:  All of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario are 6 to 11 inches above last year’s levels.  Lake Ontario is 5 inches below its level of a year ago.  Lake Superior is 1 inch below its long-term average and Michigan-Huron remains 11 inches below its long-term average. Lakes St. Clair, Ontario and Erie are above their long-term averages by 6, 11 and 6 inches,


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be near average during the month of January.  Flow in the St. Clair and Niagara Rivers are expected to be near average and the Detroit River flow is expected to be above average in January. The St. Lawrence River flow is expected to be near average for the month of January.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

Frigid temperatures are expected to return to the Great Lakes basin late Thursday and persist into next week.  Lake effect

snow may be heavy in the snowbelt regions as strong winds blow from the northwest.

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior is forecasted to continue its seasonal decline and decrease 3 inches by mid-February.  Lake Michigan-Huron is nearing the end of its seasonal decline and should remain fairly steady in the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario have been inundated by heavy rain and significant runoff from snowmelt so far in January.   This precipitation and runoff has caused significant rises in water level since the start of 2005.  The water levels on Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are expected to remain fairly constant during the next 30 days, as the period of normal decline nears its end.

 

Alerts:

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.


Barrier II Construction under way

Funding & for Barrier I unsettled

Barrier II construction is finally under way and after a recent site inspection by the Barrier Committee, it appears we will have a barrier that will last significantly longer than Barrier I.

 

Jeff Smith of Smith-Root, the general contractors of the project tell us the capacitors of Barrier II are 20 times the size of Barrier I, and the electrodes are built to last at least 50 years. Photos show the level of construction and quality of thematerials being used.  The electrodes – sixty of them, are each 160 ft long, and weigh 88 lbs per lineal ft.   

 

Questions now remain “Will Barrier I be permanent?”  We need Congressional support for funding and establishing the first barrier as a permanent barrier and not just the demonstration project it was ultimately relegated. . The letter must clearly state why we need Barrier I to be permanent. Barrier I has had no problems, though one of the electrodes is corroding.  The Corps received no funding to operate Barrier I in FY05. They are absorbing those costs right now (~ $1800/mo).  Meanwhile we still need O&M money for Barrier II.

 

Construction of Barrier II began the last week of October. Some of the ground clearing is complete and work has started on welding together the steel billets that will comprise the electrodes. The boring for the electrodes is being done. Smith gets weekly aerial photos of the construction site. The next step will be forming and placement of the concrete sleepers that hold the cables in place on the bottom of the canal. The pulsators are being built at the Smith-Root plant in Washington. The US Army Corps of Engineers expects the buildings to be erected in January and that the barrier will be turned on for the shake-down in February 2005.

 

The full funding for barrier II will be provided by the GreatLakes states and additional federal funds. The GL States will provide $575,000; Illinois will contribute $100,000, the other GL states will each contribute $67,857. Illinois has signed an agreement with 4 states (NY, MI, WI and MN). Ohio is in the process of signing the papers; Pennsylvania wants to pass the funds thru Sea Grant. Indiana has had an administration change since the election which may generate some questions. IL has set up a non-appropriated account to hold the funds.

 

The federal funds will come out of Construction General money; this moved the project from 1135 funding though the cost share stayed the same. However, this does not mean the barrier will be a federal project unless there is some legislative change. Ownership of Barrier II will fall to IL legislation is approved, then it will become a federal project. We need legislation to make the project fully federal. Committee members should,

as they are permitted to, push for federal legislation to make the barrier a Corps-operated project.

 

There is no specific money for the barrier project within the CG funds. The Corps will have to carve money out of other projects. The Corps will be able to operate Barrier II during the shake-down phase and safety tests. Once barrier II is up, barrier I will be shut down. The Corps needs a letter from the Committee justifying and recommending continued operation and maintenance of Barrier I.

 

The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) has released 118 tagged common carp below Barrier I since the start of monitoring. The hydrophones installed in April have helped track fish near the barrier; monitoring occurs on a 24-hour basis. Manual monitoring is still performed too. Seventy-five of the fish have left the barrier area. The fish do seem to learn that they will not be able to get through the barrier. Many of the fish are found downstream near a warm water discharge and near a grain elevator and sunken barge.

 

The INHS plans to release fish between Barrier I and Barrier II once both are fully functional. Barrier II will have a hydroacoustic monitoring system as well as the telemetric monitoring. The hydroacoustics will track whether fish are probing the barrier; the telemetry tracks individual fish. Currently there are no plans to release fish above the barrier. The monitoring is currently funded by USEPA – GLNPO and the Corps.

 

No Asian carp have been seen or captured during the monitoring effort from March, 2002 to October 2004. Four stations (Mile posts 292.4, 290.0, 280.9 and 286.0) are monitored using electrofishing, trammel nets and mini-fyke nets.

 

In November 2004 a dead silver carp was found floating in thecanal about 1.5 miles downstream from the barrier site. The fish was 32 inches long and estimated to be 5 to 7 years old. There is no way to tell how the fish got to where it was found; it could have been lying dead on a barge having jumped onto the deck and fell off in the vicinity.

 

From the early days of  Committee discussions it was envisioned a two-barrier system with a control area between.  Only through the maintenance and continued operation of Barrier I will we be able to achieve the two-barrier array originally recommended by the Panel.  It was agreed that barrier I should be maintained / improved and should continue to operate for the foreseeable future as part of a two-barrier system.


Help protect the Great Lakes

Help keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes

 

A second larger, longer-life barrier is now under construction, but the cost of the design exceeds available funds by $1.8 million.

 

Illinois has contributed $2 million to the project, but the other Great Lakes Governors say they are not able to contribute the balance – $1.8 million. Their states do not have the money. The need for the additional $1.8 million is critical.

 

Contributions from any non-federal source will help. That’s where clubs, individuals and corporate America can help

 

Use of Contributed Funds

Funds will be held by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council

and distributed based on the direction of a board of non-agency trustees including the president of the GLSFC.

 

All contributions are tax deductible and will only be used to:

 

1)      Implement the Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan

2)      Improve or operate Barrier I

3)      Construct and operate Barrier II

 

Send your donations to:

GLSFC – carp fund

P.O. Box 297

Elmhurst, IL  60126

 

Or use our PayPal for credit card donations.  Go to www.great-lakes.org/carp


Carp Fund Barometer

Donation          Ranking

$    1 – 10   Alewife

 

$  11 – 20  Yellow Perch

 

$  21 – 50   Black Bass

     Berg, Jeffrey W.

     Cozzie, Ken

     Fuka, John J.

     Gold Coast Charter Service

 

$  51 – 100   Coho Salmon

     Couston, Tom

     Yahara Fishing Club

$  101 – 200   Walleye

     Chagrin River Salmon Association

 

$  201 – 500   Brown Trout

     N.E. Wis. GL Sport Fishermen

     Detroit Area Steelheaders 

 

$  501 – 1000   Steelhead

 

$  1001 – 5000   Chinook Salmon

 

$  5001 – UP   Lake Trout

 

_____________________

Current Total= $1,015.00


Mississippi Barge Traffic down sharply in ‘04

New Numbers May Be Death Knell for Big Locks Project

Washington, DC — Upper Mississippi River barge traffic registered double-digit declines again in 2004, according to the latest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers figures compiled and released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This latest drop continues a 15-year old trend of large, cumulative decreases in barge traffic at nearly every Upper Mississippi lock, with the most heavily utilized locks experiencing an average 40 percent traffic reduction since the Corps began studying the need for lock expansion back in 1992.

 

Notwithstanding this history of sinking barge shipping, the Corps is stubbornly clinging to wildly optimistic traffic forecasts (called scenarios) in attempting to justify a multi-billion dollar expansion of river locks on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway. Corps spokesman Ron Fournier insists, “We will stand by the fact that we’ve worked with the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and farming industries, and we firmly believe there will be increases in tonnage. We will have our off-years.”

 

“The Corps is sounding like Chicago Cubs fans whose only comfort is repeating, ‘Wait until next year,’” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the Corps forecasts were also harshly criticized by multiple National Academies of Science panels commissioned to review the Corps economic study. “These latest traffic declines should drive the stake in the heart of this boondoggle.”

In its lame duck session, Congress again rejected a move led by Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) to authorize this expensive navigation expansion project, now estimated to cost at least $2.4 billion and tied to billions more in so-called “environmental restoration” projects. Since that defeat—

  • The President’s Office of Management and Budget has sat on the Corps’ draft recommendation for moving ahead with the lock expansion project. President Bush has also again singled out the Corps for major funding cuts in his proposed new budget;

  • The barge industry has been plagued with more bankruptcies and consolidations caused by shrinking demand. Meanwhile the chief industry lobbyist for the project has recently departed; and

  • The Senate denied confirmation to the Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works, J.P. Woodley, the top civilian overseeing the Corps, following his recess appointment. Woodley has been placed in an acting position that he must vacate by July unless he is confirmed promptly in the new Congressional session.

 

“Five years ago, the Corps’ own economist blew the whistle on this project, saying that the only way it could be justified is by cooking the books and with each passing month it becomes clearer just how right he was,” added Ruch whose organization represented Dr. Donald Sweeney in making that disclosure. “The Upper Mississippi lock project is the main reason for the five-year stalemate in Congress blocking any new authorization for Corps projects; that logjam will not break until this project is relegated to the dustbin.”


 

General

In-Fisherman TV Kicks Off 2005 Season

Brainerd, MN, - Get ready for the hottest fishing action in 2005, as In-Fisherman television hits the airwaves with a new season of cutting-edge angling discoveries.

 

In-Fisherman Television has kicked off the 2005 season on The Outdoor Channel. This award-winning series remains the top-rated multispecies fishing show in the history of outdoor television.  Each episode features an exciting mix of fast-paced, big-fish action with time-tested and cutting-edge fishing tactics for North America's most popular fish species. 

 

In-Fisherman also airs the highly acclaimed In-Fisherman Critical Concepts on most Fox Sports Networks across America.  Critical Concepts Television rides the edge of

discovery with pertinent field footage presented from a unique studio setting.  Critical Concepts addresses the most compelling fishing concepts of our times, providing viewers with the knowledge they need to catch more and bigger fish.  It's a totally new way to discover educational outdoor programming.

 

In-Fisherman Television sponsors include Shakespeare Tackle, Mercury Marine, Pflueger Reels, Lund Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Berkley, Rapala, Bass Pro Shops, Optima Batteries, Plano, Eagle Claw, Aqua-Vu, and Realtree.

 

Check programming times and venues by visiting  http://www.in-fisherman.com/tv/schedule/tv_schedule/


Lake Ontario

Corps to hold Coastal Mini-Conference - January 25

Offer impacts of possible water level modifications to shoreline of Lake Ontario

A mini-conference is being held by the Public Interest Advisory Group of the Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study on Tuesday, January 25, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Greece Town Hall,  1 Vince Tofany Blvd, Greece, NY.  Evaluation of the impacts of possible modifications to water level regulation on the shoreline of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will be discussed during the mini-conference.

 

Representatives from the Coastal Processes Technical Work Group will present the group’s findings, some of which include the fact that shoreline erosion is highest during storm

periods in the fall, winter and spring; in the summer, damaging storms are less severe and frequent; and that water levels resulting from the current operation of the Moses Saunders Power Dam have reduced shoreline erosion rates on Lake Ontario by reducing the range of water levels. 

 

The Work Group investigated the impacts of water level fluctuations on six performance indicators:  erosion, flooding, existing shoreline protection structures, beach access, sediment budgets, and barrier beaches and dunes.  Details of the scientific studies will be presented.

 

For more info call; U.S. Public Affairs Specialist, Ms. Arleen Kreusch, at (716) 879-4438.


Illinois

"Wonders of Winter" Event

Children can participate in an ice-fishing workshop and try their hand at the sport if the ice is safe. Ice-fishing clinics will be held at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon for anglers ages 6 - 16 accompanied by an adult. Reservations begin Jan. 24 for the clinics, and can be made by calling (630) 933-7248.

 This event is free, program times vary and reservations are required only for the "Kids  Ice-Fishing Workshop."  Hidden Lake Forest Preserve is located on Route 53, just south of Butterfield Road in Glen Ellyn, IL  For more information, or to make reservations for ice-fishing clinics, call (630) 933-7248.

 


Michigan

Law prevents government raid on DNR funds

State Legislature can't use natural resources money to fix budget shortfalls.

LANSING -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm has signed into law a measure that prevents state officials from solving budget problems by raiding Department of Natural Resources accounts intended for uses ranging from new public boat docks to wildlife research.

 

Voters will get to decide next year whether to toughen the new law by making it an amendment to the Michigan Constitution. Turning it into an amendment would make the accounts virtually untouchable, whereas lawmakers could overturn the

new law by majority vote.

 

The law and proposed constitutional amendment, both resulting from action by the legislature last month, come amid growing worries by hunters, fishermen and boaters that revenue from the permits and licenses they buy will be diverted to state budget fixes.

 

There's already precedent for that: Officials transferred $7.8 million from the state waterways fund to the general fund, the main state fund controlled by lawmakers, in the 2002-2003 budget  year.


Public Advisory Council to intervene in proposed marina

White Lake proposes authorize construction in shallow water habitat area 

Tom Hamilton, our Michigan director from White Lake tells us the White Lake Beacon reports it isn't the desire of the White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) to dredge up trouble, but members of the council and some other environmental organizations are passionate about protecting shallow water habitat on White Lake from a potential marina development at the former Whitehall Leather site.

 

South Shore Development, a company including attorney Thomas Thornhill and Eastbrook Homes, intends to build 200 to 250 condominiums on the former tannery property on Lake Street in Whitehall. They have indicated the project is to include a small marina for residents and their guests.


A draft letter reviewed on Wednesday, Jan. 12, included signatures from the White Lake Public Advisory Council, the White Lake Association and the White Lake Area Sportfishing Association.  PAC officials and others believe the waters around the former Whitehall Leather, "once regarded as one of the most toxic hot spots in all the Great Lakes, is crucial to the sound functioning of the White Lake ecosystem."


Jim Duncan, president of the White Lake Association, said he questions the true need to put a marina at the site as there are numerous marinas in the community with vacant slips available for residents of the development and their guests.


PAC member Tom Hamilton, a retired USFWS fisheries biologist, said the group wanted to express its wishes to Whitehall City officials and to Stephen Chester, director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to keep a marina out of that area of the lake.  "We are just advisory groups," said Hamilton. "All we can do is ask the state and city to protect this resource for future generations."

PAC members note that the area of White Lake around the tannery is the largest and sole remaining transition zone from the marsh of the White River to the deeper open water. In addition to its valuable habitat, argue PAC and White Lake Association members, the lake around the former Tannery provides one of the last bastions of valuable sportfishing and recreational opportunities for the community and its visitors.


"When crappie are spawning, there is a lot of action by local fishermen in that area," said Hamilton. He added that developing a marina at that site would end such opportunities.

 

Hamilton noted that marinas lining the perimeter of the lake's shallow, northern end has eliminated much of the prime fish habitat. In a White Lake Fish and Waterfowl Aquatic Habitat Assessment conducted by Hamilton, he reported on the best land use management of the lake. "Best land use management dictates that the lake shoreline should remain open space with natural vegetation along the shoreline to prevent habitat fragmentation. The absolute worst development for this site would be a marina with all the habitat degradation associated with marina management."


In that report based on research conducted from June to September, 2000, Hamilton notes, "It is ironic that millions of public and private dollars are spent to clean up contaminated sites on White Lake to improve fish and waterfowl habitat while others are allowed to profit by destroying fish and waterfowl habitat in the name of tourism and economic growth."
 

Hamilton said he has heard arguments from others that a development on the lake must have a marina to make the property viable. "My argument is simple. There are hundreds of condominium projects on or near water in Michigan that have done quite well without a dock on the water," he said.

 


Minnesota

DNR Seeks Comments on Lake Management Plans in Duluth Area

Every year the Minnesota DNR prepares or revises individual fisheries lake management plans for several lakes in each management area.  Lake management plans describe the past, present, and desired future conditions of the lake.  The plans identify specific management activities planned for that lake in the next five to twenty years.  Those activities always include surveys and assessments, but may also include stocking, habitat or access improvements, or changes to regulations. 

 

In the Duluth area, plans for the following lakes will reviewed between now and February 25:

 

Big Lake (Carlton County)

Bob (Bok) Lake (Carlton County)

Cadotte Lake (St. Louis County)

Coffee Lake (Carlton County)

Eagle Lake (Carlton County)

Echo Lake (Carlton County)

Elliot Lake (St. Louis County)

Harris Lake (St. Louis County)

Hay Lake (Carlton County)

Island Reservoir (St. Louis County)

Leora (Elora) Lake (St. Louis County)

Long Lake (St. Louis County)

Maple Leaf Lake (St. Louis County)

Sand (Grass) Lake (Carlton County)

Schubert (East Bass) Lake (St. Louis County)

Section Fourteen Lake (St. Louis County) 

 

Copies of the draft plans are available for review at the DNR Area Fisheries Office in Duluth,  5351 North Shore Dr, Duluth MN 55804, during business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday), or by mail by calling the Fisheries Office at 218-525-0853 extension 200.  You can also request a plan by sending your mailing address along with the name of the lake you are requesting to the following email: rhonda.mittlefehldt@dnr.state.mn.us .  Comments are due to the Area Fisheries Office by February 25, 2005 and may be sent by mail or email.


Fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters placed on the ice must have proper ID

It's a sign of the season, fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters dotting Minnesota waters as anxious anglers ready for another ice fishing season.

  

"Ice fishing is among the most popular Minnesota winter activities, with about 140,000 ice fishing shelter licenses sold last year," said DNR Chief Conservation Officer Mike Hamm, "but with this opportunity comes some responsibility."

   

Hamm said all shelters, which include dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters, placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have the complete name and address, driver's license number or MDNR number that's issued to the individual through the electronic licensing system (ELS) system plainly and legibly displayed in readily visible locations on the outside in letters and figures at least 2 inches in height.

   

Dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters placed on the ice for shelter while fishing must be licensed, except that a license is not required on border waters with Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota. The tag, furnished with the license, must be attached to the exterior in a readily visible location.

Hamm also urged snowmobilers and ATV riders to be aware of fish houses partially or completely hidden by snow. "Night riders should be very alert and slow down, you may hit one of these before you ever see it. So drive at a speed which will allow you time to see potential hazards and avoid them," Hamm said.

 

The following regulations apply to fish houses, dark houses, and portable shelters used on all Minnesota waters, unless noted in the 2004 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook:

 

- Dark houses, fish houses, and portable shelters must have a door that can be opened from the outside at any time when in use.

- No person may erect a dark house, fish house, or shelter within 10 feet of an existing dark house, fish house, or shelter.

- Fish houses left on the ice overnight need to have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side of the house.

- Portable dark houses, fish houses, and shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), but must be removed from the ice each night. The structure must be removed from the BWCA each time the occupant leaves the BWCA.


Owls on move, use caution when observing

The largest  eruption of northern owls ever documented is occurring in Minnesota this winter.  Many people have noticed the unusual numbers of  great gray owls, northern hawk owls, and boreal owls. 

 

The owls are moving south to find food because of a collapse of small mammal populations over a large swath of Canada and northern Minnesota.  This happens periodically, but this year it occurred much earlier.  Owls began moving south in September and October, rather than in November or December as in past irruptions. 

 

Many of the owls stopped along the North Shore of Lake Superior and other productive hunting areas such as wetlands across northern Minnesota.  People are seeing owls in new and unusual places.  The recent ice storm followed by several inches of snow over much of northern Minnesota has further limited food sources for owls.  There have been reports of increased sightings in Carlton, Aitkin, and Pine counties.

 

This winter's irruption of owls has also brought large numbers of bird enthusiasts from all over the United States and even other countries.  Because more bird watchers are out in rural

areas, there have been increased car/owl collisions and complaints of owl watchers stopping in unsafe areas to observe owls.

 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges owl watchers to use caution when driving through areas where owls are hunting.  Owls will swoop down to capture prey.   They are not used to cars. 

 

When watching owls, DNR urges people to look for safe places to stop their cars especially because of icy road conditions in many areas.  Pam Perry, DNR nongame wildlife specialist, asks people to be careful not to interrupt the owls' hunting.  She said, "The birds are stressed and having a difficult time finding food.  Watch from a distance.  Don't get out of car, and please don't flush the birds."

 

In addition to injuries/death of owls from car collisions, unfortunately some are likely to succumb to the lack of food and the bitter cold.  If you find a dead owl, please make note of where and when you found the owl, and call one of the DNR offices listed below.  DNR would like a name and contact number of the person who found the owl.


New York

DEC accepting applications for Pheasant Release programs

Applications For Cooperative Programs Due By March 15

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty announced that the agency is accepting applications for two cooperative programs designed to enhance opportunities for pheasant hunting in New York State.

 

The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program and the Young Pheasant Release Program provide pheasant hunting opportunities through a partnership of DEC, sportsmen and sportswomen, 4-H youth, and landowners who are interested in rearing and releasing pheasants. 

 

In 2004, DEC distributed 62,133 day-old pheasant chicks and 15,800 young pheasants to qualified applicants through the two programs.  Applications for either program must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by Tuesday, March 15, 2005.

 

The Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program began in the early 1900s.  At that time, pheasant eggs and chicks were distributed to farmers and rural youth.  Today, day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site.  Applicants who meet these program requirements will receive the day-old chicks in April, May, or June. 

 

Daily care is necessary to monitor the health of the birds and ensure there is adequate feed and water for the rapidly 

growing chicks.  The pheasants may be released when they are eight weeks old or older and no later than the end of the pheasant hunting season, which varies for different regions of the State.  All release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and must be open for public hunting.

 

The Young Pheasant Release Program was developed in 1992 with assistance from organized sportsmen and sportswomen.  It is funded through license fees charged to hunters,  trappers and anglers.  The program provides a more traditional hunting experience for wilder birds and the opportunity for hands-on involvement in improving pheasant hunting opportunities.

 

The program distributes young pheasants (seven to 10 weeks old) free-of-charge to cooperators in June, July, and August.  These summer months are ideal for releasing young pheasants because of stable weather conditions, ample food, and exceptional cover that allows the birds to escape from predators.

                                   

Each release site approved by DEC is eligible to receive 40 young pheasants.  A pen built by the cooperator is used to gently release the birds into their new environment.  Feed and water are provided for two weeks, slowly acclimating the birds to life on their own.  No pheasants can be released on private shooting preserves and all release sites must provide public pheasant hunting opportunities. 

 

Individuals interested in these programs should contact their nearest DEC regional office for applications and additional information. 


DEC announces Falconry Exam – applications due April 8

Exam for Falconry Apprentice License Slated for April 29

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty announced that the examination for individuals seeking an apprentice license to practice the sport of falconry has been scheduled for Friday, April 29, 2005 at 10 a.m. Applications for this free, written examination are available from DEC.  The deadline for applying to take the exam is April 8, 2005.   

 

“In the United States, recognition and acceptance of falconry as a sport is promoted through the efforts of dedicated enthusiasts,”  Commissioner Crotty said.  “In New York State, the tradition is continued by 200 licensed falconers.  Falconry is a demanding sport which requires a significant commitment in time and effort.  The novice must be prepared

to accept the responsibility that goes along with falconry.”

 

All applicants will be sent a letter of confirmation with a list of locations around the State where the test will be given on Friday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to noon.  The cost of a two-year falconry license is $20.  To qualify for the DEC Apprentice Falconry License, applicants must be at least 14 years of age, possess a valid New York small-game hunting license, and maintain DEC-approved facilities for housing the raptors.  Apprentices are limited to possessing one bird, either an American kestrel falcon (also known as a “sparrow hawk”) or a red-tailed hawk.

 

After two years as an apprentice, a falconer may qualify for a general license.  Master falconers must have a minimum of seven years experience.     For more info call (518) 402-8985


Indian land dispute could have far-reaching effects

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)  -- The fight is over 10 small parcels of land in New York's smallest city. The outcome, though, could affect millions of acres of Indian land throughout the country and change the way Indian lands are taxed and governed, attorneys say.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a tax dispute between the tiny city of Sherrill  - a community of  about 3,000 residents - and the prosperous Oneida Indian Nation. A federal district judge and a federal appeals court have previously sided with the Oneidas.  The court's ruling will have far-reaching effects in upstate New York, where more than 330,000 acres are now subject to Indian land claims.

 

With profits from its successful Turning Stone Casino and Resort, the Oneidas have acquired nearly 17,000 acres of former reservation land in Madison and Oneida counties, including 10 properties in Sherrill, 35 miles east of Syracuse. The properties include a gas station, a convenience store and a now-closed T-shirt printing plant.

 

In 2000, the city foreclosed on the 10 properties with over $12,000 in unpaid property taxes. The Oneidas said the land had reverted to its reservation status, and was exempt from all local and state laws - including tax laws.  The central question in the case is what happens to land, once part of an Indian reservation that is reacquired by the tribe. Is the land sovereign, free of all but federal and tribal laws? Or are tribes like any other landowner, subject to local and state laws?

More than a dozen upstate counties contain Indian country or former reservation lands that could be affected by the Supreme Court's decision.  The Oneida Indian Nation is one of six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and its members once lived on about 6 million acres in central New York state, stretching from the Pennsylvania border to the St. Lawrence River and from Lake Ontario to the western foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

 

Joined by other Oneidas in Wisconsin and Ontario, New York's Oneidas have been in a long-running land claim lawsuit against New York state for the return of 250,000 acres in Madison and Oneida counties they claim the state illegally bought from the tribes in the 18th and 19th centuries. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a related 1985 case that the Oneidas had a valid claim to their former reservation lands. As a result, land claims by the Mohawks and Cayugas, two other upstate New York tribes, also advanced in the court system, while the state and tribes tried to negotiate settlements.

 

Tribal authorities acknowledge that an Indian reservation can only be established by Congress.

 

Even if the decision has limited effect outside of New York, the ramifications will touch tribes from other states, such as the Oneidas of Wisconsin and the Seneca-Cayugas of Oklahoma, both of whom trace their history back to New York and are parties to the New York land claims.  The case is Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, 03-855.


Pennsylvania

Deadline for Taxidermy Exam application – March 4

HARRISBURG -- Those interested in becoming a taxidermist in Pennsylvania have until March 4, to submit a completed application and $50 test fee to their local Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) for the upcoming exams that will be conducted in Huntingdon.  Applications may be obtained from the Game Commission's Harrisburg headquarters by calling 717-783-8164.

 

After an application is received, individuals will be sent a letter containing the date and time to report for the exam, which is scheduled for the week of April 11, at the agency's Southcentral Region Office in Huntingdon, Huntingdon County.

 

The examination consists of three parts, including the

presentation of five specimens prepared by the applicant within the past three years. Required specimens for the general category permit include an antlered white-tailed deer head; a small mammal; one upland game bird; a duck or other waterfowl; and a fish. Birds must be mounted with feet and legs visible. All specimens must be representative of wildlife found in Pennsylvania.

 

The second phase of the testing process is a written examination on taxidermy methods and procedures. The third portion requires applicants to actually perform some part of the taxidermy process on a selected specimen. Passing scores must be attained on all three parts of the examination.  In Pennsylvania, all persons performing taxidermy work for others must have a permit issued by the Game Commission.


Snowmobilers  cautioned against Wildlife Harassment

As snowmobilers get out and enjoy the state's winter landscape, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross is reminding them that winter is a very stressful time for wildlife.

 

"The Game Commission annually cautions snowmobilers that running their machines near, through, or around winter habitat such as thickets, cattails, and wooded areas, may inadvertently scare wintering wildlife, causing them additional and unnecessary stress or injury," Ross said.  "We ask snowmobilers to take this into consideration, and to give wildlife a little comfort space when out enjoying their sport.

 

"When snow gets deep, every once in a while a snowmobiler is out in a remote area going from one corner of a field to another, a deer pops up, and suddenly the chase is on.  Such thoughtless activity not only stresses animals, but also is

illegal."

 

Ross also noted snowmobilers may ride on State Game Lands from the third Sunday in January (Jan. 16) through April 1 on designated snowmobile areas, roads and trails marked with appropriate signs, so long as the snowmobiles are registered and display a valid registration decal from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

 

However, due to severe damage to some previously approved trails caused by Hurricane Ivan, some popular trails have been closed for this year.  Those include certain trails on State Game Lands 29, 214 and 263 in the Northwest Region, and on State Game Land 211 in the Southeast Region.

 

Ross also emphasized that all-terrain vehicles are not legal anywhere on State Game Lands, except for certain disabled hunters on select roads on specific State Game Lands.


Wisconsin

Jonny fishing

His parents don't fish, but Wisconsin's 10-year old Jonny Schultz is totally absorbed in the sport. So how is it he got  hooked?"

 

Watch "Why Jonny Can Fish" this week’s One More Cast with Shaw Grigsby on the Outdoor Life Network: Tuesday, January 

18th at 1:00 pm ET

 

The show was filmed in July on the Madison chain-of-lakes. Jonny demonstrates his considerable skills as he and Shaw flip milfoil and coontails with tube baits for largemouth and smallmouth bass.


Club opposes netting near harbor

SAXON, Wis. -- Restricting the area of Lake Superior in the immediate vicinity of Saxon Harbor to sportfishing only, with no tribal netting, was supported by Saxon Harbor Boating Club members here last week.

 

The Wisconsin DNR is seeking input from anglers on a new 10-year state-tribal fishing agreement. "We're renegotiating an agreement that includes the Bad River and Red Cliff tribes," said Steve Schram, a DNR fisheries biologist.

 

Schram said Mike Staggs, Wisconsin's fish chief,  will meet with members of western Lake Superior clubs before a new

agreement is negotiated. "He'll be meeting with key members of area clubs. We can't promise anything, but we're certainly looking for your input," Schram told about 25 people who attended the Tuesday meeting.

 

The 10-year agreement that governs tribal netting expires in 2006.

 

Bill Hines of Saxon said the area in front of Saxon Harbor, now classified as a "restricted use" area, with tribal netting allowed, should be open to sport fishing only.  Club members said it makes no sense to stock fish out of the harbor only to lose them to Indian nets.


Walleye return home to Milwaukee River

Comments sought on new draft restoration plan

MILWAUKEE -- After pollution and dams dating back to the 1800s doomed the walleye population in the Milwaukee River, a state project that capitalizes on extensive pollution clean up efforts and a key dam removal has restored this popular game fish to this portion of its native range.

 

Now, state fisheries biologists have developed a draft plan to guide continued efforts to build a naturally reproducing population of walleye in the Milwaukee River, and are accepting public comment on the draft, "Milwaukee River Estuary Walleye Management Plan," through Jan. 31.

 

"We've developed a draft plan based on our research findings that show walleye are doing well in the river, but that we need to continue stocking them to reach the critical number necessary for natural reproduction to occur and be successful," says Brad Eggold, supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources southern Lake Michigan fishery unit.

 

In conjunction with walleye stocking, the draft restoration plan calls for starting several habitat projects to increase available habitat for all species including both native and introduced fish, such as chinook salmon and rainbow trout.

 

The restoration project started in 1995 to meet a fisheries management goal of restoring native species to their home waters, and to provide more shore fishing opportunities. Since 1995, the agency has stocked 59,077 extended growth Great Lakes strain walleye fingerlings in the Lower Milwaukee River and carried out an intensive research program to evaluate the stocking.

 

Eggold and other DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries staff including Pradeep Hirethota and Thomas Burzynski wrapped up the research and wrote a report in 2004 describing the findings. Their work revealed that the stocked walleye grew faster than the average walleye statewide and did mature, but that there has been no documented successful natural reproduction. Eggold says the total population in the Milwaukee River Estuary is estimated at 5,300 walleye and would need to climb to two adults per acre to increase the odds for natural reproduction.

 

Some area anglers who target Great Lakes salmon and trout have expressed concerns about continuing the stocking, fearing the walleye will prey on young fish. Early on in the project, DNR analyzed the contents of walleye stomachs to understand the predatory impact the walleye had on stocked salmonids, Hirethota says.

 

"We are committed to a successful Lake Michigan salmon and trout program, so we studied the predatory impact in 1996 and 1997," he says. "Based on this study, we moved the stocking location of chinook salmon smolts farther away from

the walleye stocking location, which eliminated the problem completely. We have not seen any predation from walleye on stocked chinook salmon smolts."

 

The restoration project is providing more shore fishing opportunities. A growing and significant numbers of anglers have been targeting the walleyes in recent years along the Menomonee River canals, Summerfest lagoon and in the Milwaukee River upstream of the former North Avenue Dam to Kletzsch Park. Most of them practice catch-and-release, the report said.

 

The walleye restoration program represents the culmination of decades of work and investments by government agencies, industry and private organizations, according to Will Wawrzyn, DNR fish biologist for the Milwaukee River.

 

Requirements that all wastewater discharged into the river meet pollution limits, and the investments that those public and private dischargers have made, have greatly reduced pollution in the river from industry and municipal wastewater treatment plants, Wawrzyn says. State and local efforts to reduce polluted runoff from farms and urban areas also has helped, he added.

 

Finally, in 1997, the City of Milwaukee, DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent $4.5 million to completely remove the 17-foot high, 350-foot wide North Avenue Dam and to reclaim habitat and improve conditions along the river. The removal of the structure, which was about three miles upstream of the Milwaukee River confluence with Lake Michigan, marked the first time since 1835 that that stretch of the river flowed freely.

 

DNR fisheries staff implemented some major habitat improvement activities in the formerly impounded area in 1997. Today, 30 species of fish have been documented in the Milwaukee River, including the Greater redhorse, a state threatened species, and under suitable flow conditions, trout and salmon have migrated about 30-miles upstream to the Village of Grafton and Cedarburg on Cedar Creek, Wawrzyn says.

 

People can view a copy of the research report on the seven-year project and also a copy of the new draft walleye restoration plan online under "Management Reports" on the Lake Michigan page.

 

The draft restoration plan includes a comment form that people can use to submit comments by Jan. 31, 2005 to DNR Fisheries Management, 600 E. Greenfield Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53204.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold - (414) 382-7921 or Pradeep Hirethota - (414) 382-7928


Ontario

Windsor Pet Store Fined $255 for Possessing For Sale Live Snakehead Fish

 A Windsor pet store owner was recently fined $255 for possessing for sale two live snakehead fish. The fish were killed and donated to the Department of Natural History of the Royal Ontario Museum.

 

This was the first offence regarding live snakehead fish under an amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act in 2004.

 

After the fish were seized October 27, they were frozen and forwarded to the Royal Ontario Museum for identification. One of the fish was most likely a Giant Snakehead, and the second specimen was either a Bullseye Snakehead or an Emperor Snakehead.

 

The regulation restricts the buying and selling of the following live invasive fish species:

 ●  Four species of carp (bighead, grass, black, silver)

 ●  28 species of snakehead

 ●  two species of goby (round and tubenose)

●  the new regulation affects the purchase and sale of live fish in markets, restaurants and includes the prohibition on the buying and selling of live snakeheads for aquaria and of live grass carp for weed control in water gardens.

 ●  A letter was sent in June, 2004 to over 800 business owners in the pet, aquaria and water garden industry informing them of the regulation changes.

 ●  The Ministry of Natural Resources also issued a province-wide news release "Ontario Protects Great Lakes Against Invasive Fish Species" on May 6, 2004.

 ●  MNR is currently working with the federal government to ban the live possession of these same fish through an amendment to the federal Fisheries Act.

 

The purchase or sale of live invasive fish in Ontario, and the possession and transport of these fish, causes public concern about the possible escape or release of species that could become established in Ontario waters. Harmful impacts to the aquatic ecosystem, to recreational and commercial fisheries, as well as high costs for control, can be the result of such invasions.


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