Week of January 24, 2005

National

Regional

2nd Amendment issues

Lake Michigan

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

Ontario

       Weekly News Archives

                         or

       New Product  Archives

National

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

     Reider, Robert

 

$  51 – 100   Coho Salmon

     Couston, Tom

     Yahara Fishing Club

$  101 – 200   Walleye

     Chagrin River Salmon Association

 

$  201 – 500   Brown Trout

     Northeast Wis. GL Sport Fishermen

     Detroit Area Steelheaders 

     Klavon, Patrick  

 

$  501 – 1000   Steelhead

 

$  1001 – 5000   Chinook Salmon

 

$  5001 – UP   Lake Trout

 

Current Total= $1,315.00


IJC AND GLFC PRAISE SPORT FISHERS FOR COLLECTING FUNDS FOR CHICAGO-AREA INVASIVE SPECIES BARRIER

News Release

Contacts: Marc Gaden, GLFC Ann Arbor MI: (734) 662-3209 x. 14

John Nevin, IJC Ann Arbor, MI: (734) 741-2118

http://www.glfc.org/pressrel/pr050118.pdf

 

Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council joins Members of Congress, federal agencies,

and state governors in raising badly needed dollars for project.

ANN ARBOR, MI—The International Joint Commission (IJC) and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) praised the sport anglers of the Great Lakes—led by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council—for raising private funds to supplement the construction of the Chicago-area invasive species barrier. The barrier is designed to block the migration of harmful fish species—including the destructive Asian carp—from the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes. While federal and state funds have been provided for this critical project, the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council has also been raising funds to improve the barrier and to make up for unforeseen funding shortfalls.

 

Those wishing to contribute to the barrier project can make a donation on-line at www.great-lakes.org/carp .

The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal artificially connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River (via the Illinois River). The canal is a prime corridor for the transmigration of species between the two systems. Without an effective barrier on the canal, Asian carp (among other invaders) would have a clear path to the Great Lakes. It is feared that the Asian carp would

spread throughout the basin, compete directly with sport and commercial fish in the Great Lakes, and wreak havoc on the $4 billion fishery.

 

Recent federal legislation—authored by Senators Mike DeWine (OH), George Voinovich (OH), and Carl Levin (MI), and Representatives Judy Biggert (IL) and David Hobson (OH)—authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction of the barrier. The legislation, which requires a nonfederal partner, prompted all of the Great Lakes states to join with the State of Illinois (which had already committed funds) in providing the non-federal contribution to the project. The Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council has also been receiving monetary donations from citizens and anglers.

 

“We must do everything possible to stop the introduction of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes,” said Dennis Schornack, U.S. Chair of the International Joint Commission. “Aquatic invasive species have the potential to destroy the environment and cause significant economic harm to the people of the region. The barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is badly needed.”

 

“The GLFC and the IJC are particularly pleased that the anglers of the basin have taken an active interest in this project,” added Bernard Hansen, U.S. Chair of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “Through a special website set up by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council www.great-lakes.org/carp , citizens and anglers can help. We urge anyone who is interested in this project to visit the website, learn more about this critical issue, and to become involved.”

 

The IJC is a binational agency established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to prevent and resolve disputes between the U.S. and Canada regarding the conservation and management of transboundary water resources. The GLFC is a binational agency established by the 1954 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries to coordinate fisheries research, control sea lampreys, and facilitate interjurisdictional cooperation.

 

For more info about the IJC and the GLFC visit: www.ijc.org  and www.glfc.org , respectively.


Fishermen Barred from Spawning Grounds of Rare Species in U.S. Virgin Islands

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands  (AP)— U.S. authorities have barred fishing in areas of the U.S. Virgin Islands where rare species spawn, officials said last week.

 

The Caribbean Fisheries Management Council has banned fishing at the Grammanik Bank, a shallow stretch of sea south of St. Thomas. The area is a spawning ground for dwindling numbers of several threatened species including the Nassau grouper -- a candidate for the endangered species list and federal protection, said Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the U.S. Caribbean territory's Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

 

Fishing is banned in the area from Feb. 1 to April 30 based on two studies last year that found, unless spawning areas are closed seasonally, the fish will not be able to repopulate, Plaskett said.

 

Researchers from the University of the Virgin Islands studied the area last year and recommended the council close the area to fishermen during the spawning season.  Though it is illegal to catch Nassau grouper, many fishermen get away with it by filleting the fish at sea, making the type of fish difficult to identify.

In March, NOAA  researchers conducted a two-week study of fish populations around St. John and Buck Island in the territory and found fish size and population to be dangerously low. The NOAA team saw just one Nassau grouper, which scientists say was nearly fished out of existence in the 1970s and 1980s before becoming federally protected.

 

Overfishing and destruction of fish habitat, such as coral reefs was to blame for a lack of size and population, the researchers said.

 

The council has begun drafting proposals that would prohibit fishing of the Nassau and Goliath grouper, and the queen conch -- which experts say have been over-harvested -- in parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands and neighboring Puerto Rico for 15 to 30 years so the fish can regenerate their populations.

 

The planned bans have drawn the ire of local fishermen who claim researchers are misreading data. The fishermen say overfishing in Puerto Rican waters is falsely blamed on Virgin Islands fishermen. The fisheries council plans a series of meetings starting Jan. 26 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to draw public reaction to the planned closures.

 

 


A Look at U.S. Forest Service
By The Associated Press
The U.S. Forest Service was created in 1905 "to protect the reserves against fire, to assist the people in their use and to see that they are properly used."    The agency's mission today is to "manage national forests for multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood and recreation."

Here is a look at a century of change in the Forest Service:  

 
Number of Forests
1905: 83 forest reserves
2005: 155 National Forests and 20 National Grasslands 

Number of Acres

1905: 63 million
2005: 192 million 

Budget  
1905: $400,000
2005: $4.1 billion

Number of Employees
1905: 270
2005: 37,648

U.S. Population
1905: 76 million
2005: 290 million

 


Regional

Regional Fishery Workshop February 19

Michigan Sea Grant is hosting a Regional Fishery Workshop, February 19, 2005 in Grand Haven, MI.

 

For details see www.miseagrant.umich.edu/pdf/RegFisheryWorkshopGH0.pdf   The form includes the agenda, application, map and directions.  There is a $ 12.00 advance fee to cover lunch and breaks. $15.00 at the door.

 

Some workshop highlights include:

 ●  Status of Chinook Salmon in Lake Michigan – Maintaining    Predatory/Prey Relationships

 ●  Recent Efforts to Manage Double Crested Cormorants in the Great Lakes

 ●  Sea Lamprey Management in Lake Michigan

 ●  Status of Lake Trout in Lake Michigan

 ●  Yellow Perch Research and Management in the Great Lakes

 ●  Recent Developments Relating to Exotics in the Great Lakes

 ●  2004 Charterboat Catch Report

 

Registration is due by February 14

 

For more info call 616-846-8250, ottawa@msue.msu.edu


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for January 21, 2005

Current Lake Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario are 7 to 16 inches above last year’s levels.  Lake Ontario is 2 inches below its level of a year ago.  Lake Superior is 1 inch below its long-term average and Michigan-Huron remains 10 inches below its long-term average. Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are above their long-term averages by 4, 13 and 9 inches, respectively.


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: 

A strong Alberta Clipper is expected to track through the Great

Lakes basin this weekend.  Heavy snow is possible and strong gusty winds will create significant blowing and drifting of snow. Behind the storm, winds from the northwest will allow lake effect snow in the prone areas.  Cold temperatures are predicted through early next week.

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior is forecasted to continue its seasonal decline and decrease 3 inches by mid-February.  Lakes Michigan-Huron and St. Clair are nearing the end of their seasonal decline and should remain steady in the next month.  The water levels on Lakes 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.


2nd Amendment issues

Shooting Blanks
By JOHN R. LOTT JR.

Late last month the National Academy of Sciences issued a 328-page report on gun-control laws. The big news is that the academy's panel couldn't identify any benefits of decades-long effort to reduce crime and injury by restricting gun ownership. The only conclusion it could draw was: Let's study the question some more (presumably, until we find the results we want).

 

The academy, however, should believe its own findings. Based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey that covered 80 different gun-control measures and some of its own empirical work, the panel couldn't identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide or accidents.

 

From the assault-weapons ban to the Brady Act to one-gun-a-month restrictions to gun locks, nothing worked.

The study was not the work of gun-control opponents: The panel was set up during the Clinton administration, and all but one of its members (whose views on guns were publicly known before their appointments) favored gun control. It's bad enough that the panel backed away from its own survey and empirical work; worse yet is that it didn't really look objectively at all the evidence. If it had, it would have found not just that gun control doesn't help solve the problems of crime, suicide and gun accidents, but that it can actually be counterproductive.

 

The panel simply ignored many studies showing just that. For example, the research on gun locks that the panel considered examined only whether accidental gun deaths and suicides were prevented. There was no mention of research that shows that locking up guns prevents people from using them defensively.

 


Lake Michigan

Big Lake salmon catch bigger, but fish smaller

Jeff Alexander, Chronicle Staff Writer

The number of chinook salmon anglers caught while fishing from Lake Michigan charter boats increased substantially in 2004, though the fish were much smaller than in the past.

 

Charter boats from all Michigan ports hauled in 68,051 chinook salmon last year, a 19 % increase over 2003, according to the latest Michigan Department of Natural Resources data. The catch rate -- the number of chinook caught per angler for every five hours of trying -- increased at most ports, including Muskegon, Grand Haven and Ludington.

 

"It was just a great year for chinook," said Sarah Thayer, a DNR fisheries biologist who analyzed the data. "The other species were showing some different trends."

 

Thayer presented the preliminary catch data at a fisheries conference Saturday in Ludington. The data was only for charter boats; the number of fish caught by people fishing from private boats or piers has not been tabulated.

 

Chinook were the bright spot in a mixed year that saw charter boat anglers catch fewer lake trout and steelhead and hardly any brown trout. Most chinook caught last year were smaller than in the past; only seven qualified for the state's Master Angler award, given to people who land a chinook weighing more than 27 pounds.

 

Scientists believe salmon aren't growing as large because their favorite food source -- alewife -- are getting skinnier. Alewife are losing weight because zebra mussels have wiped out diaporeia, a tiny shrimp-like creature that lives on the lake bottom and is a staple in the alewife diet.

 

"We had a phenomenal season for chinook; a lot of boats caught their limit," said Jim Fenner, president of the Ludington Area Charterboat Association. "If there's anything we're

concerned about, it's that we caught chinook almost exclusively. If we have a bad year in the future with chinook, we could be in trouble." Fenner said members of his group also are concerned about the lack of brown trout caught last year.

 

DNR officials share that concern, but have no answers about why the fish aren't surviving. The agency has planted brown trout earlier in the spring in an effort to increase survival, but the strategy hasn't paid off, said Tom Rozich, supervisor of the DNR's Central Lake Michigan Management Unit.

 

"We should have had some kind of brown trout fishery but it just wasn't out there," Rozich said. The lake trout catch also has been steadily decreasing in recent years, Thayer said.

 

DNR officials will host a conference in April to explore an apparent shortage of chinook food in Lake Michigan. State officials and scientists also will discuss whether the DNR's 1999 decision to reduce the number of chinook planted in the lake, from 6 million to 4 million each year, has improved the fishery.

 

The near disappearance of alewife from Lake Huron has devastated its salmon fishery. The Lake Michigan charter boat fleet caught 10 times more fish in 2004 than their counterparts on Lake Huron, according to DNR data.  Some scientists fear Lake Huron's problems may be a preview of what's in store for Lake Michigan. The reason: the two lakes are connected and, essentially, one body of water.

 

A food shortage was linked to a fatal kidney disease that decimated Lake Michigan's chinook salmon population in the late 1980s.  The rate of BKD, bacterial kidney disease, in chinook has decreased significantly since the mid-1990s. The incidence of BKD in chinook shot up in 2003 but was back below 10 percent last year on all rivers where the DNR tests fish before collecting eggs to raise a new generation of fish, Rozich said.


Illinois

Boat Slip Grant for transient boaters

RAS Industries Inc. has been awarded a grant of $15,330 from the USFWS to install four additional transient boat slips at the Tall Timbers Marina on the Illinois River in Havana. Each slip will have dockside utilities. Completion of this project will allow the marina to accommodate additional transient boaters along the Illinois River and provide them access to the local businesses in Havana.

Funds for the program come from federal excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuels through the Sport Fishing and Boating Safety program. The grant program can provide up to 75 % of an approved project’s cost. The program is intended to enhance boating for transient, non-trailerable recreational boats that are 26’ in length or longer. Those awarded the grants provide the 25 % balance of the approved project’s cost.


Indiana

Forest wildlife conference - March 3-5

The Indiana DNR is cosponsoring a forest and wildlife management conference March 3 to March 5 in Indianapolis.  The three-day Managing Wildlife for Sustainable Forests: Managing Forests for Sustainable Wildlife conference will examine Indiana forest and wildlife trends and issues.

 

Top forestry and wildlife researchers will outline relationships between forests and wildlife populations during Thursday and Friday sessions. These sessions are geared toward wildlife biologists, foresters, and other natural resource professionals, but anyone is welcome to attend.

 

The Saturday morning session, designed with private landowners and citizen conservationists in mind, covers ruffed grouse and woodcock management, making money with trees, hunting leases and landowner liability, getting financial help, and much more.

The early registration fee is $65. The early Student fee is $25. And the Saturday-only fee is $10. Early registration deadline is February 15th.

 

Conference planning partners: Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana Society of American Foresters, Indiana Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Hoosier National Forest, Indiana Hardwood Lumberman's Association, Indiana Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council and The Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

 

Conference brochure and registration form:  http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/conference.htm    Or, contact DNR wildlife biologist Dean Zimmerman at 765-567-2152.

 


DNR launches C52 Raptor Fund

Will aid eagles, hawks and owls at education center

In January 1989, bald eagle C52 arrived at Patoka Reservoir. A genetic wing abnormality prevented his release as a part of Indiana's bald eagle restoration program. Since then, he's been a living interpretive tool, allowing DNR staff to tell our bald eagle restoration story to more than 50,000 people around the state.

 

Last October the bird injured his left foot. C52 required tests, medications, surgery and a 9-day recovery at the office of Dr. Sam Vaughn, a Louisville veterinarian who specializes in raptor care. For several days, the bird's condition was critical.

 

C52 now is now recovering back home at Patoka Lake's visitor

center. However, even with considerable discounts from veterinarians, the eagle's medical costs have reached several thousand dollars. He also requires continuing care. Even after the bird is fully recovered, regular checkups will be needed.

 

To help pay the costs of its medical care, the DNR has established a fund through the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation to help provide long-term care for C52 and other permanently injured birds of prey used in interpretive programming at Patoka Lake.

 

Eagle advocates interested in contributing can check out the care of C52 Web site at:  www.dnr.IN.gov/c52   or contact Ginger Murphy,  gmurphy@dnr.in.gov


Michigan

Cormorant control under way

By Steve Griffin, Field Editor  Outdoor News

Midland, Mich. — There’s more research under way on double-crested cormorants in the Les Cheneaux Islands region of northern Lake Huron — and, almost certainly, there are fewer cormorants there.  Both ends of that equation satisfy Peter Butchko, Michigan director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program. His office is coordinating both management and research activities.

 

Management action took two forms, both aimed at reduced cormorant numbers in the Les Cheneaux Islands region, Butchko told Michigan Outdoor News.

 

The first, borrowing on a technique used by Canadian officials but really tested here in the states for the first time, was egg-oiling.

Breaking cormorant eggs doesn’t accomplish much. The birds simply re-nest. But egg shells are porous, and plugging the tiny holes with oil kills the embryo. Parent birds, none the wiser, continue to incubate in vain until the egg-laying season is over.

 

Egg-oiling proved successful: From 3,220 nests in the Les Cheneaux area, only 41 eggs were known to hatch — and 31 of them came from nests the technicians didn’t know about.   Still, egg-oiling isn’t enough.

 

“We knew from population models that if you just halt

reproduction of cormorants, it’s going to take a long, long time to reduce the population,” Butchko said. “They are long-lived birds. In Quebec, they found that you need to combine that with killing or removing a certain number of adult birds.”

 

This first year, he said, he arbitrarily set a goal of killing about 15 percent of the adult birds in the Les Cheneaux area. An estimated 6,400 birds nesting there produced a goal of removing 960 birds.

 

When the shooting stopped, they’d come close, killing 909 birds. But it’s a challenge. “Cormorants are not that stupid,” Butchko said. “They don’t just sit there all day and let you shoot at them.” As nesting began, officials with noise-suppressed .22-caliber rifles shot many birds on nests. Later, though, it took floating and silhouette decoys to draw the birds into shotgun range.

 

Overall, he said, “We were very, very successful in reducing reproduction, and successful in reducing the population.”

Butchko said he expects research and management efforts to continue this year, thanks to efforts by U.S. Rep Bart Stupak and Sen. Debbie Stabenow to secure funding for cormorant management — $125,000 last year and about $150,000 for this year.

 

Researchers  are using radio transmitters affixed to a few dozen cormorants to track their behavior and travels.


Tahquamenon Falls is hosting a winter festival Feb. 5

State recreation officials announced Tahquamenon Falls State Park will host a winter festival Feb. 5 to celebrate the beauty of the park in winter and the diversity of recreation opportunities that winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy throughout this nearly 40,000-acre wilderness park.

 

The festival, which runs from 3-8 p.m., features a fun afternoon of cross country skiing; a guided snowshoe hike, with snowshoes available for those who don’t own a pair and a fascinating dog sled demonstration. At night, the skiing will be by lantern light and visitors will be able to enjoy a nice bonfire.

 

"The famous Upper Falls are truly spectacular during the winter months," said park interpreter Bob Wild. "The staircase and viewing platform at the falls are kept clear of snow, and

the Lower Falls campground will be open for those park visitors who are looking to enjoy a unique experience."

 

The semi-modern campsites available this winter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park include electrical outlets, but no flush toilets or running water. To make a camping reservation, call 800-44-PARKS or go online at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Then just before you go, call the park to check snow conditions.

 

A 2005 state park motor vehicle permit is required for entry into the park. Permits are $6 for the day or $24 for a resident annual permit, which is valid at any state park. For more information, contact Tahquamenon Falls State Park, 41382 West M-123, Paradise; or phone 906-492-3415.


Minnesota

Women's snowshoeing, fly-tying classes offered – Jan 30 & Feb 6

The Minnesota DNR Becoming an Outdoors Women (BOW) program is offering a winter tracking and snowshoeing class

on Sunday, Jan. 30, from 1 to 4 p.m., in cooperation with Wargo Nature Center. The $15 fee includes equipment, instruction and a hot beverage.

 

"Snowshoeing is an excellent way to explore the woods during the winter and look for signs of wildlife," said Linda Bylander, coordinator of Minnesota's BOW program.

 

For woman interested in fly-fishing, BOW is offering a new fly-tying class on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 6-8:30 p.m., at Lakeville Gander Mountain, in cooperation with the DNR's MinnAqua program. The $10 cost covers all materials.

 

"For those women who have always wanted to learn how to tie

a fly, this will be an excellent class," Bylander said. "The class, which is for the very beginner, will go over the basics of a fly-tying vice and will end with participants making their first set of flies."

 

To register for either class, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 646-6367 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Registration is limited to maintain small class sizes.  The Minnesota DNR's BOW program focuses on teaching women outdoor skills in the areas of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. In 2005, BOW is offering 38 half-day and weekend classes.

 

Woman can access the schedule of events either on the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/education  or by calling the DNR Information Center at one of the above numbers and requesting a printed copy of events.


New York

DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty Resigns

Deputy Commissioner Stark to Serve as Acting Commissioner

Governor George E. Pataki  announced DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty is leaving the administration effective February 2, 2005.  Commissioner Crotty has led DEC since March 2001

when she became the first woman ever to lead the agency.

Pataki also announced that Lynette M. Stark, Deputy Commissioner for Natural Resources and Water Quality at DEC, will serve as Acting Commissioner of the agency until a new commissioner is appointed.


Governor increases $$$ in commitment to Environment

Proposes Record $150 Million in EPF Funding - (New Energy STAR Tax Relief Initiative)

Governor George E. Pataki last week proposed increasing funding for the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to a record $150 million - a dramatic 20 percent increase over

last year and a six-fold increase since 1995.  The Executive Budget builds on the Governor's historic commitment to the State's environment by providing more than $1.4 billion in environmental spending.  Since 1995, the official press acknowledged the state has invested more than $13 billion to protect and preserve New York's environment.  Annual funding for environmental programs now totals more than $1.4 billion.


Ohio

Buckeye State Boaters Can renew boat registration online

COLUMBUS, OH - Ohio boat owners are reminded that watercraft registrations can be renewed conveniently on the Internet through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) web site at www.ohiodnr.com

 

“E-renewal has helped us improve customer service and ensure that Ohio boaters are ready for the upcoming boating season,” said

Rick Barrera, manager of registration and titling at the ODNR Division of Watercraft. Renewal letters were sent out in late December to the nearly 130,000 watercraft owners whose boat registrations expire March 1.  Last year, nearly 7,000 boat

registrations were renewed online.

 

While address changes to registrations may be made online, inaccurate and outdated information must be corrected by visiting a watercraft registration agent. A listing of watercraft registration agents is available at www.ohiodnr.com  or by calling the Division of Watercraft toll-free at 877-4BOATER (877-426-2837).

 

In all, Ohio has more than 415,000 registered watercraft and ranks eighth nationally in the number of registered recreational watercraft. An estimated 3 million Ohioans enjoy boating each year.


Pennsylvania

PFBC Working with Fishing Guides/Charters to Develop Licensing Program

When Act 159 of 2004 was signed into law late last year, it did more than provide a much needed boost in funding for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) by modernizing the fishing license and boat registration fee structure.  It also created the framework for developing a comprehensive licensing package for the fishing guide and charter boat industry in Pennsylvania.

       

 Provisions of Act 159 of 2004 authorized the PFBC to establish regulations governing fishing guides and charter boat operators.  It also established a requirement that all such entities obtain a permit to do business on Pennsylvania waters once the appropriate regulations are developed.  The PFBC is now turning to the industry for its input on how those rules should be developed.  The Commission convened a workgroup of fishing guides and fishing charter operators January 13. The workgroup reviewed the regulations that other states use in regulating guides/fishing charters and will make recommendations for a program for Pennsylvania.  The Commission intends to have a comprehensive package out for broader public input in mid-2005, with the new program in place for 2006.

       

While the fishing guide/charter boat provisions of Act 159 of 2004 didn’t generate much discussion as it was working its way through the legislative process, the Commission says they represent an important step forward. 

       

 “Fishing in Pennsylvania is a tremendous recreational activity.  It’s also big business.  Various economic models project the annual economic benefit from recreational fishing in Pennsylvania is between $2 and $4 billion.  Fishing charters and guides are an important component of that mix.

The General Assembly and the Commission agree that establishing a program for charters/guides is important in managing recreational fishing, preserving the charter boat/fishing guide industry itself and assisting potential customers,” said PFBC Executive Director Dr. Doug Austen.

 

Austen pointed out that a comprehensive list of

charters/guides is a good marketing tool.  The Commission, tourist promotion agencies, local chambers of commerce and convention and visitor bureaus can use the list to direct potential clients to the appropriate guide and charter services.

       

 Creating and working with a statewide network of guides and charter boat operators may also give the Commission access to valuable information.  “The individuals involved in this business are often very skilled anglers who spend a great deal of time fishing; they also have the opportunity to make on-the-water observations over an extended period of time. Likewise, on the whole, they also have the potential to impact a fishery to a greater degree than the occasional recreational angler.  Tapping into the knowledge of these individuals, as well as tracking their fishing success will enable Commission biologists to be better resource managers,” Austen said.

       

 Act 159 of 2004 also contained language that would allow the Commission to designate permitted charters/guides as “Special Fishing License Issuing Agents.” This means charters/guides would have the option to sell one-day resident fishing licenses, three- and seven-day tourist licenses, trout stamps, Lake Erie permits and combination Trout/Lake Erie permits directly to their customers.  The “Special Fishing License Issuing Agent” options are among the many things the working group will provide on as a comprehensive package is developed.


Commission to Notch Dutch Fork Lake Spillway   

Acting on a recommendation from dam safety experts with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will submit a plan for notching the spillway at Dutch Fork Lake in Washington County.

       

The Commission had lowered the lake when flooding in the fall of 2004 damaged the dam’s emergency spillway.  A fish salvage operation was held in conjunction with the draw down.  The lake remained drained until recent heavy rains in the area temporarily refilled the impoundment last weekend.  While the rainfall that caused the lake levels to rise dramatically was an unusual event, DEP and PFBC engineers agree that excavating the spillway down to bedrock will prevent any future such phenomena.

      

“The dam at Dutch Fork Lake is characterized as a ‘high hazard dam,’ meaning if the structure were to fail there would be a significant risk of downstream property damage. While there is no immediate threat of dam failure at this time, excavating the spillway is a precautionary measure in the interest of public safety,” said PFBC Executive Director Dr. Douglas Austen.

      

“We have experienced two extremely wet years in Pennsylvania, resulting in emergency dam breaches and decisions to empty some popular ponds and lakes, including Dutch Fork,” DEP Deputy Secretary of Water Management

Cathy Curran Myers said. “DEP and the PFBC are working closely in this case to prevent further damage, hasten repairs and ensure the removal of any risk to downstream residents.”

 

Once the workplan plan is approved, Commission construction crews will move into the area to remove the spillway.  The dam breast will remain in place.  Long-term plans call for armoring the dam breast and building a new concrete spillway.  The work planned for excavating the spillway would have been required before any rebuild could occur.   The cost estimate for the refurbishing of the dam is in excess of $3 million and the PFBC has no money for the larger project.

 

Statewide, the Commission faces a $100+ million backlog of infrastructure needs. Commission operations are funded from the sale of fishing licenses and boat registrations.  Currently there is no funding source the agency can tap into to address major capital project needs, such as rebuilding the dam at Dutch Fork Lake.  A Green Ribbon Panel created by the General Assembly and Governor Rendell is actively exploring legislation to address a wide scope of environmental and natural resource funding needs.  The draining of Dutch Fork Lake further illustrates the importance of including funding for PFBC projects in any future funding initiative.

       

Public access to the spillway area will be closed once excavation work begins.


Wisconsin

Bald eagle numbers drop in lower Wisconsin River valley

SPRING GREEN, Wis. – An aerial survey of the lower Wisconsin River corridor found fewer bald eagles this winter compared to the most recent five-year average, but state biologists say the drop is more likely due changes in conditions this year than to a drop in eagle numbers.

 

The aerial survey conducted Jan. 10 by the Department of Natural Resources biologists counted 117 eagles (79 adults and 38 immature birds) along the 180 mile corridor running from the Petenwell Dam in Adams and Juneau counties to Prairie du Chien in Crawford County at the river's confluence with the Mississippi River.

 

While the total was quite a bit below the record 614 eagles counted during the 2004 winter survey, the previous record for bald eagles along the Wisconsin River valley was 242 birds counted in 2003 and 1996. The five-year average running from 2001 through 2005 was 264 eagles.

 

The lowest total was recorded in 1992, the survey’s first year, when only 22 eagles were found along the river corridor.

DNR wildlife biologist Bill Ishmael, Spring Green said he “wasn’t surprised” to find fewer numbers of eagles on the survey route since members of local conservation groups, such as the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, have reported low numbers of birds using traditional roosts during the past few weeks.

“My personal observations seem to indicate that birds are much more widely scattered this year and less concentrated along the river corridor than in normal winters. I have also heard that shad populations are low this year, so birds may be looking elsewhere for food,” Ishmael said. In contrast, there appeared to be an abundance of shad and other prey species in the Lower Wisconsin River Valley during Jan 2004, he added.

 

Biologists have also noticed that eagle numbers along the Mississippi River, another winter roosting location, appear to be lower than usual this year.  Statewide, there were more than 830 pairs of bald eagles nesting in Wisconsin in 2004 and the state’s bald eagle population has been rising since the mid-1980s.

 

Bald eagles are listed by the federal government as a “threatened” species overall in the United States, but Wisconsin has listed the bald eagle as a species of “special concern.”

 

Although the general population is doing well, there’s still concern as to what has been causing unusual deaths of bald eagles along the Lower Wisconsin River corridor beginning in the mid-1990s, according to Sean Strom, a DNR wildlife toxicologist based in Madison.

 

 


Ontario

Province Provides Better Customer Service to Anglers

Publishes Two-Year Fishing Regulations Summary

TORONTO — To provide better customer service, the government of Ontario has released a two-year Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced.

 

"Going from a one-year to a two-year format will give us more time to modernize and streamline recreational fishing regulations and make them easier to understand,” said Ramsay. “Clearer regulations will help anglers follow the rules and ensure we manage our fish resources sustainably."

 

Highlights of changes for 2005-2006 include:

  ●  New size limits for walleye throughout much of northeastern Ontario

  ●  The opening to year-round angling of several stocked brook trout lakes in northwestern Ontario

  ●  New brook trout regulations for Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon and portions of tributary streams

  ●  Walleye limit changes for the Winnipeg River system in northwestern Ontario

  ●  New muskellunge minimum size limits in Lake Erie, Lake  

 St. Clair, the Detroit River and St. Clair River (Divisions 1 and 2), and year-round musky closure in Lake Simcoe

 ●  New yellow perch limits in the St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Francis (Divisions 11 and 12A).

 

Anglers should review the rules and regulations for any changes in areas where they fish. These changes are highlighted in red in the summary. Anglers can obtain copies of the fishing summary by visiting ministry district offices or licence issuers. The regulations are also available at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/pubs/pubmenu.html.

 

Most Canadian residents need a valid Outdoors Card and fishing licence tag to fish, and non-residents must have a valid fishing licence to fish in Ontario waters.

 

The ministry has also released the Ontario 2005 fish and wildlife calendar for sale. The calendar features 14 wildlife images and contains helpful information about Ontario’s fishing and hunting seasons, deadlines and wildlife management messages. Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go towards managing the ministry’s fish and wildlife programs. For more information about the calendar, please call 1-800-667-1940.


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