Week of February 4, 2008

National

New York
Ohio
Wisconsin

 

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National

TSA reports progress in port identification card program

House Democrats acknowledged that the Transportation Security Administration has made some progress in rolling out its identification card program for workers at the nation's ports, but said the agency needed to establish firm timelines for its remaining milestones.

 

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential program was established in December 2001 to tighten security at ports by requiring individuals to carry high-tech ID cards with biometric data to gain access to facilities and vessels. According to TSA's latest estimates, about 1.5 million workers will have to carry a TWIC card, double the initial estimate of 750,000.

 

"The extensive preparation has finally begun to bear fruit," said Rear Adm. Brian Salerno, the Coast Guard's assistant commandant for safety, security and stewardship, during testimony at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The hearing was scheduled as a follow-up to a hearing held in October, which drew concern on the Hill that the TWIC program was falling behind schedule.

 

There have been "challenges," Salerno acknowledged. "A simple concept often masks a great deal of complexity."

After numerous delays, TSA started the enrollment process in Wilmington, Del., on Oct. 16, 2007. In the first 90 days, almost 12,000 TWIC cards were activated, more than 25,000 cards were printed, almost 50,000 applicants enrolled for cards, and almost 110,000 applicants pre-enrolled for a card on the TSA

Web site, where applicants enter basic biographic data and scheduling an appointment to officially enroll.

 

The Coast Guard and TSA issued regulations that require vessel owners and operators to begin using the TWIC cards to control access to secure areas of vessels by Sept. 25. Of the 200,000 workers who fall within that category, 6,000 have completed the process of card issuance, Maurine Fanguy, TSA's TWIC program director, told the panel. "We're clocking about 2,000 a day, [and] I expect that number will go much higher," she said.

 

TSA has not issued regulations for when ports' shore-based facilities will be required to use TWIC cards, nor has the agency provided specifics for which sea vessels will require them for access. Also, while TSA recently published the technical specifications for the TWIC card readers, which it is now testing, no timeline has been provided for when approved readers will be installed at facilities. In the meantime, port attendants must check cards manually.

 

"It appears this time was used constructively [to enable] the relatively smooth rollout that is currently under way," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the subcommittee. But concerns about progress remain, he said, as well as the lack of comprehensive deadlines for when all card issuance will be complete and scanning capabilities enabled at port facilities. "We've heard a lot of excuses as to why regulations are not going out," he said. "I'm convinced, holding a hearing [won't] address the matter. Our subcommittee will continue to be vigilant about rollout of this measure


Congress critical of Coast Guard handling oil spill

Washington, D.C.— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement in response to the January 27 release of the Coast Guard’s Incident Specific Preparedness Review assessing their response to November’s oil spill in San Francisco Bay:

 

“Many mistakes were made during the response to the recent oil spill in San Francisco Bay.  The serious consequences of those mistakes for the ecosystem, the fisherman and businesses whose livelihoods depend on the Bay, and the millions of Bay Area residents who value this precious resource, demands a careful examination of this environmental catastrophe. 

 

“In the Incident Specific Preparedness Review released today, the Coast Guard acknowledges that it must do better in key areas, especially the assessment of the spill’s magnitude, notification of local officials and utilization of volunteers.  It is unacceptable that Coast Guard personnel were both unprepared to assess a disaster of this magnitude and ill-equipped to take advantage of the many resources at their

disposal immediately following the disaster.

 

“We are also awaiting the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation and the criminal probe being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco.  In addition, I added language to the fiscal 2008 Homeland Security appropriations bill to initiate an independent review by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General.  That investigation is currently underway and will further examine the Coast Guard’s response, including the management of available resources and whether current emergency response plans for the Bay are sufficient.  The language requires a final report by April 1st.

 

“These investigations, along with today’s report, will give us a clear picture of what went wrong, how we can prevent similar catastrophes in the future, and how we can be much better prepared when emergencies do occur.  I look forward to working with the Coast Guard, state and local officials, Bay Area environmental groups, the local fishing community and other impacted parties to determine the exact changes that must be made going forward.”


 

New York

Hatchery, Marina overhauls, habitat repairs highlight local projects in Lake Ontario settlement

Nearly $3 million in improvements for Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties

New York State will renovate boat launches and marinas, repair critical fish spawning habitat and rebuild the Cape Vincent fish hatchery as part of a $12 million restoration of Lake Ontario fisheries and its tributaries, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis announced last week.

 

The revitalization plan is being funded with money from the 2006 settlement of the state’s natural resources damages lawsuit against Occidental Chemical Corp. dealing with pollution that devastated sportfishing in Lake Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers. DEC, as trustee of New York’s natural resources, developed the restoration plan with public input. In all, the plan will fund 42 projects along Lake Ontario from Niagara to St. Lawrence counties that will enhance fish habitat and research, promote angler outreach and improve public fishing access. The settlement’s impact in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties includes approximately $3 million worth of improvements.

 

These projects will reconnect New Yorkers to fishing spots – old and new – and boost their catch, while improving the health of the Lake Ontario fishery.  It’s good news for the fish. It’s good news for anglers. And it’s good news for the communities in the Lake Ontario region.

 

The $12 million resolution is one of the largest in the nation for a natural resources damages claim based on recreational fishing losses. The settlement represents the final claim in a lawsuit the state filed against Occidental’s predecessor, Hooker Chemical, in 1983. It addressed damages to the fishery caused by the discharge of dangerous chemicals from the company’s main plant in Niagara Falls and from other sites and facilities either owned or operated by Occidental.

 

DEC began soliciting ideas for the spending plan in early 2007, holding a series of public meetings across the Lake Ontario region. Approximately 150 proposals were considered and 77 were advanced to a panel that scored the ideas. Of those, 42 were selected: 25 to improve access, 14 to enhance habitat and resources and three to promote fishing in the region.

 

In Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, hatchery and habitat improvements will help rebuild Walleye, Northern Pike and Muskellunge populations and boost the area as a prime fishing destination. Because access to waterways is key to attracting anglers, the upgrades will enhance fishing for years to come. The improvements will help the local economy, especially the motels, restaurants, tackle shops and guide services that rely on a vibrant fishery.

 

Local Highlights

► Hatchery improvements at the Cape Vincent Fisheries Station - to help launch stocking programs for Walleye, Northern Pike and Muskellunge  In recent years, the village of Cape Vincent and the Lake Ontario Fisheries Coalition have begun repairs at the former federal fish hatchery. DEC, which now owns the facility, anticipates that these stocking programs could provide measurable improvements to Lake Ontario sport fisheries. ($1.4 million).  A separate project will create interpretive displays of the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence fishery for the aquarium/visitors center at the hatchery. ($40,000)

► Renovations and a modern boat launch for Golden’s Marina (Lyme, Jefferson County).  A boat launch will be constructed on the isthmus to Point Peninsula in the town of Lyme. The marina has been dredged, but a property survey and construction design are needed. ($300,000)

 

► Northern Pike Spawning Marsh Rehabilitation. Historic pike spawning grounds have been wrecked by the proliferation of Typha (cattails), especially over the last 15 years. DEC surveys have documented a decline in Northern Pike over that period. Part of the project involves using a special excavator to cut 

channels in Typha mats and outlet ditches in the Eastern Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River area. ($200,000)

 

A separate project will repair a water control structure at Cranberry Creek (near Alexandria Bay, Jefferson County), also to improve northern pike spawning grounds ($50,000). Another will fund a research experiment to transplant and grow vegetation and construct breakwaters in shallow marsh habitats ($45,000).

► Lindsey and Stoney creeks (Jefferson County) angler parking areas. Two five-car parking areas will be built (exact spots to be determined) with footpaths to these Lake Ontario tributaries ($20,000).

► Fish Island access site (Dexter, Jefferson County) This project will provide floating docks, as well as lighting and boat-ramp improvements. ($45,000)

► Mud Bay boat launch (Lyme, Jefferson County).  This project will include a launch site for small boats only and parking for 10 cars and trailers. ($100,000)

► Ogdensburg Hatchery upgrades (Lisbon, St. Lawrence County). This project calls for the construction and lining of two additional one-acre ponds to increase walleye production ($100,000).

► Morristown boat launch improvements (St. Lawrence County). During fall or low-water conditions, the village boat launch is too short to launch boats safely. This project will lengthen the launch and improve docking. ($50,000)

► Chaumont Bay launch sites and ice-fishing access. Exact sites to be determined.  ($500,000)

 

(Note: Several of the selected projects hinge on factors such as land acquisition. If a project proves unworkable, it might be replaced with the next highest-scoring proposal that did not make the initial cut.)

 

Systemwide

In addition, the restoration plan includes funding for other notable system-wide projects designed to improve research and boost the fishery. Highlights include:

 

► Stream bank improvements to an 18-mile stretch of the Salmon River (Oswego County), one of the most extensively fished waterways in the state. Over time, there has been a general build up material in certain channels, creating pools and eroding banks.  The grant aims to alleviate problems and take angler traffic away from the more susceptible points. ($500,000)

► Upgrades to the renowned state-run Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Oswego County. A comprehensive study will evaluate water supply and hatchery practices and develop a plan to improve trout and salmon production at the facility. ($2.2 million)

 

► A new automated fish marking trailer that will be used to mark Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Lake Trout, and possibly other species. The technology, widely used in the Pacific Northwest, will allow DEC to mark and track upwards of 2.5 million fish annually – significantly improving DEC’s ability to monitor and study species in Lake Ontario and its tributaries. ($1.5 million)

► Sea Lamprey control barriers. This grant will be matched by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to construct “low-head barriers” that block Sea Lamprey migration and spawning in Lake Ontario tributaries. Sea Lampreys, a parasite that attach to a host fish, have contributed to the decline of sportfish, especially lake trout. ($60,000)

► Walleye spawning habitat fund. DEC staff will use this grant to assess tributaries (including the Oswego River, Little Sandy Creek, Black River and Oswegatchie River) to determine the presence of Walleye and spawning habitat to help improve fish production. ($200,000) Fisheries Promotion Assistance. This grant will be used to develop a new “I Love NY Great Lakes Fishing” brochure to be distributed at sportfishing tournaments, fairs and other public events. While some counties typically  promote local fishing sites, currently there is no promotion for the Great Lakes Region as a whole. Approximately 40 percent of the anglers who fish Lake Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers are from out of state. ($100,000)


Ohio

Youth-only beginning fly-fishing clinic June 12

Applications now being accepted for Castalia State Fish Hatchery

FINDLAY, OH - Young anglers interested in learning the art of fly fishing and practicing their skills are encouraged to enter the lottery for a beginners-only fishing clinic set for Friday, June 13 on a half-mile section of Cold Creek at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Erie County.

    

Thirty slots are available for the program, which is co-sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife and Trout Unlimited. Fifteen are available for the morning session that begins at 8 a.m., and another 15 for the afternoon session that begins at 1 p.m. Deadline for submitting a lottery entry is Monday, May 12. All equipment will be provided.

     

In addition to fly-fishing instruction by Division of Wildlife staff and members of Trout Unlimited, attendees will be able to test their newly acquired skills by fishing for the abundant rainbow trout found in Cold Creek.  Anglers may also encounter an 

occasional brown trout. 

 

To apply, applicants must submit a postcard listing their name, address, phone # and date of birth.  Only one postcard per applicant is allowed and no duplicates may be submitted.  Postcards should be sent to: ODNR Division of Wildlife District Two, 952 Lima Avenue, Findlay, Ohio 45840-Attention: Youth Fly Fishing.

      

Successful applicants will receive an assigned session.  Permits are non-transferable. All anglers must be age 16 or younger by the date of the session and be accompanied by a non-fishing adult. Funds generated from the sale of fishing licenses go towards conserving and restoring habitat, enforcement of fishing regulations, hatchery operations, fish stocking in public fishing areas, and enhancement of research and educational outreach.

            

The Castalia State Fish Hatchery is located in Erie County off State Route 269, near the Village of Castalia.


Wisconsin

Camping fees set for state parks and forests in 2008

MADISON – While most Wisconsinites have spent the last few weeks caught in the grip of icy cold weather, thousands of campers have been planning for spring and summer camping getaways at Wisconsin State Parks and Forests. Camping reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance via the Internet [www.wiparks.net] or by phone at 1-888-WIPARKS (947-2757).

 

Campers should note that on Feb. 1, 2008, changes to Wisconsin Administrative code will become effective and will result in a new, simplified camping fee schedule for Wisconsin state parks and forests. (The change will not affect reservations made prior to that date).

 

DNR officials have taken steps to simplify the complex rules that regulate the Wisconsin State Park and Forest fees. Campers will now pay the same nightly rate each night they 

camp. The new rule eliminated a weekday/weekend pricing differential as well as a series of fee changes based upon the season of the year. Additional charges for electrical and water view sites remain unchanged. The $10 non-refundable reservation fee also remains unchanged.

 

Camping fees for Wisconsin residents will range between $9 and $15 per night depending upon the property.

 

Vehicle admission stickers are also required for overnight camping and other park/forest use; admission sticker pricing remains the same as 2007. A resident annual admission is $25; a non-resident annual admission is $35. Annual admission stickers provide access to all Wisconsin State Parks and Forests in the system throughout the calendar year. Daily and one hour stickers are also available. Admission stickers can be purchased at any park or forest or can be ordered via phone at (608) 266-2181 during business hours.


Free turkey hunter education clinics offered statewide

Clinics begin in February and run through early April

MADISON -- Free turkey hunter education clinics will be offered again this year around Wisconsin. The clinics cover wild turkey biology and behavior, hunting methods, regulations, safety precautions, and landowner/hunter ethics, as well as tips for scoring trophy birds and a few ideas on preparing turkeys at home.

 

Clinics, run by volunteer instructors, are intended to address and inform all ages and experience levels. “Whether you are just beginning and interested in learning wild turkey hunting techniques or are an experienced wild turkey hunter, these

clinics can help you brush-up on skills or learn new techniques,” says Scott Hull, upland game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

 

Clinics will be held February through early April. They typically last two-and-half to three hours. Information and a listing on where and when clinics are being held are available at any DNR Service Center and on the DNR Web site or by calling (608) 261-8458. For the latest additions or changes in the schedule please refer to the turkey hunting education page of the DNR Web site.

 

The clinics are sponsored by the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.


 

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