Week of April 18, 2005

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Canada

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Lake Erie

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National

Invasive Species Legislation Introduced

The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2005 renews NISA

Washington, D.C. (April 13, 2005) – Our nation's waters face increasing threats from aquatic invasive species, and today, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representatives Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) introduced legislation to reduce the risk of harm to U.S. aquatic ecosystems and natural resources from these invaders.

        

The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2005 would reauthorize and strengthen the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 in order to protect U.S. waters by preventing new introductions of aquatic invaders.  The bill provides for rapid response when new invaders are discovered, for controlling those species that are established in our waters, and for researching pathways of introduction as well as prevention and control technologies. 

        

Aquatic invasive species threaten biodiversity nationwide.  Moreover, estimates of their annual economic damage in the U.S. range as high as tens of billions of dollars. Once an exotic species establishes itself, it is almost impossible to eradicate and sometimes difficult to prevent from moving throughout the nation.  

 “The stakes are high when invasive species are unintentionally introduced into our nation’s waters.  They endanger ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, and threaten native species.  Past invasions forewarn of the long-term consequences to our environment and communities unless we take steps to prevent new invasions,” Senator Collins said. “The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2005 offers a strong framework for states throughout the nation to detect, prevent, and respond to aquatic invasive species.”

 

“The serious problem of aquatic invasive species costs the American public billions of dollars a year,” said Senator Levin.  “In particular, invasive species threaten the health of the Great Lakes, one our most magnificent and important natural resources.  This bill provides crucial protection for the Great Lakes and our nation’s waterways from these harmful organisms.” 

       

Senator Levin is co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and Senator Collins is co-chair of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition. Representative Gilchrest is co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, and Representative Ehlers is co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force.  The Senate bill is numbered S. 770; the House bill is not yet numbered.


Wal-Mart to Fund Wildlife Habitat

WASHINGTON - Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, pledged Tuesday to spend $35 million compensating for wildlife habitat lost nationwide beneath its corporate "footprint."

 

Acre for acre, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would buy an amount of land equal to all the land its stores, parking lots and distribution centers use over the next 10 years. That would conserve at least 138,000 acres in the United States as "priority" wildlife habitat.

 

The money will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a private nonprofit group created by Congress in 1984 to leverage federal dollars for conservation projects, including 312,000 acres in Maine alone.  "We introduced the concept of the offset program to Wal-Mart last year," said Max Chapman Jr., the foundation's chairman. "They were quick to say 'yes,' and Wal-Mart's leadership is raising the bar in conservation."

 

It's the first time any U.S. corporation has pledged such an arrangement, according to Interior Department officials, who will help decide which places to conserve. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said she hopes the deal becomes a model for other companies.  The action also helps Wal-Mart burnish its green credentials, just ahead of Earth Day on April 22. The company bought full-page ads in Tuesday's editions of at least 20 newspapers touting its new habitat program.

 

Wal-Mart has come under scrutiny over its labor practices and how its stores affect communities and competing retailers. Last month it paid a record $11 million to settle federal charges of employing hundreds of illegal immigrants. Wal-Mart also settled a Clean Water Act violation last year by paying a $3.1 million fine for excessive storm water runoff at

construction sites. It agreed to improve runoff controls at more than 200 sites each year where the company builds stores. In 2001, Wal-Mart and some contractors reached a similar settlement and paid a $1 million penalty.

 

"Wal-Mart thinks it can paint over its record with a nice shade of green, but that won't hide its true colors," said Eric Olson, an anti-sprawl campaigner for the Sierra Club. With a quarter-trillion dollars in annual sales, Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people at 3,600 U.S. stores and 1,570 stores internationally.

 

The foundation plans to raise $35 million to match the Wal-Mart money, but said it would start off by putting $8.8 million from Wal-Mart toward a $20.5 million project to conserve land in five locations:

 

► Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana: Buying privately owned land to expand the refuges by 40 percent to 6,098 acres.

 

► Sherfield Cave/Buffalo National River in Arkansas: Adding 1,226 acres of bat habitat.

 

► North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona: Buying two private ranches with 1,259 acres.

 

► Squaw Creek in Oregon: Buying a conservation easement on a private ranch to protect 1,120 acres along a tributary of the Deschutes River to aid salmon and steelhead fish populations.  

 

► Downeast Lakes region of Maine: Protecting 312,000 acres around Washington County, including 54 lakes and 1,500 miles of river and stream shoreline.


Canada

Trouble at border: Customs agents warn Senate security gaps are 'critical'

Canada's border shortcomings include 225 unguarded cross- border roads

Gaps in Canada's border security are so severe that an airport accepts international passengers without on-site immigration checks, a marine border unit has no boat, a computer glitch systematically hides information about terrorists and officers at 62 border crossings are unable to link to a computer to screen incoming travelers.

 

These are among dozens of security problems documented by front-line border agents and presented behind closed doors to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

 

Canada's border shortcomings include 225 unguarded cross- border roads; long distances between unarmed border agents and police detachments; the freeing of drunk drivers stopped at major border sites because they are not tested by police quickly enough; and large drug, weapons and cash seizures stored without any armed guards, the officers say.

 

A copy of the brief, several incident reports and other documents assembled by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers' union to push their security and safety concerns were obtained by the National Post.

 

"A mountain of evidence has emerged that clearly points to critical problems in border security," says a briefing paper presented on Thursday to Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the committee, by the Customs Excise Union.   The revelations come as Anne McLellan, the Minister of Public Safety, is scheduled to appear before the committee to address border security.

 

"Canada has always been seen as a benign environment.... We don't have that benign environment up there any more. These issues should be addressed," said Dan Mulvenna, a retired RCMP Security Service officer who is now a professor at the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism in Washington, D.C.

 

Among the problems cited by the officers is the fact that Deer Lake airport, on the Trans-Canada Highway in western Newfoundland, is receiving international commercial charter flights from London, despite the airport not being designated  

as a Customs Service Site and not meeting international airport standards.

 

Other problems cited by the officers include Water but no boat

The Customs Marine Verification Team in Gananoque, Ont. -- in the 1,000 Islands in the St. Lawrence River -- has five officers dedicated to searching boats crossing the Canada-U.S. border and yet has no boat of its own, officers say.  The team enforces border regulations at more than 60 marine sites spanning 150 kilometres, officers say. Pilots of pleasure boats arriving in Canada self-report their presence and the marine team may then wish to inspect a boat or passengers.

 

There are 62 land border crossing sites staffed by agents who do not have access to CBSA computer databases, according to the dossier.  That leaves them unable to run live, computerized checks on the license plates and names for incoming travelers.    Concerned agents are forced to find an alternate solution: telephoning their counterparts at the U.S. border post and asking them to run the names of particularly suspicious travelers.

 

CBSA agents do not carry guns and rely on police officers to offer the only armed response to border incidents. The dossier says this offers inadequate protection to citizens and border agents.

 

 

Not all border crossings are close to police stations.

Windygates is one of 139 border sites in Canada staffed by only one officer.  The closest police station to the Wolfe Island port, which checks ferry traffic on the St. Lawrence, is an Ontario Provincial Police station in Gananoque; it is more than 35 kilometres away -- and then requires a 30 minute ferry ride to reach the CBSA, according to the dossier.

 

An independent job hazard analysis, done in 2002 for CBSA management, called for an armed police presence at six of the busiest land border crossings and in some airport search areas, the dossier says.

 

The six land sites named in that report are Ontario's Windsor Tunnel, Windsor Bridge, Peace Bridge and Bluewater Bridge; Pacific Highway in B.C.; and at Lacolle, Que. The union says the recommendation was removed from the report before its release.


Regional

View a carp video

The attached video is a shortened version of a video provided by Minnesota DNR. It will help you to understand the potential

problem with Bighead and Silver Carp. Click on image of Carp to view video.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for April 15, 2005

Current Lake Levels:

All of the Great Lakes are 6 to 11 inches above last year’s levels.   Lake Superior is at its long-term average, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 11 inches below its long-term average. Lake St. Clair is 1 inch above its long-term average.  Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are both 7 inches above their long-term averages.

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is projected to be near average during the month of April.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are anticipated to be below average during April, while flows in the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers are both expected to be above average in April.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook:

High pressure will continue to dominate the weather in the Great Lakes basin this weekend and into next week.  Warmer temperatures are expected and no precipitation is forecasted.

 

Forecasted Water Levels:

Lake Superior is beginning its seasonal rise and should increase 5 inches during the next month.  Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario will continue their seasonal rises and should increase 1-4 inches during the next month.

 

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.

 


General

Abu Garcia Sets New .U. S. Casting Record

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa ­ Using an Abu Garcia 5500C3CT Mag Elite, Tommy Farmer of Team North Carolina set a new United States casting record of 839.25 ft at the SportCast USA Southeast Regional in Wilmington, N.C., on April 4.  Farmer’s record cast (equivalent to the length of 2.79 football fields) shattered the previously long-standing US record of 821 ft.

 

Farmer’s record-breaking cast came with the Abu Garcia reel casting .28mm diameter monofilament line and 125g sinker

(that's almost 4.3 lbs).

 

Abu Garcia reels notes for their performance and durability have long been the favorite of competitive distance casters throughout the world, with both national and international competitors favoring 5500 and 6500 Mag Elites or ever popular Abu Garcia reels like Ultra Mag.  For more about Abu Garcia products call Abu Garcia Angler Services at  800-228-4272, or visit: www.abugarcia.com  .


Things To Know Before You Need A Tow

Prudent skippers can prepare for breakdowns, groundings or accidentally running out of fuel long before the need for on-water-towing assistance arises.  BoatU.S. Towing Services, the nation's largest fleet of towing assistance vessels including the TowBoatU.S. fleet - located in ports in the Atlantic, Gulf, Inland Waterways and Great Lakes - and Vessel Assist on the Pacific Coast, offer these tips:

 

Carry the correct size and type of anchor with enough line to keep you safely in one spot while you try to correct the problem or wait until help arrives.  The last thing you need is to drift into shallower water or hazardous areas such as shipping lanes.

 

A VHF marine radio is the best way to call for help.  While a cellular phone is a good back-up - especially if your towing assistance program has a 24-hour dispatch service - other

vessels won't hear your call for help and you may be out of range.  Hail your towing service over VHF channel 16 or ask the U.S. Coast Guard to help you contact them.

 

Give the tower your position by chart or GPS coordinates, nearby navigation aids or local landmarks.  Describe your situation clearly, giving the nature of the problem, your boat name, size, distinguishing features, number of people on board and other useful information.  If it is an emergency, always contact the Coast Guard immediately

 

When the towing vessel gets underway, the captain will contact you.  Once you request assistance, you're committed to a verbal contract.  If you get going again on your own, advise the tow captain immediately or you may have to pay for the cancelled tow.


 

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Conference Update

Reports show No Adjustments to 2005 Stocking Needed

The April 9 conference on the status of Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan that brought together natural resources agencies and anglers from four states showed that no adjustments to the 2005 stocking plan for the lake are needed. However, Michigan DNR Resources officials said the situation in the lake will be closely monitored to see if stocking reductions need to occur in future years.

 

The conference attendees heard reports from different natural resources agencies and its partners that showed that alewife, the main forage for Chinook salmon, are on the decline in Lake Michigan, while natural reproduction of salmon appears to be increasing. Last year, 4.4 million Chinook salmon were stocked in Lake Michigan, and it is estimated that perhaps as many as 5 million more are naturally produced.

 

"The information presented at this conference showed that while the forage for Chinook salmon is on the decline, it is not uncharacteristic when comparing it to several years of data," said Jim Dexter, DNR Lake Michigan basin coordinator and current chair of the Lake Michigan Committee. "Prior to the conference, many anglers were asking us to consider stocking cuts of salmon this year. However, we believe they were reacting to the situation in Lake Huron, where these problems are more pronounced, and have been receiving heavy press."

 

Dexter said that since Chinook salmon stockings were reduced in 1999, anglers have not been experiencing reduced fishing success for Chinook.

 

"We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation in Lake Michigan," Dexter said. "The Lake Michigan Committee will take a hard look at this data and all future data to make the best decisions regarding objectives for the fishery and entire biological community. It is our long term goal to provide reasonable expectations for Great Lakes anglers while promoting native species recovery and insuring biological integrity in the face of nuisance aquatic species."

 

Dexter also noted that the public that attended the conference were supportive of the information and of the immediate plan for stocking and continued review of the management of Lake Michigan.

 

Many speakers mentioned the need for all stocked fish to be marked so fisheries managers can have a better feel for a more accurate number of fish stocks.

 

Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council President, Dan Thomas in his comments said: “We need to know what we have swimming out there. Nobody really knows how many wild salmon we have, but if a proposal put forth by the Great Lakes

Fishery Commission and Northwest Marine Technology prevails with a mass marking program - of all stocked fish - by all agencies regionwide, it will give us the picture we need to know what Mother Nature is doing.”

 

Thomas went on “We need to support the Commission sponsored proposal, a proposal the Council of Lake Committees has on their agenda when they meet in the next two weeks, get the funds to implement the mass marking program, and then crunch those numbers to get us the info we need to make sound decisions.”

 

“One of many advantages to using an automated clipping and tagging system offered by these Technology scientists is the ability to fin clip and/or CWT more fish, with fewer miss-clips and with higher, more consistent tag retention than feasible through manual clipping and tagging – and at a 40% cheaper rate.  The ability to clip or tag a higher proportion or all hatchery-reared fish stocked in the Great Lakes provides an opportunity – by using this technology to answer a variety of research and assessment questions. The Pacific NW States have been using this system for almost 2 decades with a great degree of success and virtually no mortality.”

 

“Potential near-term needs for use of this technology include:

   ► Estimating Chinook natural reproduction in our lakes to better estimate forage base consumption;

   ► Determining survival and growth of steelhead; and

   ► Determining survival, reproduction, and rate of return to stocking sites of lake trout.”

 

“This mass marking or AutoFish System includes the following benefits:

   ► It will gather Data that includes: number, size, clip quality and tag retention.

   ► It sorts fish into user-defined size classes,

   ► Each fish is measured to the nearest 1 mm total length,

   ► It provides count and measurement of every fish, and

 

It can Clip an adipose fin and/or insert a coded-wire tag in the snout of each fish at the rate of 4,000-6,000 fish per hour.”

 

Thomas concluded: “And it can do all this without any human handling of any fish, thus greatly reducing stress and mortality. It is in the best interest of State and Federal agencies to support the mass marking program as a unique and necessary management tool. It is in our best interests as well.”

 

The DNR and Michigan Sea Grant will hold a similar series of workshops focusing on Lake Huron and its fishery beginning Saturday, April 16, in Bad Axe. For info, contact Michigan Sea Grant: 989-984-1060, or go to www.miseagrant.umich.edu/workshops/huron-fisheries_wrksp.html .


Lakes Huron

Lake Huron Workshops, Meetings Scheduled April 16 & April 30

Shorter evening sessions April 13, 20 & 21

To Discuss Status of Lake Huron Fishery

The status and future of Lake Huron's fishery are the topics of a series of workshops being conducted in April by Michigan Sea Grant, in cooperation with the Michigan State University Extension Service and the Department of Natural Resources.

 

Registration form is included here.

 

Two, day-long workshops will provide in-depth analysis of some of the major fisheries and food web concerns in Lake Huron, while a series of evening meetings will serve as a shorter version of the daytime workshops.

 

 "The Lake Huron fishery has undergone marked changes in recent years," said Dave Borgeson, Northern Lake Huron unit supervisor for the DNR's Fisheries Division. "The invasion of exotic aquatic species and the near absence of the Chinook salmon's preferred prey, the alewife, have greatly altered the lake's food web. These workshops and meetings give all stakeholders a chance to sit down and discuss these changes and the future of the lake's fishery."

 

The day-long workshops will feature the latest research and information related to the changing Lake Huron fishery. These meetings will be:

*       8:30 - 3:30 p.m. Sat, April 16, Franklin Inn Motor Lodge, 1060 E. Huron Ave in Bad Axe.

*       8:30 - 3:30 p.m. Sat, April 30, Oscoda Yacht Club, 430 S. State St in Oscoda.

Registration for the day-long workshops is $12 in advance or $15 at the door, and includes lunch. The workshops are open to the public, and Borgeson especially encourages charter captains, anglers and resource professionals interested in the future of the fishery on Lake Huron to attend one of the workshops.

 

Three evening meetings, which will be shorter versions of the workshops, also will be held. These meetings are free and open to the public as well. They include:

 

*       7:30 - 9:30 p.m. Wed, April 13, McMorran Place, 701 McMorran Blvd in Port Huron. Hosted by Blue Water Sportfishing Assn

*       7 - 9 p.m. Wed, April 20, Alpena Community College in Alpena;

*       7 - 9 p.m. Thurs, April 21, Cheboygan Sportsmen's Club, 13516 Seffern Rd in Cheboygan.

 

One of the major issues to be addressed at these sessions will be the future of the Chinook salmon fishery on Lake Huron. Borgeson said Chinook salmon have been naturally reproducing in increasing numbers in Lake Huron, with fish of wild origin now greatly outnumbering the Chinook of hatchery origin.

 

For more info, MI Sea Grant: 989-984-1060:  www.miseagrant.umich.edu/workshops/huron-fisheries_wrksp.html .

 

To download Registration Form click here.


Lake Erie

Lake Erie Walleye and Perch Quotas set for 2005

COLUMBUS, OH -The Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission recently announced the 2005 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for walleye and yellow perch fisheries in Lake Erie, according to the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife. The committee, composed of representatives from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, meets each March to set sustainable levels of catch for both fish species.

 

The 2005 TAC for walleye is 5.8 million fish, with Ohio’s share or “quota” at about 3 million fish, a sizeable increase from last year's quota of 1.2 million fish.

 

“We are now realizing the benefits of very conservative harvests on lake-wide walleye fisheries over the past four years,” said Steven A. Gray, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife. “The interagency effort to address population declines

in this popular game fish has paid off and now we are seeing the greatest numbers of Lake Erie walleye since 1990.”

 

Ohio's yellow perch quota is 5.4 million pounds of the lake-wide TAC of 11.8 million pounds. That amount is similar to last year's quota of 5.1 million pounds. “The yellow perch population is healthy and we are expecting another year of fantastic perch fishing on Lake Erie,” said Gray.

 

The daily bag limit for walleye between March 1 and April 30 is three fish, increasing to six fish from May 1 through February 28, 2006. A minimum length of 15 inches per walleye also remains in effect year round.

 

The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish year round with no size limit. Anglers can obtain more information on species harvest limits from the 2005-2006 Ohio Fishing Regulations available at any license outlet, or online at www.ohiodnr.com


Charter Industry concerned Walleye catch to liberal

Matta Presentation to the Lake Erie Committee

In establishing the TAC (total allowable catch) for walleye in Lake Erie. It is time that the committee uses emotion and common sense vs. science alone.  The sportsman on Lake Erie have traditional supported all efforts to enhance our walleye stock.  Most notably, reduced spring bag limits.

 

Our concerns in establishing the TAC for 2005 are 2 fold:

 

2005 recruitment;  We already know that 2002 hatch was poor, 2004 hatch was terrible, what we do not know, and may I say no one in this room knows what the hatch in 2005 will be.  I would like to play a what if scenario.  What if 2005 is another bust year?  What if Ontario exceeds their quota by 35% AGAIN this year?  What if Ohio takes their quota this year?  There is too much at risk.  The Walleye task force projections for the # of walleye in Lake Erie in 2005 is 42 Million (2 years and older)

 

Your own projection show that number will drop to 30 million in 2006.  Now lets look at a couple of the what ifs.  We could drop below 25 Million fish very easily.  That would take us on the Task Force scale for the top tier to the third tier. (Low quality fishery).  It seems to the sport Fishery that the risk is too great.  Wait 1 year, see the recruitment numbers for 2005, and then adjust.  We may need that 2003 hatch (record) to sustain us over the next 8 years.  We can not afford to have

that hatch exploited.  Last years numbers show that the Ontario Commercial Industry have already taken over 300K of the 2003 hatch.  The projections are that that same hatch will be the primary target in 2005.

 

That brings me to our second concern.  Last year, based on the numbers provided today, the Ontario Commercial Fishery exceeded their quota by 35%. With the current “Call in” procedures we question how is it that their quota was exceeded by such a high percentage.  If you are going to set a target quota, should you stick to it?  Is it possible to build a buffer?  I think our goal should be to stay under the TAC, not exceed it (or even reach it).  Again why exploit the current population by 26%??

 

The sports fishery has paid our dues.  Communities have had revenues drop dramatically as our limits have dropped.  The sport fishery again wants to error on the side of caution, and common sense, and hope that the GLFC will do the same.

 

See related article posted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

 

Capt Mike Matta of Matta Charters is the U.S. Advisor for Ohio sportfishing to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and is a member of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Assn and Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council.


Illinois

IDNR Announces Plans to Update Floodplain Maps

Internet Availability Planned
Champaign—An elaborate project is underway in Illinois:  updating maps that illustrate where flood plains exist.   Such maps are used for regulatory and flood insurance purposes, leading to responsible flood plain management.  New maps are needed to reflect urban development, which impacts floodwater patterns.

 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Water Resources, and the Illinois State Water Survey are involved in the mapping project.  Congress has allocated significant funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to modernize floodplain maps nationwide over a five-year period.     Many of Illinois’ floodplain maps are outdated—some by as much as 20 years and with an average age of 9 years—and often are based on poor base maps that do not reflect urban development.

 

The new maps will be available in digital as well as paper

format. Currently, most floodplain maps in Illinois are available only in paper format. The updated digital maps will use the latest geographic information system (GIS) technology. Already the Illinois State Water Survey is preparing digital maps for Clinton, Sangamon, Kane, Rock Island, and Champaign Counties in Illinois. Over the next 5 years, McConkey and the rest of the team will prepare floodplain maps for most counties in Illinois.

 

Ultimately, the maps will be available on a FEMA-hosted digital map portal. Until the transition to an all-digital platform, FEMA will continue to print and distribute paper maps.

 

“These maps mean we can plan better to avoid repercussions from natural disasters,” said DNR Director Joel Brunsvold. “These help identify areas that potentially may flood, so communities can plan building and development appropriately.  When we plan with flood plains in mind, we minimize potential damage from natural disasters, and we also limit situations that end up requiring legal action.”


Governor Announces Funding for Boat Docks and Ramps

Improved Access Expected to Spur angling, boating & Tourism

SPRINGFIELD-- Governor Rod Blagojevich last week announced $725,000 in grants to assist eight local communities in improving recreational waterway access.  The grants will pay for boat and canoe docks, ramps and other facilities used by Illinois boating enthusiasts.

 

“Boat access improvements are good news because they encourage tourism. Boaters are more likely to travel to lakes and rivers where there is an easy approach into the water,” Governor Blagojevich said.  “These grants are for projects that will help thousands of Illinois residents and visitors have fun on Illinois waterways, and communities reap the financial benefits of tourist dollars.”

 

Funding for the state boat access grant program is provided through revenue generated by boat and canoe registration fees and marine motor fuel taxes paid by boaters. 

 

The grant program, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, can provide up to 100 percent funding for construction and improvements to public boat access facilities and up to 90 percent funding for land acquisition associated with boat access facilities.  The maximum grant per project is $200,000. Since the boat access grant program started in 1968, more than 400 local boat and canoe access projects have been funded, totaling $33.7 million.

 

The application period for boat and canoe access project grants is July 1-September 1 each year.  For more information, contact the IDNR Division of Grant Administration, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, or telephone 217/782-7481.

 

The eight boat and canoe access grants are listed below:

 

City of Brookport (Massac County), $92,200 to construct a new boat launch ramp into the Ohio River to replace the severely deteriorated existing ramp, to asphalt the access road to the site and to improve the aggregate parking area.  The boat access area is located off of Third

Street in Joppa. (Local contact: John Klaffer, 618/564-2351).    

 

City of Byron (Ogle County), $64,800 to improve an existing two-lane boat ramp into the Rock River with the installation of additional dock sections that will accommodate launching and

retrieval during low water elevations and to add a bituminous overlay to the existing parking area.  The city’s boat access area is adjacent to Mineral Street and Illinois Route 2 in Byron. (Local contact: Kathryn Hamas, 815/234-2762).

 

Village of Minooka (Will County), $58,600 to acquire 7.8 acres of land along the DuPage River adjacent to McEvilly Road on the eastern edge of the Village of Minooka.  The property will be developed in the future with a gravel access road, an aggregate parking area and a canoe launch.  (Local contact: Jim Grabowski, 815/467-2151).  

 

City of New Boston (Mercer County), $123,700 to renovate an existing boat launch area on the Mississippi River.  The project will extend the underwater sections of the ramp, allowing larger boats to use the launchIt will also include the installation of new docks that will greatly enhance the ease of loading, launching and retrieving boats at the site.  (Local contact: Dennis Dixon, 309/587-8181).  

 

City of Newton (Jasper County), $50,000 to develop a canoe access area on the Embarras River in Peterson Park in Newton.  The project includes the construction of a launch ramp, a parking area and shoreline rip-rap.  (Local contact: Ross McCLane, 618/783-8451).

 

City of Pekin (Peoria County), $125,700 to improve an existing boat access area on the west bank of the Illinois River, directly across from the City of Pekin.  The project includes the renovation of the parking lot, concrete curbing along the edge of the new parking area, and the installation of courtesy docks to improve the launch and retrieval of boats at the site.  (Local contact: Lyn Howard, 309/477-2300). 

 

Pulaski County, $100,000 to improve an existing boat launch area on the Ohio River near the Village of Grand Chain.  The site is known as the Ohio River Recreation Area and it includes a recently constructed lodge and a campground.  This project involves the installation of a floating courtesy dock and a sidewalk to improve boaters’ ingress and egress from the river.  (Local contact: Jerry Thurston, 618/748-9360). 

 

Waukegan Port District (Lake County), $110,000 to improve the boat launch in Waukegan Harbor by installing four new floating docks.  The new docks will replace four existing stationary docks that were installed 19 years ago.  Since the time of their installation, the water level of Lake Michigan has dropped four feet making them virtually unusable. (Local contact: Duncan Henderson, 847/244-3133).


Canton Student wins Illinois Junior Duck Stamp Contest 2nd year in a row

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. -- Helen Schenck, a junior at Canton High School, won "Best of Show" honors for the second year in a row during Illinois' segment of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Contest, Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold announced today.

 

The 16-year-old won the top prize with her colored pencil and acrylic airbrush drawing entitled "Blue Water Blue Bills," depicting greater scaup swimming amid cattails. Her winning entry now advances to the national competition to be held on April 23rd in Ocean City, Maryland. Her teachers are Marnie Eskridge and Jason Parsons.

 

"This competition continues to be a popular forum for both students and teachers,” Brunsvold said. “It is an honor to judge this contest. I enjoy watching the progression of many of the young artists, from when their artistic efforts are just beginning to the point it is obvious that they have a flair for capturing waterfowl in some type of art medium," Brunsvold said. 

 

The goal of the Federal Junior. Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Contest is to teach environmental science through the arts. Curriculum guides are available to teachers at no cost by calling (703) 358-2000 or by downloading them from the website at www.duckstamps.fws.gov.  Schenck’s "Best of Show" design was chosen from a group of 12 first-place winners in four categories: grades 10-12; grades 7-9; grades

4-6; and grades K-3. Three first-, second- and third-place winners were selected in each age group, along with 16 honorable mentions. For the 2005 contest, more than 550 entries were received from students enrolled in 80-plus schools. 

 

Schenck's work was judged a first-place winner in the competition among 10th-12th grade students. The two other 2005 first-place winners in this category are Kyle Freeman of Bureau Valley High School (Manlius) and Nathon Scheirer of Metamora Township High School (Metamora). There were more than 160 entries from 36 schools in this age group. Illinois' "Best of Show" and 11 first place winning entries can be viewed at ww.dnr.state.il.us/lands/Education/classrm/ribbon/main.htm

Judging the contest were Joel Brunsvold, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Paul Sutfin, Illinois Waterfowlers Alliance; Dave Ellis, Great River National Wildlife Refuge; Tim Julison, Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge; and Bob Burton, Ducks Unlimited.

 

For her effort, Schenck will receive a variety of gifts and recognitions from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Waterfowlers Alliance and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. All students who place first, second, third or honorable mention receive ribbons. All participating students receive certificates. The annual contest is part of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp and Conservation Program, administered by the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


City plans to build tunnel to send rainwater to lake

CHICAGO -- Last week Chicago announced a plan to build a storm-water tunnel connected to McCormick Place that would flush rainwater into Lake Michigan and lessen the burden on the city's sewer lines.

 

The tunnel would cost about $16 million and be built over 15 months by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, according to a city Water Department news release. From its starting point at McCormick Place West, the tunnel will discharge the water near Northerly Island, the release said. No date was given for the start of construction.

 

The plan is being reviewed by several agencies, including the 

U.S. and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, according to the release.

 

Conservationist's concerns are the tunnel probably will drain oils and other chemicals from the parking lots, as well as the fertilizers and other contaminants from grass and gardening areas into the lake.  This tunnel will dump unused fertilizers, contaminants and sewer runoff into the lake at Northerly Island.

 

We have never stopped Milwaukee from dumping their overloads in the Lake, and now Chicago wants to pollute the lake front as well.  This must not be allowed.


Michigan

Wolf Management Will be Focus of DNR Public Meetings May 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 &19

A series of public meetings will be hosted by the Michigan DNR to discuss wolf management in the state.  The meetings will provide the public with an opportunity to identify important issues and express opinions regarding wolves and wolf management in the state.  Public input received at these meetings will help guide revision of the state's wolf management plan. 

 

Wolves began returning naturally to the Michigan's Upper Peninsula via Wisconsin and Canada in the late 1980s. Today, the minimum estimate of population size is approximately 400 animals. Wolf populations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have exceeded federal recovery goals for several years, but the animal remains on the endangered species list, largely due to management issues occurring elsewhere in the country.

 

Director Humphries is beginning the process of establishing a joint citizen/agency committee, which will be charged with developing "guiding principles" for management of wolves in Michigan.  Once assembled, the group will begin work next winter.  The issues identified and the attitudes expressed at the public meetings will be considered by this joint committee when developing its recommendations.

 

Meeting dates, locations and times are listed below:

*       Watersmeet: 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, May 2, Watersmeet Public School, N4720 Highway 45;     

 

*       Houghton: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at Michigan Tech U, McGinnis Ave & 7th St;

*       Escanaba: 7 to 9 p.m. May 11, Bay de Noc Community College, 2001 North Lincoln Rd; 

 

*       Newberry: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 12, Comfort Inn, junction of M-28 and M-123;

 

*       Sault Ste. Marie:  7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 13, Cisler Conference Center, Lake Superior State U;

 

*       Marquette: 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 14, Northwoods Supper Club, 260 Northwoods Road;

 

*       Clare: 7 to 9  p.m. Saturday, May 14, located to be announced;

 

*       Grand Rapids: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, Grand Valley State U downtown campus.

 

*       Ann Arbor: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, located to be announced at a later date;

 

*       Gaylord: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 19, Best Western Alpine Lodge, 833 W. Main St.

 

You can also provide comments by email to: wolf_comments@michigan.gov ; or mail comments to: DNR Wildlife Division, Attn: Endangered Species Coordinator, PO Box 30444, Lansing, MI  48909. All comments will be given full consideration. The DNR will not provide return responses to submitted comments.

 

 


DNR Asks Spring Turkey Hunters to Report Activity in Online Survey

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking spring turkey hunters to participate in a turkey hunter's survey once their hunting season has ended.  Turkey hunters are encouraged to report their hunting activity online on the DNR's Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr .

 

The survey is designed to determine hunter success and total harvest, so it is important for all turkey hunters to participate, even if they do not harvest a turkey.

 

"The short, online questionnaire is similar to the printed version that we send to a random sample of hunters each year," said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. "Having the survey available online gives every turkey hunter

the opportunity to report their hunting activity. This information is used to improve turkey management and ensure decisions regarding future hunting seasons are based on the best information available."

 

Results of the survey will be posted on the DNR web site in the late summer. Hunters can visit the DNR web site to find other important hunting-related news and information, including results of turkey harvest surveys from previous years.

 

Spring turkey season is April 18 to May 31, but hunt dates vary depending on state game unit. For local information, check the DNR's turkey hunting guide online at www.michigan./gov/dnr , and click on Hunting on the main menu.


Poachers Beware! Turkey Hunters are watching

April 18 signals the opening of the 2005 spring wild turkey season in Michigan. With a statewide population over 170,000 birds, the Department of Natural Resources believes the increased population and additional hunting opportunities should produce another excellent season for the estimated 95,000 hunters who will take to the woods hoping a wily gobbler will answer their call.

 

A successful turkey hunt depends on a number of factors, including preparation, hunting skill and attention to safety. And though the vast majority of turkey hunters abide by the rules, some people don't. These individuals are poachers, and the DNR, in cooperation with the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, has distributed a new poster to all license dealers throughout Michigan with a simple message: "Poachers Beware! Hunters Are Watching."

According to DNR Law Enforcement officials, hunting without a license, the illegal use of bait and recreational trespass are the three biggest problems reported during the spring wild turkey hunting season.

 

"Now more than ever, conservation officers need the help of the public in order to effectively clamp down on the unlawful take of wildlife," said Alan Marble, DNR Law Enforcement chief. "This partnership provides a reminder to lawful hunters to take a moment to document and report violations they witness -- and a warning to poachers that their actions are unacceptable and under scrutiny."

 

Hunters are encouraged to call the DNR Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800 to report any suspicious activity or violations of law.

 


Granholm Water Letter Invites Caution

City’s Water Deal Prompts DEQ Scrutiny

LANSING, MI—Environmentalists reacted cautiously today to a decision by Governor Jennifer Granholm to scrutinize a deal reached late last month between the Nestle Corporation and the City of Evart to bottle and export water from the Great Lakes basin.

 

On March 28 the City of Evart, located northwest of Clare and northeast of Nestle’ Ice Mountain plant in Mecosta County, approved a 10-year contract with Nestle Ice Mountain brand that would allow the international company to pump spring water from a municipal well that is currently permitted to pump 500 gallons a minute.

 

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester notified the City of Evart and Nestle that the governor had directed him to evaluate the water deal under Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act.  Among the questions Chester raised in his notification letter was where Nestles intended to distribute the water.

According to the company, Nestles may pump as much as 250 million gallons a year from Evart. In 1998, a Canadian company raised an uproar when it received approval from Ontario to ship 168 million gallons per year of Lake Superior water to Asia. The company surrendered its permit and the fear over water exports led to current efforts to tighten Great Lakes protections.

 

Advocacy groups wrote Gov. Granholm last month, saying the selling of municipal water to Nestle for bottling and sale outside the Basin was “plainly unlawful” without a regional consultation process as provided for under WRDA.

 

In a letter delivered this month to Granholm the groups cited a 2001 opinion by then-Attorney General Granholm that Nestle’ original pumping and bottling plan in Mecosta County was subject to the federal law. In the September 2001 opinion, Granholm wrote, “The withdrawal and bottling of such water for sale in interstate commerce outside the Great Lakes basin would constitute a diversion or export ‘for use outside the basin’ and therefore would be subject to the WRDA.”


Indian boat sinks

Last week an Indian net boat sank in 60 ft of water off Ludington just south of the point. The crewmen said that they were trying to lift the nets but they were too heavy and got swamped and sank. All three crewmen were rescued. They also said that the Coast Guard gave them 30 days to get net(s) out of the water.

 

Local observers said they didn't know if the crew was in the process of pulling a net or not, they were hired to do that and could have just been running here (Ludington) from Leland. Only two crewmen were aboard. A local TV station had it Tuesday night as a Helicopter rescue, but the helicopter never got there. Coast Guard Grand Haven has been less than

cooperative for giving info. The Coast Guard won't acknowledge there's a deadline, just "we're working with the owner on that."

 

Another observer said unfortunately these guys were hired by the Little River Band to "clean up" the unmarked and abandoned nets in region 7 of the new treaty. They acknowledge that the tribe seemed to be trying to do the right thing in the waters we must share and hopefully this does not detour their efforts.

 

The captain and crew were out there at 3:00 a.m. when the ship foundered  They spent 40 minutes in 35 degree water. They could have died.


Minnesota

Fishing success leads to excess

Total fines nearly $8,000 in two cases

The Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline provided Minnesota DNR conservation officers several leads recently leading to possible fine and restitution amounts totaling nearly $8,000.

 

Officer Chris Vinton, Detroit Lakes, received a TIP call April 1 about some Indiana anglers fishing Straight Lake near Osage in northern Minnesota. With the assistance of Officer Dennis Lang, Perham, they found violations ranging from license fraud, misdemeanor over-limits of sunfish and crappie, and gross misdemeanor gross over-limit of sunfish. A total of 299 fish were found in excess of legal limits.

 

Donald B. Blauvelt, 51; Donald M. Chester, 75; David L. Beard, 53; Justin M. Beard, 30; and Robert Leslie Jr., 40; all of Ft. Wayne, Ind., face possible fines and restitution totaling $6,000. Also seized in the investigation were angling licenses, fishing rods and an auger.

 

Blauvelt, who pled guilty in Becker County District Court on April 5, was sentenced to $3,200 fine/restitution, sentenced to 365 days in jail stayed for two years and prohibited from fishing for two years. Officers found Blauvelt 239 sunfish over the limit (legal limit is 20 sunfish per angler; 20 gifted to a companion).

 

The court fined Donald M. Chester nearly $175 for purchasing a resident fishing license.   Court appearances are set for May

2 for David L. Beard, Justin M. Beard and Robert Leslie Jr. The three had 52 crappies (22 over-limit) and 98 sunfish (38 over-limit). Fines and restitution for the three amounts to $1,800.

 

In another case, Officer Tim Gray, Blackduck, received a call April 2 about a group of anglers keeping walleye and an over-limit of crappies on Red Lake in northwest Minnesota.

 

When Gray checked the anglers they were putting a walleye down a hole in the ice. Six more walleye were found under the back seat storage compartment of their vehicle. There's a moratorium on taking walleye from Red Lake. An over-limit of crappies was found packed inside a suitcase style ice shelter and in several buckets. The total number of fish possessed by the three adults and one juvenile angler were 100 crappies (legal possession limit is 10 per angler), seven walleye and 12 perch.

 

Charged were Viengxay Sivongxay, 44, and Phouvieng Davannavong, 36, both of Savage, and Thavy Chindavong, 52, of Brooklyn Park.   The youth was not charged in the incident. The three men face a combined total of nearly $2,700 in fines and restitution.

 

Maj. Al Heidebrink, DNR enforcement operations manager, said the DNR appreciates help from the public and encourages people who see illegal fishing activities to call the TIP line at 1-800-652-9093.


Historic landmark destroyed at Interstate State Park

The historic rock formation known as the Devil’s Chair no longer sits atop the craggy cliffs along the St. Croix River.  Sometime between last week and Saturday morning, April 9, the landmark that had served as the logo for the Town of Taylors Falls and Interstate State Park in which it was located was toppled off its rocky pinnacle.

 

“At this point we are not sure exactly what happed to cause the fall,“ said Interstate Park Manager Larry Buchholz.  “The three separate pieces of rock that comprised the chair were massive.  They were exposed by glacial melt water 10,000 to 12,000 years ago and engineers have estimated the weight of the rocks to be about 60 tons.”

 

Although there were suspicious markings on the rocks that

remained, the cause of the rock fall has not yet been determined.  Engineering experts from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be working with park staff and the Chisago County Sheriff's Office this week to find out what caused the fall and to determine the stability of the remaining column of rock.  For the time being, the area is closed to the public for safety reasons.

 

“The Devil’s Chair was one of the easiest formations to see and recognize from the river and trails in the park,” said Buchholz.  “This historic landmark will be missed.”  People who have seen activity around the chair during this past week are asked to contact the park at (651) 465-5711 or the Chisago County Sheriff's Office at (651) 257- 4100.

 


2004 deer harvest is the second highest on record

Minnesota hunters harvested more than 260,600 deer during 2004, the second highest deer harvest ever recorded, according to final numbers announced today by the Minnesota DNR.

 

Firearms hunters harvested 230,500 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 20,750 and 9,300 deer, respectively. The record deer harvest of 290,000 was set in 2003.

 

"The harvest was close to what we predicted and on target in terms of making every effort to manage the herd at responsible levels," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "We're pleased that hunters continue to step and harvest deer."  Cornicelli credits high deer harvests in the past two years to high deer populations, abundant hunting opportunities and regulation changes that made it easier to obtain permits to harvest antlerless deer.

Given this year's mild winter weather in much of the state, DNR wildlife officials expect ample deer harvest opportunities for hunters again this fall. "We will continue to promote antlerless deer harvest as a population management tool," Cornicelli said.

 

Winter mortality is expected to be significant in an area north from Duluth to Warroad where deep snow cover lingered into March.   The final deer harvest number is computed using information provided by hunters when they register their deer. A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us  in the coming weeks.

 

This year's deadline for the either-sex permit application is Sept. 8. Archery deer hunting will begin Sept. 17. The statewide firearms deer hunting season will open on Nov. 5.

 


Ohio

Short-sighted to hike quotas for walleye

D'Arcy Egan, Cleveland Plain Dealer

There are swarms of young walleye swimming in Lake Erie, a bonanza class that hatched in 2003. In two years they have quickly grown from two tiny eyes and a wiggle to foot long eating machines.

 

Those small walleye make up an estimated 71% of the Lake Erie walleye population. Yet in a quixotic decision, after three years of low walleye quotas to protect and enhance Lake Erie's most popular game fish, the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has abandoned the mission.

 

Late last month, the LEC more than doubled the lakewide total allowable catch (TAC) of walleye for 2005 from 2.4 million to 5.8 million fish from a population estimated at 42 million. That number marks a surprising 140% increase, despite just one good hatch over three years.

 

Ohio (2.9 million) and Ontario (2.5 million) split the majority of the walleye TAC. Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York get small shares of the fishing wealth.   The decision to allow the pint-sized class of 2003 walleye to dominate sport and commercial catches this year - including female walleye not mature enough to spawn until 2007 - is one fisheries managers could regret as early as next season.

 

The LEC predicts this year's walleye harvest and natural attrition will result in a lakewide population of 31 million walleye in 2006. Barring another amazing hatch in 2005, the walleye population will struggle because of bad hatches in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

 

Even with low walleye quotas over the past three years, Ohio sport anglers have consistently failed to catch their share. Ohio commercial fishermen are not allowed to harvest walleye or use gill nets. In 2004, with a quota of 1.23 million walleye, Ohio anglers kept 859,000 fish and released tens of thousands of small walleye because of a 15-inch size limit. Ohio's six-fish daily bag limit is also trimmed to three walleye during the March-April spawning season.

 

Ontario commercial fishermen not only took their share of 1.04 million walleye, but were 380,000 over the quota. The head of the Ontario commercial fishermen said the 35 % overharvest of "spike" walleye in perch gill nets was unavoidable then - and will be again in 2005.

 

"There were a number of measures by the Ministry of Natural Resources last year to reduce the by-catch of small pickerel  [walleye]," said Peter Meisenheimer, executive director of the

Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association in Blenheim, Ontario. "They were so plentiful, the only way we could avoid catching them would have been to shut down the perch fishery."

 

The low walleye quotas of the last three years prompted Meisenheimer to charge the LEC with favoring U.S. members, as well as sport angling over commercial fishing. The LEC seemed to make amends in 2005 to Ontario's crowd of more than 200 commercial fishing license holders.

 

"Last year's TAC was ridiculous," said Meisenheimer. "It is hard to believe it wasn't malicious. Now we're back in the realm of reality. From where we sit, at least now we'll now have three years of reasonable pickerel [walleye] fishing."

 

The LEC also set the lakewide TAC for yellow perch at 11.8 million lbs, a 7 % increase. As the perch population has recovered from the doldrums of the 1990s, fishermen have feasted, especially commercial anglers taking the bulk of the annual harvest. The lakewide perch harvest has soared from 3.9 million lbs in 1995 to 9.7 million lbs in 2004.

 

Meisenheimer agreed fishing success has been a Lake Erie roller coaster ride for many years, and there is risk in taking so many small walleye and ever-increasing numbers of yellow perch.

 

"That is the nature of these fish," he said. "They produce big year classes every once in a while. There is a risk to everything in life. You can't fish without having an impact on the population."

 

The quotas raised the ire of western Lake Erie charter captain Mike Matta, the Ohio representative to the Lake Erie Fishery Commission, who spoke at the LEC meeting. He feels more than doubling the walleye quota on Lake Erie is a major setback in maintaining a quality fishery.

 

"They gave the [2003 class of walleye] to the gill nets before they have the chance to spawn even once," said Matta. "If there are so many walleye out there, how can Ohio justify a three-fish daily bag limit [in March and April] or a 15-inch size limit?

 

"We're going to see this fishery go from great to 'maintenance' status in just one year with these quotas. Last year, it looked as if the Lake Erie Committee was finally starting to get it and protect walleye stocks. "Not anymore."

Egan is a Plain Dealer Columnist, and member of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council

 


Pennsylvania

Program Recognizes Trophy Catches     

With the 8 a.m. April 16 start of the 2005 Pennsylvania Trout Season, anglers’ dreams are fueled by the potential of a trophy catch.  While fishing is relaxing, family fun, deep inside every angler lurks the secret competitive desire for a legendary catch.  A fish so big, it becomes the measuring stick by which all your friends will have to compare their efforts.  Something so large, you’ll have to clear a space on the wall to display it.  Maybe even a fish that’s the largest ever taken in Pennsylvania – a state record.

           

It will take a truly special fish to displace the current benchmarks.  In Pennsylvania, records are established by weight and are certified exclusively by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.  A 20 lb, 3 oz steelhead trout from Walnut Creek in Erie County leads the way.  Walnut Creek also produced the 19 lb, 10 oz brown trout state record.  The 15 lb 6 ¼ oz rainbow trout from Jordan Creek, Lehigh County is nothing to sneer at either.  Lake Erie offered up the 11 lb, 10 oz golden rainbow trout record.  A 7 lb brook trout from Clinton County's Fishing Creek holds the mark for that species.

           

You don’t need to set a record to get recognition from the Commission, however.  The agency offers an Angler Award Program to congratulate anglers that make exceptional catches.  From a “First Fish” certificate for beginning anglers

to “Husky Musky” recognition for those who successfully tangle with one of the state’s largest gamefish, a number of awards exist.  Separate categories exist for 32 species.  Anglers can qualify based on the size of their catch – length for fish caught and released, weight for those that are kept.

 

To earn a catch and release reward, brook trout must be at least 15" long, rainbow and golden rainbow trout 20", brown trout 21" and steelhead 24".

           

For kept fish, a different criterion exists for older and younger anglers.  Anglers younger than 16 can earn a Junior Award for a brown trout weighing 1 lb, 8 oz; anglers 16 and older qualify for a Senior Award with a 2 lb brook trout.  Four lbs is the standard for a brown trout Junior Award; 5 lbs, 8 oz is the Senior Award standard.  Rainbow and golden rainbow trout must be at least 3 lbs, 8 oz for juniors and 5 lbs for seniors.  For steelhead, 8 lbs is the minimum size for juniors and 10 lbs for seniors.

           

The rules and application forms for an Angler Award or a State Record can be found in the “Fishing” section of the Commission’s web site at www.fish.state.pa.us .  A list of the largest fish reported to the Commission in 2004 is also available online.


Wisconsin

Walleye bag limits revised for ceded territory lakes

MADISON – The daily walleye bag limits have been revised on 280 lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory in response to harvest declarations make by six bands of Chippewa in Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources has announced. These bag limits are effective between May 7, 2005 and March 5, 2006, inclusive.

 

One hundred twenty-two lakes will have a daily bag limit of three walleye, 151 lakes will have a two-fish daily bag limit, and seven lakes will have a daily bag limit of one walleye. Spirit and Virgin Lakes (Oneida Co.) will have a 45” minimum for muskellunge.

 

The revised bag limits can be found on the DNR Web site and are being published as an insert to the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2005-2006. Lakes not listed are subject to the regulations printed in the regulations pamphlet. The statewide daily bag limit for walleyes on many Wisconsin lakes remains at five fish per day, but anglers should check the regulations for special size and bag limits that are in effect on specific waters.

 

Lakes declared by the Lac du Flambeau Band have a daily bag limit of three walleye for sport anglers. In 1997, the DNR and the Lac du Flambeau Band signed an agreement that

gave the Band authority to sell tribal licenses honored statewide in return for making declarations at a level that allows a three walleye per day recreational angler bag limit.

 

As part of a 1983 federal Appellate Court decision affirming Chippewa off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, the six bands of Wisconsin Chippewa set annual harvest quotas for off-reservation lakes in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. As part of court agreements, to assure the combined tribal and recreational angler harvest does not exceed the ability of walleye to sustain its population in any lake, the Department of Natural Resources must revise bag limits for recreational hook and line anglers in lakes declared for harvest by the Chippewa bands. The state is entering its 21st year of the joint tribal and recreational fishery.

 

The DNR Bureau of Fisheries Management and Habitat Protection has also revised its Internet pages regarding the joint tribal and recreational fishery in the Wisconsin Ceded Territory. Background information on Chippewa treaty rights, a description of the management and monitoring system used to ensure the viability of fisheries in the Ceded Territory, and data collected as part of that monitoring system, including walleye population estimates and creel survey summaries for all gamefish, are available.

                                                

                            

 

 


Fish stocking begins around state

EAGLE, Wis. -- Fish stocking trucks are rolling out across Wisconsin now and the pace will pick up in coming weeks as state fisheries crews deliver tens of millions of hatchery-raised fish to lakes and streams where Mother Nature needs a hand to provide good fishing.

 

"We're in the early stages of stocking out spring yearlings and fingerlings," says Al Kaas, statewide fish propagation coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "Right now, it's all coldwater species, and we'd like to have a lot of them stocked by the opening of the fishing season."

 

The vast majority of Wisconsin waters support naturally reproducing populations of fish -- about 90 percent, based on estimates developed through years of fish surveys --but the rest don't as a result of degraded habitat, low winter oxygen levels, and other reasons.

 

Starting in February and ending late this summer, DNR fisheries crews will transfer 51 million days-old fry and 11.7 million larger fish from DNR's 14 fish hatcheries into state waters. The larger fish range from 3-inch fish known as small fingerlings, to 6- to 8-inch fish known as "large fingerlings" to yearlings, 15- to 20-month-old fish that vary in size.

 

Wisconsin's stocking strategy, Kaas says, emphasizes producing smaller numbers of larger, high quality fish and stocking them first where there’s a good chance of re-establishing a formerly naturally self-sustaining fish population.

 

A second priority is stocking waters as part of research to determine the cost-effectiveness of some stocking practice or other management actions; a third priority is stocking to maintain an existing fishery that’s been reduced due to outside factors that may not be fixed easily or inexpensively. As a last priority, DNR will stock fish to expand recreational opportunities in waters that will likely need continual stocking to sustain fishing opportunities.

 

"We're trying to maximize return by stocking the most cost effective product in waters with the most promise of providing a self-sustaining fishery," Kaas says.

 

The actual stocking -- transferring fish from their hatchery home to new receiving water, requires the careful coordination and effort of three groups of state fisheries employees, and in some cases, cooperating local sports clubs, says Dick Rebicek, DNR fisheries operations supervisor for southeastern region.

 

Fish biologists assess whether a waterbody needs stocking to help provide a fishery and send in a request for fish. Operations crews strip eggs and milt from hatchery or wild fish. Hatchery personnel hatch and raise the fish in ponds or structures known as raceways at the state's 14 hatcheries and the cooperative ponds that fish clubs maintain. Different crews work together to transfer the fish from ponds to receiving waters.

 

"We're all different cogs in the wheel here," Rebicek says. "There's a big bunch of people in this to make it go."

Different fish species spawn at different times, and are stocked at different sizes and ages. A production year typically runs from the fall of the first year to the second summer when yearling fish -- those 15-to 20-months -old -- are stocked. The accompanying chart reflects fish planned to be stocked in production year 2005-2006.

 

Coldwater species -- trout and salmon -- are first in the lineup. Rebicek and his southeastern Wisconsin-based staff of three have been traveling to far-flung state hatcheries since February, collecting the 1.3 million, 3-inch chinook fingerlings for stocking in Lake Michigan harbors and tributaries in southeastern Wisconsin. A counterpart crew in northeastern Wisconsin has been picking up and delivering a like number of fish.

When the crews are not stocking Lake Michigan, they and counterparts in western, northern and south central Wisconsin are picking up brook and brown trout and stocking them in inland waters, Rebicek says.

 

Normally, much of the inland trout stocking in spring is of legal-sized fish to provide immediate fishing opportunities in streams lacking suitable overwinter habitat. Budget cutbacks in recent years, however, have eliminated or significantly reduced for 2005-06 such "put and take" stocking. With limited funds, DNR has concentrated on raising and stocking the less expensive, smaller trout in "put, grow and take" streams where habitat is good enough to sustain fish overwinter, and in streams with a better chance of eventually supporting self-sustaining fish populations.

 

In June, "coolwater" fish such as walleye and northern pike are on the stocked. These are fish hatched from the eggs the operations crews, when they're not stocking fish, help hatchery personnel collect in April and May. After these eggs hatch, millions of the fry will be stocked out, Kaas says.

 

Coolwater fish not stocked out as fry are transferred into rearing ponds at state hatcheries and stocked out a month or two later as small fingerlings or in fall as large fingerlings. In late summer, larger inland trout are stocked out, as are more Lake Michigan trout and salmon.

 

"Stocking is the culmination, in some cases, of 18 to 21 months of hard work and dedication by fisheries staff," Kaas says. "They take a lot of pride in making sure the fish are healthy, will contribute to a fishery, and will provide good fishing for anglers in years to come."

Anglers can go on-line to learn http://dnr.wi.gov/org/water/fhp/fish/pages/stocking.shtml  through the DNR Web site.

 

Stocking to be done in Calendar Year 2005

Species

Fish to be Stocked

Brook trout

396,051

Brown trout

2,172,216

Chinook salmon

1,694,070

Coho salmon

498,040

Hybrid muskellunge

10,022

Lake sturgeon

44,613

Lake trout

205,490

Muskellunge

202,901

Northern pike

322,335

Rainbow trout

690,031

Sauger

5,000

Splake

123,000

Walleye

5,330,887

Total Fish Stocked Statewide:

11,694,656

 

 


Salmon, trout egg collection facilities open for public viewing

RACINE -- People can see Lake Michigan steelhead trout up close and watch state fish crews collect eggs from the spawning fish at state facilities in Kewaunee County and on the Root River in Racine in coming weeks.

 

Several hundred fish have swum into the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine, and crews have already started collecting eggs, launching the process of producing the next generation of steelhead to provide shore fishing opportunities along Lake Michigan. The C.D. Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility on the Kewaunee River near Kewaunee has about 50 fish in their facility, and crews were expected to start sorting fish this week in preparation for egg collecting.

 

Egg collecting typically last about three weeks, and both facilities feature underwater viewing windows where people can watch the steelhead jump up fish ladders to get into the facility and viewing areas where people can watch the crews processing the fish. The Besadny facility also features interpretive signs on the grounds that allow visitors to enjoy self-guided tours, according to Randy Link, the Natural Resources Operations Supervisor at Kettle Moraine Springs State Fish Hatchery, where the steelhead are hatched and raised.

 

The egg collection efforts at the Root River and Besadny facilities are critical for maintaining fisheries for these and the other Pacific Coast strain fish DNR stock in Lake Michigan, Link says. The water temperature of Wisconsin's tributaries to Lake Michigan is too warm to allow the fish to naturally reproduce in significant numbers, so DNR staff collect eggs from spawning adults, then hatch the eggs and rear the young at state fish hatcheries. Young fish are released into a tributary, where they imprint on the scent of the water before moving to Lake Michigan to grow. The fish use the scent of their home tributary to return to that stream as adults to spawn.

DNR stocks three strains of steelhead; fish representing two of those strains, Chambers Creek and Ganaraska, are making their spawning runs right now, triggering the egg collection efforts. The third steelhead strain, Skamaina, spawn from mid-December through mid-March with the peak occurring in January and February.

 

The facilities each hope to collect 350,000 eggs each of the Chambers Creek and Ganaraska River strains, Link says. Fish hatched from those eggs and raised at Kettle Moraine Springs will be stocked back into Lake Michigan next spring.

 

Because steelhead survive after spawning and can return in later years to spawn, DNR processes them slightly differently than they do Coho and chinook, which die after spawning, according to Dick Rebicek, who oversees the Root River Steelhead Facility operation. The fish are put into an anesthetic bath, fish crews measure and weigh the fish, and a fish health specialist examines them for visible signs of disease and runs additional tests on a subset of them. If fish appear to be good egg donor candidates, crews use a hypodermic needle to inject air into their body cavity, gently expelling the eggs. The fish are then placed in a recovery tank before being released back into the tributary, he says.

 

Here's details on where and when to go to see egg collecting activities.

C.D. Besadny Fisheries Facility, 3884 Ransom Moore Lane off County Highway F west of Kewaunee on the west bank of the Kewaunee River. The building is open every day 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and the viewing window is open at all times. For information on when crews will be collecting eggs call (920) 388-1025 and leave a message with your name and telephone number.

The Root River Steelhead Facility is located in Lincoln Park in Racine. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call the Lake Michigan hotline (414) 382-7920 to learn when crews will be collecting eggs.

 


Ontario

New Rules for Yellow Perch Fishing In Eastern Ontario

TORONTO -New fishing regulations in eastern Ontario will increase conservation and protection of the area's yellow perch stocks, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced last week.

 

"Changing the regulations for catch limits of yellow perch in eastern Ontario is an important step to maintaining a sustainable fishery for future generations," said Ramsay. "Sound conservation measures like this will help ensure that fishing opportunities in Ontario remain second to none."

 

Yellow perch stocks have been declining in the St. Lawrence

River in recent years. After talks with local stakeholders, the ministry has reduced the number of perch that anglers may catch and possess in Divisions 11 and 12A in the St. Lawrence River. The new catch and possession limits are 50 for a sport fishing license and 25 for a conservation fishing license.

 

In another effort designed to conserve the yellow perch stock in Lake St. Francis, the ministry made it illegal to sell angler-caught yellow perch in the Stormont-Dundas and Glengarry area. As part of its plans to ensure a sustainable fishery, the province is also undertaking public consultations to develop a comprehensive fisheries management plan for Lake St. Francis, which is part of the St. Lawrence River system.


Ontario Government protects declining Eel populations

Recreational Eel Angling Banned In Ontario

TORONTO -The Ontario government is increasing protection for the province's dwindling American eel populations by banning recreational eel angling, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced late last week.

 

"Closing the season for recreational eel angling until populations are restored is another important step in the recovery of this species in Ontario waters," said Ramsay. "Sound conservation measures like this will help bring back the numbers of American eel and ensure the species continues to be a part of Ontario's rich biodiversity in the future."

 

The number of eel in Ontario waters has been declining since the mid-1990s due to environmental changes that have reduced the number of young eel migrating to Lake Ontario,

over fishing and mortality in hydro electric generating facilities.

 

The province is working with other stakeholders, including Ontario Power Generation, to encourage the implementation of measures that will ensure safe passage of eels around hydro dams. Young eels migrate to fresh waters where they take up to 25 years to mature. They then migrate great distances back to the ocean to spawn and die.

 

In April 2004, Ontario set commercial eel quotas to zero in Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. Eel and eel fisheries are found in the coastal waters of Quebec, the Maritime provinces and the eastern United States.

 

"As well as implementing our own conservation measures here in Ontario, we will also continue to work with the federal government, other provinces and states to encourage eel restoration throughout its range," said Ramsay.


Great Lakes fisherman is busted, permanently

Ontario overfishing case sets precedent

In a precedent-setting case, a Thunder Bay, Ontario, commercial fisherman is paying a hefty price for exceeding his whitefish quota. Jarvis Sameluk, 61, a Lake Superior operator, pleaded guilty on Feb. 4 to four counts of false reporting and two counts of exceeding his quota, violations of Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and the federal Fisheries Act. Sameluk was ordered to pay nearly $40,000 in fines, and his provincial commercial fishing license has been permanently revoked.

 

According to Ontario conservation officer Mark Halley, who participated in the investigation, Sameluk exceeded his annual quota by almost 10,000 lbs – an amount that Halley says represents over 10% of Sameluk’s annual limit.

The investigation began in the winter of 2003. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources officials became suspicious after

reviewing several daily catch records. A search warrant was issued and more incriminating documents were found in Sameluk’s residence.

 

“He’s got a lengthy record,” Halley says, adding that Sameluk “has been convicted dozens of times for similar offenses.” Sameluk has had his license temporarily suspended in the past. This time, the ministry sought a permanent solution.

 

“It’s the first time in Ontario we’ve canceled a commercial fishing license permanently,” Halley says.

 

Sameluk will pay $19,179 in fines plus another $19,842 to cover the cost of fish he illegally caught and sold. Sameluk has also been put on probation for two years. During that time he’s prohibited from participating in any type of commercial fishing-related work.


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