Week of July 19 , 2004

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2nd Amendment issues

Indiana

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National

We Need Your Help to Protect the Great Lakes

The Second Barrier

A second larger, longer-life barrier is now under construction. The cost of the design exceeds the available funds by $1.8 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program under which the project is being constructed limits the federal contribution to the project to $5 million.

 

We need your financial help to fund the operation of the barrier and the rapid response plan should that become necessary.

 

The State of Illinois has already contributed $2 million to the project and it will be difficult to obtain the entire balance from a single government entity. Governors of most of the other Great Lakes do not feel they are able to contribute the balance of the funds at this time, yet the timing of these additional contributions is critical. If the funds can not be secured the cost of construction will increase by 30% or more and we will not have the two-barrier system needed to prevent small Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes until the second barrier is complete.

 

We are applying to other sources for the needed funds, but every contribution from any non-federal source will help. That’s where clubs, individuals and corporate America can help

 

Asian Carp Rapid Response

A Rapid response Committee has developed a Rapid Response Plan to address the presence of Asian carp in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal if they begin to congregate below the existing barrier before the second barrier is constructed.

 

We need your financial support to help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The most immediate need is to gather enough money to make the rapid response happen if it is needed. The

large-scale response if needed would most likely occur this summer or fall. Once Barrier II is online the response would be scaled back to treat the 1000 foot distance between the barriers if fish were found between the barriers.

 

The second use for the funds would be to maintain and improve Barrier I. Barrier I will still be needed after Barrier II is built. We need your help to ask Congress to extend that authorization indefinitely and to provide the Corps with the directive to construct improvements to Barrier I. These improvements would increase the effectiveness of Barrier I and the service life of the project. Right now, the Corps of Engineers does not have the authority to operate Barrier I after September 2004.

 

Use of Contributed Funds

The collected funds will be held by the Great Lakes Sportfishing Council and will be distributed based on the direction of a board of non-agency trustees including the president of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council. All contributions are tax deductible and 100 % of the contributions will be used towards Asian carp prevention. Contributions will be used to:

 

1)       Implement the Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan

2)       Improve or operate Barrier I

3)       Construct Barrier II

 

The funds will not be used for agency labor and will not be used for research.

Send your donations to:

GLSFC – carp fund

P.O. Box 297

Elmhurst, IL  60126

 

Or use our PayPal for electronic credit card donations.  Go to:

www.great-lakes.org/carp

 


Regional

We Need Your Help to Protect the Great Lakes

The Second Barrier

A second larger, longer-life barrier is now under construction. The cost of the design exceeds the available funds by $1.8 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program under which the project is being constructed limits the federal contribution to the project to $5 million.

 

We need your financial help to fund the operation of the barrier and the rapid response plan should that become necessary.

 

The State of Illinois has already contributed $2 million to the project and it will be difficult to obtain the entire balance from a single government entity. Governors of most of the other Great Lakes do not feel they are able to contribute the balance of the funds at this time, yet the timing of these additional contributions is critical. If the funds can not be secured the cost of construction will increase by 30% or more and we will not have the two-barrier system needed to prevent small Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes until the second barrier is complete.

 

We are applying to other sources for the needed funds, but every contribution from any non-federal source will help. That’s where clubs, individuals and corporate America can help

 

Asian Carp Rapid Response

A Rapid response Committee has developed a Rapid Response Plan to address the presence of Asian carp in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal if they begin to congregate below the existing barrier before the second barrier is constructed.

 

We need your financial support to help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The most immediate need is to gather enough money to make the rapid response happen if it is needed. The

large-scale response if needed would most likely occur this summer or fall. Once Barrier II is online the response would be scaled back to treat the 1000 foot distance between the barriers if fish were found between the barriers.

 

The second use for the funds would be to maintain and improve Barrier I. Barrier I will still be needed after Barrier II is built. We need your help to ask Congress to extend that authorization indefinitely and to provide the Corps with the directive to construct improvements to Barrier I. These improvements would increase the effectiveness of Barrier I and the service life of the project. Right now, the Corps of Engineers does not have the authority to operate Barrier I after September 2004.

 

Use of Contributed Funds

The collected funds will be held by the Great Lakes Sportfishing Council and will be distributed based on the direction of a board of non-agency trustees including the president of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council. All contributions are tax deductible and 100 % of the contributions will be used towards Asian carp prevention. Contributions will be used to:

 

1)       Implement the Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan

2)       Improve or operate Barrier I

3)       Construct Barrier II

 

The funds will not be used for agency labor and will not be used for research.

Send your donations to:

GLSFC – carp fund

P.O. Box 297

Elmhurst, IL  60126

 

Or use our PayPal for electronic credit card donations.  Go to:

www.great-lakes.carp

 


States want Regulations on Ballast

Call on Feds Protect the Great Lakes from Invasive Species

Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm last week announced that Michigan and six other states are asking the federal government to protect the waters of the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species.

 

Michigan, along with New York, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are calling on the United States Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency for stronger action to control discharges of ballast water from oceangoing vessels, a practice identified as the chief cause of the spread of invasive species.

 

"The federal government must take strong and aggressive actions to protect our waters," said Granholm.  "Ballast water threatens the Great Lakes, and ultimately Michigan, with the negative effects of invasive species." As part of the coordinated effort, the states filed a petition with the US Coast Guard to revise ballast water management regulations.

 

Although Congress has mandated that the Coast Guard ensure that all ships with ballast tanks manage the ballast waters so that viable invasive species are not discharged, current Coast Guard rules exempt most ships from such requirements.  The petition asks the Coast Guard to close this loophole.

In addition to signing the petition, states have filed a "friend of the court" brief in a key court case challenging the federal EPA's decision to exempt ballast water discharges from federal water pollution rules.  The states maintain that the EPA's exemption violates the Clean Water's Act prohibition on discharge of pollution from vessels and creates another loophole.

 

"The DEQ has joined with the other Great Lakes States to send the Coast Guard a message that they must be a partner in protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species," said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester.

 

Aquatic invasive species are waterborne, non-native organisms that threaten the diversity or abundance of native species, the ecological stability of impacted waters, or that threaten commercial, agricultural, and recreational activity dependent on waters of the state.

 

The harm caused by invasive species such as the zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil, round goby, and spiny water flea in the Great Lakes is widespread.  For example, utilities annually spend tens of millions of dollars to combat zebra mussel infestations, which clog water intake valves.  Milfoil chokes many waterways, requiring either expensive "mowing" of the weed or chemical treatment that has unintended consequences.


Coast Guard targets drunken boating
Armed with guns, Breathalyzers, tough new laws and fast boats, Coast Guard officers are determined to catch more boozing boaters this summer.

 

From Washington Island, Wis., to Calumet Harbor, the Coast Guard has cited at least 65 people so far this season for boating under the influence on Lake Michigan, just shy of the 68 they cited all last season.

As of last week, four people had been turned over to Chicago police to be prosecuted under a new law that stiffens penalties for boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Last year, the Coast Guard turned just one drunken-boating case over to police, officials said.

Last month, while boating in Indiana, Mark Craig, 45, of Lemont backed his 34-footer into a 10-year-old Alsip girl, killing her with the propeller. The Coast Guard cited Craig for intoxicated operation of a vessel and gross negligence.  "You have to be much more careful about [drinking]," said Lt. Jerry Shepherd of the Indiana DNR, who is investigating the fatality. "You are out in the climate itself. The heat is bearing down on

you. The wave action; the wind in your face. It affects ... your physical condition and your judgment."
 

Last year in Illinois, there were 84 boating accidents, resulting in 13 deaths, 63 injuries and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, according to an Illinois Natural Resources Department report. Alcohol or drug use was a main factor in 38 % of the fatal accidents and 25 percent of the injury accidents, the report stated.

 

Over the years, laws regarding drunken boaters have become tougher. On Jan. 1, an Illinois law went into effect that increases to a Class 4 felony the charge for operating a boat while under the influence if the individual's operating privileges are already suspended for previous violations.  Refusing a Breathalyzer may result in a loss of boating privileges for two years.

The USCG launched Operation Midnight Badger--named for the late-night nature of many patrols and Wisconsin's state animal--after Coast Guard stations from Washington Island to Calumet Harbor wrote 350 % more citations for drunken boating in 2003 than in 2002.


IJC Cheers Groundbreaking for Asian Carp Barrier

Praises U.S. Army Corps for "Keeping its Promise"

 [Chicago] - The International Joint Commission last week thanked and commended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for beginning construction of the permanent Asian carp barrier on the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal.  The barrier replaces a temporary version that is failing and is designed to block the Asian carp from advancing into the Great Lakes and possibly devastating a $4.5 billion fishery.  The Commission also praised the state of Illinois and all of the partners on the barrier project for their commitment to protecting the Great Lakes.

 

"The Army Corps promised to build the barrier and they are keeping that promise," said Dennis Schornack, chair of the

United States section of the IJC. "What remains now is for other beneficiaries to step up to the plate and show their commitment to keeping the carp out of the Great Lakes."

 

"We commend all the elected leaders, especially U.S. Representative Judy Biggert, for their bipartisan efforts to fund construction of this barrier," said the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray, chair of the Canadian section of the IJC.

 

Recently, the Commission wrote to the Council of Great Lakes Governors urging Chairman Robert Taft (governor of Ohio) and his colleagues to match the $1.7 million the state of Illinois has already committed to the project.  The additional resources are needed to make up a shortfall in funding needed from nonfederal partners.


Hartig Selected Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Manager

John Hartig began his new job July 10. As refuge manager, he will oversee operations on North America's only international wildlife refuge which will conserve, protect and restore habitat for 29 species of waterfowl, 65 kinds of fish and 300 species of migratory birds on more than 5,000 acres along the lower Detroit River in southeast Michigan. Hartig replaces Doug Brewer who was on temporary assignment from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio.

 

Hartig brings more than 25 years of experience in environmental science and natural resource management to his new position. For the past five years, he has served as River Navigator for the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative. As River Navigator he worked with Detroit River communities and businesses to identify and implement high priority projects that foster environmental stewardship, promote environmentally sustainable economic development,

and celebrate history and culture. Prior to becoming River Navigator, he spent 14 years working for the IJC on the Canada - U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

 

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge was established in December 2001.  The refuge is the results of an unprecedented partnership of government agencies, business, conservation groups, landowners and private citizens on both sides of the border.  Located at the intersection of the Atlantic amd Mississippi flyways, an estimated three million ducks, geese, swans and coots migrate annually through the region.

 

More than 300,000 diving ducks stop each year to feed on wild celery beds in the river.  Despite being a heavily traveled corridor for Great Lakes' shipping, the Detroit River is also known for its duck hunting and fishing, activities the Service plans to continues on parts of the refuge.


2004 Snakehead roundup slated for July 30 on the Potomac Washington, D.C. – The Marina Operators Association of America (MOAA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), in partnership with state and federal agencies, will host the 2004 “Snakehead Roundup,” a fishing tournament for the northern snakehead.  This first-ever event will take place Friday, July 30, in Northern Virginia. 

 

To date over 50 snakehead have been confirmed coming from the Potomac River.

 

The northern snakehead, an invasive species native to China and Korea, first appeared locally two years ago in a Crofton, Maryland pond.  Since the initial sighting, the discovery of snakeheads in the Potomac—nine have been caught in the

past seven months—has raised concerns that the fish may be

reproducing in the river. With no natural predators and the ability to produce! 30,000 to 50,000 eggs in a single spawning, the snakehead has the potential to decimate native species, including game fish such as bass populations if it becomes established.  

 

Lures will be provided free of charge, and participants are encouraged to bring their own boat (motorized or non-motorized), along with a rod and reel.  In order to be eligible for prizes, participants must register on the MOAA website at www.moaa.com  by July 27, 2004. 

 

For more info call Mari Lou Livingood, Director of Program Development with MOAA, at (202) 721-1630 or mlivingood@nmma.org .


Feds Propose to Remove Eastern Grey Wolves From Endangered Listing

(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) -- Three decades after gray wolves were nearly extinct in the lower 48 states, Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced that wolves in the eastern United States have recovered to the point where they can be proposed for removal from the list of threatened and endangered species.

 

Wolf numbers in the Eastern Population Segment, located in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, have climbed beyond the population criteria set out in the species’ recovery plan, Norton said. The three states have management plans in place to ensure the species’ long-term survival.

 

The two other populations of gray wolves in the lower 48 states – the western population located in the Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana and the southwestern population of Mexican gray wolves – will continue to be protected under the Act.

   

If finalized, the Service’s proposal would remove gray wolves in the eastern United States from the threatened species list. 

States and tribes with wolf populations on their lands would

assume control of managing these wolves.

 

Occasional gray wolves have been spotted in the Dakotas.  There is no sign, however, that a population has become established in the Dakotas. Individual wolves dispersing from packs in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have turned up in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska, but there is no evidence of reproducing packs in these areas.

 

The Service will continue to monitor gray wolf populations in the Eastern DPS for at least five years after delisting. The Service’s proposal to remove gray wolves in the Eastern DPS from the endangered and threatened species list is available for review.  Comments will be accepted for 120 days after the proposed rule is published.  A series of public hearings will be held throughout the Eastern DPS. The Service will announce details of these hearings in the near future.  Following the public comment period, the Service will evaluate all information and make a decision on whether to finalize the proposal.  Until a final decision is made, wolves in the Eastern DPS remain threatened and protected under the Endangered Species Act.


Great Lakes Water Levels for July 16, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes are currently higher than the levels of a year ago.  Lake Michigan-Huron has the greatest increase over last year, being 13 inches higher than the level of a year ago.  The remaining lakes are 2 to 9 inches higher than last year’s levels.  The upper Great Lakes remain below average with current levels at 4, 9, and 2 inches below average for Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and St. Clair, respectively.  Lake Erie is currently at its long-term average for July, while Lake Ontario is 4 inches above average. 

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

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

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

There will be a chance of showers and thunderstorms across

the Great Lakes basin this weekend. Temperatures will be slightly cooler than average, topping out in the 70s.  Preliminary outlooks into next week show a chance of showers beginning Wednesday.

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior is expected to continue its seasonal rise over the next month, increasing by approximately 1 inch.  Lake Michigan-Huron is approaching its seasonal peak this month while Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario will continue their seasonal decline during the next month. Lakes St. Clair and Erie are expected to decline 3 inches, while Lake Ontario is predicted to drop 5 inches over 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.


2nd Amendment issues

New York City - Mayor and Council Raise Gun License Fees

As expected, last week Mayor Bloomberg (R) approved the fee hikes for gun licenses. The City Council overwhelmingly

agreed to the increases on a vote of 47-3. This increases pistol licenses to $340 and long gun licenses to $140 for three years.


Challenge to Ohio Carry Law Is Rejected

On July 13, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously, and without comment, dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the state’s new Right-to-Carry law.  The suit, filed by the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, was based on the implausible claim that county sheriffs do not have the resources to conduct thorough background checks of permit applicants.

Representative Bill Seitz (R-30), a member of the House Criminal Justice Committee, was pleased with the court’s dismissal. "I am satisfied that Ohio took the constitutional and lawful first steps toward joining 44 other states [that have some type of carry laws]."

 


Ruling muddles state gun law
ST. PAUL - Minnesota's concealed-carry law was declared unconstitutional Tuesday by a Ramsey County District judge in a lawsuit brought by several churches and other groups.

 

Judge John Finley said the Legislature violated the state constitution last year by attaching the bill with a "totally unrelated bill relating to the Department of Natural Resources."  The state constitution prohibits laws from embracing more than one subject.

 

"Our state has prided itself in its openness in all areas of government.... This basic Minnesota value is totally frustrated when the Legislature itself clearly violates the underpinnings of such a basic conscience-guided law and constitutional provision," Finley wrote in his opinion.

 

Two Duluth churches, St. Paul's Episcopal and Peace United Church of Christ are among the 35 congregations and religious organizations involved in lawsuit.  "For now, we're happy," said Joan Peterson, a member of Peace church and co-president of the Million Mom March Northland Chapter. Peterson said she anticipates an appeal. "At least we won this first skirmish."  She said Finley's ruling echoed the plaintiffs' complaint that Minnesota's Legislature shut out the public from debating the issue by attaching the controversial bill to an unrelated law.

 

Lawmakers failed to clearly label the concealed-carry bill,

obscuring it from residents who feel strongly about handguns, said Peterson, who has testified before Minnesota's Legislature against expansion to Minnesota's concealed-carry law.

 

Minnesota Attorney General Michael Hatch said he would appeal Finley's ruling. Although he was still researching the opinion, Hatch believes permits obtained since the law was passed are still valid.

 

More than 22,000 Minnesotans have received handgun permits since the law was changed just more than a year ago. That's about twice as many permits as were issued the previous year, Private building owners immediately began posting signs at public entrances banning handguns. But another provision of the law prevented private establishments from banning firearms in parking lots.

Nonprofits and the city of Minneapolis also were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

 

Many were not surprised by the ruling, but expected the state Court of Appeals might issue a stay in the case, meaning the new law would stay in place while the ruling is appealed.  This case was destined for the Minnesota Supreme Court from the beginning," one attorney said. "The faster it gets there the better.”

 

 


Indiana

Dumped goldfish blamed for killing bass in Indiana

Goldfish -- the kind given as prizes at county fairs and elsewhere -- are thriving and killing off game fish such as bass in a lake near Gary.

 

Bob Robertson, a biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Indiana DNR, said the agency faced a similar problem 15 years ago and conducted a controlled kill-off to rid Spectacle Lake of the unwanted goldfish.  Somehow, the fish were reintroduced to the lake about 15 miles southeast of Gary,

probably by people who didn't want to keep them as pets but did not want to flush them away, either. "It only takes two," said Robertson said.

 

Now, the goldfish make up about 90 % of the lake's fish population.  The alien fish swim in and kick up the mud and destroy bass nests in the ground.  The goldfish also produce large amounts of mucus and can reduce oxygen to a level that can make bass sick.


Michigan

Attorney general files amicus brief in suit over exotics

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has action taken by bringing the power of the State of Michigan to bear on the problem of Aquatic invasive (nuisance) species. 

 

On July 14, 2004, Cox announced that he joined a regional effort to halt the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes from oceangoing commercial ships. Cox, as part of this effort, filed an amicus brief in federal district court in San Francisco to compel the regulation of ballast

water discharge from oceangoing ships under the Clean Water Act. The discharge of contaminated ballast water is one of the primary methods by which aquatic invasive species enter the Great Lakes.

 

Possible solutions, which are still being researched, are methods of on board filtration for the ocean going vessels (either on the uptake or upon disposing of the water within the Great Lakes), a development of some sort of seaport outside of the Great Lakes watershed (i.e. not allowing them to enter the Great Lakes), and many more.


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