Week of January 5, 2009

Fishing beyond the Great Lakes




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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

Biologists Discover New Fish Species in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 18) – A federally endangered fish thought to live only in two river basins in Virginia was recently discovered in North Carolina. 


The Roanoke logperch, one of the largest darters in the Perch family, was thought to live only in portions of the Roanoke and Chowan River basins of Virginia. However, biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the Division of Water Quality and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences found two populations of the fish in the Mayo and Smith rivers earlier this summer — discoveries that have sent ripples of excitement through biologists who are more likely to see fish disappear, than re-appear, in a river basin.


“In a time when we’re seeing a major decline in aquatic critters, we get really excited when a rare fish is possibly expanding its range,” said Chris Wood, aquatic biologist with the Commission. “We think this fish once occurred in most of the Roanoke and Chowan basins of both North Carolina and Virginia but has declined over the past century.


“What we think we see now is a remnant of the fish’s original distribution.”


The search for the Roanoke logperch started by accident in 2007 after Duke Power biologists happened upon a lone specimen while sampling the Dan River, just downstream of the Smith River, near Eden. Another sampling effort later in 2007 produced only one more specimen leading biologists to hypothesize that both fish were either washed downstream from Virginia’s Smith River population during a previous high-flow event or that drought conditions may have caused the two fish to move downstream.


“The discoveries left us with two unanswered questions: Where did these two fish come from? And could there actually be a reproducing population of the Roanoke logperch in North Carolina,” Wood said. “Further surveys were needed to scratch that scientific itch.”

That itch was scratched in the most exciting way possible in early July when biologists found not one — but two — populations of Roanoke logperches. On July 8, they captured three logperches while surveying a short reach in the Mayo River, a large tributary of the Dan River in Rockingham County. The three fish were exciting finds because no records existed of the fish in either the Virginia or North Carolina portions of the Mayo River.


A few weeks later, biologists found 10 Roanoke logperches in the Smith River in Rockingham County, ranging in size from 2.5" 7".


“The size range of the fish found in the Smith River indicates that several age classes exist, which means that there is most likely a reproducing population of Roanoke logperches in the river,” Wood said.  Now that at least two populations of the federally endangered Roanoke logperch have been verified in North Carolina, biologists will look closely at the two populations to determine how extensive and healthy they are. They’ll also look at other rivers with similar habitat for more undiscovered Roanoke logperches. 


Garnering as much information as possible about these populations and their preferred habitat will aid biologists in future management decisions and help guide the restoration of this rare fish. 


“Usually when we study a federally listed animal we are ‘chasing a ghost’ by going to areas where the animal once occurred but now is missing or extremely hard to find,” Wood said. “Finding a new population, and in this case two, is extremely exciting because it means there are more of that species than we thought, and maybe the conservation efforts at the state and federal levels are paying off.


“Our priority goal for all federally endangered species is to get them off the ‘list’ through restoring their populations.”

For more info www.ncwildlife.org/give  or call the Division of Inland Fisheries, (919)-707-0220.

UK - Agency announces Head of Fisheries

The United Kingdom names Mathew Crocker as new Head of Fisheries

Mathew, a keen angler who has worked for the Environment Agency since it was formed in 1996, takes over from current Head of Fisheries Dafydd Evans.  Dafydd, who has been Head of Fisheries for over four years, has taken up a year's   

assignment in the Anglian region of the Environment Agency.


Speaking on his priorities in his new role Mat commented: “Dafydd has made huge strides as head of fisheries, including persuading government to modernize freshwater fisheries legislation through the Marine Bill.


Corps to turn on Barrier IIA good news

"The recent announcement by the Corps of Engineers is welcome news that will greatly assist in our efforts to preserve the fisheries and unique species found in the Great Lakes," says Rep. Miller

WASHINGTON, DC –Congresswoman Candice Miller, MI-10, received confirmation that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed safety testing and will activate the IIA electric dispersal barrier in the Chicago Ship Canal by the end of January 2009. This electric barrier will prevent dangerous species from entering in to the Great Lakes and disrupting its fragile ecosystem.


“Throughout my nearly three decades of public service protecting the Great Lakes has always been a principal advocacy of mine, and I’m pleased with the bipartisan efforts of my Great Lakes colleagues to ensure a quick and proper implementation of this barrier.” Miller continued “The recent announcement by the Corps of Engineers is welcome news that will greatly assist in efforts to preserve the fisheries and unique species found in our Great Lakes.”

The northward migration of invasive aquatic species such as Asian Carp, through the Mississippi River has been a long-term concern of advocates for the Great Lakes. These carp can weigh up to 100 pounds and consume up to 40 percent of their body weight in one day.  Their consumption habits could cause tremendous harm to native species in the world=E 2s largest freshwater ecosystem.


“I appreciate the thorough safety precautions which the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have taken to ensure the safety of this electric barrier and applaud their decision to activate the permanent barrier next month, in order to prevent these dangerous species from entering in to our precious Great Lakes,” said Miller.


The electric dispersal barriers in the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal are all that prevent these carp from entering in to the Great Lakes. The activation of the permanent electric barrier next month will assist the current demonstration barrier in deterring invasive species from entering in to the Great Lakes.

Vessel Discharges Require Permit

EPA sets rules on permit requirements to exchange ballast water

Order won't be enough to block invasive species, critics contend

Commercial ships must dump ballast water at sea or rinse their tanks if empty under a new federal policy designed to prevent invasive foreign species from entering the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters.  The Environmental Protection Agency included the requirement in a general permit issued  late last month under a court order requiring it to regulate water discharges from ships to protect native ecosystems.


The permit had been scheduled to take effect December 5th, but a federal judge in California postponed the date until Feb. 6, giving states more time to impose additional requirements for vessels operating in their waters. EPA previously exempted ballast and most other vessel discharges from regulation under the Clean Water Act. Environmental groups and a half-dozen states sued the agency over that policy because many invasive species are ferried to U.S. waters in ballast that oceangoing freighters release in domestic ports.


Global hitchhikers such as zebra mussels and freshwater Ruffe fish out-compete native species for food, spread disease and cost the economy billions.  In addition to ballast, the new EPA permit sets rules for 25 types of discharges from ships, such as oily bilge water and 'gray water' from showers and sinks. It covers an estimated 61,000 domestic ships and 8,000 foreign-flagged vessels.


'This is a significant event in the history of the Clean Water Act,' said Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water. The agency has 'delivered a protective and practical permit to protect the nation's waterways from shipborne pollution and to avoid an environmental and economic shipwreck,' he said.


Environmentalists complained the agency had done little more than adopt a Coast Guard policy they consider insufficient. It requires transoceanic vessels to dump ballast water at least 200 miles from shore. Those carrying no ballast must rinse their tanks with salt water, a process known as 'swish and spit,' to kill organisms lurking in residual puddles or mud.  Those are good first steps but don't prevent some invaders from slipping through, critics said.


Nina Bell, executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates in Portland, Ore., said the permit 'looks like a Bush

administration kind of response to a critical environmental problem, in that it is completely inadequate.'


Grumbles said the permit imposes a number of new requirements that would reduce discharges of pollution and live organisms. Among them: mandatory ballast exchange and saltwater tank flushing for some vessels on nearshore Pacific voyages.


But EPA does not force ships to install onboard systems for sterilizing ballast tanks to kill aquatic creatures, agreeing with the maritime industry that effective technology remains unavailable.


Several cleansing methods have been devised and won approval from other nations, but the U.S. has yet to certify them and has no structure in place to do so, said Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association.  The permit also establishes no nationwide standard for ballast cleanliness, as environmentalists wanted. Legislation to set a federal policy stalled in Congress this fall. The Coast Guard has been drafting regulations for years.


However, many states are using their authority under the Clean Water Act to make requirements exceeding those in the EPA permit for waters under their jurisdiction.  In the Great Lakes region, five states - Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois - are adopting an International Maritime Organization standard limiting the number of live organisms in discharged water.


Michigan has its own regulation that requires ships to keep their ballast on board or treat it with approved methods. New York has ordered ships to reach a cleanliness level 100 times stricter than the IMO standard. California also goes well beyond the international standard.


Wisconsin dropped its effort to tack on further requirements this week after failing to meet the EPA's Thursday deadline. But with the 48-day extension for EPA's permit granted Friday by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Wisconsin will resume crafting its version, said Adam Collins, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.


The differing state rules could pose challenges for shippers. For example, some are demanding compliance by 2016, while New York wants its standard met by 2012.  'We're a little anxious as an industry that states are imposing these requirements while technology to meet them isn't.

NOAA to Create Saltwater Angler Registry in 2010

On December 23, 2008, NOAA Fisheries released a final rule giving anglers and spearfishers who fish recreationally in federal ocean waters until Jan. 1, 2010 to be registered in the national saltwater angler registry, a new tool designed to help the nation better manage and rebuild valuable fish stocks.


NOAA Fisheries received nearly 500 comments from anglers, state officials, fishing and environmental organizations on its proposed national registry rule during the comment period from June 12 until Aug. 21. The comments were considered carefully and helped NOAA Fisheries decide to give states and anglers another year to comply with the new rule.


The final rule outlines the process NOAA Fisheries will use for registering saltwater recreational anglers.  It also addresses the qualifications and procedures for exempting states and their anglers from the federal registration requirement.

The National Saltwater Angler Registry is one part of an overall program to better capture the total picture of U.S. recreational fishing. The registry team is working with management partners to develop a phone book of the nation’s saltwater recreational anglers.  This registry will enable more efficient data collection and help the nation better protect our shared marine resources.  Information from all saltwater fishermen – recreational and commercial – is essential to achieving the goal of ending overfishing.  The registry is a the product of a major recommendation to NOAA in a 2006 independent scientific review by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and was also among the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization.


Additional info about the registry:


Federal Register Notice on the Final Rule (December 2008)

Federal Register Notice on the Proposed Rule (June 2008)

FDA Draft Report Urges Consumption of Fish, Despite Mercury Contamination

The Washington Post in their December 12 issue reports the Food and Drug Administration is urging the government to amend its advisory  that women and children should limit how much fish they eat, saying that the benefits of seafood outweigh the health risks and that most  people should eat more fish, even if it contains mercury.


If approved by the White House, the FDA's position would reverse the government's current policy that certain groups -- women of   childbearing years, pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and children -- can be harmed by the mercury in fish and should limit their   consumption.


The FDA's recommendations have alarmed scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, who in internal memos criticized them as   "scientifically flawed and inadequate" and said they fell short of the "scientific rigor routinely demonstrated by EPA."


The FDA sent its draft report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, to the White House Office of Management and Budget   as part of the FDA's effort to update the existing health advisory. The report argued that nutrients in fish, including omega-3 fatty acids,   selenium and other minerals could boost a child's IQ by three points.


The greatest benefits, the FDA report said, would come from eating more than 12 ounces of fish a week, which is the current limit advised for   pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children.


FDA spokesman Michael Herndon declined to discuss the draft report. "As a science-based regulatory agency we periodically and routinely   review and analyze scientific evidence about health effects of FDA-regulated products," he wrote in an e-mail. "We do not comment on draft   reports that

are undergoing internal review."


Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water, said, "EPA is working closely with other agencies in the scientific review of   this report to better understand the risks and benefits of fish consumption."


The FDA and the EPA both play a role in protecting the public from mercury contamination. The EPA investigates and regulates mercury and   other contaminants in recreationally caught fish, while the FDA regulates mercury in seafood sold in markets and restaurants. States rely on   the federal agencies in issuing their own advisories.


In 2004, the two agencies issued their first joint advisory, suggesting that women of childbearing age, pregnant women, nursing mothers,   infants and children stop eating four species of fish considered especially high in mercury: swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. At the   same time, the government advised limiting consumption of other mercury-contaminated fish.


Mercury can damage the neurological development of fetuses and infants. Recent studies have suggested that mercury may also pose a health   risk for adults, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


The two agencies are supposed to work together to regularly review the advisory, but EPA sources said the FDA went ahead with its own   proposal earlier this year, not consulting the EPA until the document was nearly finished. 


Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, applauded the FDA's efforts. "This is a science-based approach," he said.   "And you start to see a picture emerge that shows the clear benefits of eating seafood outweigh the risks of a trace amount of mercury in fish."

Lawsuit To Block Tribal Takeover Of National Wildlife Refuge

Bison Range Deal Cedes “Inherently Federal” Functions and Bars Public Oversight

Washington, DC — A Bush administration deal giving operational control over the National Bison Range to a Montana tribe for the next three years is illegal, according to a federal lawsuit filed last month by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This precedent-setting arrangement has national repercussions, as another 18 refuges in 8 states, constituting 80% of the entire National Wildlife Refuge System, are eligible for similar tribal agreements. So are 57 National Parks in 19 states, including parks such as Redwood, Glacier, Voyageurs, Olympic and the Cape Cod National Seashore.


Plaintiffs bringing the suit feature four former Bison Range refuge managers whose tenures span 40 years, a former Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System and Nathaniel Reed, former Assistant Interior Secretary during the Nixon and Ford administrations, as well as a current Bison Range employee whose job is being displaced. The suit cites violations of federal laws which:


►Forbid outsourcing “inherently federal functions” as well as require that operational control of all refuges remain with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service;

►Ensure public access to financial and other records maintained by federal contractors and mandate a full and open review of environmental impacts of major federal 

actions; and

►Shield federal employees from job loss at the direction of groups outside the federal government and guarantee return rights once the agreement ends.


“The National Bison Range agreement improperly contracts out operation of a major federal facility without adequate oversight to protect taxpayers,” stated PEER senior counsel Paula Dinerstein, who filed the action today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Ceding substantial control over a national refuge requires an act of Congress and cannot legally be given away in a closed-door deal.”


Negotiated with top U.S. Interior Department officials, the Bison Range agreement transfers all jobs, except for a Refuge Manager and deputy, to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). This agreement, which takes full effect in January, is a successor to a more limited FY 2005 agreement which the Fish & Wildlife Service summarily rescinded in December 2006 citing a host of performance-related issues on the part of the Tribe, as well as reported mistreatment of FWS employees by the CSKT.


“This arrangement seems designed to settle a political debt rather than enhance the refuge mission,” Dinerstein added. “In fact, the agreement itself concedes that wildlife-related services will likely suffer.”  Called the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Bison Range is one of the nation’s oldest refuges and celebrated its centennial this past May.

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved

By Christopher Booker, 31 Dec 2008

Two recent items from The Daily Telegraph neatly encapsulated man-made global warming was disproved.  The first, on May 21, headlined "Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts" , reported that the entire Alpine "winter sports industry" could soon "grind to a halt for lack of snow". The second, on December 19, headed "The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation" , reported that this winter's Alpine snowfalls "look set to beat all records by New Year's Day".


Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.


First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.


Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialize.


Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the

temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).


Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favor of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artifact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.


Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.


Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and Euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80%. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.


As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama's U.S. – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.


So Is Fish Safe to Eat or Not?

The current official advice from the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency is that pregnant and nursing women and young children can safely eat up to 12 ounces — roughly two servings — of most fish a week, but should limit their intake of albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week and avoid entirely four species of fish containing high levels of mercury.


Now the two agencies are at loggerheads over the two-serving limit. The FDA has circulated a draft report suggesting that the

vast majority of fetuses and infants would actually benefit if their mothers ate more than two servings of fish a week because fish contain highly beneficial nutrients that aid in brain development. The FDA’s scientists argue that those benefits outweigh any potential harm.


Have mercury warnings have gone too far in driving women away from a potentially beneficial food source?  Meanwhile, experts caution that consumers should choose from fish that are low in mercury, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.

SCI and Salvation Army Team Up for Sportsmen against Hunger

Tucson, AZ – On Jan. 20, 2009, some 1,200 homeless, under-housed, and hungry people from the Reno, Nevada area will again enjoy a feast of ground venison and all the accoutrements thanks to over 500 pounds of meat donated by hunters attending Safari Club International’s 37th Annual Hunters’ Convention in Reno. This Sportsmen Against Hunger contribution of wild game meat by SCI’s Northern Nevada Chapter is an example of how the 18-year-old SCI Foundation program shares nature’s bounty worldwide.


The Sportsmen Against Hunger Feed the Hungry Feast, held in conjunction with The Salvation Army, will take place downtown, courtesy of the Reno Events Center on the corner of Fourth and Center Streets, and with the help of sponsors including C & M Food Distributing, Model Dairy, SportServices, Truckee Sour Dough, Carson Valley Inn, SYSCO, and the Washoe County Sheriff's Dept. SCIF’s 45-foot Sensory Safari trailer, which provides a tactile exploration of wildlife, will also be on hand for participants and volunteers to experience, thanks to the generosity of the SCI Redding Regional Chapter in California.


“SCIF is always excited to host the Sportsmen Against Hunger Feed the Hungry Feast in Reno,” said SCI President Merle Shepard. “Hunters have the opportunity to utilize venison, a resource that they have hunted, to provide high protein meals for others.”  Food at the event will be served by over 160 SCI members, local volunteers, and Salvation Army Advisory Board

members, and will be prepared by chefs from the El Dorado Hotel Casino under the direction of Executive Chef Troy Cannan.


“SCIF hopes that greater exposure of hunter led programs like the Sportsmen Against Hunger Feed the Hungry Feast at the 2009 Convention will encourage more sportsmen and women to help prevent hunger through a passion they already have, hunting,” added SCI Foundation Humanitarian Services Chairman Gene Rurka.


Through SCIF’s myriad humanitarian programs, SCI chapters and individual members demonstrate the highest levels of philanthropy by directly reaching out to people in need throughout the world. Whether it involves feeding millions of hungry each year, offering free healthcare and supplies to impoverished communities, introducing blind children to the wonders of wildlife, or helping the terminally ill or disabled fulfill lifelong hunting wishes; SCIF is committed to its charitable tenet of giving.


SCI’s 2009 Annual Hunters’ Convention January 21-24th is the ultimate hunters’ market, bringing together more than 25,000 sportsmen and 1,100 exhibitors from around the world in more than 600,000 square-feet of space designed for hunters. Sportsmen and sportswomen interested in learning more and registering for the 2009 Annual Hunters’ Convention may do so at www.showsci.org or by calling 1(888)-SCI-Hunt (742-4868).


Brook Trout Regulation in Zone 11 a Farce

Some of you may recall that one of the last official acts of the Temagami Stewardship Council was to respond to the very unpopular speckled trout regulation that was introduced in zone 11 in January, 2008. That response and our objections to the regulation can be found under TSC News on our web page at www.temagamistewardship.ca . I finally received a response to our objections from Andy Todd, of MNR Fisheries Branch on November 26, 2008. The MNR response is also posted on the TSC webpage.


The following is the meat of the response..


“Generally, the local biologists believe that the brook trout fishery in zone 11 is stressed with very few naturally reproducing brook trout lakes remaining. The naturally producing fisheries that still exist are typically small and very vulnerable to many stressors including overexploitation and invasive species. As a result, it was felt that management action to protect the remaining lakes was warranted, and as you are aware, in January 2008 a new approach was taken to brook trout management in this area.


The specific issues facing the North Bay lakes led the local district to develop a solution that should help improve the overall brook trout fishery in zone 11. It is believed that by reducing the harvest of large brook trout, quality fishing opportunities would be maintained and the lakes would be more resilient to the introduction of species such as yellow perch. At the time the changes were made there was not an approved tool kit for brook trout.”


I like the word “believe” because how would they know? There

have been no recent definitive studies conducted on brook trout lakes and the input gathered in early 2006 amounted to 6 submissions, 4 of which only wanted a year long season. While the comment about naturally reproducing brook trout lakes may be correct the TSC submission did not question a regulation for naturally reproducing lakes. The TSC reservations were based on the Brook Trout Tool Kit. The Tool Kit was supposed to be used to gather public opinion for all brook trout lakes in Ontario. The Tool Kit approach to fisheries management stated that, “The goal of this approach is to ensure that regulations can be rationalized on a sound biological basis to achieve resource sustainability while, at the same time, streamlining and simplifying Ontario’s fishing regulations and providing a variety of angling opportunities.” The tool kit did not provide a size option for a brook trout regulation and in fact stated that size would not be a regulation for put and take lakes.


Why was the tool kit for brook trout disregarded in Zone 11? The Guidelines for Managing the Recreational Fishery For Brook Trout in Ontario were posted in October of, 2006. There was ample time for MNR, North Bay to change a proposal submitted for a 2007 regulation as the new regulations didn’t came into effect until January of 2008. Zones 6 and 4 in Northern Ontario obviously had time to base their brook trout regulation on input from the tool kit.


The MNR’s attempts to appear to be allowing public involvement in the management of our natural resources has been and is a farce. (Gaye Smith, Former Chairman Temagami Stewardship Council)



Snowshoe Hikes at Hoffmaster State Park Jan 24, Feb 14

In the tradition of community wide snowshoe hikes that were popular in New England in the 1920s, Hoffmaster State Park is hosting snowshoe outings for families this winter at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14.  These hikes, sponsored by the Gillette Nature Association, are suitable for children seven years old and up accompanied by an adult.  Snowshoes are provided by GNA for a small donation to defray the cost of snowshoe maintenance. 


Snowshoe hikes begin at the Gillette Visitor Center.  Pre-registration is required for all participants to ensure there is enough equipment.  Those interested can call the Gillette Center at 231-798-3573.  Participants should arrive 15-30 

minutes before the program begins for proper snowshoe fitting. Participants should wear winter boots and layered outdoor clothing.  Children under seven can be pulled by a parent in a sled. Snowshoe sizes are not available for children under seven years old.


The weather along Lake Michigan with associated lake effect snows can be considerably different than inland locations, and wind can be a factor. Participants should be prepared for all types of conditions. Six or more inches of snow are needed for snowshoeing. If snow is absent, the naturalist will lead participants on a winter exploration of the park.  Refreshments will be served following the hikes.  The Feb. 14 hike will conclude with a bonfire at the park’s pavilion.

Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center Offers Winter Programs

The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center, located next to Mitchell State Park in Cadillac, has announced its winter programs.

Admission to the center and the programs is free.


January programs include:

Winter Ice Fishing, Saturday, Jan. 10, noon to 3 p.m. Participants should meet at the visitor center. Tackle will be provided.


Moonlight Cross-Country Skiing, Saturday, Jan. 17, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Refreshments will be available and a movie will be shown following skiing.


Dog Sled Demonstrations and Rides, Saturday, Jan. 24, from noon to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be available, and the laser shot program inside the center will also be available.


Understanding Michigan’s Black Bear, Saturday, Jan. 31, noon to 2 p.m.


February programs include:

North American Snowmobile Festival Weekend, Saturday, Feb. 7. Contact the center for more information on this event by calling 231-779-1321.


Michigan Winter Free Fishing Weekend event, Saturday, Feb. 14. Free ice fishing tackle and bait will be provided all weekend by the visitor center. There will be moonlight cross-

country skiing on Feb. 14 too, from 6 to 9 p.m., and a movie will be shown following the skiing.


Winter Ice Fishing, Saturday, Feb. 21, from noon to 3 p.m.

Participants should meet at the visitor center. Free tackle will be provided.


Dog Sled Demonstrations and Rides, Saturday, Feb. 28, from noon to 3 p.m. Also, the laser shot program will be available inside the visitor center.


Programs in March include:

Understanding Michigan’s Black Bear, Saturday, March 7, noon to 2 p.m.


Moonlight Cross-Country Skiing, Saturday, March 14, 6 to 9 p.m.

Refreshments and a movie will follow.


Wetland Trail Snowshoeing, Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  A limited number of snowshoes will be available, or participants can use

their own.         


Dog Sled Demonstrations and Rides, Saturday, March 28, from noon to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be available, as well as the laser shot program inside the visitor center.


For more information about any of these programs, call the Carl T.

Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center at 231-779-1321.

DNR Encourages Hunters to Report Hunting Activity Online

The Michigan DNR is reminding deer hunters they can report the results of their hunts online. Information gathered from hunters who voluntarily report their results will be used along with information collected through the DNR’s annual mail survey to help provide the best information available for making management decisions.  The DNR encourages hunters to report their results even if they did not bag a deer.


All deer hunters are invited to complete the online survey before April 1, 2009. Hunters should postpone reporting their harvest, however, until they have finished hunting for the

season, in order to maximize accuracy. For example, muzzleloader hunters who might still go out for another hunt, or archers who intend to hunt over the holiday period, should wait until after their last hunt to make their report.


The survey is available on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr,  under the Hunting and Deer sections. Anyone who bought a license, regardless of whether they were successful - or even went afield - is encouraged to participate. However, once a survey has been completed, hunters will not be allowed to enter new information.


The DNR began collecting harvest data online in 2007.

Black Lake Sturgeon spearing season application period begins Jan. 12

The Department of Natural Resources is reminding anglers the application period for the 2009 Black Lake sturgeon spearing lottery is Jan. 12-16.


Interested anglers may register for the spearing lottery by calling the DNR Gaylord Operations Service Center at (989) 732-3541 or applying in person at the center between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the application period. All applicants 17 years and older must hold a valid Michigan fishing license. Those under 17 years old also may register for the season. Those applying for the drawing should have proper identification on hand during the application process. This may include a valid Michigan driver license, a Michigan ID card, a DNR Sportcard or a valid Michigan fishing license.


The limited sturgeon spearing season on Black Lake, located

in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties, opens Feb. 7, 2009,

and runs through Feb. 15 or until the maximum harvest of five fish has been reached. A total of 225 anglers, or 25 per day, will be selected to participate. The drawing to determine those participants will be held Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Chateau North, 10621 Twin Lakes Rd., in Cheboygan. Successful applicants will be notified of their date to fish by mail in advance of the season.


Last year, 704 individuals registered for the spearing lottery. No fish were harvested during the 2008 season, which lasted the full nine days.  Reasons for zero harvest were attributed to poor water clarity under the ice following a week of heavy rains prior to the season.      


For more information on the 2009 season, contact the Gaylord Operations Service Center at (989) 732-3541.


Natural Resources magazine: "The Spirit of Collaboration"

The December 2008 WI DNR Natural Resources magazine includes a supplement entitled "The Spirit of Collaboration."  This publication highlights collaborative efforts around the 

state for the protection and restoration of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.


Here is the electronic copy of that magazine: http://www.wnrmag.com/

Enbridge Energy settles lawsuit over Environmental violations for $1,100,000

MADISON – Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership has agreed to pay $1,100,000 to settle state claims under Wisconsin's waterway and wetland protection and storm water control laws.  The laws applied to Enbridge Energy's pipeline construction across the state in 2007 and 2008, and the judgment resolves charges that Enbridge Energy failed to comply with certain requirements under those laws.


Under Wisconsin law, Enbridge Energy was required to obtain and follow permits that governed its construction of two parallel pipelines through 14 counties in Wisconsin in 2007 and 2008.  The complaint charges that Enbridge Energy performed work in and around wetlands and navigable waterways that resulted in violations of its permits, and which impacted wetlands and navigable waterways and public interests in the preservation of and protection of quality water resources.  The violations involved activities relating to wetlands, streambeds, bridges, land disturbance and erosion control near navigable waters and wetlands.

According to the stipulation settling the case, Enbridge has

resolved the violations contained in the complaint. In announcing the settlement, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen stressed the importance of protecting our wetlands and streams in compliance with the law.


"While some of the individual violations were likely of limited direct impact, the incidents of violation were numerous and widespread, and resulted in impacts to the streams and wetlands throughout the various watersheds," Van Hollen said. "This action will help encourage the proactive protective measures that Wisconsin requires of those who work in or near its waterways and wetlands.  The DOJ will continue to work with the DNR to ensure that Wisconsin's citizens and natural resources are protected through compliance with the law."


Assistant Attorney General JoAnne F. Kloppenburg prosecuted the case.  Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess approved the settlement.


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