Week of February 18, 2008

Fishing Beyond the Great Lakes


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Lake Michigan
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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

California Salmon runs collapse

The dire prediction of wild fish stocks’ collapse was proven true last week: the largest salmon run in California has crashed, with the number of Chinook salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to spawn dropping by 67%.


The state Fishery Management Council’s executive director,

Donald McIssac, has called the salmon crisis as an “unprecedented collapse.” Fishermen, already hurting financially from the severe drop, are bracing for severe restrictions on salmon fishing, and possibly even an outright ban.


Sportsmen support more jobs in Florida than Disney World (85,000 jobs vs. 61,000)

Other one-liners that reflect the positive impact sportsmen have on regional and state economies

•Pennsylvania sportsmen outnumber the combined populations of Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, Reading and Scranton two to one (1.4 million vs. 680,297).

•Michigan sportsmen annually spend more than the combined cash receipts for dairy, greenhouse/nursery, corn, soybeans and cattle -- the state's top five agricultural commodities ($3.4 billion vs. $2.9 billion).

•Annual spending by Florida anglers is three times greater than the cash receipts from the state's orange crop ($4.4 billion vs. 1.2 billion).

•Annual spending by Wisconsin sportsmen is equal to the revenues of the state's dairy industry ($3.1 billion).

•Annual spending by California sportsmen is greater than the cash receipts of the state's grape crop ($3.6 billion vs. $3 billion).


"Spending by sportsmen benefits not only the manufacturers of hunting and fishing related products, but everything from local mom and pop businesses to wildlife conservation," noted Doug Painter, president of National Shooting Sports Foundation. "And because most hunting and fishing takes place in rural areas, much of the spending benefits less affluent parts of the state."


On the national level, 34 million sportsmen age 16 and older spent more than $76 billion in 2006, supporting 1.6 million jobs.  If a single corporation grossed as much as hunters and anglers spend, it would be among America's 20 largest,

ahead of Target, Costco and AT&T. 


These statistics are impressive and, if anything, they underestimate the impact of sportsmen since they do not take into account the millions of hunters and anglers under 16 years of age or people who were not able to get out and hunt or fish in 2006. When sportsmen's spending is thought of in business terms and compared to other sectors of the economy, it is quite remarkable. From small rural towns scattered across our country's landscape to the bottom-line of Fortune 500 companies located in major cities, if you take away hunting and fishing you take away the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar corporation.


The new rankings were compiled to compliment a national report, "Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy ~ A force as big as all outdoors," which was produced by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation with support from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and SCI - First For Hunters. The report and state rankings uses the results from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation and statistics provided by the American Sportfishing Association and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.


The report: "Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy ~ A force as big as all outdoors" along with STATE FACTS are available on the Web at  www.sportsmenslink.org  and www.nssf.org


Congress moves to seize control of all U.S. Waters

Congressional leaders are attempting to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 (HR2421 and S1870) that would amend the 1972 Clean Water Act and replace the words "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States." 


The Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 defines "waters of the United States" with such scope that federal agencies would be required to regulate use of every square inch of the U.S., both public and private.  The proposed definition states: "The term 'waters of the United States' means all waters subject to ebb and flow of the tides, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes [a flat dried up area, esp. a desert basin.] natural ponds and all impoundment of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution."


This is a result of U. S. Supreme Court's recent decision that the words "navigable waters" in the Clean Water Act limited federal agencies to regulation of navigable waters only. 

Wetlands (HR 2421) Bill also gives Corps control over your property.


Congress is considering expanding the power of the Clean Water Act of 1972 to include all waters of the United States and not limit it to navigable waters as is currently the law under two Supreme Court Decisions.  Under the name "clean water", HR 2421 would give the Corps of Engineers and the Federal Government massive additional regulatory powers that supersede local and state government.


The bill would overturn two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that favored landowners and local government.  It would give federal agencies and the Corps of Engineers in particular almost unlimited control over land, water and people. 


Reed Hopper, lead attorney in the latest Supreme Court victory for landowners said "...this bill pushes the limit of federal power to an extreme not matched by any other law, probably in the history of this country.  Jim Burling, senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, said "If our constitutional system of limited federal powers means anything, we have to win on this issue."

Four to enter Bass Fishing Hall of Fame

40th Bassmaster Classic is setting for Feb. 21 induction ceremonies

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Four legendary figures of bass fishing who have contributed greatly to the sport through education, angling achievements, innovations and communications will join 32 previously inducted men and women into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, Feb. 21.


The class of 2008 includes Charlie Campbell and Virgil Ward both of Missouri, Nick Crème of Texas and Buck Perry of North Carolina, as the seventh group of inductees. Crème, Perry and Ward will be inducted posthumously.


Induction ceremonies Thursday, Feb. 21 will take place at the Hyatt Hotel in Greenville, S.C., the evening before the start of the 40th Bassmaster Classic’s three days of championship fishing on Lake Hartwell. The reception will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the induction banquet and ceremony in the main ballroom at 7 p.m.


The four honorees and their contributions include:

►Charlie Campbell as a Missouri educator and celebrated coach for over 15 years would spend after-school hours and summers guiding nearby lakes. Multi-dimensional he later owned a marine dealership, developed the "Charlie Campbell CC Spinner Bait,” and was instrumental in the design of the Bass Tracker boat for Bass Pro Shops. He won a B.A.S.S. Federation National Championship, fished five Classics and won a total of 67 tournament trail events.  Among his many honors he’s been inducted into two other halls of fame.


►Nick Crème in 1949, created the first rubber worms on his kitchen stove which made a huge impact as it revolutionized bass fishing with artificial lures in the 1950s and ‘60s. When professional anglers began winning early B.A.S.S. tournaments on Crème Scoundrels and Shimmy Gals, the founder and owner of Crème Lures saw his business take off. Crème became one of the first tackle companies to sponsor a pro angler when, in 1967, Nick offered John Powell of Alabama an $18,000 contract. 

►Buck Perry is widely acclaimed as the "father of structure fishing," as he opened up America’s lakes and rivers to a different style of fishing than anyone had ever enjoyed. Before sonar, Perry was using his Spoonplugs and trolling tactics to catch deep water and offshore bass that others did not even know existed.  Perry spent his life educating others about bass migrations, habitat and deep water methods. Even though he passed away in 2005, his Spoonplugging school is still a serious educational institution for anglers.


►Virgil Ward had one of the most popular TV showcases of bass fishing techniques for 27 years with his very successful Virgil Ward's Championship Fishing Show.  Syndicated nationally for 20 years, Ward‘s show in 1985 was rated No. 1 overall. Millions of fishing fans followed his weekly shows on 253 radio stations and his advice in 450 newspapers. In 1955 Virgil and his son Bill, started the Bass Buster Lure Company, designed the feather jig and patented the fiber weed guard still used today by jig manufacturers. 


Among the currently enshrined Hall of Fame members are Ray Scott, Johnny Morris, Bill Dance, Cotton Cordell, Denny Brauer, Stan Fagerstrom, Roland Martin, Bob Cobb, Guido Hibdon, Jimmy and Chris Houston.  


The evening will also include the introduction of the four newest members to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors.  They include Kathy Magers and Dick Hart of Texas, Gene Ellison of Massachusetts and Hobson Bryan Jr. of Alabama who were named to three-year terms beginning January 1 of this year. The board is comprised of 15 members from within the fishing industry.


Established in 1999, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, headquartered in Hot Springs, Ark., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. It‘s dedicated to promoting the sport of bass fishing through participants and fans and establishing a shrine to the men, women and companies who have supported and elevated this sport to anglers around the world.


Homeland Security issues Small vessel report

“Quick Look” Report of January 16 meeting in Cleveland Ohio

The Ninth Coast Guard District co-hosted the Great Lakes Small Vessel Security Summit with the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association on January 16, 2008, at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio during the Cleveland Boat Expo. The invitational meeting was attended by approximately 100 small vessel stakeholders with about another 100 participants viewing the summit on a live interactive Internet web cast.


This was the first of a planned series of regional summits based on a recommendation by small vessel stakeholders that was made at the DHS National Small Security Summit in June 2007. The regional summits continue stakeholder discussion of a range of issues to better secure our nation’s ports, waterways and coastal areas. In particular, the summit sought to accomplish the following objectives:

• Inform small vessel stakeholders about security risks in the U.S. maritime domain.

• Provide a regional forum for small vessel stakeholders to discuss and present ideas about the development of security measures to mitigate gaps in small vessel management and control in the maritime domain.

• Provide a regional forum for state, tribal and local government officials, and private sector members of the small vessel community to discuss homeland security concerns and provide their ideas on means to thwart such threats.


Speakers during the Summit:

• Keynote Speaker: Rear Admiral John Crowley Jr., Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District

• Dr. Christopher Merritt, Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center in Washington

• LT John Taylor, America’s Waterway Watch, USCG Headquarters (CG-55302)

• Mr. Robert Gauvin, Coast Guard Office of Vessel Activities (CG-543)


Later in the day panel members, including representative stakeholder agencies, industries, associations and private citizens participated in a panel discussion addressing security concerns and issues for recreational and commercial vessels, and state, tribal and local government interests.


Panelists included:

• Mr. Ken Alvey, President of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association (Moderator)

• Mr. William Engfer, Homeland Security and Strategic Coordinator for the Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement

• Mr. William Vedra, Jr., Executive Director, Ohio Homeland Security

• Mr. David R. Pelfrey, Director of Marine Operations, Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch, CBP

• Captain Richard A. Brown, North Coast Marine Services

• Mr. J. Thomas Pascoe, Chairman of the Ohio Waterways Safety Council


The day continued with a facilitated scenario-based workshop session. It provided the context for an analytic discussion of means or methods with which to deter, defeat or mitigate the consequences of water-borne improvised explosive device (WBIED) attacks, and consideration of issues and measures relating to radiological and nuclear threats. Major themes which came out of the panel discussion, scenario workshop and question and answer sessions included:


• Involve professional small boat operators as homeland security partners in the maritime environment.

• Use existing credentials rather than create new ones with the expense and trouble involved.

• U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and other state, tribal and local homeland security and law enforcement officials should tend to those duties in manners which do not unnecessarily inconvenience or alienate the boating public.

• Increase education, reporting and outreach activities such as the America’s Waterway Watch.

• Build a culture of partnership and trust within and across the public and private sector boating community.

• Continue to enhance coordination, cooperation and communications between Canadian, federal, state, tribal, local agencies and the boating public.


The day concluded with an open plenary in which participants shared thoughts about the Summit and a way forward. Participants expressed satisfaction in the Summit, and suggested that future meetings could be improved by providing more of the background materials at the USCG NSVSS web site well in advance of the meeting. They suggested highlighting the results of the National Summit, and providing feedback regarding the results of the Summit meetings to participants and stakeholders. Attendees also suggested that programs devote more time to open discussions using panels and having more scenario workshop sessions to explore the issues.

Cheney Signs Congressional Amicus Curiae Brief In D.C. Case

305 members of Congress Individual Rights of the Second Amendment

Vice President Dick Cheney showed his strong support of the individual rights view of the Second Amendment February 8, when in his capacity as President of the United States Senate, he signed on to the congressional amicus curiae brief affirming the individual rights view of the Second Amendment.


Led by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), bi-partisan majorities of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives - in fact, the largest number of co-signers of a congressional amicus brief in American history - filed a strong brief in support of the individual rights view. 55 members of the Senate and 250 members of the House co-signed this brief along with the Vice President of the United States. This landmark brief argues that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual, fundamental right to Keep and Bear Arms; that any infringement on this right should be subject to the highest level of constitutional scrutiny; that D.C.'s

categorical ban on handguns and self-defense in the home is

unreasonable and unconstitutional under any level of review; and therefore, that the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's opinion in this case should be upheld.


An overwhelming majority of state attorneys general are also filing briefs in support of freedom and pro-Second Amendment


The NRA stated in its brief filed yesterday that "In adopting the Second Amendment, the Framers guaranteed an individual right to keep and bear arms for private purposes, not a collective right to keep and bear arms only in connection with state militia service." We remain hopeful that justice, freedom and the will of our founding fathers will prevail at our nation's High Court.


Members Of Congress Who Signed The Congressional Amicus Brief


Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed our Gun Rights

In U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), the Court said the right preexisted the Constitution.  In Presser v. Illinois (1886), it said gun control cannot have the effect of disarming the citizenry.  In

U.S. v. Miller (1939), it said that the militia consists of individuals “bearing arms supplied by themselves.” And in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1980), it said “the people” means the same thing in the Second Amendment that is means everywhere else in the Constitution.

USFWS issues Asian Carp plan

Greg Conover, USFWS chair of the Asian Carp Working Group last week made available to the general public the Asian Carp plan “Management and Control Plan for Bighead, Black, Grass and Silver Carps in the United States in an electronic version.

The 251 page document will be available at the ANS National Task Force site under documents. In Adobe PDF version, the document is here: www.anstaskforce.gov/Documents/Asian_Carp_Final.pdf

Senate to Vote on Allowing Park Visitors to Carry Loaded Guns

NPS presently has rule allowing "unloaded encased weapons"

WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) - The U.S. Senate is likely to consider the "National Forests, Parks, Public Land, and Reclamation Projects Authorization Act," this week. When that happens, Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican is expected to offer an amendment to allow state law, rather than federal law, to govern the carrying and transportation of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges.


This measure was authored and is supported by the National Rifle Association, which said in a February 1 letter to its members, "We have been working on your behalf for nearly five years to facilitate this policy change and are committed to ensuring that it finally happens this year."


Coburn's amendment forbids the Interior Secretary from enforcing "any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System…" On December 14, 2007, a group of 47 senators wrote to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne urging repeal of these regulations because they are "confusing, burdensome and unnecessary." The letter was signed by 39 Republican senators along with eight Democrats.


A central assertion of the Coburn measure is that the current

regulation offends the Second Amendment of the U.S.

Constitution by prohibiting the possession of a firearm in parks. But in fact the current regulation states that weapons may be possessed as long as they are not loaded and ready for use.


The regulation, (36 CFR 2.4), says that "…unloaded weapons may be possessed within a temporary lodging or mechanical mode of conveyance when such implements are rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use."


These rules, re-written in 1983 under the Reagan administration, were intended to relax earlier stricter prohibitions. As the National Park Service then explained, "[T]he Service has determined that it is not feasible to prohibit the possession of weapons in all situations, and a total prohibition would be unenforceable."


The other rationale for removing firearm regulations is "consistency in firearms policy" on federal lands, according to the senators' letter to Kempthorne. Senator Coburn's legislation would have federal firearm policy conform to state laws, but because firearms laws vary from state to state, there would then be at least 50 sets of rules for federal lands. In some instances, where a park straddles a state line, there would be two different firearms policies in different sections of the same park.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for Feb. 15, 2008

Weather Conditions

The very active weather pattern seen this winter continued during the week.  New snowfall amounts of 6-10 inches were recorded in a number of locations.  Satellite imagery shows most of the Great Lakes basin with at least a few inches of snow cover.  Locations in the snow belts have much more on the ground.  Ice on all of the Great Lakes also increased in coverage this week, as bitter cold temperatures set in.  Still more snow is forecasted for many areas in the Great Lakes basin this weekend and early next week.   The next major storm system is targeting the region late Sunday and into Monday.

Lake Level Conditions

Currently, Lake Superior is 9 inches higher than it was at this time last year. The remaining Great Lakes are 1 to 9 inches below their levels of one year ago.  Lake Superior is predicted to continue its seasonal decline and fall 1 inch over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie are predicted to hold steady over the next 30 days.  Lakes Michigan-Huron and Ontario are predicted to rise 1 inch over the next month.  Lake Superior is predicted to stay above last year's water levels through July, but the remaining lakes are forecasted to remain below their levels of a year ago over the next several months. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflow from the St. Mary's, St. Clair, Detroit, and St. Lawrence Rivers were below average for January.  Outflow from Niagara

was above average for last month. Ice buildup in the connecting channels can cause large short-term water level fluctuations.


Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum and forecasted to remain below datum through June.  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.  Ice information can be found at the National Ice Center's webpage.





St. Clair



Level for Feb 15






Datum, in ft






Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr








BoatUS offers affordable insurance for Great Lakes Boaters

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 12, 2008 -- When the engine dies, the cranking battery goes dead and you need a tow back to the boat launch ramp, most anglers will tell you they can call a friend for help. But if you’re on the open water of the Great Lakes, are you willing to gamble that your fishing buddies will always be there to bail you out of trouble?


BoatU.S. Angler, a membership program that offers water and roadside towing services for trailer boat anglers, has taken that worry away by now offering “Unlimited” on-the-water towing plans on the Great Lakes.


Similar to roadside auto clubs that provide assistance to motorists, 24 hour a day on-the-water help is now just a VHF radio or cell phone call away for just $34 a year — plus $19 annual BoatU.S. Angler membership — for a combined total of just $53 annually. Services are provided by the largest on-the-water towing fleet on the Great Lakes, TowBoatU.S., with 40 towing ports.


This low cost on-the-water towing plan is also available to any angler on inland, freshwater waterways lakes and rivers in the U.S.


Vessel Assist, a TowBoatU.S. sister towing fleet, provides on-the-water assistance in select western U.S. states. In addition to TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist, BoatU.S.’ network of thousands of independent towing responders, such as local marinas, boat storage and repair facilities, also render assistance.


Every TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist towboat is equipped to handle fuel drop offs, battery jumps, soft ungroundings and tows back to the launch ramp. And, unlike fishing boat

insurance policies that provide for on-the-water towing services, having an annual towing plan from BoatU.S. Angler means that if you need to use the service, it won’t count as an insurance claim against you.


Why Anglers Need Roadside Help


If you trailer your fishing boat, anglers should know that most roadside auto clubs won’t service boat trailers, and the few that do charge well over $150 a year. They also don’t include launch ramp winching service.


With BoatU.S. Angler’s “Unlimited” roadside tow vehicle and boat trailer towing for an additional $10 annually, your fishing rig will never be left sitting alone on the shoulder of a highway or stuck on a slippery ramp. Up to 100 miles of tow vehicle and boat trailer on-the-road towing to the nearest safe location or repair facility is included.


The BoatU.S. network of 20,000+ roadside towers across the country have expertise in handling boat trailer breakdowns and also provide lock-out assistance, flat tire, battery jump and launch ramp winching service. Flat tire assistance at an angler’s home or storage facility is also included and launch ramp fee rebates and subscriptions to both BoatU.S. Angler Magazine and BoatU.S. Trailering magazine are part of the package.


BoatU.S. Angler is a membership program from the nation’s largest association of recreational and fishing boat owners that offers on-the-water and roadside assistance services, boat insurance, BoatU.S. Angler Magazine fishing tips, discounts on fishing gear, as well as safety, consumer and how-to information just for trailer boat anglers. For more information, go to www.BoatUSAngler.com/towing or call (866) 906-0013.

Lake Huron

Net Pens Increase Survival of Lake Huron Salmon

Anglers in several ports around the Great Lakes have donated their time and money to net pen projects, hoping to increase the survival of salmon stocked by management agencies. The pens are generally stationed in harbors and allow the young salmon to acclimate to their new environment. Growth of net pen salmon is enhanced with artificial feed. Pen-acclimated salmon are less vulnerable to predators due to this head start in growth, and their tendency to move into deep water more quickly than wild or conventionally stocked salmon.

A recent study compared recreational angler return rates of tags (CWTs) from salmon stocked traditionally to those held in net pens. Net pens in the AuSable River resulted in a 2.5-fold increase in salmon returns, while net pens at Harbor Beach resulted in a much smaller increase due to high temperatures. Pens on the AuSable also appeared to help salmon to imprint. Salmon reared in AuSable River net pens were 6.4 times more likely to return to that river than conventionally stocked fish.

Lake Michigan

Grand Haven Regional Fishery Workshop, March 1 2008

Michigan Sea Grant invites you to attend the Grand Haven Regional Fishery Workshop to be held on Saturday, March 1, 2008. The meeting will be held in the Mackinaw Room, at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Street, Grand Haven, MI 49417, 8:30-4:30.


Topics presented will cover current research on issues that affect Lake Michigan fisheries. A hot lunch buffet will be included in the conference registration fee of $20 in advance 

or $25.00 at the door. Advanced registration is requested to assure an accurate count for food service.


Use the attachment URL to obtains the registration form, and mail it with your check made out to Ottawa County MSU Extension. The mailing address is listed on the registration form. If you should have questions, please call (616) 846-8250. For an application:



Lake Michigan Salmon Updates from the Ludington Regional Fishery Workshop

On January 5, charter boat captains and other interested anglers attended the 2008 Ludington Regional Fishery Workshop. Speakers covered a wide variety of topics pertaining to the Lake Michigan fishery. Randy Claramunt of the MDNR started off the morning by presenting an update on the status of Chinook salmon and their prey. In 2007, Chinook salmon exhibited good condition and virtually no sign of disease. Declines in alewife were most apparent in northern Lake Michigan and other peripheral habitats, and alewife density was highest near Saugatuck and Grand Haven. Based on the high quality of the salmon fishery and declines in alewife, the 2006 stocking cuts were judged to be the right move at the right time.


Wild-spawned Chinook salmon now account for approximately half of all kings in Lake Michigan. Ed Rutherford, of the University of Michigan, noted that flow rates

in rivers determine the extent of natural reproduction in any given year and found that 30-90% of wild-spawned Chinooks are eaten annually by walleye and trout stocked in streams. Tom Rozich of the MDNR reported strong Coho salmon weir returns in 2007 and predicted another strong run in 2008. He also discussed plans to begin stocking Sturgeon River strain brown trout in the Great Lakes in 2009.


Other speakers highlighted increased netting effort by Little River Band of Ottawa Indians members, causes and effects of Type E botulism outbreaks in northern Lake Michigan, the spread of invasive bloody red shrimp, and efforts to prevent silver and bighead carp from invading Lake Michigan. Members of the United States Coast Guard discussed new Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) requirements and other regulations relevant to the charter boat industry. A similar presentation will be made at the Grand Haven Regional Fishery Workshop March 1.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario GLRRIN Search Conferences

The Great Lakes Regional Research and Information Network (GLRRIN) will be hosting two search conferences in the spring of 2008.  These conferences represent a unique opportunity for stakeholders – both inside and outside of government, scientist and non-scientist alike – to come together to discuss the ideal future of Lake Ontario and identify the information needed to realize that future.  They will be held in:

►Grand Island, NY (March 31-April 1); and

►Gananoque, ON (April 3-4).


Search conferences are participatory planning processes that rely on:

►diverse representation of affected stakeholders,

►democratic procedures, and

►consideration of all viewpoints

to ensure that the output of the conferences is relevant to all those involved.


The Lake Ontario GLRRIN search conferences will each engage 50 diverse Lake Ontario stakeholders interested in ecology, recreational and commercial resource use, tourism,

community and economic development, environmental protection and other topics in a structured two-day workshop that will begin to:

►Develop a common understanding of the Lake Ontario system;

►Build a shared vision of the future of that system; and

►Identify information that is needed to help achieve that future.


A report documenting the discussions of the search conferences will be distributed to all participants.  The report will: (1) summarize the perspectives of participants from both search conferences on the ideal future of Lake Ontario and the information needed to get there; (2) identify both points of general agreement and points requiring further discussion; and (3) note similarities and differences between the priorities of different stakeholders.  We hope that the report will lay the groundwork for further discussion and action both within and between stakeholder groups.


Lake Ontario GLRRIN will pay for meals and lodging for all participants!

New York

DEC proposes new Dam Safety Regulations

As part of a continued upgrade of dam oversight, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a proposal that requires more dam inspections, regular maintenance, better recordkeeping, and emergency planning. The proposal emphasizes and details the responsibilities of dam owners to keep their structures in a safe condition and also enhances DEC's authority to help ensure that these responsibilities are fulfilled. In the last few years, and in the wake of a high-profile dam failure and dangerous deficiencies, DEC has exponentially bolstered staffing in its dam safety program, increased inspections of high-hazard dams, and stepped up enforcement against owners of deficient dams.


"These regulations finally address a legislative mandate to improve dam safety that dates to 1999 and which brings New York's regulations to a level consistent with other states," Commissioner Grannis said. "These draft regulations

increase DEC's enforcement authority, bring New York's program in line with federal standards, and make clear that dam safety is foremost the responsibility of the dam owner."


DEC's dam safety program is in place to help safeguard lives and property and protect natural resources. Staff are responsible for conducting inspections of dams, reviewing dam construction permits, and making sure owners conduct repairs. There are more than 5,000 dams in New York State, with most being classified as low, medium and high hazard. A dam's classification depends on the threat presented to downstream communities and infrastructure in the event of a dam failure and is not related to the condition of a dam.


The draft regulations announced last week require owners to demonstrate that their dams are being properly maintained and meet modern safety standards, and includes specific responsibilities a dam owner must implement to ensure ongoing safety.


Nine Lorain County Residents charged with poaching

"Operation Overkill" leads to more than 200 charges, including eight felonies

COLUMBUS, OH - Nine suspects from Lorain County face 196 misdemeanor charges and nine felony charges involving the alleged poaching  of white-tailed deer in Coshocton and Knox counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.


The investigation, dubbed "Operation Overkill," began in September 2006 as an anonymous tip through the division's Turn-In-a-Poacher (TIP) hotline.  Wildlife officials allege that the group of suspects drove to Coshocton and Knox counties on several occasions and shot deer from inside their vehicles or along the roadway in violation of state laws. 


Numerous charges will be filed in Coshocton Municipal Court, Knox County Court of Common Pleas, and the Mount Vernon Municipal Court.


Charges include felonies for the illegal handling of firearms, as well as misdemeanor wildlife violations including: shooting deer from the roadway, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, taking more than the bag limit of deer, taking more than one buck deer, hunting on private property without permission, failing to tag and check deer, hunting outside of legal hunting hours, using a radio for hunting purposes, and hunting deer without a deer permit.


The investigation into this case is ongoing. Additional arrests may follow.


If convicted, the suspects will face fines, possible jail time and forfeiture of hunting privileges.  A first-time misdemeanor wildlife offense involving the illegal taking or possession of deer could result in fines of up to $500 and a maximum of 60 days in jail.  Violators also may be required to pay restitution for illegally taken animals at a minimum value of $400 per deer.  All illegally taken wildlife, as well as firearms and motor vehicles used in the violations, may be forfeited.


Suspects and charges

David A. Saltis, 39, Lorain - charged with two felonies; possessing a firearm while under disability and shooting from a motor vehicle.  Saltis is also charged with 68 misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, taking more than the bag limit of deer, taking more than one buck deer, hunting on private property without permission, failing to tag and check deer, possession of untagged deer, transporting an illegally taken deer, killing and leaving deer without tagging, hunting outside of legal hunting hours, using a radio for hunting purposes, and hunting deer without a deer permit.

George Saltis Jr., 40, Lorain - charged with one felony of shooting from a motor vehicle as well as 31 misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, hunting on private property without permission, failing to tag and check deer, hunting deer without a deer permit, litter, and aiding an offender.


George Saltis Sr., 66, Lorain - charged with two felonies: complicity and shooting from a motor vehicle.  Saltis Sr. was also charged with 23 misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, hunting on private property without permission, transporting an illegally taken deer, possession of an untagged deer, aiding an offender and failing to tag deer.


James E. Strehle, 67, Sheffield Lake - charged with two felony counts of complicity, as well as 29 misdemeanor wildlife violations, including:  shooting from the road, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, hunting on private property without permission, failing to tag and check deer, possession of untagged deer, transporting an illegally taken deer, hunting outside of legal hunting hours, using a radio for hunting purposes, and aiding an offender.


Jeffrey A. Saltis, 18, Elyria - charged with four misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, shooting across a roadway, and aiding an offender.


Joaquin Segarra, 39, Lorain - charged with one felony for possession of a firearm while under disability.  Segarra is also charged with three misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, possession of untagged deer, and transporting an illegally taken deer.


Michael C. Lowe, 52, Lorain - charged with three misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: providing false information to a check station, attaching a deer tag to a deer taken by another person, and permanently tagging a deer that was taken by another person.


Thomas E. Saltis, 32, Lorain - charged with two misdemeanor wildlife violations, including: hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, and shooting deer from the road.


Johnny Saltis, 37, Lorain -charged with one felony charge for shooting from a motor vehicle, as well as 32 misdemeanor wildlife violations, including:  shooting deer from the road, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, hunting on private property without permission, failing to tag and check deer, possession of untagged deer, transporting an illegally taken deer, hunting outside of legal hunting hours, aiding an offender, littering, and hunting deer without a deer permit.


Sturgeon spearers set record

OSHKOSH, Wis. -- Sturgeon spearers harvested more than 1,100 fish from Lake Winnebago and other lakes on opening weekend and a record Saturday February 9 for the largest number  of fish weighing more than 150 pounds registered in decades.  In all, 888 fish were harvested on Lake Winnebago

and another 215 from the upriver lakes of Poygan, Butte des Morts and Winneconne.  Of those caught, three weighed more than 160 pounds. The opening day, which marked the start of Wisconsin's 75th regulated sturgeon spearing season, netted the largest number of fish weighing more than 150 pounds in the last 60 years.

Early trout season opens March 1
MADISON - Fish biologists report strong trout populations statewide for the March 1 opening day of the early trout season. Their forecasts for the early season can be found on the early trout fishing page of the DNR Web site, along with a short webcast featuring Mike Miller, a Department of Natural Resources stream ecologist and avid fly fisherman, offering tips on the best flies and techniques to use in this early season.


The season opens at 5 a.m. and runs through April 27, 2008, and is catch-and-release with only artificial lures with barbless hooks allowed. All trout streams are open in 46 counties, and

at least one stream is open in 18 additional counties. Check the Trout Fishing Regulations and Guide for specific waters.


Weather, as always, will play a big role in determining angler success this early season, says Larry Claggett, Department of Natural Resources coldwater specialist. The snow covering much of the state may make it more difficult for anglers to get to trout streams but will help replenish the groundwater the streams depend on.


The heavy snow cover also means anglers will need to pay close attention to how runoff from melting snow is affecting the stream they want to fish.

Despite drought then deluge, trout populations thrive
MADISON – Hats off to the wily wild trout.  Their instincts, major land use changes and state habitat improvement projects helped them survive the extreme weather of 2007 in good numbers, according to state fisheries biologists. This should result in good prospects for a bumper crop of new fish in spring 2008, according to Dave Vetrano, veteran fish manager for Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties, who has a number of audio files on the topic available on the early trout fishing pages of the Department of Natural Resources Web site.


Moderate to extreme drought conditions in 2007 left 85 percent of the state with a precipitation deficit of 2 to 4 inches by mid-summer, only to be followed in August by record rains and flooding in parts of southwestern and southeastern Wisconsin. Sadly, people suffered millions of dollars of flood-related property damage, but the trout and their home streams fared much better.


Wisconsin fish have more cover and more pool habitat as a

result of DNR trout habitat work over the past 30 years on more than 750 miles of stream statewide. The work, often done in partnership with local organizations, is paid for by the trout stamps anglers buy to fish for trout on inland waters. It has also stabilized and reshaped stream banks and reconnected them with their floodplains.


Those in-stream improvements have occurred as improvements in farming practices and changing land use – from agriculture to recreational use -- has meant that more rain and melting snow is soaking into the ground and less soil is entering the streams. The ultimate result is more water and colder water to the streams, as described in a February 2002 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine story.


So with the streams in pretty good shape to handle the floods, the high, fast moving water performed some valuable maintenance work that will benefit older fish, the young ones hatching this winter in the gravel beds of Wisconsin streams, and the anglers that pursue them.

56,000 remaining spring turkey permits on sale March 28

Hunting and fishing licenses on sale March 10MADISON - More than 56,000 remaining 2008 Spring Turkey permits will be available for sale on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 10 a.m. March 28.  The lottery for spring permits has been concluded and those receiving permits have been notified. More than 56,275 permits across nearly all units in the fourth through sixth hunting periods remain and are available for over-the-counter sales. The number of permits in each unit is limited and many are expected to sell out quickly.

The permits can be purchased: over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center; at DNR service centers during their regular business hours (check service center link for hours of operation, which vary by service center; service centers are closed Saturdays); at automated license issuance system sales locations; or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236). . An updated listing of units with leftover turkey permits and the numbers of permits available can be found on the turkey hunting pages of the DNR Web site at or by contacting a DNR service center.

Successful sturgeon spearing shortens 2008 season

Harvest caps hit Monday close season Tuesday

OSHKOSH, Wis. – The 2008 lake sturgeon spearing season on the Lake Winnebago system will close at the end of the day on Tuesday, Feb. 12 after sturgeon spearers succeeded in hitting the 90 percent triggers put in place to protect the species on the system.


“The trigger to end the season occurred when the total adult females taken in Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes on Monday brought the combined total harvest of adult females to 528, which was over 90 percent of the harvest cap of 556,” said Ron Bruch, DNR fisheries biologist and sturgeon specialist. “Clear water this year gave spearers great visibility down to about 16 feet, so sturgeon were much more visible this year. In years with less water clarity, spearers would not have seen sturgeon swimming at that depth. That water clarity led to a very successful opening day harvest of 806 fish.”


Spearers placed a total of 3,683 shanties on the ice this year

and braved bitter cold and high winds that drifted to repeatedly cover ice roads to push up the totals and trigger the harvest caps.


The cap and trigger system was developed by DNR fisheries managers with the input and approval of numerous fishing groups. Today, those separate groups each send a representative to a 28-member super group called the Winnebago Citizens Sturgeon Advisory Committee. That committee will meet this spring with DNR staffers to discuss the results of this season and to recommend any changes for next year. The system cap and trigger system has been in place since 1997.


The 2008 sturgeon season opened on Saturday, Feb. 9 and was scheduled to run through Sunday, Feb. 24, spearers reached pre-set harvest caps, and the season closed at 12:30 on Tuesday.


Students to compete in State Archery Tournament in Wisconsin Rapids

140 Wisconsin schools participate in Feb. 18 National Archery in the Schools program

MADISON – Nearly 400 fourth through twelfth grade students are expected to participate in Wisconsin’s third annual statewide target archery competition as part of the National Archery in the Schools Program.  The competition will take place at the East Junior High Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Rapids on Feb. 18 with the first shooters stepping to the shooting line at 9:15 a.m. Admission to the event is free.


The event is sponsored by Wisconsin Field Archery Association, Brennen Industries, Matthews Archery, Easton Arrows, Morrell Targets and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Concessions will be provided by East Junior High Athletic Boosters.


“It doesn’t matter how big, how strong or how fast you are for this sport,” says Wisconsin Rapids’ Bruce Trimble, field director for the Wisconsin Field Archery Association and the organizer of this competition.  “The National Archery in the Schools program allows all students--regardless of athletic ability or gender--to participate in this sport together. What’s really neat is that physically challenged students can participate.... Rules allow (students with disabilities) to have a helper and it’s amazing to see how well they do.”


Forty-five states have archery programs through the national

program and the rest are expected to join soon. The National Archery in the Schools Program first came to Wisconsin in 2003.


Mary Kay Salwey, DNR state wildlife education specialist and the DNR staff person assigned to bring the archery program to Wisconsin, says the program’s focus is strictly target archery where archers shoot at a bull’s-eye target to score points. Hunting and conservation messages are not built into the curriculum.


“The DNR supports the program as a means to help students learn some basic skills needed for activities traditionally pursued in the outdoors such as target and field archery and bow hunting,” she says.


Wisconsin now has a network of four program specialists and about 60 avid archers who are trained as teacher instructors. Teachers are trained in archery techniques, equipment basics and safety.


The archery program’s school kits, including bows, arrows, targets and target backstops, are standardized so all schools compete with the same equipment. Schools have found various ways to fund the kits, which cost between $2,700 and $2,900. Schools have been able to find partners interested in starting an archery program through area conservation clubs and national sporting organizations.

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