Week of May 3 , 2004

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Corps Approves new Lake Michigan Harbor

Evanston City Council vote 5-4 to keep discussion alive

After receiving a $100,000 Federal grant to study the feasibility of a new Lake Michigan marina at the southeast end of Evanston, the study by the Army Corps of  Engineers was presented to the Evanston City Council on April 26. 


The Corps placed their initial stamp of approved on the proposal and recommended proceeding  with the next phase because they found a very real demand for slip space. The study noted no traffic problems or noise problems, and no environmental problems, and  they also found about half of the people they surveyed were in favor of the project.  The study The study recommended a 385 slip marina with  landfill parking.


At Monday evening's City Council meeting just minutes after the report was presented, and before anyone had even looked at, much less read and studied the report, two aldermen attempted to close the project down without any further discussion. Fortunately, there were enough votes (5-4) to  keep the discussion alive for now.


The first phase was to have a study done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and get their approval for the Harbor.  Federal grant dollars were applied for with the help of Representative Jan Schakowsky, to have a feasibility study done and also get the Army Corps approval for the harbor. The proposal is to build the harbor off the shore of South Blvd Rd., similar to Wisconsin's  Racine Harbor.


Evanston Boat Ramp Association President Frank Didier tells

us: "We have seen no plans or pictures of the harbor yet, and the Corps as part of the study are to talk to boaters and users of the lake front. We know of only one boater that was contacted so we don't know who they talked to." "They came up with 56% against the harbor and 46% for the harbor" Didier added.


The Corps approved the building of the harbor on Friday last week (April 23). "It was for a 385 boat slip and 310 car parking area." Didier said "The ball is now in Evanston's court. They have a green light. They presented the findings to the people at last Monday night's board meeting." Didier added,  "Now it's back to the drawing board for more study and the hiring of a consultant. the estimated cost is $ 22 - 25 Million dollars so far."


Evanston Chamber of Commerce President Richard Peach says: "It would be a welcome addition to the community. We see it as major financial engine for our city."


The Evanston Ramp Association folks tell us there are enough boaters in the area to fill three harbors this size, and that the facility is sorely needed  From a safety perspective there is a need for more "safe haven" or "Harbor of Refuge" ports on Lake Michigan's western shore.  The lake in the proximity of Evanston  serves a metropolitan area from Chicago to Milwaukee with about 11 million people, and a new harbor would be ideally suited as another safe haven or "Harbor of Refuge" port. It would be a welcome addition to this always busy shore of  the lake.



Friendly Fishing Gear Contest

Scientists, Fishermen Announce Worldwide Contest for Wildlife-Friendly Fishing Gear

Vancouver – On the opening day of the World Fisheries Congress, an unprecedented alliance of fishing industry leaders, scientists and conservationists will announce a worldwide competition to find the best design for fishing gear that reduces wildlife deaths.

This partnership will launch the International Smart Gear Competition, seeking practical solutions that allow fishermen to better target their catch and reduce accidental deaths of marine mammals, birds, sea turtles and other non-target species in fishing gear. Such bycatch is “a major economic and ecological problem,” the U.S. Ocean Commission noted in its report last month.


NMMA supports Invasive Species Act revision
The National Marine Manufacturers Association is throwing its support behind an Endangered Species Act white paper released this week by the House Resources Committee.  According to committee chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., “Unintended consequences have rendered this a broken law that checks species in for conservation and recovery, but never checks them out.”

NMMA says the themes contained in this white paper echo sentiments that the association has expressed for well over a year now — in particular, that the ESA does not fulfill its intended purpose. For example, the paper points out that only 12 of the 1,304 species that have been listed as endangered over the last 30 years have shown recovery levels sufficient for delisting. Overall, the white paper claims, the ESA has a 0.01 % rate of recovery on endangered or threatened species.

“Frankly, this is deplorable and we should do better and we can do better,” Monita Fontaine, NMMA's vice president of government relations, said in a statement.  NMMA says it is committed to conservation and the protection of endangered species and their habitat. Unfortunately, it says, the ESA has not and will not obtain that end.

“It is time for long-overdue reform to ensure the recovery of one of our nation’s most prized resources — our wildlife,” said Fontaine. “NMMA continues to lend its support and encouragement to Congress to craft meaningful ESA reform, including the use of verifiable, sound science when designating critical habitat and endangered or threatened species.” 



Hatchery Salmon to Count as Wildlife

SEATTLE – In response to a Federal Court order the Bush administration will count hatchery-bred fish, which are pumped into West Coast rivers by the hundreds of millions yearly, when it decides whether stream-bred wild salmon are entitled to protection under the Endangered Species Act.


Federal officials said the new policy on hatchery salmon -- to be published in June in the Federal Register and then be opened to public comment -- was in response to a 2001 federal court ruling in Oregon. In that ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan found that the federal government made a mistake by counting only wild fish -- and not genetically similar hatchery fish -- when it listed coastal coho salmon for protection.


This represents a major change in the federal government's approach to protecting Pacific salmon -- a $700 million-a-year effort that it has described as the most expensive and complicated of all attempts to enforce the Endangered Species Act.  Four of five salmon found in major West Coast rivers, including the Columbia, are already bred in hatcheries, and some will now be counted as the feds try to determine what salmon species are endangered.


"We need to look at both wild and hatchery fish before deciding whether to list a species for protection," said Bob

Lohn, Northwest regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Lohn added that the new policy will probably help guide decisions this summer by the Bush administration about whether to remove 15 species of salmon from protection as endangered or threatened.


From Washington state to Southern California, the decision to count hatchery-bred fish in assessing the health of wild salmon runs could have profound economic consequences. In the past 15 years, the federal government's effort to protect stream-bred wild salmon has forced costly changes in how forests are cut, housing developments are built, farms are cultivated and rivers are operated for hydroelectricity production. Farm, timber and power interests have complained for years about these costs and have sued to remove protections for some fish.


"There was an inescapable reasoning to Judge Hogan's ruling," said Lohn, chief of federal salmon recovery in the Northwest. "We thought his reasoning was accurate." He said the Bush administration will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on habitat improvement for salmon.  "We have major problems to overcome, both with habitat and with improving the way hatcheries are operated," Lohn said. "Run right, hatcheries can be of considerable value to rebuilding wild fish runs."

House Bill Would Exempt Non-native birds from Migratory Bird Treaty Act

On April 22, the House Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans unanimously passed HR 4114, a bill that would amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to exempt non-native birds from protection under the Act.


Sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), the bill seeks to clarify Congress' intent that non-native birds should not be protected under the MBTA. Gilchrest stated that during the first 80 years of the act, the USFWS and state resource agencies all operated with the understanding that MBTA applied only to native birds. As such, non-native, invasive birds were managed by the state wildlife agencies if

they interfered with other native species or native ecosystem functions.


In 2001, the D.C. Circuit Court changed this interpretation when it ruled that the non-native mute swan was protected under MBTA because the Act generically refers to "swans" and does not distinguish between migratory native species and a non-native invasive bird. The bill will now go to the full Resources Committee for further consideration.


The bill has additional ramifications with many suggesting the double-crested cormorant is considered non-native to the Great Lakes region and would be removed from further FWS management regulations.

Snakehead rears ugly head again
 BALTIMORE — Maryland state workers plan to drain a suburban lake after the discovery of the same voracious, "walking" fish that two years ago prompted them to poison a smaller body of water, officials said last week.


In what some locals are calling the "return of Frankenfish," a northern snakehead fish — a top predator in China known for its voracious appetite and ability to "walk" on land using its fins — was pulled last week from a lake near Washington, D.C. Workers dumped 100 gallons of poison into a Maryland pond in 2002 in a move to eradicate a colony of snakeheads, which are capable of devouring all native species. There are concerns that if left unchecked, the fish will upset the local



The northern snakehead eats smaller fish, crustaceans, and even frogs or other small amphibians. Females lay as many as 15,000 eggs up to five times per year. Those eggs hatch as little as 28 hours later.


Normally at home in the rivers and lakes of Asia where they are a delicacy, snakeheads found their way to Maryland several years ago when a local resident bought the fish from a live seafood market in New York. A local dumped the fish into the Crofton pond, where they bred rapidly. About 100 baby snakeheads were later found in the pond.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for April 30, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are 4, 15, 8, and 4 inches, respectively, below their long-term average.  Lake Ontario is 4 inches above its long-term average.  All of the Great Lakes are above last year’s water levels.  Lake Superior is 2 inches above, while the remaining lakes are 4-7 inches above last year’s levels.  Lake Michigan-Huron rose above chart datum early this week; it had been below chart datum since late August 2003.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron was below average during the month of April.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers were also below average during April, while Niagara and St. Lawrence River flows were near and above average, respectively.


Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

A series of disturbances will push through the Great Lakes basin beginning Friday, leaving conditions unsettled through the weekend.  Heavy rain is possible at many locations before skies clear early next week.


Forecasted Water Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes are into their normal seasonal rise.  Levels are expected to increase 4-5 inches on Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and Ontario and 1-2 inches on Lakes St. Clair and Erie over the next month.



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

Quote of the day:

"Gun control is a joke," says Montreal homicide detective Steve

Roberts.  "Bad guys don't register their guns, only people like you and me register their weapons."


Corps Approves new Lake Michigan Harbor

Evanston City Council vote 5-4 to keep discussion alive

After receiving a $100,000 Federal grant to study the feasibility of a new Lake Michigan marina at the southeast end of Evanston, the study by the Army Corps of  Engineers was presented to the Evanston City Council on April 26. 


The Corps placed their initial stamp of approved on the proposal and recommended proceeding  with the next phase because they found a very real demand for slip space. The study noted no traffic problems or noise problems, and no environmental problems, and  they also found about half of the people they surveyed were in favor of the project.  The study The study recommended a 385 slip marina with  landfill parking.


At Monday evening's City Council meeting just minutes after the report was presented, and before anyone had even looked at, much less read and studied the report, two aldermen attempted to close the project down without any further discussion. Fortunately, there were enough votes (5-4) to  keep the discussion alive for now.


The first phase was to have a study done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and get their approval for the Harbor.  Federal grant dollars were applied for with the help of Representative Jan Schakowsky, to have a feasibility study done and also get the Army Corps approval for the harbor. The proposal is to build the harbor off the shore of South Blvd Rd., similar to Wisconsin's  Racine Harbor.


Evanston Boat Ramp Association President Frank Didier tells

us: "We have seen no plans or pictures of the harbor yet, and the Corps as part of the study are to talk to boaters and users of the lake front. We know of only one boater that was contacted so we don't know who they talked to." "They came up with 56% against the harbor and 46% for the harbor" Didier added.


The Corps approved the building of the harbor on Friday last week (April 23). "It was for a 385 boat slip and 310 car parking area." Didier said "The ball is now in Evanston's court. They have a green light. They presented the findings to the people at last Monday night's board meeting." Didier added,  "Now it's back to the drawing board for more study and the hiring of a consultant. the estimated cost is $ 22 - 25 Million dollars so far."


Evanston Chamber of Commerce President Richard Peach says: "It would be a welcome addition to the community. We see it as major financial engine for our city."


The Evanston Ramp Association folks tell us there are enough boaters in the area to fill three harbors this size, and that the facility is sorely needed  From a safety perspective there is a need for more "safe haven" or "Harbor of Refuge" ports on Lake Michigan's western shore.  The lake in the proximity of Evanston  serves a metropolitan area from Chicago to Milwaukee with about 11 million people, and a new harbor would be ideally suited as another safe haven or "Harbor of Refuge" port. It would be a welcome addition to this always busy shore of  the lake.


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant 2004 Research Symposium May 18

How can we stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes? What are the impacts of mercury and other contaminants to the Lake Calumet region? Illinois-  Indiana Sea Grant is sponsoring a showcase of high-quality, cutting-edge research taking place in the Southern Lake Michigan region.  These are some of the questions that will be addressed at the Symposium.


Sea Grant is inviting you to attend and meet with researchers, local water resource managers, and representatives of agencies addressing Great Lakes issues.


Meeting details include:

When: Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Where:  Ralph Metcalf Federal Building,  77 W. Jackson Blvd., Room 331 Chicago, Illinois 60602

Agenda topics will include: 

Tracking Toxic Mercury in Polluted Lake Calumet Waters

●Heavy Metals: The Impact on Critical Wetlands

Balancing Development and Natural Resources along Lake Michigan

Building a Better Fish through Biotechnology

Exotic Species: Coming to a Retail Store Near You

ILL Barriers Stop Asian Carp at the Great Lakes?

Asian Carp: The Threat to Native Fish

The symposium is free, although pre-registration is preferred. Go to http://www.iisgcp.org/symposium/RS2004/main.htm

Governor announces $5 million for Illinois River Conservation  Enhancement

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich last week announced the release of $5 million for conservation projects on floodplain and other highly erodible land as part of the Illinois River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).


CREP is a federal-state conservation program that provides financial incentives and technical assistance to farm owners who plant grasses and trees and restore wetlands to reduce top soil loss, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat along the Illinois River and its tributaries. Farmers, who voluntarily agree to extend their USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts beyond 15 years, or agree to grant permanent conservation easements, receive bonus 

payments from the state.


The release of funds for CREP comes on the heels of the launch of the innovative “Mud- to-Parks” project, in which 105,000 tons of sediment is being dredged from Peoria Lake, loaded onto barges and shipped 163 miles up the Illinois River to Chicago’s old U.S. Steel South Works facility, where it is being unloaded and is transforming an industrial slag field into a green park.


An estimated 7,500 acres are eligible in this new enrollment.  Landowners eligible to enroll are those who already are participating in the federal portion of the program. A limited enrollment period for the State CREP program for federally enrolled CREP landowners that enrolled under CRP Sign-ups 23 and 24 is being offered until May 7, 2004

Waterfowl hunters will have input on season dates

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Members of the DNR’s advisory board will hold public meetings to gather comments from waterfowl hunters prior to making recommendations for the 2004-2005 seasons, DNRS Director Joel Brunsvold announced. Brunsvold said the meetings will be conducted by a subcommittee of the Natural Resources Advisory Board and chaired by Natural Resources Advisory Board Member George Camille, a life-long waterfowl hunter.


Board members will listen to DNR staff recommendations and facilitate public input at one public meeting in each zone. The focus of each meeting will be waterfowl topics specific to the zone in which the meeting is being held. Primary topics will include duck and goose season dates for the 2004-05 hunting season.

A meeting will be held in each zone beginning at 6:30 p.m. and are scheduled as follows:

South Zone - August 10th at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn

Central Zone - August 11th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield

North Zone - August 12th at the Best Western in DeKalb


Comments received at the public meetings, as well as public comments received by Board members and the DNR and staff recommendations will be shared by the full Natural Resources Advisory Board at a meeting scheduled for Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The full board is expected to discuss the subcommittee’s recommendations and vote on their final recommendations to Director Brunsvold.

Governor announces over $1 Million for Bike Trails grants

Funds will Enhance Safety and Functionality of Trails in state

 SPRINGFIELD - Delivering on an Opportunity Returns commitment to support the development of bicycle trails in Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced over $1 million in construction grants available to communities in the state.  These grants from the Illinois DNR will support construction of regional bike trails, which will benefit local residents and increase tourism opportunities.


“The construction of these three trails will make a long-lasting impact in recreation, tourism, and economic development.  The bike trails wind through pristine wilderness, unveiling some of the most beautiful terrain in our state.  Their 

completion ensures that this great natural beauty can be showcased and that it will continue to act as part of the magnificent allure of this region for residents and visitors alike,” Governor Blagojevich said. 


The grant program reimburses local governments for half the cost of trail development, up to a maximum of  $200,000.


The Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history.  Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region. 


Gander Mountain to Open New Superstore in Novi, MI

Grand Opening Ceremonies Set for May 14 – 16, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS – Gander Mountain, a leading outdoor equipment retailer, will celebrate the grand opening of its newest store located in 43825 West Oaks Drive in Novi, Mich., the weekend of May 14 – 16.  Novi is a


Currently open for business, the new 80,000 sq ft big-box store will kick-off the official celebration at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 14, and door-buster gift bags will be given to the first 50 people through the doors that morning. Other grand opening activities will include free seminars, such as a fly fishing seminar, hosted by Tony Pagliei and Jim Bedford, and a seminar on western big game hosted by Craig Boddington.  In addition, guests can register to win prizes including a $1,000 Gander Mountain shopping spree, a new ATV and other Gander Mountain merchandise.


Gander Mountain stores provide hobbyists, enthusiasts and first-timers alike the essential equipment needed to “live outdoors,” and deliver expert service in all aspects of outdoor activities.

Novi Superstore Features:

● ATV sales and services

● Full archery technical shop and range

Gunsmith service

Professional fish line winding

Live bait shop

New cabin décor department

Gander lodge meeting space


Committed to Conservation

To show its commitment to the many outdoor groups focused on conservation throughout the area, Gander Mountain will host a “Partner Night” at the Novi store.  Members of these partner organizations will get a sneak peak at the new superstore, and Gander Mountain will donate 10% of each purchase made on that evening back to an organization of the customer’s choice. 


For the nearest Gander Mountain store location, call 800-282-5993 or visit www.GanderMountain.com



Baudette to host Governor's Open May 14-15

Event kicks-off fishing in MN for '04 as well as a fun summer tourism season.

The city of Baudette, located on Lake of the Woods, will be the site of the  56th Annual Governor's Fishing Opener event on May 14 - 16. 


Some of the festivities open to the public will be a community picnic and parade Friday evening, with family activities, river cruises, logging demonstrations, draft horse wagon rides, wildlife displays, an art show, a free picnic dinner and musical entertainment.  On Saturday, breakfast will be served at several area resorts for anglers wanting a good meal before hitting the water in search of walleye, and kids will enjoy a fishing contest at nearby Zippel Bay State Park.  To find out more, call 800-382-3474, or check out www.mngovernorsopener.com


Sportsman's Lodge will be the headquarters for the 56th Annual event. Over the course of  3 days, close to 500 outdoor enthusiasts from all corners of the state, country and world will be gathered to watch Governor Tim Pawlenty catch a famous

Minnesota walleye.


The MN Governor's Fishing Opener has been a tradition since 1948. It was designed to improve Minnesota's economy through the development and promotion of the state's recreational opportunities, especially fishing. The first Opener was a cooperative promotion between the state's resort industry, media, and public officials. Today, the emphasis is even broader. It celebrates the kick off of the summer tourism season. The special partnership continues today with a promotional focus on a host community as well as recreational opportunities statewide. Fishing is not forgotten, and is clearly still the main promotion of the event.


For the most part, all other activities during the event are limited to media representatives, sponsors and guests. Each invited media guest receives an invitation in the mail, and must provide media credentials and show they actively report about the Governor's Fishing Opener activities. Each year, there are different activities planned, so be sure to continue to check the  official website at www.mngovernorsopener.com for information on what events are open to the public.

Spring fish management activities the Detroit Lakes area

Fish rearing/stocking activities:

Minnesota DNR fisheries crews have collected about 310 quarts or 37,000,000 walleye eggs have from Lake Sallie walleye so far this spring. Approximately 10 million walleye fry will be stocked directly into 18 area lakes and 27 million will be stocked into 50 walleye rearing ponds. The fry in the ponds will grow to six or eight-inch fingerlings this summer and will be stocked in area lakes this fall.


Eight hundred pounds of bluegills will be collected this spring and distributed into kids fishing ponds in Erskine and Twin Valley.  About 210,000 lake sturgeon fry will be produced in the Lake Sallie Hatchery. The  Red Lake and Roseau rivers will each receive about 100,000 lake sturgeon fry.


Meadow Lake will be stocked in May with 750 brown trout and 1500 rainbow trout yearlings. Bad Medicine Lake will be stocked with 12,000 rainbow trout yearlings.


Fish population assessments:

Fish populations in Beseau, Wolf, Fifteen, Cross, Maple, Whitefish, and Canary lakes will be tested to see if winterkill occurred. Dissolved oxygen was low in these lakes  this winter. Tests will determine if winterkill occurred and how severe it was. If a severe winterkill has occurred, appropriate fish species will be stocked as brood fish to reestablish populations. Walleye fry stocking may also occur if a severe winterkill has occurred.


Fisheries assessments or surveys will be completed on Marshall, Eunice, Silver, Little Sugarbush, Fifteen, Long, Bass, Pickerel, Melissa, Sallie, Maud, South Twin, Juggler, Hill River,

Middle Cormorant, Ice Cracking, Eagle, North Twin, and Pearl

lakes this summer. The gathered information will be used to revise fisheries management plans for these lakes.


Fish passage projects:

The Shoreham Dam on the Pelican River and the Highway 10 culvert on the Otter Tail River near Frazee were both modified for fish passage with rocks and boulders. Planning for modification of the Heiberg Dam on the Wild Rice River was done this spring. These projects will reconnect approximately 150 miles of prime river habitat.  


Regulation reminders:

Anglers are reminded that northern pike 24-36" in length must be immediately returned to the water on Cotton, Floyd, and Little Floyd lakes in Becker County. These regulations are intended to increase the numbers of larger northern pike in these lakes.


Northern pike 24" or longer must be released on Lake Sallie and Melissa under have experimental regulations aimed at increasing the size structure of the pike populations on these lakes. Anglers are reporting good catch and release fishing for large northerns. 


Anglers are also reminded of fishing regulations for the Minnesota - North Dakota border. Seasons are continuous on the Red River of the North. The walleye and sauger possession limit is three (either or combined). The catfish possession limit is five with not more than one over 24". Muske possession limit is one with a minimum size of 40". The northern pike possession limit is three. The smallmouth bass and largemouth bass possession limit is three (either or combined).

New York

May 1 marked opening day for several fish species

Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel, and Tiger Muskellunge Season Begins

Special Black Bass Season Opens on Lake Erie

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today reminded anglers that the season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opens Saturday, May 1, 2004.  Anglers are also encouraged to take advantage of the special early season for black bass in Lake Erie, which also opens May 1, 2004.


“The opening of the season for walleye, pike and pickerel traditionally marks the start of the open water fishing season in New York State,” Commissioner Crotty said. “All of these species are usually quite cooperative during cool water periods and can be caught with a variety of natural baits and artificial lures.”


DEC’s efforts to restore walleye to waters where they were historically present and to expand the distribution of walleye to other waters in the State continues to bear fruit.  With the successful introduction of walleye into Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond on Long Island, this popular sportfish can now be found in all New York watersheds.  


Best bets for anglers seeking walleye in Western New York include Chautauqua Lake, Silver Lake and Findley Lake.  In Central New York, anglers are encouraged to try Honeoye Lake, Conesus Lake, Oneida Lake and Whitney Point Reservoir.  In the East, Canadarago Lake, Otsego Lake, Lake Champlain, Great Sacandaga Lake, Saratoga Lake, Franklin Falls Flow, Tupper Lake and Union Falls Flow are all good bets.  Long Island anglers should have good success in Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond, with fish up to six pounds having been reported from Lake Ronkonkoma during the ice fishing season.


Anglers seeking walleyes in rivers should try the Oswego River, St. Lawrence River below Ogdensburg, Chemung River, Susquehanna River, Chenango River, Tioughnioga River, Unadilla River, Oswegatchie River, Mohawk River and the Hudson River, which has seen its walleye fishery downstream of the Troy Dam increase in recent years.  Good fishing can also be found in the lower section of many of the Hudson tributaries, including Catskill Creek, Rondout Creek and the Wallkill River.  The Delaware River is also a productive walleye fishery, particularly the 50-mile section between Callicoon and Port Jervis.


Anglers fishing Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond in DEC Region 1 and Schoharie Reservoir, Schoharie Creek and Canandarago Lake are encouraged to become an angler diary cooperator.  Angler cooperators keep track of their catches in diaries provided by DEC.  The information provided is analyzed to assess the current status of the fisheries in these waters.  Diaries are returned to the anglers along with a summary report, after the data has been analyzed.  Interested anglers should contact the Region 1 office at (631) 444-0280 or Region 4 office at (607) 652-7366.


The Great Lakes continue to provide New York’s finest walleye fishing opportunities.  Both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario continue to produce trophy-class walleye.  In Lake Ontario, good walleye populations can be found in Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Braddocks Bay, Oswego Harbor, North Sandy Pond and Port Bay.  Walleye fishing in Lake Erie is usually not at its best until June, but anglers can look forward to catching trophy walleye over five pounds throughout the New York section of the lake.


In 1940, Peter Dubuc caught a 42-pound, 2-ounce northern pike from Great Sacanadaga Lake setting a new world record and putting New York on the map as a trophy pike state.  While the Dubuc fish has since been knocked into second place by a 50-pound fish caught in Germany, New York remains a top location for anglers seeking trophy pike.  Top pike waters

include many of the larger Adirondack lakes such as Tupper Lake, Schroon Lake, Lake George, the Saranac Lake Chain, Lake Champlain, Fourth Lake (Fulton Chain),  Long Lake, Upper Chateaugay and the St. Regis Chain of Lakes.  Further south, northern pike anglers can find good fishing in Saratoga Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake and Round Lake.  Outside of the Adirondack region, pike anglers should try Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake and Consesus Lake in central New York, as well as the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario embayments, and the Indian River Chain of lakes to the north.


Tiger muskellunge hot spots in the eastern half of the State include Cossayuna Lake, Lake Durant, Lake Lauderdale, Lincoln Pond and Round Lake in DEC Region 5; Canadarago Lake in DEC Region 4; and New Croton Reservoir, Greenwood Lake and Rockland Lake in DEC Region 3.  In Central New York (DEC Regions 7 and 8), anglers should try Conesus Lake, Otisco Lake, Lake Como, the Lower Chenango River and the Susquehanna River downstream of Binghamton.  Horseshoe Lake and Hyde Lake are also good bets in Region 6.  Good tiger muskie action can also be found in the Mohawk River from Rome downstream to Lock 16.


Many of the best chain pickerel waters are in the southeastern section of the State (DEC Regions 1 and 3).  In Region 3 some good choices are the Rio and Mongaup Falls reservoirs in Sullivan County, Harriman Park Lakes in Rockland and Orange Counties and Walton Lake in Orange County.  On Long Island, the Peconic River provides some of the finest chain pickerel fishing in the State.  Other New York pickerel hotspots include Lake George, Brant Lake, Saratoga Lake and Lake Champlain in DEC Region 5 and Hemlock Lake and Canadice Lake in Region 8.  Oneida Lake is also a good bet for chain pickerel.


Anglers seeking to get a jump on the black bass season (which opens on most waters in New York on June 19, 2004) are reminded that a special black bass season has been in place for the past few years on Lake Erie to allow anglers to take advantage of the great fishing available for smallmouth bass during the early spring.   From the first Saturday in May to the regular opener of the statewide black bass season, anglers may take one bass at least 15 inches in length per day in Lake Erie.  Tributaries of the lake and the Niagara River are not included in the special early season regulation.  Smallmouth bass are particularly abundant in the open waters of Lake Erie, as well as Dunkirk and Buffalo Harbors.  Fish are usually in 15- to 30-foot depths along rocky drop-offs.  Bass in the two- to five-pound range are abundant, with even larger fish not uncommon.


Prior to heading out, anglers should be sure to check the current fishing regulations for the water they plan on fishing. Numerous exceptions to the statewide regulations exist in each DEC region.  Regs may be found in the 2002-2004 Fishing Guide issued with your license, or from DEC’s website.  Anglers should also be sure that they have the current year’s fishing license before hitting the water. 


DEC also encourages all anglers to consider purchasing a $5 habitat stamp when they purchase or renew their fishing license.  The Habitat Stamp is a new optional stamp that is available for people who want to support the Department’s efforts to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife related recreation.


Anglers and New York fishing tackle retailers are also reminded that effective May 7, 2004, the sale of small lead sinkers weighing ½ ounce or less will be prohibited in New York State.  Sale of jig heads, weighted flies, artificial lures or weighted line are not included in this prohibition.  Although the law does not prohibit the use of lead sinkers of this size, anglers are encouraged to seek non-lead alternatives which are readily available in tackle stores.  Ingestion of lead sinkers has been linked to the death of waterfowl and loons.

State announces changes to 2004 fishing regulations

Revisions Comply With Federal Requirements to Reduce Harvests for 3 Species

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced changes in 2004 recreational fishing regulations for summer flounder (fluke), scup (porgy) and black sea bass.  The new regulations, which are effective immediately, are as follows:


Fluke: minimum length – 17", possession limit - 3, open season - May 15 to Sept 6.

Porgy: minimum length – 11", possession limit - 20, open seasons - June 16 to Oct 17 and Nov. 1 to 30.

Black sea bass: minimum length – 12", possession limit - 25, open season - Jan 1 to Sept 22 and Oct 8 to Dec 31.


These changes supercede 2003 regulations which included: for fluke: minimum length - 17 inches, possession limit - 7, open season - all year; porgy: minimum length - 10 inches, possession limit - 50, open season - all year; black sea bass: minimum length - 12 inches, possession limit - 25, open seasons - January 1 to September 1 and September 16 to November 30.


New York’s projected porgies and fluke harvest for 2004 exceed the State’s assigned quotas by 58 percent and 48.5 percent, respectively.  The regulatory changes in the emergency rule announced today achieve a 58 percent reduction for porgies, and a 20 percent reduction for fluke.  DEC is proposing to ASMFC that the New York 2004 recreational harvest projection for fluke be based on an average of the estimated harvest for 2001-2003, rather than

on 2003 alone.  New York’s fluke regulations were essentially unchanged over this three year period, and the recreational harvest estimate, which is derived from a federal survey that is not statistically reliable at the individual state level, has fluctuated significantly over the period.  In particular, the 2003 harvest estimate is more than double the estimate for the two preceding years, which conflicts with information provided by New York’s marine recreational fishing industry regarding the levels of fishing business and angler success in 2003.  For this reason, DEC has chosen to comply with the FMP by basing its harvest projection on a more reliable and stable three year average of harvest estimates, resulting in a 20 percent reduction  requirement for 2004.


The FMP for black sea bass calls for annual adjustments to common coastwide regulations that are calculated to hold coastwide harvest within the allowed annual quota.  For 2004, a two-week closure between September 1 and October 31 is required, with a recommended closure of September 6 - 21.  The emergency rule announced today changes the current closure period from September 1 - 16 to September 23 - October 7.  This change is implemented to minimize the economic impact on New York’s recreational fishing operations from potentially closing both the fluke and black sea bass immediately following Labor Day.


Marine fishing regulations can be viewed on the DEC website at:

http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/marine/finfish/swflaws.html  For additional information about the regulations, contact

DEC Marine Resources Division at 631-444-0436.

Legislators Form 19th State Sportsmen's Caucus

Albany, NY: Legislators in New York met tonight to formally organize a bi-partisan, bi-cameral group to address sportsmen's issues in the state legislature. The New York Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus is the nineteenth state sportsmen's caucus joining a growing network of support for sportsmen's policy. The leadership team consists of Senator Dale Volker (R-59) and Assemblyman Richard Smith (D-146) as co-chairs, Senator William Stackowski (D-58) and Assemblyman Robert Warner (R-126) as co-vice chairs and Senator Elizabeth Little (R-45) as secretary. Safari Club International sponsored a reception after the organizational meeting to congratulate members of the legislature for this important effort to support the state's sportsmen and women.


"Both Assemblyman Smith and I have been supportive of sportsmen's issues in the State Legislature for decades," said Senator Dale M. Volker. "The response by legislators to our sportsmen's caucus has been tremendous and this bi-partisan approach to sportsmen's issues will be extremely useful as we deal with these difficult public policy issues. The newly formed New York Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus will educate and inform legislators on various sportsmen's bills that they consider during the Legislative Session so they can make an objective decision based on the bill's merits." Senator Volker won Safari Club International's State Legislator of the Year Award earlier this year, which is their highest honor

for state policy makers.


New York's 1.76 million sportsmen could fill Yankee Stadium more than thirty-one times and they spend over $2 billion a year - three times the gross ticket sales for Broadway plays. "The many sportsmen in New York have a significant impact on our state's economy and outdoor traditions," said Assemblyman Richard Smith. "Yet, year after year numerous sportsmen's bills are not acted upon in the State Legislature. I am excited to get everyone together so all the members of the sportsmen's caucus understand the issues in New York state."


The Mission of the New York State's Legislative Sportsmen Caucus is: To preserve and promote the traditional rights of New York State citizens to hunt, fish, and pursue outdoor activities, To ensure that New York State sportsmen and women have reasonable access to public lands to enjoy outdoor pursuits, To protect the investment of sportsmen and women in wildlife and fisheries management by safeguarding the integrity of user-fee trust funds and license revenue, To support efforts to enhance multiple-use habitat management for wildlife and fisheries, and To recognize the importance of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities to our nation's economy and support the maintenance and growth of outdoor-related industries and activities.


Perry proprietor busted for harboring snakehead fish

Joe Schultz claims his snakefish were not for sale in his Perry Township pet shop. 


However, OH DNR Division of Wildlife enforcement supervisor Doug Miller, on April 21 found a $199 for sale sign hanging on the tanks that housed snakehead fish in Schultz's shop. Miller said agents seized four snakeheads from the shop on Wednesday.


Schultz, 34, of North Ridge Road in Perry Township, has been cited under state laws for possession and selling fish of  an "Injurious Species" category  in his store, Their World.  The charge is a fourth-degree misdemeanor with a possible penalty of up to $250 and 30 days in jail. Schultz was arraigned in Painesville Municipal Court, and the DOW agents got a court order to destroy the four fish as prima facie evidence that these fish did in fact fall under the Injurious Species category.


The seizure was the first in Ohio, he said. Other snakeheads have been found in Maryland waters in recent years, with one occurring just last week  Importation of the live fish, native to Asia and Africa, has been banned since October 2002.


"Once they get in the water system, they wreak havoc," Miller said. "They are a threat to the environment. They eat everything in sight. They can wipe out an entire population of native fish." Even more bizarre is  the fish can "walk" on land for short distances on their pectoral fins.


Schultz said he knew of the federal ban but bought the fish in July 2002, before the ban was enacted. He said the fish were in display tanks tagged as not for sale.  Miller said the state law went into effect in October 2002 and possession of any   

injurious species is not grandfathered.


Additionally, federal laws are in place that prohibit the transportation, possession or sale of "Injurious Species" and Schultz admits he bought the fish from a New York distributor.  Miller added " we do not know at this time whether Schultz will be charged with any federal violations, but the information has been forwarded to FWS special agents.  The investigation is ongoing and state and federal agents are tracing the paper trail of transaction and transportation.


The DOW is reminding area residents that it is illegal to harbor or sell this exotic species in Ohio. There is also a federal ban on snakeheads that restricts their transportation across state lines, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.


"If you or someone you know has a snakehead fish, please contact 1-800-WILDLIFE immediately.  The DOW is not seeking to prosecute anyone who contacts them about snakeheads in their possession," stated Doug Miller, law enforcement supervisor with District Three ODNR Division of Wildlife. "The fish pose an extreme threat to our waters and with the cooperation and assistance of Ohio citizens, we will work together to prevent these fish from entering Ohio's waterways."


The snakehead fish is native to China, but has made its way to the U.S. as an aquarium fish because of its unusual, eye-catching appearance. Snakehead fish are voracious predators, will eat anything in their path, from other fish to frogs, and in some cases, birds and small mammals. They would do extreme damage to the aquatic environment if released into Ohio's waterways, Miller said.


Season Starts for State's Fiercest (Looking) Fish

With bulging, glassy eyes and a mouthful of needle-like teeth, walleye have a face only a mother could love. But it's taste rather than looks that draws Pennsylvania anglers to pursue walleye, and starting with the May 1, 2004 season opener, a slab-sided walleye will be a catch prized by many. So will muskellunge, pike, pickerel and sauger whose seasons began on Saturday, May 1.


For most inland waters, walleye and hybrids must measure a minimum of 15" in order to be legally creeled. Six may be taken per day. Its close cousin, the sauger, must be 12" long. Again, six may be creeled daily.


Walleyes are native to central North America and Canada, including the Ohio River and Great Lakes watersheds. Popular sport fish, they have been extensively stocked. In Pennsylvania they are now found throughout the state, including the Susquehanna and Delaware River watersheds, as well as their original Allegheny River and Lake Erie watershed homes.


The sauger is closely related to the walleye and very similar in appearance. The biggest difference between the two is habitat preference. Saugers are native to much of central North America, including the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds and the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay watersheds. They were not originally present in Atlantic Coast waterways. Saugers appear in western Pennsylvania’s Ohio River watershed, but do not occur east of the Appalachian Mountains, so they are absent from the central and eastern parts of the state. Studies have confirmed that in some years saugers are the most frequently caught species by anglers in the Ohio River watershed in Pennsylvania, and in navigation pools of the Monongahela River and Ohio River. They are fairly

abundant in the lower Allegheny River and upper Ohio River.


Pike and pickerel are known for their fearsome features and aggressive attitudes. Pike must measure 24 inches to be creeled; two may be taken daily. The smaller pickerel has a 15" minimum size limit. Six pickerel may be creeled daily for most of the season. However, from December 1 through the season's end the subsequent mid-March, only three pickerel may be taken each day.


The muskellunge - or "musky" - is the largest game fish in Pennsylvania - and one of the toughest to catch. Nonetheless, legions of dedicated trophy anglers will spend long, lonely hours pursuing them. Two muskies of 30" or greater may be creeled each day.


All are part of the pike family, characterized as long, slender, “duck-billed” predator fish, popular with anglers for the great size some species attain and for their sporting fight. Four species of the pike family live in the Northern Hemisphere. The grass pickerel and redfin pickerel (the two are closely related subspecies), the chain pickerel, the northern pike and the muskellunge are native to North America and to Pennsylvania.


The native pike family residents of Pennsylvania range from the small redfin pickerel of eastern Pennsylvania and its close cousin the grass pickerel of northwestern Pennsylvania, which seldom reach one foot in length, to the mighty muskellunge, whose state angling record is over 54 pounds. Pike live in coolwater streams and large rivers, as well as lakes, from ponds to big impoundments, depending on the species. All pike are associated with submerged vegetation, although muskellunge also frequent rocky lake shoals.

Commission advises motorists to watch for Deer

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross urged motorists to stay alert and slow down when driving after dusk and before dawn if they don't want to risk colliding with a white-tailed deer. For the sake of public safety, watch for deer and drive defensively after dark and before sunrise for the next several weeks.  Your efforts can help to keep accidents to a minimum, which, in turn, will reduce or eliminate hardships to your family and other Pennsylvanians.


"Unfortunately, young deer make tragic mistakes when crossing roads in spring and moving through areas unfamiliar to them," said Ross. "They're no longer following the leader, they're moving independently. And that increases the potential for an accident, especially in areas harboring large deer populations." If a deer steps onto the road, Ross said, motorists should slow down and come to a controlled stop as soon as possible.


"Don't risk trying to drive around a deer," Ross said.  "Since deer usually move in single file, more deer may be following, so you should stop, or at least slow down, to make sure all deer have passed.  "Also, deer sometimes abruptly reverse their direction right after crossing a road.  This is a defensive mechanism that often kicks in when deer are startled, and they retrace their footsteps to other deer they're traveling with or return to an area they've already checked for danger."  The only thing predictable about whitetails is that they're definitely unpredictable.

Drivers who hit a deer are not required to report the accident to the Game Commission. If the deer dies, only PA residents may claim the carcass.  To do so, they must call the Game Commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred and an agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to issue a free permit, which is mailed. A driver must call within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer. A passing Pennsylvania motorist also may claim the deer, if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn't want it. Again, the motorist must report taking possession of the deer within 24 hours to the Game Commission.  Antlers from bucks killed in vehicle collisions must be turned over to the Game Commission. 


If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to stay their distance because some deer may recover and move on.  However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a Game Commission regional office or other local law enforcement agency.  If the deer must be put down, the Game Commission will direct the proper person to do so.


 Deer do unpredictable things. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross and quickly re-cross back from where they came. Sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. Assume nothing. Slow down, blow your horn to urge the deer to leave the road. Stop if a deer stays on the road; don't try to go around it.


Springtime Alert: Don't disturb young wildlife

Whether hiking in the woods, driving through the countryside or simply enjoying nature, outdoor enthusiasts encountering wildlife, especially young wildlife, are encouraged to leave the animals alone and not remove them from the wild.


"Being outdoors in the spring is an enjoyable way to spend time learning about nature," said Calvin DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director.  "At this time of year, it is common to find young rabbits, birds, raccoons, fawn deer or other wildlife that may appear to be abandoned.  Rest assured that in most cases, the young animal probably was not abandoned and the best thing to do is not disturb it."


DuBrock noted many adult animals tend to forage for food and bring it to their young.  Also, wildlife often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the "hider strategy," where young animals will attempt to "hide" in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of predators or other intruders away from their young.


"While it may appear as if the adults are abandoning their young, in reality, this is just the animal using its natural instincts to protect its young," DuBrock said.  "Nature also protects young animals with camouflaging color and by giving them little scent to avoid being detected by predators. 


"Wild animals are not meant to be pets, and we must all resist our urge to want to care for wildlife. Taking wildlife from its

natural settings and into your home may transmit diseases, such as roundworm or rabies, to people or domestic animals.  Wildlife also may carry parasites -- such as fleas, ticks or lice -- that you wouldn't want infesting you, your home or your pets."


In addition, Mike Dubaich, Game Commission Bureau of Law Enforcement director, noted that it is illegal to take or possess wildlife from the wild.  Under state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $800 per animal. "Under no circumstances will anyone who illegally takes wildlife into captivity be allowed to keep that animal," Dubaich said.  "While residents love to view wildlife and are very compassionate, they must enjoy wildlife from a distance and allow nature to run its course."


Dr. James Rankin, state Health Department epidemiologist, said it always is wise to avoid wild animals and even strange domestic pets because of the potential rabies risk.  "Animals infected with rabies may not show obvious symptoms, but still may be able to transmit the disease," Dr. Rankin said. 


People can get rabies from the saliva of a rabid animal if they are bitten or scratched, or if the saliva gets into the person's eyes, mouth or a fresh wound.  Contact with wildlife and any strange domestic animals should be avoided.  The last human rabies fatality in Pennsylvania was a 12-year-old Lycoming County boy who died in 1984.


How to avoid attracting bears

HARRISBURG - With spring blossoming around the state, many Pennsylvanians are seeing signs of new life in the outdoors as migratory birds continue their northward migration and other wildlife shake off their winter slumber.  Among the wildlife becoming more visible are Pennsylvania's roughly 15,000 black bears, all of which will be looking for food.


Since bears are found throughout a large part of the state, Mark Ternent, Pennsylvania Game Commission black bear biologist, said that bear sightings are common during this time of year.   Food for bears is typically scarce in the spring until vegetation begins to green-up, but bears emerging from dens need to find food after fasting for several months.  Thus, sightings and, in some cases, conflicts increase as bears look for food, including in backyards.


Ternent listed five suggestions that could prevent attracting bears to a property:


Play it smart.  Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels, may attract bears.  Even bird feeders can become "bear magnets."  And, while bird feeding during the winter months is not a problem, spring is the time to rethink your bird feeding plans as bears start coming out of their dens.  If you do chose to feed songbirds during the summer, Audubon Pennsylvania offers some tips, including: avoid foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar mixes or suet; bring feeders inside at night; or suspend feeders from high crosswires so they are at least 10 feet above the ground and four feet away from anything a bear can climb, including overhead limbs.


Keep it clean.  Don't put out garbage until pick-up day; don't throw table scraps out back; don't add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile; and clean your barbecue grill regularly.  If you have pets and feed them outdoors, consider placing food dishes inside overnight. Encourage your neighbors to do the same.


Keep your distance.  If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. Shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. Don't approach it.  If the bear won't leave, call the nearest Game Commission regional office or local police department for assistance.


Eliminate temptation.  Bears that visit your area are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area's appeal to bears. Promptly report road-killed deer to ensure their quick removal. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut).


Check please!  If your dog is barking, or cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But 

do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from

 a safe position, such as a porch or an upstairs window. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don't do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings providing the chance for a close encounter.


"Black bear aggression is most often the result of a human threatening a bear, its cubs, or a nearby food source, and the best reaction is to reduce that threatening appearance by leaving the area in a quiet, calm manner," Ternent said.  He also advised:


Stay Calm.  If you see a bear and it hasn't seen you, leave the area calmly.  Talk to the bear while moving away to help it discover your presence.  Choose a route that will not intersect with the bear if it is moving.


Get Back.  If you have surprised a bear, slowly back away while talking softly.  Face the bear, but avoid direct eye contact.  Do not turn and run; rapid movement may be perceived as danger to a bear that is already feeling threatened.  Avoid blocking the bear's only escape route and try to move away from any cubs you see or hear.  Do not attempt to climb a tree.  A mother bear may falsely interpret this as an attempt to get at her cubs, even though the cubs may be in a different tree.


Pay Attention.  If a bear is displaying signs of nervousness with your presence, such as pacing, swinging its head, or popping its jaws, leave the area.  Some bears may bluff charge to within a few feet.  If this occurs, stand your ground, wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear.  Turning and running could elicit a chase and you cannot outrun a bear.


Fight Back.  If a bear attacks, fight back as you continue to leave the area.  Bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys, or even bare hands.


Last year, a regulation prohibiting the feeding of bears went into effect.  The regulation made it unlawful to intentionally "lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals that may cause bears to congregate or habituate an area."  The exceptions to this regulation are "normal or accepted farming, habitat management practices, oil and gas drilling, mining, forest management activities or other legitimate commercial or industrial practices."


To report nuisance bears, contact the Game Commission Region Office nearest you.  The toll-free numbers are: Northwest Region Office in Franklin, 1-877-877-0299; Southwest Region Office in Ligonier, 1-877-877-7137; Northcentral Region Office in Jersey Shore, 1-877-877-7674; Southcentral Region Office in Huntingdon, 1-877-877-9107; Northeast Region Office in Dallas, 1-877-877-9357; and Southeast Region Office in Reading, 1-877-877-9470


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