Week of June 7, 2010

Beyond the Great Lakes

2nd Amendment Issues

Ontario Canada
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Beyond the Great Lakes

Alaska Sues USFWS For Blocking Caribou Preservation Plan

Anchorage, Alaska - The State of Alaska has filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for blocking a proposed predator control action on Unimak Island intended to preserve a caribou herd that is on the brink of dying out.


The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, asserts that the federal agency has violated the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and a Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Alaska.


Among numerous actions aimed at preventing the state from carrying out its plan to preserve the herd, federal officials on May 24 threatened immediate criminal prosecution of any state employees who would "trespass" within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which covers almost all of Unimak Island.


The state seeks a preliminary injunction allowing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in June to remove seven wolves, the number determined by biologists as necessary to merely maintain the caribou herd in its current depleted condition while the lawsuit proceeds.


"The Fish and Wildlife Service erected obstacle after obstacle over a period of five months to prevent us from carrying out the state constitutional mandate to manage our resources for the maximum benefit of our people," said Governor Sean Parnell. "It's part of a pattern in which federal agencies are usurping state prerogatives, potentially constricting our future, and they're doing it while violating their own rules and regulations, as well as their prior agreements with us."


Unimak Island, the eastern-most in the Aleutian chain, is home to the nation's only naturally occurring insular caribou herd. The herd numbered 1,260 in 2002, but has shrunk to about 400 animals. In addition to the two-thirds decline in overall population, the bull-to-cow ratio is now about 5-to-100,

the lowest level ever recorded in Alaska, leaving about 20

bulls on the island.


For these reasons, Fish and Game determined that action during the 2010 calving season might be the last chance for averting the ultimate loss of the entire herd, which has been the primary source of subsistence red meat within a 400-mile radius.


Fish and Game notified the federal refuge manager of the emergency in a letter on December 22, 2009. But subsequent communications and meetings failed to persuade federal officials to permit a wolf take before a lengthy environmental review could be completed by an outside contractor, despite documents prepared by Fish and Game that were compliant with the standards of the National Environmental Policy Act. Finally, the May 24 letter from Fish and Wildlife ended the matter with a threat to refer to the U.S. attorney any state employees who take actions to preserve the herd.


"The actions of Fish and Wildlife have set the stage for the worst possible outcome - the potential disappearance of this caribou herd and a total loss of subsistence opportunity in the area for the foreseeable future," said Denby Lloyd, commissioner of Fish and Game. "We pushed as hard as we could, recognizing that time was running out fast, but I wasn't going to put my employees into a situation in which the federal government prosecutes them for carrying out their state responsibilities."


"We weren't going to fall into the trap of seeing state employees exposed to prosecution," said Attorney General Dan Sullivan. "But this threat forced our hand. We have no choice but to sue. And we believe we have a strong case for injunctive relief."


For the state's complaint for declaratory judgment: http://www.law.alaska.gov/pdf/press/052810-Complaint.pdf    

Contact: Bill McAllister, Department of Law, (907)269-4179, Kevin Saxby, Department of Law, (907)269-5250, or Corey Rossi, Department of Fish and Game, (907)267-2147.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for June 4, 2010 

Weather Conditions

Over the last week most of the Great Lakes Basin has experienced higher than average temperatures along with scattered showers and thunderstorms. Rain showers will move out today as a more stable air mass arrives from the west bringing drier weather and warmer temperatures in for the first half of Friday before rain chances return for the start of the weekend. Over the weekend expect another chance for severe weather with rain showers continuing into Sunday. The warm weather of the past two weeks will come to an end next week as daytime temperature are expected to only reach the mid 70's. The beginning of the work week brings another possibility of dry weather, but ending mid-week when a weak area of low pressure passes though the basin bringing additional rain showers to some areas.

Lake Level Conditions

Currently, all of the water levels on the Great Lakes are below last year's levels.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are 8 and 9 inches below last year's levels, respectively.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are 8, 7 and 17 inches, respectively below the last year's levels.  Over the next month, the water levels of Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are both expected to increase by 3 and 2 inches, respectively, while Lakes St. Clair is expected to be 2 inches below its current level. Lake Erie is expected to decrease its level by 1 inch over the next month, while Lake Ontario is projected to rise 4 inches. 

 Forecasted June Outflows/Channel Conditions

The outflows from both Lake Superior into the St. Mary's River and Lake Huron into the St. Clair are forecasted to be below average during the month.  Near average outflow is expected from Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River and Lake Erie into the Niagara River.  The flow in the St. Lawrence River is forecasted to be below average throughout the month of 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.





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2nd Amendment Issues

The U.N. gun grabber

The Washington Times May 31, 2010

American gun owners might not feel besieged, but they should. This week, the Obama administration announced its support for the United Nations Small Arms Treaty. This international agreement poses real risks for freedom both in the United States and around the world by making it more difficult - if not outright illegal - for law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.


The U.N. claims that guns used in armed conflicts cause 300,000 deaths worldwide every year, an inordinate number of which are the result of internal civil strife within individual nations. The solution proposed by transnationalists to keep rebels from getting guns is to make the global pool of weapons smaller through government action. According to recent deliberations regarding the treaty, signatory countries would be required to "prevent, combat and eradicate" various classes of guns to undermine "the illicit trade in small arms." Such a plan would necessarily lead to confiscation of personal firearms.


This may seem like a reasonable solution to governments that don't trust their citizens, but it represents a dangerous disregard for the safety and freedom of everybody. First of all, not all insurgencies are bad. As U.S. history shows, one way to get rid of a despotic regime is to rise up against it. That

threat is why authoritarian regimes such as Syria, Cuba, Rwanda, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone endorse gun control.


Political scientist Rudy Rummel estimates that the 15 worst regimes during the 20th century killed 151 million of their own citizens, which works out to 1.5 million victims per year. Even if all 300,000 annual deaths from armed conflicts can be blamed on the small-arms trade (which they cannot), governments are a bigger threat to most people than their neighbors.


This U.N. treaty will lead to more gun control in America. "After the treaty is approved and it comes into force, you will find out that it has this implication or that implication and it requires the Congress to adopt some measure that restricts ownership of firearms," former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton warns. "The [Obama] administration knows it cannot obtain this kind of legislation purely in a domestic context. ... They will use an international agreement as an excuse to get domestically what they couldn't otherwise."


The U.N. Small Arms Treaty opens a back door for the Obama administration to force through gun control regulations. Threats to the Second Amendment are as real today as ever.


IDNR Announces Summer Urban Fishing Clinics

Clinics provide free instruction and fun for kids, “Access to Fishing” gear also available

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Learning how to fish is fun, easy and free for youngsters and families throughout Illinois this summer thanks to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Urban Fishing Program.  Free fishing clinics are planned at more than 30 locations throughout the state.


“Fishing is a great way for families to spend time together outdoors, and each summer our urban fishing clinics give thousands of children a chance to experience the fun of fishing,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.  “The clinic instructors provide basic instruction on how to fish, and with those lessons we expect a lot of kids will become hooked on fishing.”


The free Urban Fishing Program clinics are targeted toward children ages 16 and younger, but anyone interested in learning basic fishing techniques are welcome to attend.


“Parents and grandparents are urged to come along and attend any of our programs with their children,” said IDNR Central Illinois Urban Fishing Program Coordinator Herb Dreier.  “Their experiences will create excitement that will provide many memorable family discussions.”


Fishing clinic instructors present information on fish and other aquatic life, rules and regulations for fishing, as well as basic instruction on baiting a hook, tying a knot, casting, important tactics on how to catch fish and how to handle and return fish to the water.  As part of each clinic, participants are provided with rods, reels, bait and tackle for 90 minutes of catch-and-release fishing.


Urban Fishing clinics are presented on weekdays during the late spring and summer months at 38 locations throughout

the state.  In addition to the scheduled clinics outlined below, fishing clinics can also be arranged for scouts, seniors, civic clubs and groups with special needs.


Science and physical education teachers interested in starting a fishing program in their schools can also contact the IDNR Urban Fishing coordinator in their area to get more information.


“Fishing is truly an activity that can develop into a lifelong hobby.  Once a person knows the basics of fishing including how to catch fish, it can be an exciting and addictive activity,” Dreier said.


The Illinois Urban Fishing Program was introduced in Chicago in 1985 to teach individuals of all ages to fish, to provide better local fishing opportunities and to give participants an understanding of and a greater appreciation for natural resources.  Urban Fishing Program coordinators also hold non-fishing conservation education programs and visit schools during the fall, winter and spring.


In addition to the fishing clinics, the IDNR provides fishing opportunities to anglers of all ages through the popular Access to Fishing initiative in which fishing gear can be borrowed at more than 155 locations statewide.  The loan program provides the opportunity to borrow rods, reels and tackle packs.  Participating loaner locations include many public libraries, park and forest preserve districts, bait shops, recreation departments and other locations.  A list of sites offering access to fishing gear is available by checking the web site at www.ifishillinois.org or by phoning the IDNR Urban Fishing Program at 217/782-6424.


For more info:  http://dnr.state.il.us/pubaffairs/2010/June/fishing.html 


New 72-Hour Michigan Fishing License Available to All Anglers

The State of Michigan announced a new 72-hour Michigan fishing license is available to residents and non-residents alike.


The license, for sale at all license vendors or online, is consistent with a recommendation of the 2006 Hunting and Fishing License Package Work Group that studied the state's hunting and fishing license structure, explained DNRE fisheries biologist Todd Grischke. A bill creating the license was recently approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov.


Jennifer M. Granholm.


"Previously, anglers could only choose between a one-day license and a season license," Grischke said. "We believe this will just make it a little easier for people who are planning a long weekend fishing trip or visiting from out of state."  The 72-hour license costs $21 (or $9 for resident seniors) and is valid for all species.


For more info about fishing in Michigan:  www.michigan.gov/fishing.

DNRE Adopts Statewide Deer Management Plan

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has adopted its first-ever comprehensive statewide deer management plan designed to guide management decisions into the future.


The plan is the result of more than two years of effort by DNRE staff and deer management partners from around the state.  The Deer Advisory Team, a group composed of 24 representatives of groups with an interest in deer management, provided critical direction throughout the planning process. Over the course of those two years, the DNRE held a deer management symposium, commissioned Michigan State University to conduct a statewide public opinion poll on public attitudes concerning deer in Michigan and held eight public scoping meetings.


After the plan was drafted, the department held an additional


eight public meetings around the state to solicit public comments and make changes to the plan.  The plan contains six goals, 19 objectives and 69 action items. The plan was recently reviewed by the Natural Resources Commission and signed by DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries.


“This is a strategic plan, not an operational plan,” explained John Niewoonder, the DNRE wildlife biologist who wrote the plan. “It does not contain specific regulatory recommendations, but sets the course for future deer management in Michigan.”   “The DNRE is actively working on initiating the implementation of the plan through the formation of regional deer advisory groups,” stated Brent Rudolph, DNRE Deer and Elk Program leader.


To read the plan, visit the DNRE website at www.michigan.gov/dnrhunting.

Grant helps invasive plant fight in Michigan Upper Peninsula

Great Lakes Echo --LANSING, MI – While most of the media focus is on the Asian carp invasion of Lake Michigan, other alien species are slipping into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  These are plants, not fish or animals, and several programs are fighting these threats to forests and parks.


For example, the Upper Peninsula Resources Conservation and Development Council received a $150,000 grant through the federal Sustain Our Great Lakes program to add the U.P. to an information network for identifying and controlling invasive plants.


Elizabeth Coyne, coordinator for the Central Upper Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area in Marquette, said plant

species endangering the U.P. include garlic mustard, purple loosestrife, phragmites and Eurasian water-milfoil.  “We’re really focused on garlic mustard because of the potential it has of damage to timber resources,” she said. “It manages to dominate the understory, which then represses tree regeneration.” Phragmites are a reed and pose a problem in the southern U.P. along the Lake Michigan shore, she added.


Coyne said invasive plants tend to dominate the competition, jeopardizing native habitats.  “They can either suppress other plants through chemicals that they release into the soil, or they just grow so fast that they have a competitive advantage,” she said.


Garlic mustard, for example, sprouts earlier than many native plants – as soon as the snow’s gone, she said.


Sucker Bay of Leech Lake public access now open

The new Sucker Bay of Leech Lake public water access site, located on the northeast shore of Sucker Bay along North Shore Drive Northwest, opens for use on Saturday, May 29, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).


The access is located at the site of the former Maple Leaf Resort.


The improvements include a double ramp with floating docks, accessible walkway to one dock, storm water retention pond,

and a paved parking lot for about 20 vehicles.


“This new facility is the only public access in this corner of Leech Lake in Sucker Bay,” said Dave Schotzko, DNR Parks and Trails area supervisor. “The public access will provide excellent access to this part of Leech Lake for many years to come and make it easier to get to.”


The access is south of U.S. Highway 2, down Sucker Bay Road, along the west shoreline of Ottertail Peninsula, in Cass County.



Boaters Should Avoid Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (Crawford County)

Oil City – PennDOT advises pedestrians and recreational boaters to avoid the area on and around the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, located on State Route (SR) 1002 Gravel Run Road, over French Creek in Venango Borough and Cambridge Township.

The Gravel Run Road Bridge, closed since 2002, has continued to deteriorate and is now considered unsafe. Pedestrians are advised not to walk on the bridge. Recreational boaters are advised to avoid the area under the bridge.


The bridge has experienced serious rapid deterioration

recently and could collapse. Signs will soon be in place alerting pedestrians and recreational boaters of the possibility of collapse.


The roadway alternative project to improve Walters Road and Sherred Hill Road is scheduled to be bid this fall. A separate contract for demolition of the bridge will be developed so that the bridge can be removed later this year.


PennDOT encourages motorists to log on to 511pa.com or to call 511 from any phone to check traffic conditions before travelling.



Northern zone bass harvest season opens June 19

Bass populations, catch rates at all-time highs

SPOONER – The northern zone bass harvest season opens June 19 with state fisheries biologists saying the bass fishing opportunities arguably have never been better.


Largemouth and smallmouth bass populations are booming in northern Wisconsin, particularly in northwest Wisconsin, and anglers can expect fast and furious action this summer, fish biologists say.  “The densities are extremely high right now,” says Jamison Wendel, fisheries biologist in Spooner. “There are lots of smaller fish, so there’s all kinds of action.”


Surveys of northern Wisconsin anglers who target bass show that anglers are reeling in the bass faster than ever.


Wendel says the fact that catch rates have increased quite dramatically in the last 20 years while harvest rates have been stayed flat or decreased is not typical. “It’s kind of an indication of a few things: changes in regulation as well as smaller fish

being caught that anglers are not as interested in keeping, as well as more anglers practicing catch and release.”


Whether it’s the low water levels experienced in northern Wisconsin, which favor bass, warmer water temperatures, or a number of other factors, bass populations and catch rates in many waters are at all-time highs.


Learn more about some of the reasons why bass populations, particularly populations of largemouths, are on the rise in “Sustaining a fishery of fighting natural change?” in the June 2010 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, available now on news stands, and online.


The northern bass zone  harvest season runs from June 19, 2010, through March 6, 2011. The daily limit is five bass in total, with a minimum length of 14 inches. Check the “Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2010-2011” for special regulations on some waters.

Ontario Canada

Lake Surveys Will Help Manage Fisheries

Provincial fisheries crews will be out on Ontario’s lakes this summer, monitoring lake health and fish populations, and checking for invasive species.  If you're on a lake that is being monitored and see Ministry of Natural Resources buoys, please don’t lift the nets or buoys, and avoid recreational activities between and around the buoys. All nets will be clearly marked.


Information gathered through the surveys will be used to help make decisions about managing fisheries, including setting seasons and size limits for anglers.


These lake surveys are part of a five-year cycle to collect information for fisheries management. Over five years, the

ministry will monitor approximately 1,000 lakes across Ontario. Crews will conduct netting surveys in 132 lakes in Fisheries Management Zone 5 near Fort Frances, Kenora and Dryden. Crews will conduct netting surveys in 24 lakes in Fisheries Management Zone 8 (around Cochrane and Timmins) and 38 lakes in Zone 10 (near Chapleau, Sudbury, Blind River, and Wawa). Crews will conduct netting surveys on 32 lakes in central and eastern Ontario.


Lake surveys are done by Ministry of Natural Resources staff with the support of summer students hired from local colleges and universities. About 1.27 million anglers fish in Ontario each year, spending more than $2.5 billon dollars annually on fisheries-related products and services

Other Breaking News Items

(Click on title or URL to read full article)


Veto Means anglers still can’t use Lake Superior smelt as bait

With Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the controversial Game and Fish Bill last week, it’s back to existing regulations for use of Lake Superior ciscoes and smelt as bait.


Army Corps rejects regular lock closures to foil Asian carp
The Army Corps of Engineers has scrapped a proposal to close navigational shipping locks in the Chicago waterway system as many as four days a week to prevent migration of Asian carp into Lake Michigan.

Stabenow calls for end to Canadian offshore drilling in Great Lakes
With lawmakers taking aim at offshore drilling around the world, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is calling for a halt to natural gas drilling by Canadians in the Great Lakes.


Groups say coal plant killing too many fish
A coal plant on Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay kills more fish than any other plant on the Great Lakes, costing Ohio $29.7 million annually, environmental groups said Wednesday.


Obama, U.S. EPA push for cleaner Chicago River
In a significant policy shift, the Obama administration is calling for a once-unfathomable idea: The Chicago River, an erstwhile prairie stream engineered into a sewage canal that flows backward from Lake Michigan, should be safe enough for swimming.


Smelt die-off under investigation
A huge die-off of rainbow smelt along much of the Lake Erie shoreline is being investigated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.




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