Week of June 23, 2008

Fishing beyond the Great Lakes
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Fishing beyond the Great Lakes

More colleges involved in tournament bass fishing

University of Montevallo drops giants in bass fishing final 

LAKE GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (June 17, 2008) - There aren't many college sports where schools of all sizes can truly be competitive against one another but fishing is one of them. That point was made again last weekend at the Southern Collegiate Bass Fishing Series (SCBFS) championship held on Alabama's Lake Guntersville when the University of Montevallo (Ala.) finished tops among a field that included traditional powerhouses like Auburn, Ole Miss and Georgia.

 

There were 10 participating schools that had qualified for the two-day championship. Each was allowed a team of up to three boats consisting of no more than two members per boat. Only the top two boat scores per school counted each day toward a team's final score.

 

Fishing was good on Lake Guntersville and a team needed to have both top boats each day weighing five-fish limits of around 20 lbs each to be in contention. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) led after the first day with a team weight of 41.08 pounds, anchored by a 7.47 pound largemouth that ended up as big bass for the tournament.  

 

Montevallo followed the leaders by only about two pounds when teammates Clent Davis and Chuck Holderfield, and Justin Harden and Casey Crumpton, brought a combined weight of 39.22 pounds to the scale.  On the second and final day, the same anglers weighed-in 38.83 pounds, some 8

pounds more than the closest rival, giving them a championship total of 78.05 pounds and the trophy.

 

The winning anglers reported most of their fish came while casting Rapala DT10 crankbaits in mussel shell beds found in openings among the lake's aquatic vegetation. It was UAB's Andrew Washington and Walter Malone, and Tim Waits and Braxton Setzer, who had a two-day total of 71.74 lbs to take second place honors back to their school.

 

The tournament is one of several regional college bass events being held around the country in 2008 being filmed for television by Careco Multimedia. It will air this fall as part of the BoatU.S. National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship (NCBFC) series on the Fox College Sports network.

 

The NCBFC is made possible by support from BoatU.S., Cabela's, Ranger Boats, Yamaha, Garmin, Costa Del Mar, Pioneer Beef Jerky, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Fenwick, Anglers' Legacy, Stearns, EGO Nets, Sebile, American Rodsmiths, Aviva Fishin' Buddy, Gene Larew Lures, Nemire Lures, Sperry Top-Sider, Power Pole, City of Lewisville, Sneaky Pete's Marina and Fox College Sports.

 

Registration is open from now until Aug. 1 for school-sanctioned fishing clubs to enter the national championship scheduled for Sept. 18-20. Event rules and eligibility can be found by visiting www.foxcollegesports.com .


National

Farm bill again OKd over veto

WASHINGTON — Congress enacted a massive $290 billion farm bill for a second time June 18 after a clerical error in the first bill threatened delivery of U.S. food aid abroad. 

 

The Senate voted 80-14 to override President Bush's veto of the legislation, more than the two-thirds majority necessary to enact it. Bush vetoed the bill for a second time earlier Wednesday, and the House voted 317-109 to override it a few hours later.

Most of the bill was enacted in May, but 34 pages were mistakenly missing from the parchment copy Congress sent to the White House. Bush contends that the legislation, which extends agriculture and nutrition programs, is too expensive and too generous with subsidies for farmers. He opposed the legislation from the start and began threatening to veto it last July.  He said Congress missed an opportunity to make the bill better when it was passed a second time.

 


USFWS and Tribes sign agreement for National Bison Range Complex

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead reservation last week signed an Annual Funding Agreement for the National Bison Range Complex, located in Moiese, Montana within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation.  The agreement was negotiated over the past six months by professional natural resource management staff from both parties with support from Service, Department of the Interior, and Tribal leadership, and outlines the activities the Tribes will perform at the Bison Range during fiscal years 2009 through 2011.

 

“With this agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are entering into a new era of partnership and cooperation that will enhance the National Bison Range and its fish and wildlife resources for all Americans,” said Secretary Kempthorne.  “I commend Service and Tribal staff for moving forward and building on the expertise and strengths of both organizations to conserve this special

place.”

 

The CSKT is assuming a substantive role in managing mission-critical programs at the Bison Range.  The Bison Range Manager will remain a Service employee and have final decision-making authority on management direction, approval of plans, refuge uses and priorities. A Refuge Leadership Team, comprised of wildlife and land management

professionals from both organizations, will inform those

decisions.

 

The Bison Range will remain a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service will maintain ownership of and management authority over all lands and buildings at the Bison Range and will retain law enforcement authorities on Bison Range lands and waters.

 

The annual funding agreement will be transmitted to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee for a 90-day Congressional review period. Following review by the committees and any other interested member of Congress, the AFA will be phased in during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2009.

 

The National Bison Range Complex, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consists of the National Bison Range, Pablo and Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuges, and a portion of the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District.  Established in 1908 to conserve the American Bison, the Bison Range and ancillary properties provide important habitat for a variety of other species such as elk, pronghorn antelope and migratory birds.  This agreement applies only to those units that lie within the boundaries of the Flathead Reservation, including the National Bison Range; Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and Pablo National Wildlife Refuge. Ninepipe and Pablo are overlay refuges on CSKT land and the Service operates those areas through conservation easements from CSKT.


EPA Proposes Vessel Discharge Permits

Hosting Clean Water Act meetings, posts notice in Federal Register

 (Washington, DC --The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard announced on June 19 they are co-hosting several public meetings to discuss its draft permit regulation for vessels under its Clean Water Act proposal.  The regulation, if enacted, would require recreational boaters to follow specific practices to operate their boats and manage their everyday, overboard water discharges. The public meetings and hearings are open to the public. No advanced registration is necessary.

 

The U.S. EPA is proposing two general permits under the Clean Water Act that will cover discharges incidental to normal operation of commercial and recreational vessels. Based on agency estimates, as many as 91,000 commercial vessels and about 13 million recreational boats could be affected.

 

“EPA is proposing a practical approach as we work with Congress on a longer-term, comprehensive solution,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “We believe it is good environmental policy and common sense to promote clean boating without imposing new permits on millions of boaters.”

 

As a result of a court ruling currently under appeal, vessel owners or operators whose discharges have previously been exempt from Clean Water Act requirements for the last 35 years will require a permit as of September 30, 2008. EPA is proposing control technologies and management practices that enhance environmental protection and are practical to implement.

 

The commercial and large recreational vessel general permit (VGP) would cover all commercial vessels and recreational vessels 79 ft or longer. For vessels that carry ballast water, it would incorporate the Coast Guard mandatory ballast water management and exchange standards, and have supplemental ballast water requirements. The VGP would provide technology-based and water-quality-based effluent limits for other types of discharges including deck runoff, bilgewater, gray water and other types of pollutants. The permit also establishes specific corrective actions, inspections and monitoring requirements as well as recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Only a subset of the vessels potentially affected by this permit will have to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) for coverage; for all the other vessels their coverage would be automatic.

 

The permit for smaller recreational vessels measuring less than 79 ft in length contains simpler provisions. These smaller vessels, which are substantially different in both size and operation from larger vessels, would need to comply with new and established best management practices. In addition, these smaller vessels would not be required to submit a Notice of Intent for coverage under the permit; their coverage would be automatic.

 

The EPA is particularly interested in comments on the following aspects of the RGP (Recreational General Permit:

The approach to not require NOIs (Notice of Intents) for recreational boats and recommendations (and rationale supporting them) where commenters favor NOI submittal for recreational boaters.

 

EPA is inviting comments on both proposed permits for a period of 45 days. EPA will be holding public meetings and a hearing starting June 19.

 

Written Comments must be submitted by August 1, 2008

Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2008–0055 for the VGP or Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2008–0056 for the RGP, by one of the following methods:

www.regulations.gov : Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.

E-mail: ow-docket@epa.gov .

●Mail: Original and three copies to: Water Docket, EPA, Mail Code: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460.

 

Federal Register notice: www.epa.gov/npdes/regulations/vessel_frnotice.pdf

 

Meeting times and dates:

Thursday, June 19, 2008
8:00 - 4:30 PM
EPA East Building, Room 1153
1201 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
8:00 - 4:30 PM
Red Lion Hotel-Portland Convention Center
1021 NE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97232
 

Thursday, June 26, 2008
8:00 - 4:30 PM
Avenue Hotel
160 E. Huron St
Chicago, IL 60611

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
12:00 Noon - 1:30 PM EDT
Live Webcast
Go to www.epa.gov/npdes/training  on or about June 18 for information on how to register and attend the web cast

Monday, July 21, 2008
8:00 - 4:30 PM
EPA East Building, Room 1153
1201 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

 

Information on the permits and meetings: www.epa.gov/npdes/vessels

 

The Federal Register notice: www.epa.gov/npdes/regulations/vessel_frnotice.pdf

 

Also, go to: www.boatblue.org/  A service of NMMA


Regional

VHS fish disease found in yellow perch in Milwaukee

MADISON – A week after the VHS fish disease was ruled the cause of a large round goby fish kill in Lake Michigan near Milwaukee, the same virus was detected in yellow perch collected about three miles from the fish kill site. The yellow perch were sampled as part of the DNR’s VHS surveillance project and annual spawning assessments by the Lake Michigan Fisheries Work Unit in Milwaukee.

 

Two Wisconsin labs, the Wisconsin Diagnostic Veterinary Laboratory in Madison and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service La Crosse Fish Health Center confirmed the presence of VHS in the yellow perch sampled on June 5 according to Sue Marcquenski, the DNR fish health specialist. DNR staff have tested yellow perch from Lake Michigan annually since 2006, anticipating that the virus would eventually make its way to this population. So far, the yellow perch do not appear to be part of a fishkill situation.

 

WI Fish Chief Mike Staggs says that no immediate impact from VHS is expected to be seen in yellow perch populations. While VHS can kill fish of all ages, the biggest impact appears to be on very young fish. As a result, it could take several years before any effects show up in the population in decreased reproduction, if they show up at all.

 

The 2008 yellow perch season opened Monday, June 16. Staggs notes anglers should go out and enjoy their sport for the time being. “We’ll continue to watch and study the situation, and we are well positioned to do that as part of a multi-state effort to monitor yellow perch populations and conduct research to find out what contributed to their decline,” he says.

 

The perch VHS results are significant because perch is an important sport and commercial species, and the population

in southern Lake Michigan has been depressed for about 15 years. A decade ago, to deal with the situation, DNR closed down commercial fishing for the species to protect the

remaining adult fish. In addition, sport bags were trimmed, and the opening date pushed back. In recent years, the population had been stabilizing. Staggs says the findings are not surprising and do not expand the known infected waters since VHS has been previously documented in Lake Michigan. Both yellow perch and round gobies are known to be highly susceptible to VHS.

 

“The results are also important, because they place VHS much farther south in Lake Michigan near Illinois and Indiana, and to the Mississippi River system via the Chicago ship canal,” he says.

 

VHS has never been associated with human illness since first being discovered in European fish decades ago (DHFS, May 2007). Fish can be infected by VHS, but may not show signs of disease. Such fish are safe to eat so long as the fish is properly cooked. However, as always, you should not eat fish you find dead, decomposing, or that appear sick, regardless of cause. Decomposing fish may attract other bacteria harmful to people.

 

While it is generally safe to handle fish, you should always wash your hands after handling fish.

 

The DNR has notified neighboring states and agencies of the finding. Thousands of fish were collected from about 75 other waters in Wisconsin this spring as part of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded VHS surveillance project. Although many results are still pending, there have not been any other VHS positive test results so far. A map showing testing results for 2008 can be found on the DNR Web site.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for June 20, 2008

Weather Conditions

A large upper level low pressure sitting over Quebec meant cool and cloudy conditions across the Great Lakes basin this week.  Light showers were reported also as several smaller disturbances rotated around the upper low.  All of the Great Lakes have seen above average precipitation to date in June.   The weekend looks to remain cool as another upper level low settles over the region.  Scattered showers are possible through Sunday.

Lake Level Conditions

All of the Great Lakes are higher than they were at this time last year. Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are 14 and 4 inches higher, respectively.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie are 3 inches above last year's levels, while Lake Ontario is 8 inches higher.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are projected to rise 3 and 2 inches, respectively, over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to fall 2 to 4 inches during the next 30 days.  Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are predicted to stay above last year's water levels through November.  Lakes St. Clair and Erie will remain near last year's levels over the next several months, while Lake Ontario is predicted to remain higher than last year's level.  See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

Outflows from the St. Mary's, St. Clair, and Detroit Rivers were below average for May.  The outflows through the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers were above average.

Alerts

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Level for Aug 4

601.5

578.1

574.3

572.0

246.7

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

 +5

+7

+24

+33

+40

Diff last month

+5

 +6

+2

-1

-4

Diff from last yr

+14

+4

+3

+3

+8


Indiana

Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs want your feedback

If you visited an Indiana state park or reservoir in 2008, they would like for you to participate in an online survey about the quality of your experience. To participate, go to www.in.gov/dnr/healthy/. On the right hand side of the page is a link to the survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete. You will be asked to give feedback on everything from the picnic areas, park or reservoir staff, inn facilities, and your

overall opinion of the park or reservoir.

 

After completing the survey you will have the option of entering a drawing to win a 2009 State Park Pass. The survey will run through the end of October and provide valuable feedback on what you feel state parks and reservoirs are doing right and what they need to improve. Data from the surveys will be used to help parks and reservoirs plan for the future.


Michigan

DNR Encourages Anglers to Report Unusually Large Fish Kills

In the wake of the recent discovery of VHS in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan and from a large inland lake in Ohio, Michigan DNR fisheries officials would like to remind anglers to report any unusual numbers of dead or dying fish.

 

"We certainly don't want everyone who sees a single dead fish floating to call it in," said DNR Fish Production Manager Gary Whelan. "But if anyone sees unusually large numbers of dead or dying fish, we want to know about it."

 

First identified in the Great Lakes in 2005, VHS likely was carried into the lake by ballast water from oceangoing ships, probably from the Canadian Maritime Provinces. VHS is

known to infect a wide variety of both sport and prey species and has caused mortality among a number of species in Michigan.

 

Although VHS has not been found in the Michigan waters of Lake Michigan, it has been found in northern Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie as well as in Budd Lake near Harrison. The DNR has stepped up surveillance to find out how widespread the disease is in Michigan.

 

Anglers who observe significant numbers of dead or dying fish are asked to report the information online at www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing, or by calling their local DNR office or the Fisheries Division in Lansing at (517) 373-1280.


New York

DEC purchases Bachy Marina on Lake Ontario

Site Will Enhance Boating and Fishing Access

The former Bachy Marina in the Jefferson County Hamlet of Three Mile Bay will be purchased by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Commissioner Pete Grannis announced last week. The site contains approximately 1.1 acres of land and 300 ft of shoreline along Lake Ontario in the Town of Lyme and will provide important lake access and fishing opportunities for the public.

 

“This is a great project that will provide neighboring communities with necessary access to Lake Ontario,” Grannis said. “DEC is looking forward to working with our partners in improving the site to offer even more opportunities for residents and visitors to go boating or kayaking, take part in terrific fishing opportunities, or just connect with nature along the lakeshore.”

 

DEC purchased the property for $183,300 using Environmental Protection Funds from Michael and Jeanette Countryman. The property already has a boat launch and DEC intends to further improve it by demolishing the marina building to provide additional parking. DEC will also be

improving the boat launch to meet the Americans with

Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The specifics of the improvements are currently under design by DEC staff. In addition, the State Department of Transportation (DOT) is designing an approximately $2.5 million highway reconstruction project along six-tenths of a mile of Route 12E in Three Mile Bay, which provides access to the marina. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2009.

 

There is strong local support for this project because it will provide year-round access for the public to Lake Ontario and Chaumont Bay. The boat launch would be the first public boating access site to Three Mile Bay and will also provide needed access in the winter for ice fisherman. 

 

Improvements to this site are among the Lake Ontario projects that will be paid for through natural resource damage (NRD) funding made available from a 2006 settlement with Occidental Chemical Corporation. The $12 million settlement is one of the largest NRD settlements in the country for lost recreational fishing use. The settlement will be used to restore, replace or acquire resources comparable to the injured natural resources.


Ohio

ODNR confirms VHS in Muskie at Clear Fork Reservoir 

COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio DNR has confirmed that viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHSv), a virus that causes disease in fish but does not pose any threat to public health, was confirmed present in muskellunge sampled during routine egg collection in Clear Fork Reservoir in late April. The reservoir is located in Richland and Morrow counties.

 

The virus was found in ovarian fluid samples collected from the muskellunge as part of routine ODNR testing for VHSv, but has not resulted in a fish kill.  The samples were sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Fish Health Center in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where the VHSv virus was initially isolated. It was later confirmed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Ames, Iowa.

 

These results mark the first isolation of VHSv outside the Great Lakes Basin.  Fisheries officials believe VHSv has been a factor in recent fish kills of several species of fish in the Great Lakes that correspond with the end of spring spawning.

 

VHSv was first isolated as a virus in 1963, and is presumed responsible for European fish kills as far back as 1938.  In 1988, the virus was first detected in marine fishes in the Pacific Northwest.  VHSv is a pathogen of international concern and is reportable to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

 

In 2005, VHSv was first reported in the Great Lakes, but may have been responsible for fish kills since 2003.  VHSv has been responsible for numerous fish kills in lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Ontario.  The virus has also been the cause of fish mortality in several inland lakes in the states of Michigan, New York and Wisconsin - all within the Great Lakes Basin.

 

As a result, APHIS issued an emergency order in 2006 restricting the interstate movement of live fish of susceptible species from the states and provinces of the Great Lakes.  Many states around the Great Lakes, including Ohio,

developed their own emergency orders restricting intrastate movement to protect other watersheds within their states.  For a list of susceptible species, visit APHIS's Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov/.

 

"One likely possibility is that VHS will act like many other viruses in the environment. Typically, viruses or bacteria infect fish, which may lead to disease in the fish if they are susceptible. Once the disease is expressed in these fish, some percentage of the population will die," said Ray Petering, chief of the DNR Fisheries Division. "Those remaining will survive and will develop immunity to the viruses or bacteria that cause a disease. Since there are no large-scale treatments for VHS that can be applied to fish in the wild, the presence of this new virus may result in spring fish mortalities that are abnormally high for a few years, as more fish encounter the virus. These mortalities may abate as fish begin to build immunity to the virus."

 

Citizens are encouraged to report sick fish or fish kills by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE or use the ODNR Web site at: www.dnr.state.oh.us/default/tabid/6518/Default.aspx  then from the topic list select:  Wildlife - Fishing & Hunting.

 

Anglers should contact the ODNR if they observe large numbers of fish exhibiting any of the following: hemorrhaging in the skin, including large red patches particularly on the sides and on the head; multiple hemorrhages on the liver, spleen, or intestines; or hemorrhages on the swim bladder that give the otherwise transparent organ a mottled appearance.

 

The use of a contact disinfectant such as a solution of 200 ppm chlorine bleach (5.1 ounces per 10 gallons of water) to clean vessels and live wells is very effective against VHS and other viruses and bacteria that cause disease in fish. Soaking exposed items such as live wells, nets, anchors and bait buckets in a light disinfectant of 20 ppm chlorine solution (5.1 ounces of liquid household bleach per 100 gallons of water) for 30 minutes is also an effective method to prevent the spread of a wide range of aquatic nuisance species. 


Wisconsin

VHS fish disease found in yellow perch in Milwaukee

MADISON – A week after the VHS fish disease was ruled the cause of a large round goby fish kill in Lake Michigan near Milwaukee, the same virus was detected in yellow perch collected about three miles from the fish kill site. The yellow perch were sampled as part of the DNR’s VHS surveillance project and annual spawning assessments by the Lake Michigan Fisheries Work Unit in Milwaukee.

 

Two Wisconsin labs, the Wisconsin Diagnostic Veterinary Laboratory in Madison and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service La Crosse Fish Health Center confirmed the presence of VHS in the yellow perch sampled on June 5 according to Sue Marcquenski, the DNR fish health specialist. DNR staff have tested yellow perch from Lake Michigan annually since 2006, anticipating that the virus would eventually make its way to this population. So far, the yellow perch do not appear to be part of a fishkill situation.

 

WI Fish Chief Mike Staggs says that no immediate impact from VHS is expected to be seen in yellow perch populations. While VHS can kill fish of all ages, the biggest impact appears to be on very young fish. As a result, it could take several years before any effects show up in the population in decreased reproduction, if they show up at all.

 

The 2008 yellow perch season opened Monday, June 16. Staggs notes anglers should go out and enjoy their sport for the time being. “We’ll continue to watch and study the situation, and we are well positioned to do that as part of a multi-state effort to monitor yellow perch populations and conduct research to find out what contributed to their decline,” he says.

 

The perch VHS results are significant because perch is an important sport and commercial species, and the population

in southern Lake Michigan has been depressed for about 15 years. A decade ago, to deal with the situation, DNR closed down commercial fishing for the species to protect the

remaining adult fish. In addition, sport bags were trimmed, and the opening date pushed back. In recent years, the population had been stabilizing. Staggs says the findings are not surprising and do not expand the known infected waters since VHS has been previously documented in Lake Michigan. Both yellow perch and round gobies are known to be highly susceptible to VHS.

 

“The results are also important, because they place VHS much farther south in Lake Michigan near Illinois and Indiana, and to the Mississippi River system via the Chicago ship canal,” he says.

 

VHS has never been associated with human illness since first being discovered in European fish decades ago (DHFS, May 2007). Fish can be infected by VHS, but may not show signs of disease. Such fish are safe to eat so long as the fish is properly cooked. However, as always, you should not eat fish you find dead, decomposing, or that appear sick, regardless of cause. Decomposing fish may attract other bacteria harmful to people.

 

While it is generally safe to handle fish, you should always wash your hands after handling fish.

 

The DNR has notified neighboring states and agencies of the finding. Thousands of fish were collected from about 75 other waters in Wisconsin this spring as part of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded VHS surveillance project. Although many results are still pending, there have not been any other VHS positive test results so far. A map showing testing results for 2008 can be found on the DNR Web site.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the GLSFC, its officers or staff. 

Reproduction of any material by paid-up members of the GLSFC is encouraged but appropriate credit must be given. 

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