Week of June 26, 2006

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General

Lake Erie

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

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Ontario

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National

USCG Auxiliary celebrates 67th year of service

All-Volunteer Organization an Integral Part of Coast Guard Forces

Washington DC - On June 23rd, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrates the 67th anniversary of its founding.  The Auxiliary, an all volunteer workforce of over 31,000 members, appears to be as valuable and relevant today as it was during its inception. 

 

Originally founded on June 23, 1939 as the US Coast Guard Reserve, and later renamed in 1941 as the Coast Guard Auxiliary; this all volunteer force has donated millions of hours to both the public and the Coast Guard over these last years.

 

Looking back over the last year, the 32,000 members of the Auxiliary can be proud of their distinguished service to their country and their community. 

 

In late August 2005, and throughout the next several months, auxiliarists as part of the Coast Guard Forces responded to the demands of Hurricane Katrina, Rita and all the other Hurricanes that hit the US.  During this period, Auxiliarists performed both their everyday functions, which include recreational boating safety duties, as well as maritime domain awareness (MDA) patrols.  In addition, they also backfilled many of the jobs left vacant as the Coast Guard moved Active Duty and Reserve personnel around the country to aid directly in the relief efforts.

 

Impressed with both the response of the Coast Guard and the

Auxiliary, President George W. Bush recently presented the Coast Guard with a Presidential Unit Citation, which specifically mentioned the Auxiliary and its efforts.

 

Hurricane relief was not the only high point last year.  Auxiliarists made contributions that included saving lives and property, educating the boating public in safe boating procedures, as well as performing countless Vessel Safety Checks to ensure boaters carried at least the minimum prescribed safety equipment on board.

 

Admiral Thad Allen, who was recently sworn in as Commandant of the Coast Guard, is a staunch ally of the Auxiliary.  “As the finest all-volunteer organization in our Nation, I consider each of you an integral part of our Coast Guard. We simply could not meet the challenges we face or conduct the missions we do on a day-to-day basis without your selfless devotion to duty, as was so vividly demonstrated most recently in the Coast Guard's extraordinary response to the many hurricanes we responded to last year,” commented ADM Allen in a letter to the Coast Guard upon his becoming the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard.

 

For a summary of the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s mission statistics for 2005, visit:

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/comrel/factfile/Factcards/AuxGlance.html

 

 


Sportsmen’s Action Needed to Stop the U.S. Postal Service

From Promoting Humane Society of the United States

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is allowing the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to place its anti-animal use rhetoric on postage stamps, and use money gained from the sale of the stamps to further its anti-hunting, anti-animal use mission.  Sportsmen’s action is needed immediately to stop this outrage.

 

www.Zazzle.com , the company offering the HSUS stamps, reports that through its Community Giving Program 20 percent, or more, of the sales of the HSUS stamps goes to the HSUS. 

 

Earlier this year, Congress amended an 1872 law that forbade advertisements on U.S. currency, including postage stamps.  The amendment paved the way for an experimental one-year trial period allowing companies such as Endicia.com, www.Stamps.com  and www.Zazzle.com  to offer customizable stamps via the Internet.  These stamps can be printed with everything from baby photos to corporate logos, and in the case of the HSUS stamps, anti-animal use slogans.

 

Sportsmen must stop this now!  Every penny earned through such fundraisers is another penny that will be used to bring an

end to hunting, fishing and trapping in the United States. 

 

Contact the USPS and make your outrage known! Send letters to Postmaster General John Potter, 475 Lenfant Plaza SW, Washington, D.C., 20260-0010.  Faxes can be sent to Mr. Potter at (202) 268-5211.  Convince him that it is unacceptable for the USPS to promote and raise money for the HSUS. 

 

Most importantly, call, write and fax your U.S. senators and congressman.  Let them know that you expect them to put an end to this exploitation of the U.S. Mail to benefit an inflammatory organization such as the HSUS.  Be sure to send a copy of your letters and faxes to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (contact information above).

 

Avoid sending emails!  While e-mail is an excellent way to inform people about an issue, it is not the best way to send opinions. With the click of a button, an e-mail and dozens of others like it can be deleted.

 

Sample letters for the Postmaster General and legislators are available at the Legislative Action Center.  Sportsmen are encouraged to modify, personalize and print these letters to send to the USPS and their legislators.  Go to www.ussportsmen.org to access the Legislative Action Center.


Tribe members have long history of game violations

Seattle Poised to Cede White River Game Mgmt to Muckleshoot

Seattle — The Seattle City Council votes Monday on an agreement to turn natural resource management in the White River watershed over to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe despite a long history of game violations by tribal members, according to state records released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).        

 

Under the proposed agreement with the City of Seattle, the Muckleshoot Tribe would take over the responsibility for managing state game in return for concessions to enhance in-stream flows and water quality in the White River watershed. The agreement excludes the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) from its traditional role of enforcing game laws.

 

Muckleshoot Tribe members have a long history of game law violations, including poaching, hunting and fishing out of season, exceeding take limits and questionable hunting practices such as killing pregnant does, according to WDFW records obtained under a Public Records Act request by PEER. In addition, state efforts to persuade tribal authorities to police their members have proven futile.

 

The WDFW records covering the past decade detail dozens of

incidents, citizen complaints and the building frustrations of game agents. The White River watershed is home to populations of cougar, bear, elk and deer.

 

Violations by Tribe members described in the WDFW records include—

• Over-hunting the dwindling elk herd;

• Using dogs to run down cougars wearing research tracking collars; and

• Illegal netting and excessive take of protected wild salmon, including killing salmon as they spawn.

 

“Given the Tribe’s track record, it would be prudent for the City Council to retain Department of Fish and Wildlife responsibility for managing game,” stated Washington PEER Director Sue Gunn. “The river restoration aims of the agreement do not require sacrificing the watershed’s wildlife – there does not have to be a trade-off.” PEER points to a similar agreement by the City of Tacoma that maintains state oversight on tribal hunting in the Green River watershed and recommends that Seattle use Tacoma’s plan as a model for tribal hunting within its watershed.

 

“If the Tacoma plan works for the Green River, Seattle should consider using it for the White River,” Gunn added.

 


Regional

Stopgap funding preserves Great Lakes carp barrier – for now

Great Lakes advocates are breathing a sigh of relief, now that Congress has passed emergency legislation to maintain an electronic barrier protecting the lakes from a potentially catastrophic invasion by destructive Asian carp. Great Lakes Commission Chairman Tom Huntley congratulated Congress and called on it to now take action to ensure the barrier’s permanent operation.

 

“Right now, this barrier is the only thing that stands between the lakes and the invasive Asian carp, a monster of a fish that could have a devastating effect on the Great Lakes food chain were it ever to become established there,” Huntley said. “We applaud Congressional leaders for providing this emergency reprieve and we urge Congress to provide the funding to permanently keep the electricity flowing.”

 

The Senate, on June 15 approved legislation that will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue operating the electronic fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The legislation restores the barrier’s funding authority, which recently expired, through the end of the fiscal year. The House approved the measure two days earlier.

 

“This is welcome news for anyone who cares about the Great Lakes and their ecological health and biodiversity,” Huntley continued. He expressed gratitude to a bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives who worked together to ensure that the funding was included in the conference report on the FY ‘06 Emergency Supplemental bill (H.R. 4939; House Report 109-494), among them Sen. Obama (D-IL), Rep. Biggert, (R-IL) and Sen. Voinovich (R-OH). Others included Sens. DeWine (R-OH), Domenici (R-NM), Durbin (D-IL) Levin 

(D-MI) and Reid (D-NV); and Reps. Dave Hobson (R-OH), and

Visclosky (D-IN).

 

Asian carp, which can reach sizes in excess of 100 lbs., are sometimes called “aquatic vacuum cleaners” for their voracious appetites, able to consume 2-3 times their weight in plankton each day. Brought into the U.S. to control algae in southern fish farms, they escaped into the Mississippi River and now stand on the threshold of the Great Lakes via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

 

The barrier creates an electric charge in the water column that discourages Asian carp and other fish from crossing it and moving upstream toward Lake Michigan. It actually consists of two barriers, a smaller demonstration barrier built to prove the technology and  a more powerful permanent barrier. The demonstration barrier also provides a second layer of protection to the permanent barrier. The legislation allows the Corps to continue operating the demonstration barrier for the remainder of the fiscal year – through September – and to redirect other funds for the operation of the permanent barrier on an ongoing basis.

 

The legislation was included as part of a larger supplemental measure funding the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and hurricane recovery (HR 4939).   While the supplemental legislation ensures that both barriers will remain in operation for the time being, permanent funding for their operation and completion of a necessary backup power supply is still needed. To secure the barriers’ permanent operation, Huntley urged that Congress take the next steps and pass legislation to provide the authority and funding for the permanent authorization of both barriers.


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels June 23, 2006

Lake Level Conditions 

Water levels on Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are 2 to 4 inches below the levels of a year ago.  Lake Ontario’s water level is 5 inches below last year’s level.  The water levels in Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and Ontario continue to rise and are expected to be 1 to 2 inches higher next month while Lakes St. Clair and Erie are nearing their seasonal peak and will drop 1 to 2 inches by mid July.  Over the next few months, water levels on all the Great Lakes are expected to remain similar to or slightly lower than 2005. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be near average in June.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are expected to be below average during June.  Flows in the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers are expected to be near and below average, respectively, in June.

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 June 23

601.4

577.9

574.2

571.8

245.7

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

+3

+5

+22

+31

+28

Diff last month

+1

+1

+1

+1

+1

Diff from last yr

-4

-2

-2

-2

-5


General

Be Careful near dams and power stations

Rapidly Changing Water Levels and Flows Can Take You By Surprise

TORONTO — The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are reminding boaters and anglers to remember that areas near dams can be very dangerous,.

 

"With the end of the school year and start of summer vacations, I urge everyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors this summer to be very careful near dams and power stations," said Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay

said. "Always obey posted signs and fencing."

 

"Calm waters or a dry riverbed can change rapidly and without notice near dams, so stay clear and stay safe," said Ontario Power Generation’s Executive Vice-President of Hydro, John Murphy. "Waters in the headponds above hydroelectric dams and stations, and waters below them are equally dangerous."

 

There have been 11 fatalities at dams in Ontario in the past five years.


Shad restocking paying dividends

ARLINGTON (AP) -- Virginia released nearly 16 million American shad fry in four river systems this spring, the largest release in a 14-year program to restore the silvery fish that played a big role in the nation's history.  "It's the best year we've had," said Tom Gunter, a fisheries biologist who heads the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' shad-restoration program.

   

The spring release of 15,854,860 fry was conducted in the James, Pamunkey, Rappahannock and Potomac River systems. Last year, 11.4 million shad fry were released. The inaugural effort in 1992 totaled 52,000 shad larvae in the James River. The program, Gunter said, has paid dividends: shad stocked in the James are now returning each year to spawn. He said he is optimistic that shad can be restored in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

   

Once a staple of Colonial America's fishing industry, shad sustained a profitable fishery at George Washington's Mount Vernon on the Potomac River. In recent times, however, shad have fallen victim to overfishing and pollution. The fish was harmed by the construction of dams that cut off annual spawning runs from miles of spawning grounds.

   

The Chesapeake Bay-area harvest plunged from around 16 million lbs a year in the late 1800s to a few thousand lbs in the

late 1980s. Virginia closed its bay waters to shad fishing in 1993 and expanded the moratorium last year to its offshore waters in the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Eleven watermen are under contract to net spawning shad in the Pamunkey and Potomac rivers, Gunter said. Eggs and sperm are collected from the fish and mixed to produce the shad fry at the department's fish hatchery in King and Queen County and the USFWS's hatchery at Harrison Lake in Charles City.

   

The baby shad are 21 days old when they are released, making them less vulnerable to predators. "They're bigger and they've already started feeding," Gunter said. "That gives them a jump start."

   

The Mattaponi Indians and the Pamunkey Indians also produce shad fry at hatcheries on their reservations in King William County. Each tribe has been generating between 3 million and 6 million shad fry for years, for release into the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers.

   

The removal of Embrey Dam at Fredericksburg in 2003 reopened 106 miles of shad spawning habitat on the Rappahannock, Gunter said. It costs about $250,000 a year to run the restoration program. Gunter said the prospects for improved angling make it worth it.


Digital Selective Calling Radios Add New Safety Dimension To Recreational Boating

A new technology in marine (VHF) radio technology now gives recreational boaters with one of the new marine radios, a connected GPS and a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number (which is free) programmed into the radio to identify the vessel in cases of emergency.

 

The MMSI is a unique nine (9) digit number that is assigned to a DSC radio station.  If the boater has a valid Federal Communications Commission (FCC) station license or plans to operate in international waters they need to contact the FCC to get an MMSI.  Otherwise, they can register with BoatU.S. by obtaining an MMSI Assignment form.  Forms are available on the BoatU.S. Web site http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/ or by calling 800-563-1536.  Registration is also available from Seatow (www.seatow.com ). 

 

Some important points to consider are:

  ►   Each vessel you own needs to have a discrete MMSI to be properly identified.

  ►   The boater needs to keep their MMSI Assignment data current.

 

DSC technology makes a VHF radio function more like a telephone.  It allows boaters to send a digital call directly to another DSC equipped vessel or shore station. 

 

In an emergency, one push of a button and the DSC radio will send an automated digital distress alert consisting of your

identification (MMSI), and position (if the radio is connected to a GPS or Loran unit) to other DSC equipped vessels and rescue facilities. 

 

As an additional benefit to boaters, makes it so you can also privately hail another DSC equipped vessel, or shore station, if you know their MMSI.  It is similar to having a VHF phone number which “rings” the radio called and then automatically switches you to a pre-determined working channel.

 

Rescue 21 is the Coast Guard system that will provide the May Day response capability described above.  For more details on the Rescue 21 System and its availability in your area visit www.uscg.mil/rescue21.

 

The Global Maritime distress and Safety System (GMDSS) is the international system governing safety radio equipment on commercial ships. For more info: www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/gmdss/gmdssfaq .

 

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, volunteer Component of Team Coast Guard who assist the active duty Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.

 


 

Lake Erie

Lake Erie Yellow Perch & Drum affected by fish virus

Infection appears to be waning; poses no threat to human health

COLUMBUS, OH - A viral infection caused an extensive die off of yellow perch and freshwater drum (sheephead) in Lake Erie this spring, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

       

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) was detected for the first time in Lake Erie earlier this year.  At this point, the infection appears to be waning and few fish have died in recent weeks. VHS poses no threat to human health.

       

“As the temperature of Lake Erie rises, the risk of fish becoming infected from VHS drops considerably,” said Jeff Tyson, fisheries biology supervisor with the division.  “The optimal temperature for VHS to affect fish is 40 to 60 degrees

Fahrenheit. Lake Erie water temperature is now in the mid 60-degree range and getting warmer.”

 

VHS is a relatively common virus in Europe and Japan where it has affected fresh and saltwater fishes, primarily salmon species in aquaculture facilities.  Prior to 2005, VHS was known mostly in saltwater and estuarine systems along the east and west coasts of North America. The virus was first detected in the Great Lakes region (Lake Ontario) in 2005.

       

Significant numbers of sheephead were found dead in the Western Basin of Lake Erie, beginning in mid April. Later, a less-severe die off of yellow perch was detected in the Central Basin. Testing conducted by the division on both fish species revealed VHS infection.  A VHS outbreak also has been identified as causing a die off of round goby and muskellunge in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway this year.


Illinois

State awards $700,000 in Recreational Trails Program grants

Funding for trail projects in Northeast, Central and Southeast Illinois

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today awarded more than $700,000 in grants for recreational trail development projects in four Illinois communities, helping them meet the growing demand for improved trails and outdoor recreation facilities.

 

Funding for the grants is supported by the federal government's Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which provides up to 80 percent of the cost of the trail projects.  Local sponsors provide the balance of the funding for the projects.  RTP grants may be awarded for the acquisition of land from willing sellers, for trail construction and rehabilitation, restoration of areas damaged by unauthorized trail uses, construction of trail-related support facilities such as picnic areas, parking and restrooms and for educational programs.

 

The program is administered in Illinois by the Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The projects receiving grant funds were recommended by the Illinois Greenways and Trails Council, which includes representatives of statewide motorized and non-motorized trail user organizations, statewide agency organizations, organizations with expertise

in greenways and trails, and metro-area greenways and trails coalitions.

 

FY 2006 Grant recipients/projects:

► Clark County Park District, $244,800 to further develop a 150-acre off-highway vehicle (OHV) area. 

Kane County Forest Preserve District, $156,200 to develop 3.5 miles of equestrian/hiking/cross-country skiing trails, two parking lots, two toilet facilities, a picnic shelter, informational kiosks, a 40 foot long boardwalk, a 40 foot long equestrian bridge, and a well and pump for equestrian use, 

 

►Kane County Forest Preserve District, $112,600 to develop 4.5 miles of equestrian/hiking/cross-country skiing trails, two parking lots, two toilet facilities, a picnic shelter, informational kiosks, an 80 foot long boardwalk, and a well and pump for equestrian use,

 

►City of Shelbyville, $192,000 to continue development of a four-mile, multi-use trail. 

 

Communities interested in applying for the next round of recreational trails grants should contact the IDNR Division of Grant Administration, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL, 62702-1271, phone 217/782-7481.  The annual application deadline for the RTP grants is March 1.


State dedicates World Shooting Complex July 6

SPARTA, IL –After nearly three years of construction, the opening of the much-anticipated World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) in Sparta is just two weeks away.  Illinois Department of Natural Resources  Acting Director Sam Flood last week announced that the dedication of the new, state-of-the-art facility will be held Thursday, July 6th at noon.  Flood will join Gov. Rod Blagojevich in cutting the ribbon to welcome the complex’s first event, the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) US Open Trapshooting Championships, the ATA’s precursor event for the Grand American being held in August.

 

The 1,600 acre, $30 million WSRC is projected to have a significant economic impact on the Southwest Illinois region

by boosting tourism, creating more than 250 new jobs and generating millions of dollars in additional income for the area.

 

The facility will feature: 250 acres of water; 120 trap fields extending 3.5 miles; two sporting clay courses; a Cowboy Action Shooting corral; permanent exhibition building; 746 RV campsites with electric, water, and sanitary services, with an additional 264 sites with electrical service, providing potential for camping jamborees; a multi-purpose recreational facility; gift shop; and full service restaurant and lounge.

 

For more information on the WSRC, visit the IDNR website at http://dnr.state.il.us/Worldshooting/home.htm .


Indiana

Dam at Brush Creek Reservoir undergoing repairs

Construction work has begun at the Brush Creek Reservoir dam. When completed, the project will address known dam safety deficiencies with the structure. The project is being completed through the DNR Division of Water with coordination from the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.

 

The reservoir serves as a back-up water supply source for North Vernon as well as providing recreational opportunities for fishing and boating. While the lake level will be managed at a lower level during construction, access to the lake will still be available at the existing public access site.

 

Clearing at the site began in late March and continued through

the middle of April and the current schedule calls for the work to be completed sometime in September. Some blasting will be required as the project continues. Persons near the dam may hear the explosions when they begin. The major features of the project include the construction of a new emergency spillway, rock placement on the back slope of the dam and reconstruction of the existing lake level control weir in the principal spillway. The project will allow the lake to brought back up to its normal lake level of 715’ NGVD ’29.

 

Since August 2002, the lake level has been managed between five and 10 feet lower than normal, due to the discovery of a sinkhole and several seep areas at/near the structure.


Michigan

Children’s Programs for July Announced

for Eddy Discovery Center in Chelsea

An array of children’s programs focusing on nature has been scheduled in July at the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center at the Waterloo Recreation Area located at 17030 Bush Road in Chelsea.

 

The July programs are free, however vehicles entering the recreation area are required to have a 2006 Motor Vehicle Permit. Permits are $6 for a daily permit or $24 for an annual for Michigan residents. For out-of-state residents, the permits are $8 for a daily and $29 for an annual. All children must be accompanied by an adult at the programs, which are best suited for children ages 7 to 12.

 

Programs lined up for July include:

*           Insect Safari at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5. Participants will explore beneficial insects and pests that damage our environment.

*           Fun With Fossils at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 6. Participants will learn about Michigan’s most interesting fossils.

*           Fabulous Frogs at 11 a.m. Friday, July 7. Participants will listen for and find frogs in the recreation area’s wetlands and test their knowledge of frogs and toads in Michigan.

*           Aliens Among Us at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 8. Participants will learn about destructive invasive species of plants and animals.

*           Endangered Species at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 15. Participants will learn about Michigan’s endangered species and what can be done to protect them.

*           PB & J Geology at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 22. Participants will use peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to learn about rock layers, earthquakes and fault lines.

*           What’s In a Seed at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 26. Participants will learn about growing plants from seeds and will plant a seed to take home.

*           Rockin’ Rocks at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 27. Participants will explore rock groups and rock cycle along the center’s Rock Walkway.

*           Dragonflies at 11 a.m. Friday, July 28. Participants will catch and release dragonflies to learn about their attributes and how they benefit humans.

*           Michigan Mammals at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 29. Participants will learn about Michigan mammals and what can be done to protect their habitat.

 

Parents should pre-register their children for programs by calling the center at 734-475-3170.

 


Minnesota

Caution urged on Minnesota rivers

Tubing, swimming and canoeing are popular summer past-times on Minnesota waterways. Recent rains, however, have caused many of the state's rivers and streams to become treacherous, the DNR) warns.

           

Rivers that are normally slow-moving and shallow can quickly become rushing torrents following periods of rain. Unseen underwater obstructions, such as trees that have toppled into streams, add to the potential danger.

Life jackets, for young and old, should always be worn, even when not required by law.

 

River level info is available at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/river_levels/levels.html?id=minnesota . The reports are updated every Thursday by 2 p.m. from early April through late October. For additional information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).


New York

Occidental to pay $12 million for Restoration; Lake Ontario and Tribs

Occidental Chemical Corp. to Pay for Damages to Natural Resources

NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on June 21 announced that New York State has reached a settlement of the State's natural resource damage (NRD) claim for Lake Ontario and its tributaries.  Occidental Chemical Corporation has agreed to pay the State $12 million in five equal payments over four years, which will be used to support projects to improve the area's recreational fishing.

 

"The money from this agreement will help restore the recreational fishery of Lake Ontario and its tributaries.  It should be a shot in the arm to the tourism and fishing interests on this beautiful lake.  It also sets a strong precedent for other restoration efforts," said Spitzer.

 

Sheehan said, "Lake Ontario and its tributaries were severely impacted by the discharges from Occidental facilities, and this damage claim settlement will go a long way in helping to restore these environmentally, recreationally, and economically important fisheries and waterways."

 

The State filed a lawsuit against Occidental to address pollution problems related to Occidental's main chemical manufacturing plant. The settlement represents the final claim in that lawsuit and addresses the damages caused as a result of the discharge of dangerous chemicals from the company's main plant on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls and from other sites and facilities either owned or operated by Occidental. 

 

The NRD claim arises under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund), and state common law, to compensate the  

people of the State for natural resource injuries caused by the release to the environment of pollutants. The settlement amount reflects an assessment of the harm suffered by the State's residents as a result of the fish consumption advisories necessitated by the presence of chemicals in the fish of Lake Ontario.  

 

Lake Ontario and its embayments and tributaries support populations of a variety of fish, ranging from trout and salmon, bass and walleye to yellow perch and panfish. New York's waters of Lake Ontario comprise over 2.7 million acres.

 

The $12 million settlement is one of the largest NRD settlements in the country for lost recreational fishing use. It also represents one of the largest NRD settlements ever in the State of New York.  The proceeds of the settlement will be used to restore, replace or acquire resources comparable to the injured natural resources.  DEC will prepare a Restoration Plan that will set forth various potential restoration, replacement and/or acquisition projects.  The public will be provided opportunities to comment on the draft Restoration Plan and to make suggestions for potential projects.

 

In the settlement, the State has also agreed to release Occidental from further liability for the past actions that caused the damages in the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River and their tributaries. The State acknowledges the cooperation of Occidental in reaching this  settlement. Under previous settlements with the State, Occidental agreed to identify and eliminate releases of pollutants from its plant sites.

 

The settlement agreement was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western Dist of NY on June 21, 2006. The first payment of $2.4 million is due within 30 days; each of four additional payments is due on the anniversary of the approval date.


Ohio

 More than 9 million saugeye and walleye fingerlings released into Ohio waterways

To enhance angler success in the future

COLUMBUS, OH - A recently completed stocking of more than 9,300,000 fish in state waterways by the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife will provide anglers with many great fishing opportunities in future years. 

 

Fifty-four reservoirs around Ohio each received a share of 7,500,000 fingerling saugeye; more than 1,800,000 fingerling walleye were stocked into an additional 15 lakes.  Fish were stocked from mid-May through the first week of June.

 

“Thanks to the good weather we had this spring, we were able to exceed our production goal for saugeyes,” said Jim Stafford, administrator for Ohio’s fish hatchery program. 

 

The saugeye fingerlings are a hybrid cross between a female walleye and a male sauger.  Incapable of natural reproduction, they must be stocked annually to provide fishing opportunities.  Saugeye fishing is a year-round pursuit and is productive in many lakes, as well as in the tailwaters below dams.   Saugeye were stocked in a number of popular fishing spots, including Alum Creek Reservoir, Hoover Reservoir,

Deer Creek Lake, Buckeye Lake, and Indian Lake in central Ohio. Grand Lake St Mary’s in northwest Ohio, C J Brown Reservoir at Buck Creek State Park in southwest Ohio, and Berlin Reservoir in northeast Ohio were some of the more popular locations stocked with walleyes. 

 

Adult saugeye and walleye can be caught with both artificial and live bait.  Jigs tipped with minnows or night crawlers and night crawler harnesses probably account for most of the inland saugeye and walleye caught by anglers.  Another popular and effective method is to troll shad-imitating crankbaits, especially during the mid and late summer months.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife also raises and releases muskies, channel catfish, hybrid striped bass, steelhead trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

 

Approximately 1.3 million people fish in Ohio annually.  Recreational sportfishing contributes an estimated $1 million to the state’s economy.  The ODNR Division of Wildlife also raises and releases non-sportfish species such as shovelnose sturgeon, which has not been found naturally in Ohio waters for many years.


Pennsylvania

More than $42,000 in fines for 18 individuals

HUNTINGDON -- After weeks of testimony and evidence presentation, 18 defendants charged in a special investigation by the Pennsylvania Game Commission have been found guilty of nearly 90 charges, and sentenced to pay more than $42,000 in fines.  All cases were heard before District Justice Richard Wilt.

           

Based upon information received from residents of the Huntingdon County area, a long-term probe conducted by the Game Commission's special investigators revealed dozens of Game and Wildlife Code violations spanning several years.  Most violations centered on a butcher shop located in south central Pennsylvania and operated by the main defendant, Matt Baker, 40, of James Creek. 

 

According to Greg Houghton, Game Commission Bureau of

Law Enforcement assistant director, the investigation expanded beyond the normal time for such operations due to the continuous information being received and the fact that a commercial meat processor in another part of the state was involved.  

 

The Game and Wildlife Code places a two-year statute of limitation on violations, which only permits WCOs to actually charge for violations that occurred in the last two years.

 

"These guilty verdicts reflect an 85 percent conviction rate and speaks to the degree of professionalism of the investigators," said Greg Houghton, Game Commission Bureau of Law Enforcement assistant director.  "The Game Commission is out there, sometimes in uniform, sometimes not, protecting both the wildlife and interests of those Pennsylvanians who appreciate our wildlife resource."


Wisconsin

Sturgeon rescue offers unique management opportunity

PARK FALLS Wis. -- Early last month, in a place below the Arpin Dam on the Chippewa River, nearly 126 sturgeon fish came close to dying.

 

Normally the minimum flow rate at this point of the river is 40 cubic feet per second (cfs), enough to sustain fish and aquatic life downstream. The flow rate is maintained by “stops” on the dam gates. But the metal stops had rusted off causing the gates to close allowing only about 3 to 7 cfs of water to pass.

 

As the water flows decreased and levels dropped, lake sturgeon gathered in a small pool below the dam. Had enough time elapsed, state fisheries experts say, the fish may have died from disease, lack of dissolved oxygen, or poachers.

 

On April 27, DNR Conservation Warden Tom Heisler was driving by the river and discovered the problem. He immediately called Frank Pratt and Jeff Scheirer, DNR fisheries managers at Hayward and Park Falls, who saw a unique opportunity.

 

Over the next two days, with assistance from the Lac Court

Oreilles tribe’s Conservation Department, 126 sturgeon were not only moved to safer quarters but each fish was tagged with

a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT). Like a microchip injected into a dog or cat by a veterinarian, the animal or in this case fish could be identified individually in the future. Anglers will be part of the recapture and data collection effort. There is a hook and line season on the Chippewa River’s sturgeon from early September to mid-October.

 

Beginning this year, anglers who intend to harvest a sturgeon must purchase a registration tag that costs $20 for residents and $50 for non-residents. Only one fish over 50 inches may be taken per season and any legal size fish kept must be registered.

 

Sturgeon are considered living fossils, appearing first about 136 million years ago when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth. They have retained many primitive characteristics that have been lost or modified in other modern-day fishes. Today these fish are found in the Great Lakes and major river systems of the state.

 

Following the fish rescue work the dam was reopened to restore the minimum flow rates. The dam owner will replace the rusted stops with a new mechanism allowing flow rate reductions if more sturgeon need to be PIT tagged. Sturgeon and other fish are now able to move up and down the river below the dam.


Ontario

Boosting Family Fun, raising Wetland Awareness

BOWMANVILLE — A partnership between the Ontario government and Ducks Unlimited Canada is encouraging the public to visit wetlands and learn about their role in maintaining a healthy natural environment, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay and Tom Worden, Ontario director of Ducks Unlimited Canada, announced today.

 

The $2-million, three-year Healthy Wetlands … Healthy Communities partnership has improved and expanded facilities at 11 wetland interpretive centres across southern Ontario, including new boardwalks, viewing platforms and signs designed to help raise the public’s awareness of how wetlands contribute to a healthy natural environment. Some

wetlands also offer visitor centres and education programs.

 

The wetlands are owned by a variety of non-profit and public organizations, such as conservation authorities. The wetland interpretive sites include the Bowmanville/Westside Marsh in Bowmanville, the Westminster Ponds/Ponds Mills in London, and the wetlands at Baxter Conservation Area near Kars.

 

The partnership has also funded the restoration of some small wetlands, and a public relations campaign that includes a website - www.downatthepond.ca - that shows the location and contact information for 40 public wetland interpretive areas. The campaign includes billboards, public service announcements and brochures.


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