Week of July 10, 2006

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General

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

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National

VA Eradicates Zebra Mussel

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) confirmed in early May that the state’s only infestation of zebra mussels has been exterminated. Eradication of this noxious species from a 12-acre, 93-ft-deep abandoned quarry is believed to be the first successful eradication of zebra mussels from a large, open body of water in North America, and perhaps the world.

 

Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr. said, “The existence of zebra mussels in Virginia posed a very real threat to our natural resources and to our economy. The price of eradication was small compared to the potential millions of dollars that would have been needed to control zebra mussels had they escaped into adjacent waters, not to mention the permanent impact on the environment of the Commonwealth. The VDGIF, which spearheaded this effort, along with the numerous partner agencies and organizations involved, are to be applauded for doing what no other state in the nation has been able to do: successfully eradicate an established zebra mussel population from a large open body of water.

 

The presence of zebra mussels in Millbrook Quarry, an abandoned rock quarry now extensively used for recreational and instructional scuba diving, was first confirmed in late August 2002. Since the discovery, VDGIF has worked with numerous federal, state, and

local agencies; industry and conservation organizations; and individuals to pursue eradication of the zebra mussel population. The 3½ year effort involved a panel of biologists, chemists, geologists, engineers, and human health experts representing seven Virginia  agencies. The project contract was awarded in August 2005 to Aquatic Sciences L.P. of Orchard Park, NY, an industrial leader in zebra mussel control.

 

VDGIF had to prepare a comprehensive Environmental Assessment for approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Because the selected chemical and treatment, injection of potash (potassium chloride) into the water, is not a federally registered pesticide use, VDGIF also had to secure approval to use the chemical from Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Final approval was received in January 2006.

 

To kill the zebra mussels through exposure to potassium, the entire quarry was injected with 174,000 gallons of potassium chloride solution over a 3-week period. Potassium concentrations throughout the quarry and in adjacent surface waters were measured each weekend during the treatment. The target concentration was 100 ppm potassium; far below the level that would invoke environmental or human health concerns, but more than twice the minimum concentration needed to kill all the zebra mussels. Sampling at various

depths and locations in the quarry after treatment revealed potassium concentrations ranging from 98 to 115 ppm, and no potassium leakage from the quarry into adjacent waters has been detected to date. Because there are no surface water connections to the quarry, and groundwater exchange is limited, potassium levels in the quarry are expected to remain lethal to zebra mussels for decades, thus preventing re-infestation.

 

Water chemistry within Millbrook Quarry, and potassium concentrations in Broad Run and in nearby landowners’ wells will be monitored by the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, a unit of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, for 2 years to document water quality in the quarry, and leakage of potassium from the quarry into the adjacent stream or groundwater.

 

Changes in the microbiology of the quarry sediments will also be monitored through a contract with George Mason University.

The contract awarded for the eradication and bioassays totaled approximately $365,000, with another $54,000 awarded in human health concerns, but more than twice the minimum concentration needed to kill all the zebra mussels. Sampling at various depths and locations in the quarry after treatment revealed potassium concentrations ranging from 98 to 115 ppm, and no potassium leakage from the quarry into adjacent waters has been detected to date. Because there are no surface water connections to the quarry, and groundwater exchange is limited, potassium levels in the quarry are expected to remain lethal to zebra mussels for decades, thus preventing re-infestation.

 

Four separate methods of confirming eradication of the infestation were implemented.

 

The contract awarded for the eradication and bioassays totaled approximately $365,000, with another $54,000 awarded in contracts for the post-project monitoring. Primary funding for the eradication was provided through a Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) grant from the Virginia Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA, and through a State Wildlife Grant from the FWS. The local water authority (Fairfax Water), Prince William County, the City of Manassas, and Dominion Virginia Power contributed the matching funds required to facilitate receipt of the federal grants.

 

For more information about zebra mussels and the Millbrook Quarry eradication effort visit the VDGIF Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov .

 

Source: VDGIF Press Release, 5/10/06; Contact: Ray Fernald, (804) 367-8364 or Brian Watson, (434) 525-7522

http://wwwaux.cerc.cr.usgs.gov/MICRA/


2005 Excises Taxes close out on Top 

 Excise tax collections on firearms and ammunition were up 2.6 % in calendar year 2005, signaling growth in sales among manufacturers. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, firearm and ammunition manufacturers paid $224.3 million in excise taxes last year, up from $218.6 million in 2004. Excise taxes are considered one of the best

indicators of industry performance. Last year's excise tax totals point to an estimated $2.1 billion in sales for manufacturers, up from about $2 billion in 2004. Total excise tax collections for the calendar year were: long guns, $105.6 million (up 1.8 % from $103.8 million in 2004); ammunition, $71.3 million (up 3.5 % from $68.9 million in 2004); and handguns, $47.3 million (up 3% from $45.9 million in 2004).

 


Regional

Commission/Club Launch Lamprey Hunters

Sea lampreys invaded the upper Great Lakes in the early 20th century and wreaked havoc on the fishery. The average lamprey can eat up to 40 lbs of Great Lakes fish. If the lamprey does not kill the fish directly, the fish is often left with gruesome, life-threatening wounds.

 

But anglers can help control this critter.

The Milwaukee Great Lakes Sport Fishing Club suggested this program to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and its pilot program is being tested in the Milwaukee area.  There are still bugs in this and, as they say, it’s not quite ready for prime time!  We’ll be looking for feedback from the participants about how well it works and then we’ll go basinwide.  The club is to be commended for getting the ball rolling.

www.glfc.org/lampreyhunters


$12 Million in Grants Keeps Waters Healthy, Boaters Happy

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall announced $12.26 million in grants to 32 states for their efforts to provide recreational boaters with additional sewage pump-out facilities.  The grants assist state programs for both inland and coastal waters and are awarded through the Service’s Clean Vessel Act grant program.  The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund – supported by excise taxes paid on certain fishing equipment and boat fuels taxes – funds the program.

 

The Clean Vessel Act grant program helps states ensure proper disposal of millions of gallons of boater waste.  For example, the program provided for the proper disposal of three million gallons of sewage from Massachusetts last summer alone.  Since the early 1990s, the program has awarded more than $120 million to states for their Clean Vessel Act programs.

 

Recipient Great Lakes states include:

 

Illinois- $50,000- For five sewage pump-out facilities at private marinas in its inland waters.

Indiana- $104,458- For four sewage pump-out stations throughout the state, and to continue its education program for recreational boaters.  Two of the new stations are proposed for either the Ohio River or Lake Michigan waters.

 

Michigan- $200,000- To install ten sewage pump-out stations at private marinas throughout the Great Lakes.

Additionally the state plans to continue its educational program for recreational boaters.

 

Minnesota- $29,206- To install a new sewage pump-out station on the St. Croix River in Washington County.

 

Ohio- $173,224- To install two new sewage pump-out facilities.  One is planned for the Chagrin River near the town of Eastlake and one is planned for a marina on Lake Erie near Cleveland.  The state will also continue its efforts to educate boaters about the importance of proper sewage disposal.

 

Wisconsin- $45,000- To install three sewage pump-out facilities on inland waters and the Great Lakes with the program awards.

 

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for July 7, 2006

Lake Level Conditions: 

Water levels on Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Ontario are 1 to 5 inches below the levels of a year ago, while Lake Erie is 2 inches above last year’s level.  Lake Superior’s water level continues to rise and is expected to be 1 inch higher next month.  Lake Michigan-Huron is near its seasonal peak and will remain steady, while Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to fall 1 to 4 inches over the next month.  Over the next few months, all of the Great Lakes are predicted to remain at or approach water levels similar to 2005. 

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

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

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 July 7

601.4

577.9

574.2

571.8

245.8

Datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff in inches

+4

+5

+22

+31

+31

Diff last month

0

0

0

+1

+2

Diff from last yr

-5

-2

-2

+2

-1


General

Removal of Cape Fear River Locks and Dams Could Improve Fish Populations

RALEIGH, N.C. (June 26) - The removal of three obsolete dams in North Carolina could improve recreational and commercial fisheries for striped bass, American shad, hickory shad, and help tremendously in restoration efforts for river herring, Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon.

 

The demolition of locks and dams No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 along the Cape Fear River would restore very important spawning and nursery habitat for these migratory fish in the river, and increases in their populations would likely result, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

 

If recovery of the striped bass, American shad and hickory shad populations happened as predicted, recreational and commercial fisheries for these fish would improve. Coastal marine fisheries would benefit also because juvenile shad and herring spawned in fresh waters migrate downstream to the ocean and provide an important prey base for other popular fish species, such as red drum, flounder, bluefish and seatrout.

 

"The combined effects of increased shad and striped bass populations along with the benefits of an increase forage base for other game fish could potentially generate millions of dollars annually to North Carolina's economy," said Mike Wicker of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "River herring and sturgeon, species that are at all time record low numbers, would greatly benefit by once again having access to their historic spawning and nursery area habitats."

 

Nationwide, removal of old and non-functioning dams from rivers and waterways is a growing trend. Many small dams that once provided water power to turn grist mills or saw blades now serve no useful function but block migratory fish

from their historic spawning and nursery areas.

 

In North Carolina, the removal in 1998 of Quaker Neck Dam on the Neuse River near Raleigh resulted in migratory striped bass and American shad being able to reach their former spawning grounds. Since removal of Quaker Neck Dam, other smaller dams on Little River, a tributary of Neuse River, have reopened many more miles of spawning habitat as well.

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates Lock and Dams No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on the Cape Fear River, and these structures are no longer used for navigation, which was their intended purpose. The Corps is interested in "decommissioning" the dams and is currently studying their options as part of a General Reevaluation Report for the Wilmington Harbor Deepening Project.

 

Although the Cape Fear River locks and dams were not designed for water supply, Wilmington, Fayetteville and other local users depend on impounded waters behind these dams for their water supply source. The fishery agencies are committed to working in partnership with these water users and other agencies to find water supply solutions that will satisfy municipal water needs before any of the three Cape Fear River lock and dams are removed.

 

State and federal fishery agencies promoting removal of these dams are anxious to work collaboratively with municipalities and citizen groups to restore fisheries habitat in North Carolina's coastal rivers. 

 

"The benefits of restoring healthy fish populations in the state's rivers and streams go far beyond the enjoyment of just catching a fish," said Bob Curry, chief of the Wildlife Resources Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries. "They extend to our economy, to our culture and to our dedication to conserving our rich heritage of natural resources."


 

Illinois

State opens World Shooting Complex

State-of-the-art shooting facility will generate big bucks, hundreds of new jobs

SPARTA - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich on July 5, joined business leaders and sportsmen from across the nation, opened the long-anticipated World Shooting and Recreational Complex (WSRC) in Sparta.  The newly constructed, state-of-the-art facility will become an economic boon for Southwestern Illinois, bringing more than 250 new jobs to the region, and hundreds of thousands of visitors to the state.  

 

The Complex is hosting the first ever U.S. Open Trapshooting Championships which started last week.  The event, organized by the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA), is expected to draw nearly 1,000 participants who will compete for four days in July for $10,000 in prize money and trophies. The U.S. Open Trapshooting Championship is the first of three major shooting events taking place at the complex this year. 

 

"Our investment in this world class complex will pay off in a big way not only in Southwestern Illinois, but across the state," said Blagojevich.  "After years of planning and hard work, this complex is the premiere shooting facility in the nation.  But, it's much more than a shooting complex.  It has first class meeting and banquet facilities, a full-service restaurant, and a campground for families to enjoy. And, when families come to the World Shooting Complex, they'll also be able to enjoy all that Southwestern Illinois has to offer -including its history, golf courses, wineries and state parks."

 

The 1,600-acre WSRC 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, and 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. It's also expected to quickly become a premiere meeting, exhibit, banquet and reception space in Southwestern Illinois.

 

The 34,000-square-foot events center includes a 4,700-sq ft concession area, which will house a 1,250-sq ft full service

restaurant, a 950-sq ft lounge and a 2,250-sq ft dining room, which will be used during larger events.  In May, Ned Kelly's of Bloomington, Inc. was awarded the contract to supply food and beverages to the WSRC. The Bloomington, Illinois-based restaurant will operate its WSRC facility under the name "Heartland Range." 

 

In January 2004, Blagojevich announced an agreement with the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) to make Illinois the new home of the Grand American competition.  The state welcomed the nation's largest outdoor shooting tournament to the WSRC after the ATA, the governing board for clay target shooting in the United States, decided to relocate its headquarters from its former home in Vandalia, Ohio, after more than 80 years.  This decision was made after plans were announced to expand the Dayton International Airport in Ohio, which would have altered the grounds where the Grand American was held. 

 

Construction of the WSRC was approved by Blagojevich in 2003. Ground on the complex was broken in fall 2004, and took approximately 16 months to be completed.  Costs for the project will total approximately $50 million. The state's Capital Development Board (CDB) provided $31.5 million in capital funding to secure the project, and also managed the construction of the WSRC.  The Illinois Department of Transportation reallocated $10 million for road improvements in the area. And $8 million in local bonds for water and sewer improvements will be repaid to the City of Sparta over the next 20 years.

 

WSRC Fact Sheet

1,600+ acres including 250 acres of water

120 trap fields extending 3.5 miles

Two sporting clay courses

Cowboy Action Shooting corral

Permanent exhibitor building

746 RV campsites with electric, water, and sanitary services, and an

additional 264 sites with electrical service, providing potential for camping jamborees

Multi-purpose, multi-use recreational facility

Gift shop and full service restaurant


Indiana

DNR revises strategy for controlling mute swans

Permits will be issued on a very limited basis and will be very restrictive in how, when and where a nuisance swan can be taken. If issued a permit, the holder would be required to notify law enforcement before lethal removal. Special restrictions will be placed for time of day, time of year and method to be used, depending on the location.

 

The DNR anticipates that only "nuisance" mute swans having aggressive, negative interactions with the public will be lethally removed during the traditional recreation season, which ends Labor Day. More concentrated, deliberate efforts by authorized DNR staff will be made to reduce the mute swan population when fewer people are using the lakes.

 

DNR biologists estimate the number of mute swans at more

than 1,000. Other states are also dealing with the problem. Maryland, which has the largest mute swan population in the country, has lethally removed 800 mute swans from Chesapeake Bay, primarily due to conflicts with endangered shorebirds and other native waterfowl. Michigan recently gave its DNR the authority to reduce mute swan populations to prevent interference with native species and "to protect public health, safety and welfare."

 

Ohio has lethally removed 50-60 mute swans per year to prevent and reduce conflicts with their native trumpeter swans (a federally protected species). Wisconsin has an aggressive removal policy that includes shooting (where feasible), egg addling, and the issuance of permits to private landowners.

 


Michigan

Beaver Island - Cormorant takeover

BEAVER ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — Thousands of cormorants have returned to the Beaver Island archipelago in northern Lake Michigan, but the migratory birds aren’t getting a very warm reception from the island chain’s human inhabitants.

 

Cormorants visit Beaver Island annually to feast on fish and crayfish. Each of the large, black, diving and swimming birds consumes between 1 and 11/2  lbs of food daily. The first few arrived in April. By midsummer, the islands will host an estimated 60,000 cormorants, including newly hatched offspring, the Petoskey News-Review recently reported. Most will stay through mid-November.

 

Jeff Powers, president of the Beaver Island Wildlife Club, said the islands have the largest concentration of cormorants in the Great Lakes.

About 550 people inhabit the islands year-round, while that figure climbs to 2,500 or more during the summer. Many locals blame the island chain’s dearth of small mouth bass on the rise of the cormorants, but some biologists say there is no direct connection.

 

The birds’ acidic droppings denude trees and bushes and create an environment that state Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, recently described as resembling a ‘‘virtual war zone.’’ The House version of the next state budget includes $150,000 to help federal and tribal agencies control the birds, but the Senate version does not.

 

About a dozen members of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who live on the island and fish off its shores have offered to help control the cormorants.


FFF Names Michigan Fly Fishing Club "Club of the Year"

The Michigan Fly Fishing Club will be the recipient of the 2006 McKenzie Cup, presented by the Fly Fishing Federation (FFF) as the organization’s Club of the Year.

The award will be presented at the FFF’s 41st annual Conclave in Bozeman, MT at the end of July. FFF, located in Livonia, MI is a conservation oriented community organization with many program directed to helping others. Check them out at: http://www.mffc.org/


Wolf Lake Hatchery Hosts Annual Fish Festival July 15-16

“Fish on!” These exciting words will reverberate through the grounds of the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery on July 15-16, as dozens of youngsters catch a steelhead trout or even a muskie from the half-acre show pond. It’s all part of the hatchery’s 7th Annual Fish Festival.

 

Admission is free. The festival, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, features tours of the hatchery, catch-and-release fishing (for children 5-16 only), guided nature hikes, live music, food and refreshments, and more.

 

“The festival is a fun and educational way for families to enjoy the out-of-doors and learn about the important role of hatcheries in providing the quality fishing opportunities Michigan has to offer,” said Wolf Lake Interpreter Shana McMillan. “Most people don't know the Department of Natural Resources’ six fish hatcheries produce over 750,000 pounds of fish every year for stocking our lakes, rivers and streams. That’s over 62 million fish.”

 

During their tour of the hatchery, which begins every 20 minutes, visitors will learn how the DNR uses its fish production program to hatch, rear and transport fish required for the management of both Great Lakes and inland fisheries. 

Species produced at this facility include walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, steelhead trout, lake sturgeon (the only facility to rear this species) and chinook salmon. 

 

In addition to the tours and catch-and-release fishing for kids, there will be free lessons on baiting a hook, tying knots, fly casting and fly tying. Inside the visitor center, participants will be able to go virtual fishing to experience the thrill of landing a bass, trout or salmon. Other activities include displays by the DNR Fisheries Division and presentations by several local conservation organizations, as well as crafts and other activities for children.

 

The Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, closed Mondays. Guided tours of the fish hatchery are offered Tuesday-Saturday at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1, 2 and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The catch-and-release fishing program for youth continues each Saturday morning through August. Times are at 10, 11 and noon. Pre-registration is required.

 

The center is located in Mattawan, at Fish Hatchery Road and M-43, six miles west of the junction of M-43 and US-131. For more information about events and programs, contact Shana McMillan at (269) 668-2876.


Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Announces Summer Naturalist Programs

Programs focusing on nature and great hikes are on tap for visitors to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park this summer. The park is located 15 miles west of Ontonagon in Ontonagon County and is the largest state park in Michigan and one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. The park is spread across two time zones - Eastern and Central - and visitors should note all program times are Eastern, unless otherwise noted.

 

The park offers free naturalist programs through the summer months. While the programs are free, visitors are required to have a 2006 Motor Vehicle Permit. Permits are $6 for a daily and $24 for an annual for Michigan residents, and $8 for a daily and $29 for an annual for nonresidents.

 

The summer programs include:

*           Sundays: The Less Adventurous Bear Den Hike is a shorter hike that covers less terrain than the bear den hike on Wednesdays. This hike starts at 7 p.m. one mile past the Visitor Center on South Boundary Road.

 

*           Mondays: Michigan Gray Wolf Hike at 6 p.m. Hikers should meet at the Government Peak Trailhead to view an area that could be wolf habitat. The hike is less than 1 mile and takes about one hour. At 9:15 p.m., a hike to Summit Peak, the highest point in the Porcupine Mountains, will begin at the Summit Peak parking lot. This takes about an hour and hikers should bring flashlights.

 

*           Tuesdays: Aquatic Insect Hike at 4:30 p.m. Hikers should bring a pair of water shoes and come explore the underwater world of the Union River Mine site. Nets will be provided. At 7 p.m., there is a 2.5 mile hike to an area of the park that experienced a wildfire in 2000. The guide will explore the cause, fire fighting tactics and life after the fire. Hikers should allow two hours for this hike, which will begin at the Little Carp River Trailhead.

 

*           Wednesdays: Hikers can pick from two different hikes today. First, there will be the Little Union River Gorge Adventure at 3 p.m. This rugged off-trail hike will explore the Little Union River Gorge and numerous waterfalls. Hikers

should bring hiking boots or shoes that can get wet. The hike is one mile and starts at the Union Springs Trailhead. At 6 p.m., there will be a Bear Den Hike. The hike is short, but over rugged terrain. The hike starts on M-107, one-quarter mile west of the Government Peak Trailhead. At 8:30 p.m., there will be a one-hour multimedia presentation entitled “Giants of the North” at the park’s Visitor Center. The presentation will focus on the “big three” of northern Michigan - wolves, moose and black bear.

 

*           Thursdays: The Aquatic Insect Hike will be offered again at 4:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., there will be a hike to the Nonesuch town site, a wilderness copper mining community. The hike is approximately one hour and 15 minutes and starts at Nonesuch Corner.

 

*           Fridays: At 2 p.m., there will be a Discovery Hike that starts at the park’s visitor center. The 90 minute hike is just over one mile long and will explore the wildflowers, plants and animals of the Porkies. At 5 p.m. Central at the Presque Isle Campground, visitors can make a variety of Northwoods crafts, such as dream catchers, basswood, bracelets and butterfly crafts.

 

*           Saturdays: At 2 p.m., there will be a Micro-Hike event focusing on the forest from the “bug’s eye view.” The hike is about one hour. At 7 p.m., the Union Bay Campground will offer Amazing Furs and Bones, a one-hour program focused on the wildlife found in the park.

 

Starting on Sunday, July 16, there will be one program added to the weekly schedule. An astronomy program at the Lake of the Clouds Overlook will be offered at 10:45 p.m. on Sundays and Tuesdays. Participants will learn how to use a star chart, identify notable northern constellations and take a look through a telescope.

 

Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult for all programs. Schedule may change and activities may be cancelled due to inclement weather. Additional programs and activities may be added, and visitors should check with the park’s Visitor Center, campground offices or park headquarters for more information.


Upper Manistee River Access Action Plan Approved

The Michigan DNR announced that an action plan to create better access along the Upper Manistee River has received final approval by the DNR’s State Wide Council. The DNR will now seek funds to implement some of the recommendations in the plan, which are meant to provide safe, legal access and protect a stretch of pristine river in northern Michigan. The action plan can be found on the DNR’s Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr  under the Natural Rivers section of the Forests, Land and Water menu.

 

“This is a great example of a successful partnership between the DNR and public stakeholders who are working toward providing responsible access to recreation opportunities while protecting an important river resource,” said Robin Pearson, DNR recreation specialist.  “A top priority has been identified and we will start engineering design work immediately to relocate an existing, unsafe access point.” 

 

The action plan covers a portion of the river between Mancelona Road in southwestern Otsego County and M-66 in Kalkaska County. The plan was developed by the Fisheries, Wildlife, Parks and Recreation and Forest, Minerals and Fire Management divisions of the DNR, with public input from canoe liveries, river guides, anglers and riparian landowners. Groups who assisted with the effort were Trout Unlimited, the

Michigan River Guides Association and the Upper Manistee River Association.

 

The Upper Manistee River is one of northern Lower Michigan’s most important watercourses, as noted by its State Natural River Designation in 2003. The abundant fisheries and wildlife resources, along with the scenic beauty and boating opportunities, have created increased use and pressure on the river.

 

The committee was charged with identifying access site problems within the study area and making recommendations for providing safe, sufficient access while protecting the resources associated with the river. Existing access sites within the area were inventoried and compared to river user needs to determine if locations and conditions were sufficient. Based on the inventory, recommendations were made as to which sites should be left open, relocated, upgraded, restored or closed to provide sufficient access while protecting the river.

 

Work on the top priority is already underway at West Sharon Road where Recreational Improvement Fund money has been approved to relocate an existing, unsafe access point to an adjacent state-owned parcel. Additional projects will be completed as resources are made available.


Minnesota

Anglers enjoy good fishing on Mille Lacs and Upper Red Lake

Data collected by the Minnesota DNR has confirmed what

many anglers already know - fishing has been very good this spring on Upper Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake.

 

According to creel surveys, anglers on Mille Lacs have harvested about 200,000 pounds of walleye so far this summer, surpassing last year's total open-water harvest for the entire year by about 35,000 pounds. On Upper Red Lake, open this year to angling for the first time since 1999, anglers have harvested 45,000 pounds of walleye.

 

"We're very pleased with the fishing on both lakes," said Ron Payer, fisheries chief for the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. "Many anglers are releasing medium and larger fish and complying with regulations designed to protect the fishery from over harvest."

 

Despite the exceptional walleye bite on Mille Lacs, the DNR is confident the harvest will remain under the safe harvest level of 500,000 lbs. Including ice fishing, anglers have harvested about 266,000 pounds of walleye this year. The total harvest includes 20,000 lbs of fish that didn't survive after being released.

 

"This level of harvest is about what we expected and should remain within the safe harvest level for the season," said Rick Bruesewitz, DNR 1837 Treaty biologist. "Fishing effort is the highest we've observed in the past four years."

                                                           

Most of the fish being harvested are from the 2002 year class, between 14 and 17", Brusewitz said. In addition to walleye harvested, anglers have released more than 500,000 pounds of walleye, mostly large females averaging more than 3.5 lbs.

UPPER RED LAKE

Catch rates have moderated on Upper Red Lake from the three weeks following the May 13 fishing opener, when anglers harvested 32,500 lbs of walleye or 1.8 fish per hour. From June 1-15, anglers harvested 13,000 lbs of walleye or .6 fish per hour. Walleye have dispersed throughout the lake from spawning areas near shore, making angling more challenging, said Henry Drewes, DNR northwest regional fisheries manager.

 

"Walleye fishing is still very good, but success is not as universal as it was during the first three weeks," Drewes said. "Fishing pressure has declined somewhat and will likely continue to decline if lower catch rates continue."

 

There is still concern that water temperatures exceeding 70 degrees could contribute to higher levels of mortality after walleye are released in the lake, Drewes said. So far, however, moderating catch rates have compensated for higher release mortality.  "We continue to encourage anglers to exercise restraint when fishing Upper Red Lake during the summer months," Drewes said.

"Handling excessive numbers of fish from warm water will lead to increased release mortality."

 

It is too soon to tell whether the harvest cap of 108,000 pounds will be reached, resulting in the closure of the walleye fishery on Upper Red Lake. Compliance with special regulations that limit anglers to two fish and require the release of all walleye 17 to 26 inches has been excellent, Drewes added. "We've had a very good fishing season so far," he said. "Angling regulations developed in cooperation with the Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee have served to reduce harvest and maximize fishing opportunity."


New York

DEC Announces Finalized Bay Scallop and Oyster Regs

Conservation Measures Adopted to Protect and Restore Commercially Important Shellfish

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan announced the adoption of new regulations for bay scallops and oysters. The regulations establish conservation and management measures necessary for the protection, management and restoration of sustainable bay scallop and oyster populations in the Marine District.

The new regulations took effect upon publication in the State Register on July 5, 2006, and established the following conservation and management measures:

Bay Scallops:

·         Open Season - Bay scallops may be taken from the first Monday in November through March 31;

·         Harvest Restrictions, Size Limit, Annual Growth Line - Only those bay scallops having an annual growth line and measuring at least two and one-quarter inches from the middle of the hinge to the middle of the bill may be taken;

·         Scallops that are less than the legal size and do not possess an annual growth line may comprise no more than two percent of the catch when unavoidably taken;

·         Gear Restrictions - Bay scallops may be taken by dredge or scrape, having an opening at the mouth of no more than 36 inches in width, when towed by a boat operated by mechanical power, provided that the dredge or scrape is brought aboard by hand without the use of a mechanical device. In addition, on Sundays, boats operated by power may not be used to tow dredges or scrapes in the harvest of bay scallops;

·         Catch Limits - The bay scallop catch limit is no more than 10 bushels of scallops per person per day or no more than 20 bushels per boat per day when two or more persons occupy the same boat;

·         Possession and Sale - Scallops may not be possessed for sale for food purposes from April 1 to the first Monday in November. This does not apply to bay scallops harvested

 

during the open season (first Monday in November through March 31) that have been shucked and packed in approved packages and frozen and kept in a frozen state;

·         Scallop Salvage and Relay - DEC may issue permits to transplant or salvage scallops of any age to protect them from destruction by predators, wind, tidal action or other factors;

 

Oysters:

·         Size Limit - Establish a minimum size limit of 3 inches in longest diameter. This size limit shall not apply to oysters transplanted or cultured under permit from DEC. Oysters measuring less than three inches in their longest diameter may comprise no more than five percent of any bushel, package or container.

New York's bay scallop resource has experienced a 99 percent decline since 1985 due to repeated blooms of the Brown Tide which devastated bay scallop populations in Peconic and Gardiners Bays on Eastern Long Island. The bay scallop resource has not recovered even in the absence of Brown Tide for more than a decade. Delaying the scallop season by one month and requiring scallops to possess both an annual growth line and be a minimum size of two and one-quarter inches will ensure that scallops have an opportunity to spawn prior to harvest and will help promote the long-term survival of the bay scallop resource. The new rule is consistent with existing statutory requirements for management of bay scallops and is necessary for the continued protection of this commercially important resource. The bay scallop fishery in New York showed a slight increase in harvest to just over 6,000 pounds in 2005 with a dockside value of more than $153,000. Historically, the bay scallop fishery harvested an average of 300,000 pounds annually.

More info is available at: NYSDEC, Bureau of Marine Resources, Shellfish Management Unit, 205 N Belle Mead Road, Suite #1, East Setauket, NY 11733, or by calling (631) 444-0483.

For text of the new rule: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/propregs/part49text.html


Ohio

Renovated launch area dedicated at Buck Creek State Park       

COLUMBUS, OH - State and local officials cut the ribbon today on a newly renovated and expanded boat launch area at Buck Creek State Park in Clark County.  The $2 million project of the Ohio DNR relocated the existing four-lane launch area 300 feet to the west, added a fifth launch lane and a 240-foot boarding dock. The access road leading to the launch area was reconfigured to relieve congestion on busy summer weekends and the adjoining parking lot was expanded to include 22 car-trailer spaces. Make-ready and tie-down areas were added along the access road to help move traffic more efficiently.

       

Relocation of the launch lanes and construction of a steel double-walled breakwater reduced wave action in the launch area, making it safer for both boaters and their watercraft.

 “More than 50 million visitors come to Ohio State Parks each year to boat, fish, swim, camp, picnic and hike,” said ODNR Director Sam Speck. “This new launch facility is an example of our continued commitment to improving this award-winning state park system.”

 

Funding for the project came from grants by the ODNR divisions of Watercraft and Wildlife.  Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green served as design consultant for the project and Brumbaugh Construction of Arcanum was the general contractor. S&B Manufacturing of Findlay supplied the docks.

       

The 4,000-acre Buck Creek State Park records nearly 300,000 visitors each year. The park’s 2,100-acre CJ Brown Reservoir is open to boats of unlimited horsepower.


Pennsylvania

Access closed on Rivers & Streams in 46 Counties

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has ordered closed all its public boat access areas on rivers and streams in the 46-county area of Pennsylvania currently under a state of emergency.

 

This action impacts PFBC launch sites in Adams, Armstrong, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming and York counties.

 

PFBC sites on rivers and streams in these counties will

remain closed until further notice. The Commission estimates it will take as long as three weeks to fully inspect and clean flooded sites. Launch sites sustaining heavy damage will be off limits for longer. The Commission will utilize its web site at www.fish.state.pa.us  and its regional offices to provide updates as sites begin to re-open.

 

“Our crews will be working diligently over the next several weeks to restore recreational opportunities at the closed sites. We ask for patience and understanding. The inconvenience that some recreational boaters may experience as a result of the flooding and associated access closures is minor compared to the disruptions being experienced by those who have lost homes, possessions and loved ones,” said PFBC Executive Director Doug Austen.

 


Wisconsin

Lake trout populations recovering on Lake Superior

BAYFIELD – Wild lake trout populations continue to stage a strong recovery on Lake Superior even as their cousins in the other Great Lakes struggle.

 

Catch rates for lake trout during the Wisconsin DNR spring 2006 surveys were not quite the gangbusters rate recorded during the earliest years of the 21st century, but they are among the highest since the annual surveys began in 1968, and most importantly, continue to show the population is heading in the right direction.

“The lake trout population is steadily on the rise,” says Mike Seider, fisheries biologist stationed in Bayfield. “It’s not completely recovered, but we’ve made great strides.” Predation from sea lamprey—nonnative, eel-like fish that attack trout with their sucking mouths—and over-fishing nearly obliterated Lake Superior’s trout population during the 1950s. Since trout are a native “keystone” species and top-of-the-food-chain predator, their absence can and did knock the whole lake’s ecosystem off-kilter, Seider says.

Since then, DNR’s lake trout rehabilitation strategy has been three-fold, focusing on controlling sea lamprey, creating two trout refuges in the Apostle Islands region where no fishing is

allowed, and establishing conservative sport and commercial fishing regulations.

 

The annual assessments, which date to 1968, help biologists like Seider determine the progress of lake trout rehabilitation by monitoring population dynamics such as abundance, age distribution, diet trends and sea lamprey wounding rates over the long-term. During the three- to four-week-long annual trout assessment, the crew sets nets in 46 different locations between Saxon Harbor and Superior. Following protocol established by the Lake Superior Technical Committee—an international group of fishery biologists from around Lake Superior—the nets are left at each location for one day.

DNR biologists use the information collected from the assessments to work with fisheries biologists from the Bad River and Red Cliff Tribes and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission every three years to develop a harvest quota of how many fish the recovering population can sustain. That quota is then split between commercial fishers on Lake Superior, and sport anglers, according to Stephen Schram, DNR fisheries supervisor at Bayfield.

 

The steadily rising wild trout population indicates that DNR’s rehabilitation efforts are working, Schram says. The combination of sea lamprey control and fishing regulations has allowed lake trout abundance to increase. That increasing abundance has meant that DNR hasn’t needed to stock trout in the Apostle Islands region since 1995 and will likely lead anglers to enjoy better catch rates, Schram says.

Optimism about the continuing restoration of native lake trout in Lake Superior is reflected in the fact that tribal and DNR biologists recently recommended a quota increase; the Natural Resources Board approved an increased harvest quota from 126,600 fish to 150,000 fish.


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