Week of July 18, 2005


Our Constitution



2nd Amendment issues

Lake Erie





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Whopper of an anniversary coming up

It's 50 years since Hayes' big smallie was caught

If it happened today, reports the Louisville Courier, D. L. Hayes would become an overnight celebrity, courted by Letterman and Leno, profiled in Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, crowned poster boy for Bassmaster Magazine and made a fixture on ESPN's "BassCenter."


Wealth would follow, thanks to an avalanche of endorsement deals. But it didn't happen today. It was 50 years ago.


July 9 marked the half-century anniversary of the day Hayes, of Leitchfield, Ky., caught an 11-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth bass at Dale Hollow Lake. The 27-inch-long fish was the largest smallmouth on record, a spot it held unchallenged for 40 years.   In today's bass-crazy fishing world, such a catch would bring instant stardom.


"The Bomber lure people called and sent me a few lures," said Hayes, 80, who still lives in Leitchfield. "But I never really got much out of it. I'd like to catch it today. But I was always a sport fisherman. I just enjoyed catching fish."


He must have had a particularly fine time on July 9, 1955. Hayes, who had a 14-foot aluminum boat with a 20-horsepower Johnson outboard, had loaded his fishing gear and made the two-hour drive to Dale Hollow, a 27,700-acre Corps of Engineers reservoir straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee line.


He left Kentucky's Cedar Hill Dock that morning. Most reports say the fish came from Tennessee waters, but he says that's not true.  "There's not much of Dale Hollow in Kentucky," he said. "I was awfully close to Tennessee water but was fishing in Kentucky."


He was trolling a Bomber 300 crankbait off a rocky shale point around midmorning when the big fish stuck. Hayes didn't know he had a record until he returned to the dock.  "Everybody at the dock was excited, but I was cool and calm," he said. "It was my fish."  The bass was weighed and certified, and the necessary paperwork was submitted to Field & Stream magazine, then the record-keeping authority, as the all-tackle

world record.


In the same way that "22-4" continues to resonate through the largemouth fishing fraternity, "11-15" became the Holy Grail among smallmouth anglers.


Hayes had the fish mounted but apparently never sought much publicity for himself or his catch. Even so, controversy managed to find both.


About 10 years ago an affidavit from August 1955 surfaced claiming that John H. Barlow, a Dale Hollow fishing guide from Celina, Tenn., and others had "salted" the fish. That is, they shoved some lead and other metal down the gullet to boost its weigh. Hayes claims to know nothing of this. By the time the affidavit was discovered, Barlow and others allegedly involved were dead, and there was nothing to indicate Hayes was involved.


By that time Field & Stream had turned over its record-keeping duties to the Florida-based International Game Fish Association. Even a hint of scandal spooked IGFA officials. In 1996, without contacting Hayes, they "retired" his record, as did the Wisconsin-based Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.


Both Kentucky and Tennessee recognized Hayes' smallmouth as their state record. Kentucky followed the IGFA decision and disqualified the fish, but Tennessee fishery officials launched a yearlong investigation and concluded that the 40-year-old allegations were nonsense. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency still recognizes Hayes' record.


The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame reviewed the Tennessee report and reinstated Hayes' world record. Kentucky has made no move to follow suit.  "We're not looking at that right now," state fisheries director Benji Kinman said. "It's a low-priority item. But I have bookmarked it in my mind to revisit it at a future time."


Hayes would like to see his record reinstated by the IGFA and his home state. But even if it's not, he's confident that the world's largest smallmouth bass is hanging in his home.

Our Constitution

Eminent Disdain

The dismantling of our Constitution rolls on


WITH all the debate over who will replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, one of the most shocking Supreme Court decisions in recent history has disappeared from the headlines. And that's a shame because it's a ruling that has huge implications for urban communities.


In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court last month cleared the way for the City of New London, Conn., to proceed with a plan to replace a faded residential waterfront neighborhood with office space, a hotel, a conference center and luxury apartments. Now the holdout owners of 11 residential properties will have to join the dozens of owners of houses and stores in the 90-acre neighborhood who have already fled. Two cafes, a deli, an auto body shop, a lobster business and a church have been closed.


In his dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called the decision "far-reaching and dangerous." He pointed to a number of studies showing that urban renewal, or "slum clearance" as he called it, disproportionately affected lower-income minority residents.


For those of us living in New Haven, it was clear that Justice Thomas understood what happened to places like this city's Spruce Street.


In 1959, through the use of eminent domain and a desire to foster economic development, the City of New Haven demolished the one-block-long Spruce Street, which was less than 500 yards from the town green and Yale's campus. With it vanished 23 houses and stores owned by Asians, blacks and first-generation immigrants from Italy, Russia, Ireland, Poland and Greece. There was the A & P grocery store, the Joseph Horowitz junkyard, Afinitto's meat market, two nightclubs, Jacob Gutkin's tailor shop, Dorothy Cohen's Hebrew tutoring business and Bill Jones's trucking operation, not to mention Charley Brewster's brothel and an after-hours juke joint where visiting musicians like Duke Ellington once played.


All these, along with row houses, apartments and single-family houses, disappeared. The plaza of stores that replaced it has since been torn down; a Walgreens now stands in its place.


Spruce Street was but one of the victims of the 1950's and 60's in New Haven, when an idealistic City Hall spent more federal government and foundation dollars per capita than any other in America to address poverty. (New Haven received 

$745.38 per citizen from the federal urban renewal program; the next closest city, Newark, received $277.33.) Through eminent domain, the city seized blocks of tenements - or in some cases, as in today's New London, stately if sometimes neglected houses - replacing them with sterile middle-class housing, upscale retail stores and an eyesore of a coliseum.


Those displaced were shuttled to remote housing projects like Brookside and Quinnipiac Terrace on the western and eastern outskirts of New Haven. With them went the street life of much of the city. In 1970, as urban renewal ended, the census ranked New Haven the 38th-poorest city in America. Ten years later, it was ranked seventh, with 23.2 percent of its population living below the poverty line. Today, more than a quarter of the city's families live in subsidized housing. So much for combating poverty.


The urban renewal experiment wasn't a complete failure. Neighborhood health clinics and Head Start programs born in that era continue to thrive. Refugees of the "old neighborhood" tend to romanticize the long-gone slums; they neglect to mention that rats were common or that families that could afford to leave did. And New Haven's poverty was at least equally due to larger forces like capital flight and the growth of suburbs fueled by the development of Interstate highways.


But the fact remains that all that money and bulldozing didn't seem to help New Haven. And it certainly didn't help the poor and blue-collar families removed from their communities and sent to housing projects.


The New Haven experiment operated on a fallacy that is being repeated today in New London, and that was enshrined in the majority decision signed by the Supreme Court: that government should be able to take away people's modest houses or grocery stores not just to construct a clearly needed road or hospital, but also to build housing or stores for wealthy people in the name of reducing poverty. That's not just morally abhorrent, as New Haven's experience shows, it's bad policy.


New Haven has enjoyed a modest revival in recent years. A community-policing effort and a decision by Yale, the city's largest employer and landowner, to become active in the city's development have helped. But it's taken almost 50 years to get here - 50 years of undoing past mistakes by rehabilitating historic buildings, redesigning housing projects and planning to replace the coliseum with shops and a theater.


Sadly, New London is about to repeat New Haven's mistakes, and the Supreme Court has no problem with that. Let's hope it doesn't take New London 50 years to see some improvement.

Newspaper Withholding Two Articles after Jailing

The dismantling of our Constitution rolls on

By Robert McFadden

The editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer said last week that the newspaper, acting on the advice of its lawyers, was withholding publication of two major investigative articles because they were based on illegally leaked documents and could lead to penalties against the paper and the jailing of reporters.


The editor, Doug Clifton, said lawyers for The Plain Dealer had concluded that the newspaper, Ohio's largest daily, would probably be found culpable if the authorities were to investigate the leaks and that reporters might be forced to identify confidential sources to a grand jury or go to jail.


"Basically, we have come by material leaked to us that would be problematical for the person who leaked it," Clifton said. "The material was under seal or something along those lines."  In an earlier interview with the trade journal Editor  & Publisher, which published an article on its Web site, Clifton said that lawyers for The Plain Dealer and its owner, Newhouse Newspapers, had strongly recommended against publication of the articles.


"They've said, This is a super, super high-risk endeavor and you would, you know, you'd lose," Mr. Clifton told Editor & Publisher. "The reporters say, 'Well, we're willing to go to jail,' and I'm willing to go to jail if it gets laid on me, but the newspaper isn't willing to go to jail."


Clifton likened the situation to the cases of Judith Miller, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, who was sent to jail by a federal judge on Wednesday for refusing to divulge the identity of a confidential source, and of Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, who was spared jail after his source released him from a promise of confidentiality, freeing him to

testify before the grand jury.


If anything, Clifton said, The Plain Dealer's potential legal problem with the leaked documents was "even more pointed" than the cases of Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper. "These are documents that someone had and should not have released to anyone else," he said. If an investigation were pursued, the newspaper, its reporters and their sources could all face court penalties for unauthorized disclosures.


The Plain Dealer, founded in 1842, is a distinguished name in American journalism and was listed last year as the nation's 21st largest daily.


"Take away a reporter's ability to protect a tipster's anonymity and you deny the public vital information," Clifton wrote. And to dramatize the point, he concluded his column by telling readers that The Plain Dealer was itself obliged to withhold stories based on illegal disclosures for fear of the legal consequences.


"As I write this, two stories of profound importance languish in our hands," Clifton wrote. "The public would be well-served to know them, but both are based on documents leaked to us by people who would face deep trouble for having leaked them. Publishing the stories would almost certainly lead to a leak investigation and the ultimate choice: talk or go to jail. Because talking isn't an option and jail is too high a price to pay, these two stories will go untold for now. How many more are out there?"


Mr. Clifton said he was surprised that there had been so little public reaction to his disclosure of "something that newspapers typically don't reveal - that real live news had been stifled." "I hoped the public would be bothered by that," he said.

Gun Owners Should Worry About Property Rights Ruling

The dismantling of our Constitution rolls on

By Larry Pratt, Executive Director Gun Owners of America

 The recent 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court legislating away property rights in the United States should give pause to all gun owners, as well as all Americans.


 The plain language of the Fifth Amendment limits eminent domain to the taking of private property for public purposes. "Public purposes"  has been understood for more than 200 years to consist of: Article 1,  Section 8 of the Constitution: to establish post offices and post roads,  for the erection of forts, magazines (ammunitions), arsenals, dockyards  and other needful buildings. When did the Government determine a privately owned hotel was a "needful building"? This is still the general understanding by all but a handful of folks in black dresses.


 The idea that the owner of a higher tax-yielding use should be able to get the government to grab another owner's property and give it to the user that pays higher taxes is quite simply a theft. In one afternoon, the Supreme Court has done away with private property in the U.S.


 Do gun owners think they will remain immune from such tyrants?  Already, at various times, six of the nine justices have said that U.S. law should conform to foreign law -- especially European law and UN treaties. How long until our gun laws are made to conform to say, England's, where they have an almost total gun ban?


 If the U.S. Constitution is no longer a protection against government, disarmament and tyranny are simply details to be worked out.


 Gun owners have been telling the country for years that the courts are out of control and view the Constitution with contempt. Judges have told me to my face that my constitutional arguments could not prevail because court rulings went counter to what I had shown to be the clear meaning of the Constitution. Judges believe that they are above the law!


 Maybe many Americans figured that, well, "that is just those gun nuts squealing." And, hey, even if the Constitution does protect an individual right to keep and bear arms, what's the

matter with some gun control, right? I mean, who cares if judges today tend to twist the true meaning of the Second Amendment? Well, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And now that the gander is being sautéed, we gun owners are hearing a lot of honking.


 OK, enough of that. Let's not prolong the "I told you so" moment. The important thing now is to determine what must be done.


 Remember the Democrat cry that went up when Tom DeLay complained about the judges in this country, and how they should be held to account for their actions? Could it be that this Court decision has now changed people's attitudes and convinced a majority of Americans to support the impeachment of judges?


 Has the latest outrage finally brought a majority to the point that they support Congress' role in exercising the Article III powers of the Constitution to remove jurisdiction of a whole bunch of subjects from the federal courts? And, most immediately, has the majority come to the point where we are ready to see states do what our forefathers did when the feds got out of control?


 During the presidency of John Adams, the Sedition Act went on the books. It was a kind of McCain-Feingold campaign act, only less subtle. It said that a newspaper writer would go to jail for criticizing a federal official. Virginia and Kentucky issued stinging rebukes to the backers of this legislation in 1798 and threatened to nullify the law within the borders of their states if Congress did not repeal the unconstitutional ban on free speech.


Later, some 22 states passed laws nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act following the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision which upheld it. It became impossible for federal marshals to apprehend and return escaped slaves in the north to their southern masters, in spite of federal law.


 To save our gun rights, indeed, to save all of our freedoms, the time has come to bring the courts back under control.


 States need to study the history of nullification. Congress needs to do its part to rein in the judges. In the words of the defenders of freedom on Flight 93, "Let's roll."


Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy Released

DULUTH, Minn--The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration has released a draft strategy to restore and protect the Great Lakes ecosystem.  At the "Summit I" event in Duluth, Minn., senior representatives of the collaboration presented the strategy for public comment.


In December 2004, President Bush signed an executive order directing EPA to lead a regional collaboration of national significance for the Great Lakes. The collaboration is a unique partnership of key members from federal, state, and local governments, tribes and stakeholders for the purpose of developing a strategic plan to restore and protect the lakes.


More than 1,500 people from government and nongovernmental organizations participated in the six-month effort to draft the strategy. Teams worked on eight critical environmental priorities including aquatic invasive species, habitat conservation and species management, near-shore waters and coastal areas, areas of concern, non-point sources, toxic pollutants, sound information base and representative indicators and sustainability. The reports of these teams form the basis for the draft action plan. They include recommendations for action and focus both on the long-term restoration of the Great Lakes and on the steps that must be taken over the next five years to most effectively achieve results.

The draft strategy still must be endorsed by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration members. Following a 60-day public comment period, including five town-hall style meetings, the collaborations leadership will consider the draft recommendations and public comments as they develop a final strategy for approval by the collaboration membership. The final strategy is due to be released in Chicago in December 2005.


To read recommendations of the strategy teams and for more information about the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration go to http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/collaboration . To comment on the draft strategy,

go to http://www.glrc.us


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.  Reproduction by others without written permission is prohibited.


Dan Thomas, Senior Editor

Great Lakes Basin Publications

and President,

Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council


Great Lakes Water Levels for July 15, 2005

Lake Level Conditions:

Lake Superior is currently 1 inch above last year’s water level, while the remaining lakes are 4 to 7 inches below the levels of a year ago.  Dry conditions this spring and summer are the main reason that water levels on the lower Great Lakes are below last year’s levels.   Looking ahead, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to remain steady over the next month. Levels on Lake Superior will be similar to the summer of 2004, whereas levels on Lake Michigan-Huron are expected to be lower this summer than last.   Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are all expected to fall 4 inches over the next month and their levels this summer are forecasted to be lower than 2004. See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is projected to be significantly above average during the month of July.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are anticipated to be below average during July.  Flows in the Niagara River are expected to be near average while St. Lawrence River flows should be below average in July.



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.  Users of the St. Marys River should be aware that regulated flows will be close to 40% higher during July than they were in June. .


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels Data Summary





St. Clair



Water level for July 15 in ft






Chart datum, in ft






Diff from chart datum, in inches






Diff from last month, in inches






Diff from last year in inches







Rat-L-Trap inventor Lewis dies at 85

Bill Lewis, a Laurel native and former Jackson resident who designed one of fishing's most popular bass lures, died June 17 at his Alexandria, La., home after a lengthy illness. He was 85.


Working in the kitchen of his Jackson home in the late 1960s, Lewis created the Rat-L-Trap lipless crankbait that revolutionized the sport of bass fishing. He moved his lure business to Alexandria, and Bill Lewis Lures and the Rat-L-Trap became an industry leader.

His "Traps" earned him three Best Lure Design awards from Field & Stream and BASS honored Lewis by including him in its listing of the most influential people in bass fishing history.


Lewis was raised in Laurel, became a star football player for Laurel High, which won the state championship. He was a World War II B24 bomber pilot and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross after completing 30 missions and volunteering for 10 more to fly gasoline for General Patton's troops in Europe.  After a brief career as a commercial artist, Lewis

returned to Mississippi and opened the Bill Lewis Lure company, said his son Buddy Lewis.


After years of selling spinnerbaits and soft plastic worms out of the back of his car, he came up with the unique concept of the Rat-L-Trap.


"He spent many days on lakes such as Toledo Bend pitching his now famous Rat-L-Trap lure one on one to every fisherman he met," Buddy Lewis said. "Dad often would pull out a pocket knife and cut off a lure tied to a fisherman's line leaving him in total astonishment. He would quickly replace the lure with his then unknown Rat-L-Trap along with a guarantee that if they didn't catch twice as many fish on the Trap he would buy them two of their lures.


Dad always said he never had to honor a single guarantee made on his lure." Buddy Lewis said the company has sold more than 150 million Rat-L-Trap lures, and that Bill Lewis gave away at least one million more.


2nd Amendment issues

New Va. Gun Law Will Change Nothing

"The latest chipping away at ill-advised attempts at gun control in Virginia will likely have exactly the same outcome as the 1995 switch of one word in state law. When the legislature changed 'may issue' to 'shall issue,' taking away state officials` discretion and requiring them to issue a concealed

carry permit to all who qualified for one," editorializes the 

Washington Examiner.


"But nothing happened. That's because people who bother to jump through the hoops and register with the state for a gun permit are not the ones we need to fear."


Lake Erie

Lake Erie’s algae returns

A potentially deadly form of algae that has appeared in western Lake Erie almost every summer since 1995 was

found near Toledo last week in particles large enough to be seen by the human eye. More to come.


Michigan City gets another dose of brown trout

The DNR will stock Michigan City harbor with about 40,000 five-inch-long  brown trout on July 12.


DNR biologists predict stocking brown trout into Indiana waters of Lake Michigan will help Indiana's near-shore winter trout fishery. Brown trout are among trout and salmon species attracted to Lake Michigan warm shore areas during the winter. The brown trout should also improve offshore summer fishing and lake tributary late-season fishing as the trout mature and migrate up lake tributary streams to spawn in the fall.


"Indiana's anglers requested brown trout during public comment in 2001 as part of a trout and salmon program review. Before the review, brown trout had not been stocked in Indiana waters since the early 1980s"  said Indiana Lake Michigan biologist Brian Breidert.  "Even though brown trout make up only 3 percent of the total trout and salmon harvest, they provide an excellent near shore fishery that is taking advantage of an abundant food resource, the round goby," said Breidert.

Round gobys hurt native fish populations by competing for food and by eating fish eggs and fry. The stocking of brown trout as a near shore predator may help reduce this unwanted exotic species.


The Indiana brown trout stocking is part of an ongoing trade arrangement with the Illinois DNR. Indiana and Illinois began stocking brown trout into Indiana waters of Lake Michigan in 2002. East Chicago and Michigan City have received fish on alternate years. Indiana trades Indiana-born Skamania steelhead for the Illinois brown trout.

Recent creel surveys have indicated a slight increase in harvest of this near-shore species. During 2004, average length increased to 23” , which is a 10 % increase over the 2003 season.


The largest brown trout caught by an angler in Indiana weighed 25 pounds. Mitchell Boilek from Hammond, Ind. caught the big trout while fishing along the outer wall of Buffington Harbor, near East Chicago, in fall 2001.


DNR implementing measures to control exotic lizard

Visitors to the Falls of the Ohio State Park near Jeffersonville, are seeing something new, exotic and definitely non-native-wall lizards.


Wall lizards are native to parts of Europe. They were introduced in 1951, after a Cincinnati resident returning from Italy brought some back and released them. The lizards which can grow to more than 8 inches long have been able to survive even the harshest Midwest winters.  It's not clear how the wall lizards reached the state park.


The DNR's Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs are working together to rid the park of wall lizards. The plan is to capture and euthanize the exotic

lizards to keep them from pushing out native wildlife, and from moving further down the Ohio River.


Special lizard traps have been designed and built by DNR herpetologist Zack Walker. "I've constructed the traps to target wall lizards and to exclude other species of wildlife. If a nontarget species is caught, it will be released without harm," said Walker. The traps will be monitored daily. Walker is using strawberry jam as bait to attract the wall lizards


In the absence of natural predators, parasites and competitors from their native habitat, exotic species can overrun and crowd out native species. Once established, exotic species are extremely difficult to eradicate.


Meetings Set for Public Comment on Thunder Bay River Assessment July 26-27

The status and future of the Thunder Bay River are the topics of public meetings scheduled in northeast Michigan in July. These meetings will be conducted by the Fisheries Division of the Department of Natural Resources to receive comments on the draft Thunder Bay River Assessment.


The first meeting will be held 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, at the Hillman Community Center, 24220 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hillman. The second meeting will be 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, at the Alpena Days Inn, 1496 M-32 Highway, Alpena.

The DNR wants to receive public feedback on the draft assessment and proposed management options for the river. Public comment will be received until August 31, 2005. The river assessment will be used by the Fisheries Division and by other agencies to develop a management plan and actions for the river.


For a copy of the assessment, visit the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr , or contact Lindsey Dowlyn or Tim Cwalinski at 989-732-3541.



Fishermen, boaters can battle invasive species, DNR director says

DNR Director Rebecca Humphries is asking anglers and boaters to join the state’s efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in Michigan’s waters.


“The invasive species that lurk in our waters threaten Michigan’s $4 billion annual commercial and recreational fishing industries, and billions of dollars will be spent at the local, state and federal level on future control and cleanup efforts,” Humphries said. Humphries said the DNR is working closely with the governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Quality to stop the spread and introduction of new aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes.


“The important legislation signed into law by Gov. Granholm this week will help us stem the tide of aquatic invasive species entering the Great Lakes,” Humphries said, “but everyone who will be enjoying Michigan’s waters this summer can do their part to prevent the spread of these harmful, non-native species that compete with native sport fish and damage habitat.”


According to DNR fisheries managers the most notable aquatic invasive species which have had the greatest negative impacts on Michigan’s ecosystem and quality of life include the zebra mussel, round goby, sea lamprey, Eurasian Ruffe,

Eurasian watermilfoil, curly leaf pond weed, rusty crayfish and spiny water flea.


The DNR urges anglers, boaters and other water recreationists to follow these guidelines to protect Michigan’s aquatic environment:


• Inspect your boat, trailers and boating equipment (anchors, centerboards, rollers, axles) and remove any plants and animals that are visible before leaving any water body.


• Wash boats and trailers with a power washer whenever possible, and dry all equipment thoroughly.


• Drain water from the motor, livewell, bilge and transom wells while on land before leaving any water body.


• Empty your bait bucket on land before leaving the water body. Never release live bait into a water body or release aquatic animals from one water body to another.


• Learn to identify these organisms. Destroy any aquatic nuisance species when caught and dispose of it in the trash. If you suspect a new infestation of a foreign plant or animal, report it to the DNR or the Department of Environmental Quality.

Fire Danger High Very High to Extreme across the U.P.

Very high to extreme fire danger is expected to persist across the Upper Peninsula into the weekend and early next week as warm and dry conditions continue, according to Department of Natural Resources fire officials. Officials noted that until the area receives a substantial wetting rain, the DNR will not issue burning permits anywhere in the U.P.


The summer heat and lack of rain with exception of some widely scattered showers in the past six weeks have pushed parts of Upper Michigan into drought conditions, increasing fire activity. So far this year, Michigan has experienced 396 fires that have burned 3,583 acres. In the U.P. 76 fires have burned 357 acres.


DNR fire officials are asking everyone to be extremely careful with campfires and barbeques. They offered the following tips:

 * Keep campfires small, and do not leave them unattended at any time.

* Be sure all fires and barbeques are completely extinguished * use plenty of water, stirring and adding more water until everything is wet and no steam is produced.

* Turn over unburned pieces of wood left in a fire pit and wet the underside.

* Soak unburned pieces of charcoal in a barbeque in a bucket of water before disposing of them.

* Do not simply cover a campfire with soil * this is an insufficient way to extinguish it.


"For those burning household refuse in burning barrels, please be extremely careful and make sure your barrel or incinerator complies with state regulations," said Randy McKenzie, DNR fire specialist. "Everyone should avoid burning during the heat of the day and do not leave a burning barrel unattended. Have a garden hose and a shovel or a rake handy in case the fire escapes. It is much safer to dispose of burnable refuse at the local landfill or have a licensed hauler pick it up."


Spring duck counts decline

Waterfowl biologists found declines in breeding waterfowl populations but more spring ponds across Minnesota in May's annual aerial surveys according to the Minnesota DNR.  Both duck and pond numbers were similar to the long-term average. Overall duck numbers were down 37 % while pond numbers were up 22 % from 2004.


The number of breeding waterfowl in Minnesota is estimated each year as part of an annual inventory of North American breeding waterfowl. Mallard population estimates from Minnesota will be combined with estimates from other North American breeding areas and used to determine the duck season length and bag limit for the 2005-06 waterfowl hunting season.


The mallard breeding population was 238,500, down 36 % from 2004 but similar to the long-term average of 223,368. Blue-winged teal were down 45 % from 2004 to 194,125 and 15 % below the long-term average. Mallards and blue-winged teal comprise about two-thirds of the state's duck population. Temporary wetlands increased 22 % but remained 58 % below the long-term average. The survey does not measure

the quality of wetlands nor does it track changes in amounts of grassland habitat, which also play a critical role in duck nesting success and brood survival.


In addition, poor weather resulted in 70 % of this year's survey being flown after May 15, when some migrants had likely moved out of the state. Each May, a DNR waterfowl biologist and conservation officer pilot estimate breeding duck populations by flying randomly selected survey routes at low elevations using fixed-wing aircraft. The survey is designed to estimate breeding duck populations across about 40 % of Minnesota, which comprises most of the better duck breeding habitat. Crews from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service count waterfowl from the ground along a portion of the routes to correct for birds missed during the aerial survey.


The Mississippi Flyway Council meeting will be July 19-24 in Mississippi. The USFWS will announce its federal waterfowl regulation framework on July 29.


Minnesota's Canada goose population was 338,000 slightly lower but statistically unchanged from 2004, according to Steve Maxson, DNR goose specialist.


Province bans burning in most of NE Ontario

SAULT STE. MARIE - The province is imposing a Restricted Fire Zone in a large portion of northeastern Ontario because of growing threat of wildfires resulting from the prolonged heat wave and dry weather.


Effective immediately, and until further notice all open burning on Crown land, including campfires, is banned in an area stretching from Manitouwadge to the Quebec border. The ban covers the area north of the French and Mattawa rivers, including Lake Nipissing, west of the Ottawa River, south of 50 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, intersecting the Quebec

border just north of Kesagami Lake on the east, running westerly to the shore of Sandlink Lake, following the Pic River south of Lake Superior and including Manitoulin Island.


Exceptions to the burning restrictions include organized campgrounds that use approved fire pits. Campers in these organized campgrounds are still encouraged to keep their campfires small and keep a close watch on them. Managers of organized campgrounds may impose their own restrictions depending on the burning conditions.  Under the Restricted Fire Zone, people can still use portable gas stoves for cooking and warmth.

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