Week of October 11,  2004








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Your help is needed

Help keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes


A second larger, longer-life barrier is now under construction, but the cost of the design exceeds available funds by $1.8 million.


Illinois has contributed $2 million to the project, but the other Great Lakes Governors say they are not able to contribute the balance – $1.8 million. Their states do not have the money. The need for the additional $1.8 million is critical.


Contributions from any non-federal source will help. That’s where clubs, individuals and corporate America can help


Use of Contributed Funds

Funds will be held by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council

and distributed based on the direction of a board of non-agency trustees including the president of the GLSFC.


All contributions are tax deductible and will only be used to:


1)      Implement the Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan

2)      Improve or operate Barrier I

3)      Construct and operate Barrier II


Send your donations to:

GLSFC – carp fund

P.O. Box 297

Elmhurst, IL  60126


Or use our PayPal for credit card donations.  Go to www.great-lakes.org/carp

Asian Carp Prevention - The effort continues

Our Asian Carp fund drive continues, and with many clubs beginning to hold their monthly meetings again, our drive picks up momentum.  But we need your help.  If the states do not pick up the tab for the missing $1.8 million and the feds don’t appropriate the necessary funds to keep this program alive, we are the ones that will feel the impact of any invasion of Asian carp.  It’s our resource – and recreation, that will be affected.


We need everyone to help.


 Asian Carp and other invasive species are approaching the Great Lakes via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. You may have seen video clips of these jumping fish on TV. These large plankton-eating fish have the potential to wreak havoc on the Great Lakes ecology and our recreational fisheries. Although it is unlikely they would be come abundant in the middle of the lake, they almost certainly would do well in near shore areas, river mouths and shallow productive bays. Not only would this add an undesirable component to the ecosystem but these fish add an element of personal risk to boaters and others using recreational watercraft. We must do whatever we can to keep these fish out of the Great Lakes.


The electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal stops the passage of large fish. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built this as a temporary project with only a three-year life span.   The three electrodes in this barrier are expected to wear out in about April 2005. One is already gone, the second will probably break down by the end of the year.


Asian carp have been captured only 22 miles downstream of the barrier. Involved agencies have a monitoring plan in place to determine the leading edge of the Asian carp population as they move closer to the barrier site and are working on a rapid response plan to kill the fish if they begin to accumulate in number below the barrier.


A second larger, more powerful barrier has been designed and construction is scheduled for completion by December 2004. However, the cost of the barrier design to stop Asian carp from entering the lake exceeds the available funds by $1.8 million. We need funding to help support construction of the barrier and to help pay for the rapid response plan if it has to be used.


We Need Your Help to Protect the Great Lakes


The Second Barrier

A second larger, longer-life barrier is scheduled for completion by the end of this year,  but the construction cost exceeds the available funds by $1.8 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program under which the project is being constructed limits the federal contribution to the project to $5 million.


The State of Illinois has already contributed $2 million to the project and it will be difficult to obtain the entire balance from a single entity. Governors of most of the other Great Lakes do not feel they are able to contribute the balance of the funds at this time, yet the timing of these additional contributions is critical. If the funds can not be secured the cost of construction will increase by 30% or 

more and we will not have the two-barrier system needed to prevent small Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes until the second barrier is complete.


We are applying to other sources for the needed funds, but every contribution from any non-federal source will help.


Asian Carp Rapid Response

A Rapid response Committee has developed a Rapid Response Plan to address the presence of Asian carp in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal if they begin to congregate below the existing barrier before the second barrier is completed.


The Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan would involve eliminating Asian carp from 5.5 miles of the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Current estimates for implementation of the plan place the cost at about $450,000. There are 18 agencies involved in the response planning effort but none of them has the funds to enact the plan if it is needed. Funding for the plan is not covered in any Congressional Act or other agency mission. The response plan is a vital action which must be used if the carp appear in the Canal before Barrier II is in place.


We need your financial support to help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The most immediate need is to gather enough money to make the rapid response happen if it is needed. The large-scale response if needed would most likely occur this fall. Once Barrier II is online the response would be scaled back to treat the 1000 ft distance between the barriers if fish were found between the barriers.


The second use for the funds would be to maintain and improve Barrier I. Barrier I will still be needed after Barrier II is built. We need your help to ask Congress to extend that authorization indefinitely and to provide the Corps with the directive to construct improvements to Barrier I. These improvements would increase the effectiveness of Barrier I and the service life of the project. Right now, the Corps of Engineers does not have the authority to operate Barrier I after September 2005.


Use of Contributed Funds

The collected funds will be held by the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council and will be distributed based on the direction of a board of non-agency trustees including the president of the GLSFC. All contributions are tax deductible and 100 %  of the contributions will be used towards Asian carp prevention. Contributions will be used to:

1)         Implement the Asian Carp Rapid Response Plan

2)         Construct Barrier II

3)         Improve or operate Barrier I

The funds will not be used for agency labor or overhead and will not be used for research. Collected donations will be used to pay for barrier construction, carp control chemicals or if


Congress approves $$ to build electric barrier to protect Great Lakes

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House and Senate have approved spending more than $9 million for an electric barrier that would keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.


The measure, which passed the House 377-36 and unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday, allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend up to $6.8 million in federal funds and $2.2 million in state funds for an electric barrier in the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, which connects the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

There is a temporary barrier in place now but it's deteriorating. Construction of a new, permanent barrier began in the spring but the corps needs more money to finish the project, said U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich.


Ehlers said Asian carp, which already have infiltrated the Mississippi River, can grow to 150 pounds and eat 40 percent of their body weight each day. If the fish enter the Great Lakes, they could devastate the ecosystem and endanger the sport and commercial fishing industries, Ehlers said.



National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 10-16

544 National Wildlife Refuges Are Wild Places Close to Home          

Thousands of visitors will flock to national wildlife refuges for National Wildlife Refuge Week October 10-16, where they will celebrate the National Wildlife Refuge System's pivotal role in the protection and recovery of wildlife species across the country.


The National Wildlife Refuge System, established in 1903, has 544 national wildlife refuges, more than 3,000 waterfowl production areas and spans approximately 100 million acres.  It provides habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, more than 1,000 fish, and countless species of invertebrates and



At the same time, the National Wildlife Refuge System offers 

unparalleled wildlife-dependent recreation.  It has more than 890 trails covering approximately 2,500 miles, open to the public for wildlife observation and photography.  Hunting is offered on 308 refuges; fishing is available on 270 refuges.  Additionally, hundreds of environmental education programs

are offered on refuges across the country.


Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge.  People living in metropolitan areas can usually find a national wildlife refuge just an hour's drive from home.  "We encourage people to use National Wildlife Refuge Week as a chance to discover wildlife refuges.  Look for one near your home," noted National Wildlife Refuge System Chief Bill Hartwig.


For a complete list of  events, go to:  http://refugedata.fws.gov/databases/events.taf?_function=list&_UserReference=85D4D5C32E5CFBCBC4D0




Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for October 8, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Currently, all of the Great Lakes are higher than the levels of a year ago, ranging from 5 to 12 inches higher than last year’s levels.  Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and St. Clair are below their long-time averages by 4, 12, and 4 inches, respectively. Lakes Erie and Ontario are above their long-time averages by 2 and 7 inches, respectively. 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

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


Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

A frontal system will push into the Great Lakes basin on

Friday, bringing some much-needed rain to many areas.  Skies will clear following the front and seasonable temperatures will be the norm for the weekend and into next week.


Forecasted Water Levels: 

Lake Superior has reached its seasonal maximum level and is expected to drop by 2 inches over the next month.  Lake Michigan-Huron is in its seasonal decline and its level is expected to fall 3 inches over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are continuing their seasonal decline and are expected to drop by 4-8 inches over the next month.



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.


Frivolous Lawsuits Hinder the Recovery of Endangered Species

The flood of environmental litigation recently became so great that it bankrupted the USFWS's fund for critical habitat in May of 2003, (U.S. Department of Interior). According to the Tulane University Environmental Law Journal, "The entire ESA budget runs the risk of being consumed by the bottomless pit of litigation driven listings and designations. It does not end there. As Yogi Berra might say, the bottomless pit is getting even deeper: as soon as the FWS makes a decision driven by a court imposed deadline, it is being sued on the merits of that decision." (16 Tul. Envtl. L.J. 257)

 Critical Habitat for Endangered Species: Bankrupt...Literally

"This is where the FWS is today: the decisions relating to ESA listings and designations, arguably the most important decisions under the law because they trigger all other protections, are driven solely by litigation. The FWS has lost all flexibility in making its own determinations as to which species is most endangered and should be listed first, and which habitat is most vulnerable and should be designated as critical. Litigation-driven actions prioritize only those species that have a plaintiff behind them (and often a larger political objective), rather than those species that are most endangered." (16 Tul. Envtl. L.J. 257)

Proof of Nature's resiliency

Environmentalists at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center near Birmingham, Alabama, were recently dumb-founded to discover abundant aquatic and amphibian life in a red pond they had long-ago dismissed as “a biological desert.”  The astounded biologists identified salamanders, tadpoles and toads living in a pond that had been used as a settling pond for iron ore mines in the area a half-century ago.  They discovered a brilliantly colored variety of fairy shrimp that are able to survive severe drought conditions as their eggs lie dormant until rains again bring life to the pond.


Naturalist Alan Yester was impressed by proof of nature’s resiliency.  “Things might not be as messed up as we thought,” he said. 


Along the same vein, an Arizona Tribune editorial expressed impatience with extreme environmentalists for continuing to wail about a species, in this case, the southwestern willow flycatcher, as the “canary in the coal mine.”  The editor says this “claptrap has been repeated so many times by pseudo-ecologists... [that it] has no basis in science.  It is so obviously bogus we marvel at its shelf-life.”  


The Southwestern Center for Biological Diversity wants the Salt River Project, a water board, to replicate flycatcher habitat 

if it (SRP) fills its drying reservoirs where the birds are currently living.  The editorial opines that if it is affordable to save their habitat, do it, but the world will not cease to spin on its axis if the birds move elsewhere.


Pacific Lumber Co. has a message for anti-logging activists; if you choose to trespass and disrupt legitimate business operations, you will be sued.   In the past two years, it has sued more than 110 people for unlawfully interfering with its

business, going after heavy civil penalties against the lawbreakers.  The anti-logging crowd says the suits are an attempt to discourage activism.  “They’re trying to intimidate people to stop any type of public participation,” said Jeny Card, a tree-sitter who was arrested and sued for $250,000.  


Another defendant, Jeanette Junger, is fearful of losing her home because of a $335,000 suit against her.  University of Colorado law professor George W. Pring criticized Pacific’s methods.  Pring said the lawsuits are “huge winners outside of the courtroom in terms of silencing people (and) muzzling protests, which is why the lumber companies use them.” 


The Card suit ended with a $10 fine and plea bargain, which Jim Branham, Pacific Lumber’s spokesman said, “…will lead to the company pursuing civil suits more aggressively if criminal penalties amount to a slap on the wrist.”

Animal Extremist Admits to Setting Suspicious Fire
An animal activist has confessed to setting a fire in the name of animal rights and has agreed to testify “regarding any other illegal acts on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) or the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).”


According to the Provo Herald, Harrison David Burrows pleaded guilty on September 14 to a federal charge of destruction of property by fire.  He had set fire to a Brigham Young University (BYU) farm building “to make a political statement on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front.”  In

exchange, the government said it would recommend his prison sentence be only five years.  Burrows faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced on January 10.


Burrows agreed to testify before any grand jury or at any trial about his involvement and the participation of others in the BYU fire or any other illegal acts by the extremist groups.  He claimed responsibility for other BYU vandalisms including the freeing of caged rabbits and birds from an on-campus farm.   He has not been charged in those incidents.



Forest Preserve District offers fishing after dark

Want to go fishing, but fall's shorter days limit opportunities outdoors? Beginning October 16, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, IL will offer fishing after dark in two county forest preserves, at Round Lake at Hidden Lake Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn and at Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett. Geared to increasing outdoor opportunities in recreation, the night-fishing pilot program will allow anglers extended fishing hours until 11 p.m. every day of the year at these two forest preserves.  


In general, all Illinois and Forest Preserve District fishing regulations and all District ordinances apply. Anglers ages 16 and over are required to have a valid Illinois fishing license and Inland Trout stamp in their possession. When necessary, special regulations restricting angler harvest are imposed to improve the structure and abundance of the fish population. Site-specific regulations apply to certain areas and are often more restrictive in order to preserve the population of a 

particular fish species.


In addition, all boats must be off the lakes at sunset. A flashlight or lantern may be carried for safety.


"Every day is a great day to fish at one of DuPage County's forest preserves," said D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr., the president of the District's Board of Commissioners. "The night-fishing pilot program will offer additional opportunities for DuPage County's citizens to take advantage of fishing after hours at two forest preserve lakes."


For more information about day- or night-fishing locations and rules and regulations in the DuPage County forest preserves, contact the Office of Visitor Services weekdays at (630) 933-7248 for a free copy of the "Fishing in DuPage County" guide. Up-to-date fishing information is available by calling the Outdoor Report at (630) 871-6422 or by accessing the District's Web site at www.dupageforest.com .


DNR to present forest and brush fire workshops Nov 3, 9 and  11

Workshops in Ogden Dunes, Tell City and Hoosier National Forest

The Indiana DNR is offering a series of advanced fire workshops for Hoosier educators. The workshops will provide teachers and natural resource educators with information and resource materials concerning wildland fire (forest, brush and grass fires) to incorporate into their current ecology programs.


All workshops run 9 – 4:30 PM, and will be held at three sites around the state:

   ● November 3 at Ogden Dunes Fire Department,

   ● November 9 at the Tell City Ranger District, and

   ● November 11 at the Hoosier National Forest.


The one-day session will present information about basic fire behavior, fire ecology, fire suppression, fire prevention, the

wildland/urban interface, and natural plant succession that occurs as a result of fire.  The session will conclude with a

"live fire" exercise. This session is a must for all natural resource personnel with an interest in learning more about wildland fire.


Although a $15 registration fee is required, the entire amount will be refunded to all participants who attend. Registration for each class is limited to 30 participants. Registration forms and more information can be found at www.in.gov/dnr/nrec .  Break snacks and lunch will be provided. Project Learning Tree has applied to the department of education for CRUs for the workshop. Participants should dress for some outdoor activities.


The Indiana DNR has teamed up with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service, USFWS and National Park Service and the Indiana Woodland Owners Association, to present these workshops.


For more info: Donna Rogler, Project Learning Tree coordinator,  317-549-0354, [email protected]

DNR and Peak Performance

The Peak Performance Program announced last week by Gov. Joe Kernan and Lt.Gov. Kathy Davis is a bold milestone that reorganizes government to make it more efficient in a time of significant change.


From time to time, it is important to re-examine the different pieces of government that have been created over the years to make sure we are keeping up with the times and providing the best service possible. This initiative is about making government more efficient. It is not about budget cuts and layoffs.


In delivering his first State of the State address nine months ago, Gov. Kernan challenged Lt. Gov. Davis to analyze state government and recommend how to streamline and improve government services. Don't just check under the hood and kick the tires, he told her, recommend meaningful reform. Take a blank sheet of paper and organize state government from scratch.


The Peak Performance Program will place 74 state agencies into nine cabinets. The cabinets will report directly to Gov. Kernan. Within each of those cabinets are state agencies with related and similar functions that will work more closely together. There are 318 boards and commissions, which will be evaluated by each cabinet to determine if functions can be merged to simplify state government.


The DNR is teamed with the Dept. of Environmental Management and agencies that preserve our history and heritage.


The concepts of the Peak Performance Program are very clear; this is your state government's commitment to improvement. The challenge is to identify areas where we can improve and to work out the details. This will take place over the next several months.


-Improved permitting


One of the areas slated for improved customer service is environmental permits. Separate laws require permits from both the DNR and IDEM for certain types of construction. One applicant often needs more than one permit for a project. Many environmental and technical reviews are performed, and there are many opportunities for public input. But the permit applicants and general public must know how to navigate through each agency's permit process, and each process has its own timetable.


This is an area in which the DNR already has made

significant progress. Our permitting process in the Div. of Water already is automated and the environmental review team is doing an excellent job with the process.


We will build on this model to work more closely with IDEM to provide one stop shopping for these permit applications. We'll streamline the application process so it will reduce duplication of agency services, and it will be more consistent and timely for the applicant and for the public to review and comment on applications.


Currently, before an application for a permit is filed, a representative from the DNR and one from IDEM will meet on site with the applicant to understand the proposal and to provide guidance on what is permitable and what is not. We call this early coordination. In the future, the DNR and IDEM will coordinate our own processes better and cross train staff. We can save time and money if we send one trained employee rather than two.


-Law enforcement


One of the new cabinet areas is public safety. Although Indiana conservation officers play a major role in our public safety network, it was determined that it is most important to keep DNR law enforcement with the Division of Fish and Wildlife on our cabinet team.


Although the Peak Performance Program is new, it follows a time-honored tradition of making government better.


The roots of natural resource conservation in Indiana began when the 1837 General Assembly created the state's first geological survey simply to learn what geological and mineral resources were here. Eventually there was a state geologist, which was an elected position.


As Indiana grew in its first century, so did the demand for government services. In 1919, the Department of Conservation was created to combine five previously independent agencies: geology, entomology, forestry, state parks, and fish and game. The General Assembly established the Department of Natural Resources in 1965 to bring together the conservation department with other state agencies that had been established to protect our natural resources.


And that's the way we improve government. Adapt to changing times, develop ways to do things better and always hold down the cost of providing government services. That's a Hoosier tradition we intend to follow.


Open House to focus on Baraga forests Oct. 12

The Michigan DNR will host an Oct. 12 open house to provide information and receive public comment on forest management treatments proposed for 2006 in the Baraga Management Unit.


The open house, from 3-7 p.m. at the DNR Baraga Operations Service Center, is an opportunity for the public to review proposed treatments and provide input toward final decisions on those treatments. It also provides the public an opportunity to talk with foresters and biologists about issues of interest.


Each year DNR personnel inventory and evaluate one-tenth of the state forest. The information gathered includes the health, quality and quantity of all vegetation; wildlife and fisheries habitat and needs; archaeological sites; mineral, oil and gas activities; recreational use; wildfire potential; social factors,

including proximity to roads and neighborhoods; and use on adjacent lands, public or private. Proposed treatments are then designed to ensure the sustainability of the resources and ecosystems.


Each management unit is divided into smaller units or compartments to facilitate better administration of the resources. The Baraga open house and compartment review will focus on: Covington and L’Anse townships in Baraga County; Elm River, Laird, and Portage townships in Houghton County; Allouez and Houghton townships in Keweenaw County; and Bohemia, Greenland, and Ontonagon townships in Ontonagon County.


The formal compartment review to finalize prescriptions for these areas is scheduled for Oct. 26, beginning at 9 a.m., at the Best Western Lakeside Inn in Baraga.


DNR announces 2004 whitefish-tullibee sport-netting dates and regulations

The Minnesota DNR has announced the 2004 dates for the whitefish-tullibee sport-netting season.


As in past years, Schedule I lakes will be opened and closed on a 48-hour notice posted at lake accesses and other public places. These lakes are opened based on weather conditions that affect the vulnerability of game fish to accidental harvest and presence of whitefish or tullibees in shallow water.


Schedule II lakes will be opened and closed as follows:

Schedule A lakes will be open from Friday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 5; Schedule B lakes will be open from Friday, Nov. 5, through Sunday, Dec. 12; and Schedule C lakes will be open from Friday, Nov. 12, through Sunday, Dec 12. Upper Red Lake, Beltrami County; Mille Lacs Lake, Aitkin, Crow Wing and Mille Lacs counties; and O’Reilly Lake, Itasca County, will not be opened to sport gill netting in 2004.


Individuals can obtain a copy of the 2004 whitefish-tullibee regulations by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1‑888‑MINNDNR (646-6367).


New York

DEC releases Atlantic Sturgeon in Hudson River

To Aid Efforts to Protect and Restore Sturgeon in the Hudson

New York last week released  89 Atlantic Sturgeon into the Hudson River as part of its ongoing efforts to study and restore the species to the historic waterway. The fish, some as large as four feet in length, range from six to ten years old and are the offspring of sturgeon collected from the Hudson River more than a decade ago.


In 1996, Governor Pataki released the first Hudson River Estuary Action Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for the long-term protection and renewal of the river and its ecosystem from New York Harbor to the Troy dam.  The Plan, which has been updated and was last released in 2002, identifies priority actions designed to improve water quality; clean-up toxic contaminants; restore fisheries; protect open space and scenery; and improve public access to the river.  Since 1995, the Governor has committed more than $191 million to implement the Plan.


In his State of the State address in January, Governor Pataki set the ambitious goal of making the Hudson River suitable for swimming from its source high in the Adirondacks all the way to Manhattan and ensuring that every community along the Hudson has at least one new or upgraded access point to the River by 2009.


The  release at Haverstraw Bay County Park in the Village of Haverstraw, Rockland County, is part of a project undertaken by the State DEC, in cooperation with the USFWS to research the habitat use, movement, homing instincts, and health of wild and hatchery-raised immature Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson River Estuary.  Two other releases took place at different locations on the Hudson River in May and June of this year.  As part of the project, a total of nearly 350 Atlantic

Sturgeon, all from the USFWS hatchery in Lamar, Pennsylvania, will be released into the Hudson River.


The sturgeon are being sonic-tagged, released, and monitored to provide information about behavior and movement, both in the Hudson River and along the coast, of wild and hatchery-raised Atlantic Sturgeon. The project will identify habitats that are used by immature Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson River Estuary and along the Atlantic coast. Based on the results, information could be used to protect critical habitats or determine which river system the hatchery-raised fish will ultimately return to for spawning. It is not known how hatchery fish imprint on their natal river. For instance, because the fish came from Hudson River parents, but were hatched and reared on a tributary of the Susquehanna River, it is not clear which river they will return to for spawning.


Historically, the sturgeon was a major food fish in the Hudson Valley and was commonly sold as "Albany beef."  Sturgeon was so abundant that they were stacked like logs on the decks of sloops and steamboats bound for market.  However, 10 years of over fishing culminated in a population decline in the Mid-Atlantic States in the late 1980s.  In 1998, the Atlantic Sturgeon fishery was closed throughout the East Coast due to over-fishing.  Today, Atlantic Sturgeon remains a protected species in New York State.


Because it takes approximately 20 years for a female sturgeon to reach sexual maturity, biologists estimate it may take 40 years or more to re-establish enough mature sturgeon so that the species can withstand the resumption of a limited harvest in the Hudson River.


Commonly six to eight feet long and known to reach fourteen feet, Atlantic Sturgeon is the largest species of fish found in the Hudson River.  The fish have been known to live well beyond 50 years.


Flooding Has Little Impact on Fish   

While many communities and individuals across Pennsylvania continue to flounder in the wake of devastation wrought by recent flooding, the rushing streams and rivers are little more than an inconvenience for some populations accustomed to water in their homes – fish populations.  And although it may be hard to imagine for those of us who witnessed the floodwaters’ power, in terms of catastrophes, finned creatures view recent events on a different scale.  For fish it’s simply a matter of adjusting to go with the flow.


As Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologist Dick Snyder points out, a flood is a natural event and Mother Nature equips her charges to deal with that which comes their way.  According to Snyder, high waters may alter aquatic habitat and place stress on fishes, but for the most part the effects are short-term.  As the Commission’s Chief of the Division of Fisheries Management, Snyder has witnessed plenty of streams spill over their banks and he has also seen fish populations adapt.


“To a fish, a flood feels much like walking up an alley during a strong windstorm feels to us.  And fish react in pretty much the same manner we do; just like we’ll duck into a doorway to get out of the wind, fish will seek out those areas where the force of the water isn’t as great,” said Snyder.


Though some fish may be permanently dislocated during a flood, most manage to take refuge.  Areas of refuge can be as simple as a stream bottom where water moves more slowly.  Rocks or logs also offer shelter.  Additionally, calm eddies out of the torrent provide congregation points for fish to rest – even if the pools are located in areas where they wouldn’t normally be found, such as over a road or in a pasture.


As floodwaters recede, fish will usually find their way back to

the usual holding spots, though Snyder noted some may get stranded in puddles and sinkholes if waters recede quickly. Trout may actually benefit from the high water as spawning areas might be scoured clean of silt and sediment. Only time will tell of the impact on American shad returning four or five years from now as the 2004 year class was in the process of migrating to the ocean.


It appears that the floods of 2004 won’t significantly impact the Commission’s stocked trout programs either.  Some Commission hatcheries did experience some flooding, most notably the Benner Spring State Fish Hatchery in Centre County.  While fish inventory work is ongoing, initially it does not appear there will be any major changes to the trout stocking program.


What many anglers may notice are some physical changes to trout streams and other bodies of water.  “Many streams and rivers have been physically altered during the course of the flood,” Snyder pointed out.


“Gravel and rocks have been swept downstream.  Stream banks have been washed away and silt has been redeposited in different locations.  Some areas that may have been prime fish habitat before are now gone altogether.  Other areas that weren’t ideal before may have been scoured and look just great.”


While it will be weeks or months before the experts tabulate a final price tag on disaster damages from water and mud, the bottom line for fisheries is less clear.    Said Snyder:  “Short of reading about it somewhere, a few years from now it will be nearly impossible for us to tell there was even a flood.”  But, what happens the rest of this fall and winter may also have a great impact on fish populations awaiting our enjoyment next spring and summer.

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