Week of October 13 , 2003
House orders outside review of Army Corps data in approving new water projects
The House on September 24 put new reins on the Army Corps of Engineers in authorizing $4.7 billion in new water projects over the next 15 years.
For the first
time, the agency would be required to submit its environment and
cost-benefit studies on its projects for a review by outside experts. The
requirement was inserted into an otherwise routine authorization bill after
the corps was accused of doctoring data to justify a $1 billion expansion of
barge locks on the Upper Mississippi River.
The bill would reduce from 60 to 35 % the nonfederal share of costs for deep draft navigation projects between 45 ft and 53 ft. The House's 412-8 vote sends it to the Senate, which is putting together its own version.
The White House said in a statement it does not support the bill because of its costs and new funding formulas, saying it would delay completing more than $20 billion in backlogged corps project. "These authorizations will create expectations for future funding that cannot be met given competing fiscal priorities including deficit reduction,"
House statement said.
projects are $719 million effort to reduce hurricane and storm damage in
coastal Louisiana, $257 million to cut flooding by California's American
River, and $153 million to improve a shipping channel at Corpus Christi,
Oberstar of Minnesota, the House Transportation Committee's senior Democrat,
said the independent reviews of large-scale water projects "will help
restore the confidence Congress has long put in the Army Corps of Engineers,
but has been shaken lately." Oberstar said, "The nation needs the corps. The
corps also needs to be sure that its proposals withstand the strictest
The outside reviews were recommended by a National Academy of Sciences panel commissioned by Congress in 2000 after a corps economist accused agency officials of doctoring a $54 million study of the upper Mississippi River navigation system to justify a $1 billion expansion of barge locks.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a proposal to increase permit application fees for the majority of permits the agency issues.
Since 1982 when the $25 permit application fee was first established, the Service's costs to administer the permits programs have risen in line with cost of living increases nationwide.
The new proposed fees range from $50 to $300, and are based on a variety of factors, including: (1) the level of complexity required to process the type of permit, (2) whether the permittee stands to benefit commercially from
the permit, and (3) whether the permitted activity serves the public interest. The proposed increase would apply to all Service permits except for permits for possession of eagle parts and feathers for Native American religious and cultural use and for refuge special use permits.
Send comments by Oct 9, 2003, to the Div. of Migratory Bird Management, USFWS, 4401 N Fairfax Dr, MBSP 4107, Arlington, VA 22203-1610. Comments can be faxed to 703/358-2272, or e-mail: [email protected]
To access the proposed rule: http://permits.fws.gov/federalregister/federalregister.shtml
Rule would override EPA, save Lakes from some species
Foreign salties entering the Great Lakes may find the going a little rougher -- from legislation introduced to keep invasive aquatic species from the Great Lakes and other national waterways. U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, introduced legislation in Congress last week that would require foreign ships to unload 95 % of their ballast before entering the Great Lakes.
Miller said her legislation's goal is to offset the EPA ruling. "The rules the EPA signed pretty much left it up to the Coast Guard to do inspections, but this bill makes it mandatory," Miller said. Miller said the change is in response to a decision by the USEPA last week not to
require ships to have permits, under the U.S. Clean Water Act, to discharge their ballast water.
The proposed law would require ships to get rid of 95% of their ballast water in the ocean before entering the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway, Miller said. She is also looking at legislation that would require ship operators to chemically treat the silt in the bottom of their ballast tanks to kill any remaining marine animals and plant life. "This (the ballast tanks) is where the invasive species are coming from," Miller said.
Miller said her legislation's goal is to offset the EPA ruling. "The rules the EPA signed pretty much left it up to the Coast Guard to do inspections, but this bill makes it mandatory," Miller said.
A Potential Federal Injurious Species Candidate
The USFWS served notice that it is collecting scientific and economic information on bighead carp to help determine if the fish should be placed on the list of injurious species, which would prohibit their importation into the United States and their shipment across State lines.
Part of the Service action is in response to appeals from 25 Members of Congress who represent districts near the Great Lakes, and 10 state conservation and other organizations that favor the bighead carp's listing. The same inquiry was initiated for the silver carp on July 23, 2003.
Bighead carp are already established in the Mississippi River basin. Biologists are concerned that the fish could slip into the Great Lakes, where these voracious eaters would threaten the valuable resource. The Great Lakes fishery is already struggling against other invasive species, including the sea lamprey, round goby and Zebra mussel,
If the bighead carp were placed on the injurious species list, it would be illegal to move them across state lines or to import them into the US without a permit from the FWS.
Bighead carp have been used by catfish farmers because they feed on phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus that they filter out of the water. Bighead carp were imported into the U.S. in 1973 and stocked for phytoplankton control in fish farms. By the mid-1970s, carp were being raised at six Federal, State and private facilities and had been stocked in municipal sewage lagoons. Silver carp have been recorded in 12 states.
Comments on the notice of inquiry, published in the Sept 17 Federal Register, must be submitted within 60 days by mail, to: Chief, Division of Environmental Quality, USFWS, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 322, Arlington, VA, 22203; or by fax at 703-358-1800; or comments may be sent by Email to: [email protected] .
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is releasing a Web site dedicated to providing information on the USGS Great Lakes Program, a program consisting of USGS sponsored research and monitoring projects in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region. A special feature of the Web site will be its focus on interdisciplinary science involving the biology, geology, geography, and hydrology disciplines
The Web site will feature information on USGS programs,
projects, and publications covering a wide range of science and natural resource issues. The content of the Web site may be of general interest to all levels of government, industry, academia, nongovernmental agencies, and the public.
Lawmakers slam Endangered Species Act
BELEN, N.M. – In a field hearing here to discuss the effects of a recent 10th Circuit Court decision decreeing that under the Endangered Species Act the Rio Grande endangered silvery minnow has a higher priority for water than any other user – including farmers, ranchers and municipalities – members of the U.S. House Committee on Resources pulled no punches in declaring the law was harming the American way of life in the West and had to be "fixed."
The Sept. 6 hearing was conducted so committee members could hear firsthand what the ruling would mean to the economy of Albuquerque, downstream communities, recreation and agriculture. But as the hearing unfolded, to an audience of about 250 attendees from several states, it became apparent by statements from the members of Congress that, in a larger sense, the committee was examining the impact of the Endangered Species Act on communities and states across America.
Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., set the theme for the hearing when he said for the record, "The Endangered Species Act has become a tool used by vocal and well-funded special interest groups, and needs to be fixed."
Pombo's fellow California congressman and Resources Subcommittee chairman, Ken Calvert, R-Calif., concurred: "The silvery minnow ruling sent a shockwave of uncertainty through Western states. The ruling essentially ignores the nation's fundamental notion of private-property freedoms by exerting federal control over locally controlled water resources. The ruling primarily means that the Endangered Species Act, for the first time, takes precedence over urban water supplies. When court decisions put our communities second, we need to take a hard look at the purpose and balance of the Endangered Species Act."
Continued Calvert, "More money is being spent on litigation than saving species. No one ever intended this law to become the full employment act for lawyers and
environmentalist extremists, but I'm concerned it's going in that direction. It is time for a fresh look at the ESA."
Committee member Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., noted, "I witnessed the 10th Circuit release 50 years' worth of water in one year. That's like saving up your whole life for nothing." Pearce added, "The minnow is not more important than our families, our land, our communities or our way of life. The ESA has … gone though a series of bureaucratic and legal changes that have caused it to become an enormous problem for our communities, counties, local leaders, families and agriculture producers. We cannot let the ESA control the rights of our state or those of our farmers and ranchers."
Pearce's comments were seconded by New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson, who noted, "The court's (silvery minnow) decision has enormous consequences for all Western states, where water is such a valuable resource and critical part of the economy." This decision sets a precedent we can't allow to stand. If the federal government) can take water from the Rio Grande, they can take water from anybody."
The views of the Committee on Resources members were echoed by placard-carrying demonstrators in the parking lot of Belen High School, location of the hearing.
All but one witness – Letty Beli, an environmental attorney – agreed the silvery minnow ruling is a calamity for this nation and must be reversed or blocked by Congress.
The U.S. House Committee on Resources carries considerable weight and regulatory authority. Among the federal agencies under the Committee's jurisdiction are the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that listed the silvery minnow as an endangered species. Further, the Endangered Species Act is a statute under the jurisdiction of the committee.
Just one Democrat on the committee, Rep. Joe Baca of California, attended the field hearing.
Lawmakers Form Great Lakes Caucus
The bipartisan caucus, which first met at the Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Legislative Conference in Milwaukee last month, is made up of lawmakers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as well as representatives from Quebec and Ontario.
Federal, state and Canadian governments regulate the Great Lakes, and U.S. law prohibits diversion or export of water outside the basin unless all eight Great Lakes governors consent. But each state has a different process for approving
withdrawals used for golf course irrigation or Perrier drinking water plants.
Organizers said the caucus is also needed because state laws lack consistency in regulating non-native zebra mussels and Asian carp that have invaded the Great Lakes and disturbed the balance of natural ecosystems.
Caucus members will hold a second meeting on the sidelines of CSG’s annual national conference in Pittsburgh Oct. 23.
The caucus is unique to the region: other legislative groups from the same states have studied issues such as election reform and high-speed rail, but organizers said this is the first caucus to address Great Lakes water management.
Governors have been making regional agreements about the Great Lakes since 1983 through the Council of Great Lakes Governors, and legislators want input.
Michigan DNR Director K.L. Cool has approved a proposal to add the Pine and Upper Manistee rivers to the state's list of Natural Rivers.
The Natural Rivers Program, initiated in Michigan in 1970, preserves rivers by managing development on and immediately near the water. Each of the state's Natural Rivers has its own unique plan, articulating development requirements. The program allows local government units to partner with the state by adopting zoning language that reflects Natural Rivers plans.
DNR conservation experts worked since 1994 to produce the proposals signed by Cool today. More than 100 meetings were held to craft the proposals. The proposals were presented at nearly two dozen informational and
public comment meetings statewide. More than 1,000
public comments were recorded, and the plans were amended early this summer following the final round of public comment to reflect concerns expressed by landowners and conservation groups. Overall, testimony favored the proposals by a 3-1 margin.
The Pine and Upper Manistee rank among the most popular rivers in the state for angling, canoeing, and other outdoor recreation. They are located in one of the most rapidly developing areas in the state.
The action makes the Pine and Upper Manistee the 14th and 15th Natural Rivers, respectively. The last Natural River designated in Michigan was the Fox River in 1988.
Governor Granholm applauded today's decision.
Resolution needed before conflict escalates into confrontation or violence
Michigan's attorney general Mike Cox asked a federal judge last month to make several tribes in northern Michigan play by the same hunting and fishing rules as non-Indians -- before someone gets hurt. If the judge agrees, it would end a system that has developed in recent years under which the tribes set their own game and fish regulations on the land and waters in question in the northwestern Lower Peninsula and eastern Upper Peninsula.
Cox told U.S. District Court Judge Richard Enslen in Kalamazoo he wants the tribes to comply with the same rules issued by the state's Natural Resources Commission for non-Indians. A spokesman for Cox said a resolution is needed before conflict between Indian and non-Indian hunters or anglers escalates into confrontation or violence. "There is just way too much confusion," said Cox spokesman Sage Eastman. "How long can we wait . . . before there is an ugly confrontation or mass arrests?"
The potential for conflict is greatest when the tribes' bag limits, seasons and rules are more liberal than those set by the state.
An attorney for one of the five tribes covered by the 1836
treaty said the state's action would be "perceived as a direct threat to tribal sovereignty." "The tribes are convinced these rights have survived, and they will vigorously oppose" the state's attempt to quash them, said Traverse City lawyer William Rastetter.
The five tribes are the Bay Mills Indian Community, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.
James Ekdahl, a tribal affairs specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, said tension over the issue has been growing. His office receives 20 to 30 reports a year from conservation officers who report actions by tribal members that would be violations of state game laws if committed by non-Indians. Ekdahl said the most potentially explosive conflict comes because of assertions by some tribal members that the treaty gives them access to private as well as public lands.
Rastetter, who represents the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa, said at least three of the tribes have renounced rights to private lands, and try to maintain regulations that are consistent with state guidelines. Nor have tribal members used treaty rights to practice commercial hunting or fishing inland and on inland waters, he said.
Gardeners, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts are likely to encounter earthworms; those earthworms found in Minnesota are exotic species from Europe and Asia. Aside from their use for bait and composting, most people don't know the rest of the story. A group of scientists think they should.
Minnesota has no native earthworms, angle worms or night crawlers. Those that have been introduced here are harming many native forests, reducing wildflower populations, and may be causing increased erosion and reduced water quality.
Research conducted by staff and graduate students from the University of Minnesota - Center for Hardwood Ecology is documenting the harmful effects of exotic earthworms. "Our research is verifying what others have observed in Minnesota and Wisconsin forests," said Cindy Hale, who
has been doing worm research for several years. "The worms are not as good as we were all led to believe."
Steve Mortensen, biologist from the Leech Lake Reservation, added, "We have observed the leaf litter in forests disappearing and along with it the native wildflowers, ferns and tree seedlings. Once earthworms have invaded, they cannot be removed."
Experts encourage anglers and others not to spread earthworms to new areas. DNR Exotic Species Program Coordinator Jay Rendall suggests disposing of unwanted earthworms used as bait in the trash and not at boat landings, roadsides or in the woods. It is also possible to unknowingly spread the worms by moving soil, compost and mulch, even in small amounts, from one place to another.
For more info visit the Minnesota Worm Watch at www.nrri.umn.edu/worms
Resident says of efforts, " All they're doing... is exercising the cormorants' wings
A "cormorant harassment program" developed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began in 1998 and, according to DEC Commissioner Erin M. Crotty, has been extremely effective in reducing numbers of the non-native waterfowl species on Oneida Lake.
The DEC is using a mixture of non-lethal tactics like noise-makers, streamers, lasers and strobe lights on the lake's islands, where migrating, double-crested cormorants usually roost.
The program begins in late summer and into early fall, a time when large populations of birds visit the area. The program began last week, earlier than usual, in an attempt to further protect walleye pike and perch populations in the lake.
The DEC is using a mixture of non-lethal tactics like noise-makers, streamers, lasers and strobe lights on the lake's islands, where migrating, double-crested cormorants usually roost.
According to the Oneida Lake Association, from 1991 to 1997, cormorants ate about two-thirds of walleye yearlings in the lake. According to the association's data, the walleye class of 1991 was predicted to produce more than 400,000 adult walleyes. Instead, only 140,000 are estimated to have reached maturity.
Many fishermen on Oneida Lake have reported very small catches of the legal size limit of walleye (18"). In 1996, there was an estimated 1.2 million yellow perch in Oneida Lake. From 1994 to 1996, anglers took an estimated 300,000 perch, or jacks as the adult species is sometimes called. It is estimated the cormorant took in excess of 500,000 in that time.
"New York will continue to work with our partners as we seek to reduce the number of cormorants that can have negative environmental, economic and recreational impacts," said Crotty. "As the DEC re-commences non-lethal prevention measures to reduce the number of migrating cormorants this fall, we thank lake residents and visitors for their ongoing cooperation."
Crotty says cormorant population reduction will be achieved through this method, also known as "hazing." The program is being conducted by biologists with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's wildlife services group and researchers at Cornell University's Schackleton Point facility.
Cornell will also be involved in monitoring future changes in cormorant and fish populations. This monitoring will measure the impact of the cormorant control efforts and provide a basis for continuing or modifying management strategies to enable walleye and perch population recovery. Cornell research indicates that the bulk of cormorant feeding on walleye occurs during the fall migration.
This year the start date was advanced to afford further protection to fish populations. Hazing is being done on weekdays in order to minimize conflicts with recreational users of the lake.
DEC Region Seven Wildlife Manager Marie Kaupz said the increase in cormorant populations on Oneida Lake is a result of the zebra mussel population improving the lake's water clarity. "Clearer water makes it easier for the birds to see the fish and Oneida Lake is a great feeding spot for the cormorant," said Kaupz. "The program has been pretty effective in reducing the birds' numbers so far."
The hazing will go on through the end of September. Kaupz says by then most cormorants move south. "Their population has been growing throughout the Northeast and the Great Lakes region." she said, mainly due to the affects of the zebra mussel. In the association's recent issue of "The Oneida Lake Bulletin" the association says hazing doesn't go far enough.
According to data compiled by the Oneida Lake Association, more than 350,000 walleye and 2 million perch were destroyed in 2001 alone. The association also estimates that millions of dollars have been lost at marinas, bait shops, motels and cottage rentals due to the cormorant.
Ed Beickert, a member of the Oneida Lake Impact Committee and a former member of the Oneida Lake Association feels the hazing program only works to a certain degree and he says he can't find any hard evidence that the program is totally effective.
"Maybe it's working on the islands but it's not on the east shore," said Beickert. "All they're doing..." he says of some efforts along the east shore to drive cormorants out, "... is exercising the cormorants' wings.
"The birds take off from here and land somewhere else."
Fall Fishing and Boating Shots Perfect for Photography Competition
There is still plenty of time to participate in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's annual amateur photography contest.
To enter, amateur photographers may submit original works taken in Pennsylvania that illustrate the beauty of the Keystone State's fishing, boating, and aquatic resources. Images may be entered in one of five categories: seasonal fishing/boating, family fishing/boating, young anglers/boaters, fishing/boating resources and
reptiles/amphibians/aquatic invertebrates. Applicants are limited to a maximum of two entries per category.
Contest winners will receive a set of limited edition PFBC patches. Winning photographs may be featured in Pennsylvania Angler & Boater Magazine, the Keystone State's Official Fishing and Boating Magazine, on the Commission's web site, and in publications and exhibits.
For full contest rules, and an entry form, visit the Commission's web site at www.fish.state.pa.us .
Entries must be received on or before December 31, 2003.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock 143 bodies of water in 60 counties across the state as part of the 2003 Fall Trout Stocking Program. The Commission will release 110,100 legal-sized trout to provide anglers with expanded fishing opportunities during the autumn months.
The stockings will be held during the weeks of September 29, October 6 and October 13. During that time, the Commission intends to stock 86 river and stream sections as well as 57 lakes. A total of 66,755 rainbow trout make up the biggest portion of the stocked fish, with 31,870 brown trout and 12,475 brook trout rounding out the allotment.
The Fall Trout Stocking Program features two different components. Anglers who wish to harvest trout may take advantage of the stream sections or lakes regulated
by the Extended Trout Season Rules. The Extended Trout Season, which began September 2 and runs through the end of February 2004, permits anglers to creel up to three trout of seven inches or greater daily.
The second component of the program is the stocking of stream sections managed under Delayed Harvest Regulations. Delayed Harvest allows for year-round fishing. However, no trout may be creeled the day after Labor Day until the following June 15. Anglers should consult the 2003 Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws issued with each license for a complete list of rules governing Delayed Harvest waters.
A complete list of waters included in the PFBC's Fall Stocking Program, can be found on the Commission's web site at http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Fish_Boat/stockfall.htm
Biologists with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission directed a multi-agency state and federal work force performing fisheries sampling on the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers last month. Sampling took place in the US Army Corps of Engineers lock chambers on the Monongahela River at Braddock Lock and Dam, Maxwell Lock and Dam, Grays Landing Lock and Dam, and on the Ohio River at Montgomery Lock and Dam.
A fish toxicant was used to collect all fish in the lock chamber to determine total fish species present, their
their weights. The data will be used to document current conditions and then
link them to historical sampling data from numerous years collected
back as far as 1968. This work, along with fish sampling by electrofishing
in Spring 2003, will be used to document the quantity and quality of the
fish populations in the Monongahela River.
The sampling work is part of a larger Monongahela River Watershed study. Agencies involved in the fisheries work will include the PFBC, PA Dept of Environmental Protection, W VA DNR, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, USEPA, and the USACE.
As a result of recent efforts by an interested group of Northern Wisconsin citizens, The Apostle Islands Sportfishermen’s Association, The A.I.S.A.- is being reactivated. Originally formed in 1980 to serve as the voice of the sportfishermen of the Apostle Islands, the A.I.S.A.’s mission remains the same. The A.I.S.A. is an organization of men and women who have an interest in maintaining and improving the quality of sport fishing in the Apostle Island/Chequamagon Bay area of Lake Superior and the bays, rivers, and streams which are important to maintaining a quality fishery.
It is planned to have speakers on issues that affect sport fishing in this area. We hope to create a unified voice to speak to the DNR in Madison as well as to our elected officials. Subjects to be addressed will include the Perch Fishery, Lamprey Control, Control of Exotic Species, net
placement, and fish planting/stocking issues among others. Current plans call for development of a Web site and establishment of an E-Mail address in the very near future.
If you fish this region of Lake Superior or would like to learn more about fishing these waters please join us. Meetings are held the Last Tuesday of every month. This months meeting will be held September 30 at 7:00 pm at the Washburn Public Library Basement meeting room, Washburn, WI.
Memberships can be obtained by mailing $15.00 with name, address and E-mail address to: A.I.S.A. PO Box 794, Ashland WI. 54806
For more info: Al House: [email protected] or 715-373-2943 or Kurt Nelson at 715-373-0335
CAYUGA, ON - Three Ontario anglers have been fined $1150 each for catching 26 bass over their daily limit at Nanticoke in eastern Lake Erie.
Samir Mansour, 57, and Farouk Kamel, 66, both of Brantford, and Georges Zakarian, 34, of Downsview, were caught with too many smallmouth bass. The court ordered their fish, fishing rods, tackle boxes and cooler permanently seized. The three men plead guilty.
On July 30, 2003, two Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Lake Erie Management Unit conservation officers
and one MNR Aylmer District conservation officer were
watching anglers in Nanticoke harbour, near Port Dover. They saw the three men catch their limit of six bass each and then hide them in a cooler. An hour later, the three men resumed fishing and were subsequently found with another 26 bass in their boat.
Justice of the Peace MacDonald heard the case in Cayuga Provincial Court on September 12, 2003.
The public is encouraged to help protect its natural resources by reporting violations to the local Ministry of Natural Resources office or to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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