Week of October 25 , 2004

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National

Activists Oppose Energy Exploration in the National Petroleum Reserve

Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Frivolous Lawsuits

According to the Sacramento Bee: "Subsidized by federal tax dollars, environmental groups are filing a blizzard of lawsuits that no longer yield significant gain for the environment and sometimes infuriate federal judges and the Justice Dept. During the 1990s, the U.S. Treasury paid $31.6 million in legal fees for environmental cases filed against the government."

 

The Capital Research Center also found that environmental fundraising groups have robbed the American taxpayers. For instance, a review of the Natural Resources Defense

Council's (NRDC) financial and court records reveal that "a large percentage of its cases against the government agencies eventually are thrown out of court." These lawsuits drain the resources of the federal agencies and rob the taxpayer at the same time. Taxpayers bear the court costs when the government is sued and if the organization wins, the groups are rewarded financial judgments and court costs-all paid for by the taxpayer. And to add insult to injury, many of these organizations operate on taxpayer-funded grants to begin with.

• NRDC: Biting the Taxpayers Who Feed Them, Capital Research Center

 


National Academies of Science Rips U.S. Army Corps Upper Mississippi Plan

Third NAS Report Is Scalding — Most Critical

Washington, DC — The National Research Council of the National Academies of Science today issued a blistering report savaging the $70 million study written by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to justify building bigger new locks throughout the entire Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway system. In unmistakably blunt words, the National Academies of Science (NAS) found the Corps’ work lacked “credibility and value” as an aid to decision-making.

 

This highly negative report is the third negative review authored by the NAS of the Corps planning for the $2.5 billion project and joins a number of other critical reviews issued by academic, taxpayer and environmental groups.

 

The NAS report found that the Corps —

  • Deliberately discounted non-construction alternatives to new locks. “The failure to fully consider nonstructural measures precludes any statement about the desirability of structural measures.”

  • Used unreliable inflated forecasts of barge traffic. “There are no overwhelming regional or global trends that clearly portend a marked departure from a 20-year trend of steady U.S. grain export levels.” and

  • Corrupted its economic models. The Corps’ principal model is “incapable of producing any credible estimate of a lower bound of the benefits of lock extensions. Economic feasibility for any of the navigation alternatives has therefore not been demonstrated.”

 

“Boiled down to lay terms, the National Academies of Science is saying that the Corps, after ten years of work and spending more than $70 million, succeeds in subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge,” stated PEER Executive director Jeff Ruch whose organization represents Corps economists who have repeatedly disclosed flaws in this study and in the agency planning process. “The agency’s civilian specialists have been subjected to the crudest intellectual bondage by Corps commanding officers to produce this massive work of economic fiction.”

 

The Navigation Feasibility Study for the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois Waterway is now awaiting approval from the Chief of Engineers, Major General Carl A. Strock, who previously oversaw the planning for this project as the Director of Civil Works.

 

“Today’s National Academies of Science report is a searing indictment of Gen. Strock’s leadership,” Ruch concluded.


Nebraska offers cash for invasive snakehead

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- The state Game and Parks Commission's fisheries division is looking to buy back snakehead fish in the state and is willing to pay $50 for a more than two-foot long specimen.  The state wants to ban the

invasive, carnivorous fish. The commission also wants Nebraskans in possession of the fish to hand them over for a price by Jan. 1, 2006. The going rates would be $10 for a less than one foot fish, $25 for a 12-inch to 24-inch fish and $50 for those longer than two feet.


Ruling opens parks to snowmobiles

CHEYENNE, Wyo (AP). -- A federal judge on October 15 struck down a Clinton-era ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, a move expected to leave the parks open to the vehicles for at least the next three winters.

 

U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer ruled that the restriction--aimed at preventing air and noise pollution and protecting wildlife--was imposed without adequate input from the public and officials from Montana and Wyoming.  The 2001 rule was "the product of a prejudged, political decision to ban snowmobiles from all the national parks," he said.

 

National Park Service officials are drafting new rules for the next three winters. The proposals call for up to 720 guided snowmobiles a day in Yellowstone this winter, and 140 a day in Grand Teton as well as the road connecting the two parks.

 

Interior Secretary Gale Norton said Friday that her agency will continue working toward a "common sense solution" for snowmobile use in such recreation areas.   "We are committed to allowing responsible winter access through

cleaner operating ... machines, restricting snowmobiles to the same paved roads that are used by vehicles in the summer months," she said in a statement.

 

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal praised the judge's decision. He said it recognized "the fundamentally unfair nature of the ban and ensured that citizens will get to see their national park."  But Abigail Dillen, an attorney for some of the conservation groups that sued, said the organizations were studying their legal options.

 

Before the Clinton-era ban could take effect, the Bush administration issued permissive new rules allowing up to 950 snowmobiles in Yellowstone and up to 190 in Grand Teton.

 

A federal judge in Washington overturned the Bush rules in December 2003 and reinstated the Clinton ban for the remainder of the winter of 2003-04. Brimmer, who is based in Cheyenne, issued an injunction two months later preventing the Clinton rules from taking effect.

 


Judge’s Ruling Clears Way for Maryland Bear Hunt

A Maryland judge has denied a request from anti-hunters for a preliminary injunction to stop the state’s new bear hunting season.

The New York based Fund for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and three individual plaintiffs had filed suit to stop the hunt. 

 

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, through its Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, and the Maryland Sportsmen’s Association had filed to intervene on behalf of sportsmen.  Although the court has not ruled on its motion to intervene, the Foundation and Association have been working with the Maryland Attorney General’s office on the case.

 

“We’re very pleased that the judge saw through the anti-hunters’ misinformation campaign to stop the bear hunt,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation vice president for government affairs.  “The Maryland Attorney General’s office did a fantastic job of defending the hunt and the authority of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to manage wildlife.”

 

In his ruling, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Smith, Prince George’s County, stated that the plaintiffs had failed to

demonstrate either of two points they were arguing.

 

The anti’s had charged that the Maryland DNR had violated state law by not setting seasons and bag limits by an April deadline.  Judge Smith stated that the deadline was merely a guideline.  Setting season dates and bag limits at a later date did not cause harm to the plaintiffs.  He stated that stopping the hunt would cause harm to potential bear hunters.

 

The anti’s other point was that state wildlife biologists were wrong in their assessment of the bear population.  Judge Smith ruled that the agency gave “due regard” to science on population figures and other biological factors and deferred to the wildlife agency’s expertise on the matter.

 

Although the case has not been heard on its merits, the denial for a preliminary injunction is a severe setback to anti-hunting efforts to stop the bear hunt for this year.  The judge’s ruling also greatly decreases the anti’s chances of winning the case.  Anti-hunting groups could still appeal the ruling, but time is running out.  The bear hunt is scheduled for October 25-30 and December 6-11.

 

Biologists say that the hunt is needed to help reduce western Maryland’s skyrocketing black bear population.  There has been a recent increase in human-bear conflicts in the state.


Environmental Group Cites Partisanship in the Judiciary

Study Shows Environmental Bias
A new study by the nonpartisan Environmental Law Institute (ELI) reveals that federal judges appointed by Democrat presidents rule for environmentalists more often than Republican appointees. The authors studied 325 judicial rulings between January 21, 2001 and June 30, 2003 and concluded that Democrat appointees sided with environmental plaintiffs nearly 60 % of the time while Republican appointees did so only 28 percent of the time.

 

Republican appointed district judges favored developers 60 % of the time while the Democrats did so only in only 14% of the cases. Jay E. Austin, a senior attorney for ELI, was surprised  that Republican judges decided environmental lawsuits

differently from Democrat judges. "We obviously find that s Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council. troubling," he said. That could be because even though ELI claims a degree of neutrality in environmental litigation it is interesting to note they belong to Earth Share, an organization that advertises itself as a "federation of America's leading environmental and conservation charities..." whose members include The Nature Conservancy, Earth Justice, the Sierra Club, Wildernes

 

Todd True, attorney for EarthJustice, the organization that successfully shut down logging in the northwest, also found the study results troubling. "An independent judiciary is central to the functioning of our democracy," he said, "and its neutrality needs to be protected."

 


Lawmakers seek reform of Endangered Species Act

Thirty-year-old law criticized as ineffective.

Environmentalists regard the Endangered Species Act as the most powerful legal tool available to them in their putative efforts to save the planet, with some justification. The law gives groups legal standing to challenge virtually every federally and state-permitted action. And consequently, it can be used to curtail all manner of activities such as logging and fishing. There’s just one catch, however.

           

When it comes to actually promoting recovery of declining species, the law is a dud with a success rate of 0.01 percent. According to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), in 30 years, only 12 of the 1,300 species that have been listed under the law - less than 1 percent - have recovered under the statute.  “Unintended consequences

have rendered it a failed managed-care program that checks species in, but never checks them out,” Pombo says.

 

Now come two bills to reform the act: the Critical Habitat Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), and the Sound Science for ESA Planning Act, sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.).  “These bills will modernize the law to improve our results for recovery,” Pombo says, “and in that regard, there is certainly nowhere to go but up.”

           

Proposed changes include limiting the ability of groups to sue under the ESA and integrating a peer review mechanism into the process of designating critical habitat.  Opponents of the bills say the changes would gut the 30-year-old ESA. In response, Pombo questions how the law could be made any weaker given its poor success rate.

 


Canada

Gun owners say proposed ammo laws will ruin them

Eight years after the passage of Bill C-68—which requires all gun owners to register their weapons, the federal government is proposing new regulations that aim to restrict the way gun owners load ammunition, too. In a June 21 letter sent to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, chief explosives inspector and director Chris Watson outlined the proposed new explosive regulations. If implemented, many hobbyists say it will essentially make life so difficult, it will be impossible for them to continue enjoying the sport of shooting.

 

The regulations currently being floated are designed to restrict the way ammunition can be hand-loaded—a process in which shooters reload spent shells with gunpowder and a new charge, rather than buying new ammo. The Explosives Act prohibits ammunition to be made anywhere except in a licensed factory, but has always included an exemption for hobbyists who hand-load. Some gun owners do it to save money. But reloading also allows real enthusiasts to fine- tune their loads for increased accuracy and precision—a must for sport competitors, many of whom experiment with different powders and weights, making reloading a hobby in itself.

 

The propositions outlined by Watson, however, would require that ammunition (which, by Ottawa’s definition, includes blasting explosives, dynamite, ammunition, fireworks, sparklers, road flares, rockets and propellants) could not be loaded at home. Loading would instead have to be done in a detached dwelling, located at least 15 metres from any other home. The reason, according to Watson, is that anyone accidentally igniting five kilograms of black or smokeless gunpowder could “cause a fireball several metres across,” which “would undoubtedly initiate a rapid and intense fire in a normal room.”

 

Patrick Haynes, who has been certified by the National Rifle Association to teach pistol shooting, lives in a Toronto

condominium and says the rules not only discriminate between city dwellers and rural types, by making it impossible for hobbyists in highrises or dense areas to hand-load, they’re also prejudiced against Canadians of lesser means. Factory-manufactured ammunition is extremely expensive, he says, and so the new regulations will mean “less shooting, except for those who are well-off.” Essentially, says Haynes, “the feds want to make my sport more expensive and less satisfying.”

 

In his letter to the shooting association, Watson maintains that the aim of the additional regulations is to ensure safety. “We do not believe that residents in a multi-unit dwelling should be subject to the risk” of nearby ammunition loading, he writes. He also proposes that the rules being considered by Ottawa will ban shooters from storing more than five kilograms of propellant within a dwelling—enough, says Watson, for 1,500 shotgun shells, or about 20,000 pistol loads.

 

The fact is, gunpowder-related accidents really aren’t that common, according to Constantine Matusoff, manager of licensing and compliance with the explosives regulator. In the past five years, there have been only two serious incidents involving gunpowder in the Ottawa area. In one case, some powder caught fire in an apartment and damaged the kitchen in the unit directly above it. The second incident wasn’t even in a residential area at all, but in a commercial storage facility.

 

For now, Ottawa stops short of suggesting exactly how and when the new regulations might find their way into law, with Matusoff confirming only that the government is engaged in a “consultation process” with stakeholders, like the sports shooters. What’s more, while any new laws might require parliamentary assent, or at least a committee hearing, Section 119 of the Firearms Act allows for anything deemed to be a revision to become law without being vetted by either. In other words, the drafted provisions could become legally binding whenever the minister of Natural Resources decides to implement them.


Where have all the hunters gone?

For the past generation, the number of duck hunters in the country, and especially in the Prairie West, has been in decline. Hunting reached its peak in 1978 when over half a million of us paid a mere $3.50 each to shoot ducks and geese; today, licences cost 10 times that, and the number of hunters has dropped below 200,000. In Alberta, numbers have fallen from over 80,000 to around 20,000.

 

Maintaining a vigorous population of hunters is important for two basic reasons. First, human hunters sit atop the food chain. They are an integral component in the balance of nature, instrumental in maintaining rational wildlife management. They are the ones who conduct the harvest that helps ensure a sustainable wildlife population.

 

Second, through their licence fees, they pay to undertake what

is essentially a public service. If licenced hunters did not conduct the annual migratory bird harvest, taxpayers would be stuck with the bill to cover the expenses of fish and game officers who would then be in the unpleasant position of acting as exterminators.

 

The banning of lead shot -- which has more stopping power than steel or any substitute, except perhaps depleted uranium -- has been another irritation. Now, many of the birds that fall from the sky are still alive -- "cripples," hunters call them. They can crawl under a grain swath to hide, or swim around in the water with enough energy to give all but the best retrievers a hard time. Conscientious hunters will search for them, but inevitably many more birds shot with steel rather than lead are never found, and wind up slowly perishing. Many hunters find it heartbreaking that their suffering is increased because they

don't drop dead.


Regional

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.  We still need $600,000 to keep this program alive, and 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 ofEngineers 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.

 

The Second Barrier        

A second larger, more powerful barrier has been designed and after a year of false starts construction is now scheduled to begin next week and completed by April 2005. However, the cost of the barrier design to stop Asian carp from entering the lake still exceeds the available funds by $600,000. We need more funding to help support construction of the barrier and to help pay for the rapid response plan if it has to be used.

                     

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 absolutely necessary, for operating expenses of the barrier.

 

 

 

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


Carp Fund Barometer

Donation          Ranking

$    1 – 10   Alewife

 

$  11 – 20  Yellow Perch

 

$  21 – 50   Black Bass

     Berg, Jeffrey W.

     Cozzie, Ken

     Fuka, John J.

     Gold Coast Charter Service

 

$  51 – 100   Coho Salmon

     Couston, Tom

Yahara Fishing Club

 

$  101 – 200   Walleye

 

$  201 – 500   Brown Trout

     Northeast Wis. GL Sport Fishermen

 

$  501 – 1000   Steelhead

 

$  1001 – 5000   Chinook Salmon

 

$  5001 – UP   Lake Trout

_____________________

Current Total= $615.00


Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for October 22, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Currently, all of the Great Lakes are higher than the levels of a year ago.  Lake Ontario is 2 inches higher and the remaining lakes are 6 to 11 inches higher than last year’s levels.  Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, and St. Clair are below their long-time averages by 4, 14, and 6 inches, respectively. Lake Erie is at its long-term average and Lake Ontario is above its long-term average by 2 inches. 


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 wet weekend is again possible in the Great Lakes basin as a strong storm system tracks into the region.  Showers along with a few strong thunderstorms are possible through Sunday.  Drier conditions will arrive early 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 4 inches over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are also continuing their seasonal decline and are expected to drop by 3-6 inches over the next month.

 

Alerts:

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.

 


LECBA Lauds Asian Carp Barrier Funding

Ohio Senators, George Voinovich and Mike DeWine and Rep. David Hobson were instrumental in putting an extra $1.825 million in a 2005 District of Columbia spending bill to enhance and finish the new electric barrier fence on the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal.

 

President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill this week.

 

Present at the announcement were Ohio Senators George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, Ohio DNR Director Sam Speck, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Johnson, LECBA President Robert Collins and Michael Matta advisory board member of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

 

Collins said “The  over 850 Ohio Charter Captains, members of the LECBA and the 100’s of thousands of Ohioans that enjoy the lake would be negatively affected if these carp got in and disrupted the walleye, perch, and smallmouth bass fishing that are so important to us.” 

 

“This Asian Carp Barrier will prevent the invasion of a foreign species into the great lakes. Asian Carp could wreck the $4.5 billion Great Lakes fishing and recreation industry if they get in to Lake Erie and other great Lakes.” Collins added.

 

Invasive species

The species threatening the Great Lakes are called Asian carp to differentiate them from the common carp.

1. Silver carp, which can reach 60 pounds.

2. Bighead carp, which can top 100 pounds.

3. Black carp, escaped to the wild in the 1990’s.

The western end of Lake Erie, between Monroe and Sandusky, is the shallowest, warmest, and most-prolific area of the Great Lakes for fish spawning. Much of the local Lake Erie tourism is based around the sport-fishing industry.

 

Economics- the Lake Erie resource is important to Ohio, the counties along the north shore, and specifically to the charter and other recreation-related businesses.  It has been for a long time and we need to ensure that fishing remains a viable activity for a long time to come. 

 

Prevention- it is really great to see the timely support for actions that will prevent nuisance species from coming to the Great Lakes.  Once they are here it is nearly impossible to control them.  Sea Lamprey invasions devastated fisheries in the last century and we now pay the price for control measures every year.

 

Risk- even though not every exotic species is harmful, we can’t afford to take the risk and let them invade our lakes and rivers.  Fishing is a risky enough business and fishermen don’t need the added worry of having exotics upset the food chain and ruin good, healthy fisheries. 

 

Permanent- Unlike some other environmental problems, aquatic nuisance species introductions are usually permanent! We can’t clean them up like an oil spill.

 

Cooperation- Government at all levels are involved in this fight to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.  The charter industry appreciates the collective efforts of city (Chicago), state, and, federal governments on this one!  That is what it is going to take to win this battle.


Sweep of  Chicago harbor planned for snakeheads

State officials are scrambling to pull survey crews out of other lakes and rivers to search Chicago’s Burnham Harbor for Northern snakeheads. They plan to use boats equipped with electric cables that shock fish and bring them to the surface, but one state official cautioned that the technique generally only works to a depth of 3’ and could miss some fish in the deep harbor.

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and scientists from the neighboring Shedd Aquarium also plan to place trap nets and 125 ft long gill nets in the harbor in search of the aggressive northern snakehead.  They hope they don’t come up with anything.

"I'm hoping this is just a random fish dumped out of an aquarium by somebody who didn't know what to do with it," said Tom Trudeau, head of the Lake Michigan fisheries program at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "The fear is seeing their young in the lake. If that happens, we're in trouble."

Acting quickly could make a difference, experts said.

Scientists warned years ago that another prolific invasive fish
in the Great Lakes, the round goby, could spread into the Mississippi River system. But a multitude of federal and state agencies that oversee the lakes delayed installing an electronic barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to shock the gobies and keep them in Lake Michigan.

 

By the time the barrier was finally turned on, gobies had already made it through the canal, which ties the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.

 

Federal and state officials announced that after more than a year of false starts, construction will begin on a more powerful electric barrier in the canal. This time they are trying to keep Asian carp from swimming into the Great Lakes, and northern snakehead from establishing themselves in Burnham Harbor. The carp ate their way from Arkansas to Illinois in the last decade and are less than 50 miles from Lake Michigan. 

 

Federal and state officials say the Asian carp and the snakehead could wreak havoc in the Great Lakes.  The two critters combined would be a 1-2 punch that could knock out the areas near- and offshore fishery.


Indiana

New Indiana fish and wildlife land

Fairbanks Landing Fish and Wildlife Area opens Nov. 13

The Department of Natural Resources will open a new 8,000-acre Fairbanks Landing Fish and Wildlife Area on Nov. 13. The new property northwest of Fairbanks, Ind. includes six miles of Wabash River frontage and 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Vigo and Sullivan Counties.

 

Preliminary plans include a boat ramp and habitat improvements for ground nesting birds. The DNR will meet with area residents to develop a more detailed management plan for the property. Minnihaha Fish and Wildlife Area in nearby Sullivan will manage Fairbanks Landing FWA, which will be open free-of-charge to outdoor enthusiasts.

 

Fees from the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and associated sporting equipment will fund management.

 

Indiana Michigan Power had operated the Breed Electric Power Generating Plant on the site for 30 years. The plant was closed 10 years ago after a newer plant was built near

Rockport. Some acreage was leased for farming, but most of the property was left in a natural state.  While the land will be open to the public, Indiana Michigan Power will continue to own the acreage. DNR signed a five-year, no-cost management agreement for the property.

 

"Hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers will have new territory to explore along the Wabash River in Vigo and Sullivan counties, thanks to an agreement between the state and Indiana Michigan Power," said Gov. Joe Kernan today in his news release announcing the new public land.

 

Fairbanks Landing FWA joins a spate of new state recreation lands opening this year. Ravinia Woods in Morgan Co. and Prophetstown State Park in Tippecanoe Co. recently opened, while Charlestown State Park along the Ohio River in Clark Co. added 2100 acres of public natural land.

 

Fairbanks Landing FWA map:  http://www.dnr.in.gov/fishwild/fairbanksmap.pdf     Minnehaha FWA: 812-268-5640


Collecting eastern box turtles from the wild in Indiana will soon be illegal

An Indiana law, effective October 23, 2004, prohibits the collection of eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina) or their parts from the wild in Indiana.  Individuals who currently possess an eastern box turtle, a subspecies, or their parts will need to apply for the new box turtle possession permit.  There is no cost for the permit.

 

The eastern box turtle is tottering between maintaining stable populations and becoming endangered.  "Prohibiting the taking of the eastern box turtle in Indiana is one of the best ways that we can help protect this species," said State Herpetologist, Zack Walker. 

 

Current studies reveal that male eastern box turtles must hear or see a female before the mating process will even begin.  Low animal numbers in populations prevent adequate contact between males and females. Additionally, we now know that box turtles have a homing instinct.  Turtles displaced by humans will instinctively attempt to return to their home habitat, often times forcing them to travel through unsafe conditions.

 

Past collection has already harmed many box turtle

populations.  The loss of habitat and an increasing number of roads through their habitat also contribute to their decline.  Walker reports, "We now are aware of how detrimental incidental collection and displacement is to the population and it is essential that it does not continue as it has in the past."

 

The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) is a small to medium-sized turtle with a domed shell.  The top of the turtle's shell is variable in color and pattern but is typically marked with yellow to orange streaks and blotches on a dark background.  The eastern box turtle is very similar in appearance to the state-endangered Ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornate).

 

Specific information about eastern box turtles and new possession permits in Indiana is available on the Wildlife Diversity Section's website at: www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/endangered    

 

Permit information may also be obtained by contacting the Division of Fish & Wildlife at 317-232-4080.

 

Permit Information:  Linnea Petercheff, lpetercheff@dnr.in.gov  317-232-4080


Michigan

Open houses to focus on Sault area forests Oct 26-27

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host open houses Oct. 26 - 27 to provide information and receive public comment on forest management treatments proposed for 2006 in the Sault Ste. Marie Management Unit.

 

The Oct. 26 open house will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the Kinross Township Hall in Kincheloe for Chippewa County.  The Oct. 27 open house will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the DNR Naubinway Field Office for west Mackinac County.

 

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

The open houses are an opportunity for the public to review proposed treatments and provide input toward final decisions on those treatments. They also provide the public an opportunity to talk with foresters and biologists about issues of interest. Maps and information regarding the proposed treatments will be available at each open house, can be accessed at www.michigan.gov/dnr , or by contacting Pat Hallfrisch, Sault Ste. Marie Unit Manager, at 906-635-5281.

 

Each forest management unit is divided into smaller units or compartments to facilitate better administration of the resources. The Oct. 26 open house and compartment review focuses on DeTour, Drummond, Pickford, Raber and Superior townships in Chippewa County. The Oct. 27 meeting focuses on Garfield, Hendricks, Hudson and Newton townships in west Mackinac County.

 

The formal compartment review to finalize prescriptions for these areas is scheduled to begin Dec. 7, at 9 a.m. at the Quality Inn in St. Ignace.


Minnesota

Groundbreaking for McQuade Safe Harbor and Boat Access set for October 29

The Minnesota DNR will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the McQuade Road Safe Harbor and Protected Boat Access on Friday, October 29 at 3 p.m. at the McQuade Road site.

 

The groundbreaking event will include remarks by Congressman Jim Oberstar and Lt. Col. Lauzon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Detroit, along with local dignitaries. 

 

McQuade Road Safe Harbor is one of seven proposed harbors of refuge along Lake Superior’s North Shore in Minnesota.  The harbors are located strategically along the shore to the allow boaters access to safety in case of bad weather, rough waters, or equipment problems.  

The USACE, DNR, St. Louis County, Duluth Township, Lakewood Township, and the City of Duluth have been working on the plans for the McQuade Road Safe Harbor for several years.  The $8 million project will include a breakwater, boat launch and parking area, and give access to Lake Superior from the east side of Duluth.  Funding for the project comes from both federal and state sources.

 

When completed the site will include 3 ramps, 2 docks, paved parking for 69 car/trailers, public restrooms, a fish cleaning station, public phone, information kiosk, shore fishing, picnic area, and a three-acre calm water basin provided by low berm-style breakwalls.

 

 


Whitefish/Ciscoe Sport netting  begin Oct 22

The Minnesota DNR, Tower Area Fisheries Office announced the opening of Whitefish/Ciscoe netting on the following lakes:

 

Opening date for Basswood, Fall, and Newton Lakes will be Friday, October 22, and closing date will be Thursday, November 11, 2004.  Legal descriptions are:

BASSWOOD                 Lake County                  T.64,65 R.9,10,11          S. Var.

FALL                            Lake County                  T.63                  R.11,12 S. Var.

                                    St. Louis County            T.64                  R.11                 S. Var.

NEWTON                      Lake County                  T.63,64 R.11                 S. Var.

 

Opening date for Lake Vermilion will be Friday, October 22, and closing date will be Friday, November 5, 2004.  Legal description:

VERMILION                   St. Louis County            T.62                  R.14,15,16,17;

                                                                        T.63                  R.15,16,17,18

(All except Pike Bay, south & west of a north-south line at narrowest portion between Echo Pt. & Punchers Pt. -                              T.62,                 R.15,                S.19 + Var.)

 

Nets may be set after sunrise on the opening day and must be removed before sunset on the closing day.

Minimum gill net mesh size shall be no less than 1 ¾ inch net stretch measure for Basswood and Fall Lakes.

Minimum gill net mesh size shall be no less than 3 ½ inch net stretch measure for Newton and Vermilion Lakes. (Net stretch measure means the interior distance between opposite knots or corners of a single mesh of net, taken between the thumb and forefinger and applying enough pressure laterally to allow the opposite sides of the mesh to touch.) 

A Whitefish netting license is required.

A person may use only one gill net, not exceeding 100 feet in length and 3 feet in width.

One end of the gill net must have a pole, stake, or buoy projecting at least 2 ft above the surface of the water or ice.

Gill net must have an identification tag attached near the first float of the end with the pole, stake, or buoy.

I.D. tag must be a minimum of 2-1/2 inches by 5/8 inch, permanently bearing the name and address of the owner.

Gill nets may not be set after sunset or raised before sunrise.

Gill net must be set and lifted by the licensee only and must be tended at least once every 24 hours.

A gill net may not be set within 50 feet of another gill net.

A gill net or any part of a gill net may not be set in any water deeper than six feet, measured from the lake bottom to the top surface of the water or ice.

 

The 2004 Whitefish and Ciscoes Sport Gill Netting Regulations  can be found on the DNR website - http://www.dnr.state.mn.us  under Fishing Regulations.

 


2004 Northeastern Minnesota moose harvest up

The 2004 moose-hunting season in northeastern Minnesota ended on Sunday, Oct. 17, with 246 hunting parties harvesting 149 moose.  That compares with 224 parties harvesting 143 moose in 2003.

 

Moose hunting is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in Minnesota and is limited to parties of 2 to 4 hunters that apply for a  permit in an annual lottery.  Only Minnesota residents, at least sixteen years of age, are eligible for the moose hunt.

 

Party success was 61 percent this year, compared with 64 percent in 2003.  Lower hunting success rates and higher number of bulls in the harvest seem to be the trend over the last 10 years, according to Tom Rusch, Tower area wildlife manager.

 

Hunters are becoming more selective, passing up cows and calves, in search of larger antlered bulls in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Rusch said.  The bag limit is one moose of any age or either sex per party.

Hunters faced high winds and generally cool, blustery fall conditions over the first and third weekends.  The harvest was heavily biased toward adult bulls early in the hunt, according to wildlife managers.  Hunters reported good moose rutting activity, as the annual mating season peaks in early October and coincides with the hunt. Field reports indicate many successful hunters utilized calling to bring their moose within range. 

 

DNR biologists report only three of the 54 radio-collared moose were killed during the season.  There is an on-going moose mortality study in Lake and Cook counties. Collared moose are fair game. Prior to the season at moose hunter orientation, hunters are told to ignore the collars in their search for a moose because researchers want to get a better idea of the importance of hunting as a source of mortality.   

 

The northeast Minnesota moose population is estimated at 8,000 to 11,000 animals within 30 hunting zones throughout St Louis, Lake and Cook counties.  The harvest goal is conservatively set at 5% of the winter population.


Hunters may arrange to donate extra venison   

This year, Minnesota deer hunters may arrange to have their extra venison donated to programs that distribute food to the needy.

Under an agreement reached by the Minnesota DNR and Department of Agriculture, food shelves and other food distribution programs may now accept venison from approved meat processors.

    

"Making it legally possible to donate venison may provide an incentive for hunters to harvest an extra deer, which could be an additional tool that allows us to lower local deer populations", said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. "People in need will also benefit as venison is a great high-protein, low-fat meat source."

    

Hunters are encouraged to work with their local deer hunting groups to set up a network of cooperating processors, food banks, and funding to offset the cost of processing deer. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Bluffland Whitetails,

Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and the Safari Club are currently cooperating in the program. Contact information for those groups is available on the venison donation page of the DNR Web site.

 

Hunters should make preparations for donating venison before they hunt. Additional information can be found in a brochure titled 'Field to Fork', which is posted on the DNR Web site at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/deer/donation.html .

           

Hunters who drop off a field dressed deer for donation will be asked to complete a short donation form, available at approved meat processors.

    

Hunters will be responsible to pay for the processing, and give the processor information on how to contact the food shelf when the meat is ready. Cornicelli said the DNR is working with cooperating groups to establish a long-term funding source that would offset the cost of processing deer that are to be donated.


Hunters harvest nine deer during Camp Ripley youth hunt

Warm weather greeted archery hunters participating in the third annual youth deer hunt at the Camp Ripley Military Reservation, but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the participants, according to Beau Liddell, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) area wildlife manager at Little Falls.

    

A total of 150 permits were issued with 127 hunters participating. Youth hunters harvested nine deer, for a success rate of seven percent for the two-day hunt.   Thirteen-year-old Lucas Chapman of Princeton took the first deer, a 99-pound adult doe on Saturday morning. Cody Good of Stacy took the largest deer, a 126-pound adult doe. Many of the 9 animals taken were the first ever for the youth participants.

    

All youth hunters were paired with non-hunting adult mentors. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) and the

Minnesota State Archery Association (MSAA) were the primary hunt administrators. "MDHA and MSAA did a great job planning and conducting this hunt, " Liddell said.   In addition, the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation, provided significant logistical and planning support. The hunt took place in a 15,000-acre area on the northern third of Camp Ripley.

 

"The warm weather hampered deer movement and reduced hunter success, but many hunters said they say numerous deer, learned a lot, and enjoyed the experience," said Liddell. "Most hunters were not selective and took the first good shot they had at a deer, with fawns and does comprising eight of the nine deer taken."

         

The Camp Ripley youth hunt was the first of its kind in Minnesota, and laid the groundwork for similar youth hunts being offered elsewhere in the state.


Shooting range funds provide safe locations to site deer rifles   

Minnesota DNR officials are encouraging hunters to utilize an approved range facility to site rifles before the firearm deer season.   In the past five years, DNR has provided nearly $1.5 million in grants approved from the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR) to more than 80 ranges in the state. Grant recipients use the funds to develop or improve shooting ranges that serve or benefit the public and the DNR's Hunter Education Program.

    

The list of available online: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/shooting_ranges/index.html

   

Hunters who choose to site in rifles on state or private property are reminded that state wildlife management areas are closed to all recreational shooting, and some state forests also have specific regulations. Hunters who site in firearms on private property also need to be aware of requirements that may apply to them that are imposed by city, county, or local zoning ordinance.

    

If you choose to site in firearms on land outside of an

established shooting range, you should take the following precautions:

•   ensure it is legal to site in firearms at the location you choose

•  ensure the area is not going to disturb other nearby residents and that neighbors are aware of what is going on

•  ensure that there is an adequate backstop to stop every round that you fire

•  if possible ensure that there is a safety buffer zone around the area you have chosen to shoot at

•  always clean up any shooting debris when you have concluded shooting.

Hunting and recreational shooting remain one of the safest outdoor recreational activities. The DNR wants to encourage hunters to use a designated range facility if one is available and to practice safe, responsible shooting at all "private" or "unofficial" range sites.

 

Please help contribute to this safety record by practicing good firearm etiquette. Safely sighting your rifle before you go afield and taking your best shot at the right time ensures a safe and productive hunt.

 


Pennsylvania

Brady's Bend Access to be Closed for Improvements     

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will temporarily close its Brady’s Bend Access Area in Armstrong County beginning October 25.   The closure will allow a PFBC construction crew to replace the boat launch ramp at the site.

           

The Brady’s Bend Access Area is located across from East

Brady, off Route 68 at the west side of the bridge.  It provides public fishing and boating access to the Allegheny River. Work at the site is expected to be complete by late November, weather conditions permitting.

 

Boaters and anglers looking for alternative launch sites can visit the “County Guides” section of the PFBC’s web site at www.fish.state.pa.us


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