Week of March 24, 2014


Lake Erie

New York

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Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for March 21 


A daily roller coaster of temperature variation ushered in the official start of spring this week.  Precipitation in the form of rain and temperatures above the freezing mark finally began reducing the snow pack across the region.   Local streams and rivers have begun to swell as they transfer the precipitation and snow pack to the Great Lakes.  Seasonally average temperatures paired with mixed precipitation can be expected to start the weekend.  A cooler fair weather pattern will accompany the start of the new work week.


Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are both 12 inches above their levels of a year ago.    Lakes St. Clair and Erie are 11 and 3 inches, respectively, above what they were at this time last year, while Lake Ontario is 2 inches below its level of a year ago. Over the next month, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are projected to climb 2 and 4 inches, respectively. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are predicted to rise 4, 6 and 7 inches in the next 30 days. Ice build-up in the connecting channels can cause significant water level fluctuations, especially in Lake St. Clair.


 Lake Superior’s outflow through the St. Mary’s River is predicted to be above average for the month of March.  Lake Michigan-Huron’s outflow into the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair’s outflow into the Detroit River

are both projected to be near average.  In addition, the outflow of Lake

Erie into the Niagara River is projected to be near average, while the outflow of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River is expected to be above average in March.


Official records are based on monthly average water levels and not daily water levels.  Lake MichiganHuron is below chart datum and is expected to remain below datum over the next several months. 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. Ice information can be found at the National Ice Center’s website.




St. Clair



Level for March 21






Datum, in ft






Diff in inches






Diff last month






Diff from last yr







Lake Erie

U.S. Army Corps seeking approval to Dump Toxic Sediments in Lake Erie

You can help protect Lake Erie. Submit YOUR comments against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan by Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

For decades the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has dredged the Cuyahoga River navigational channel. Sediments from the river are laden with toxic chemicals that persist for decades. Historically, they have been stored in "confined disposal facilities" (CDFs) -the best option to keep them from entering our environment. 

Now, the Corps is mistakenly claiming that these sediments are safe enough to be dumped into Lake Erie. This poses a range of risks. The toxins can accumulate in the fish that we eat, contributing to health problems and reproductive issues. Plus, disposal in Lake Erie could impact the City of Cleveland’s water supply. This is a bad plan!


Please tell the US Army Corps of Engineers ([email protected]) and Brian Hall, Assistant Chief, Division of Surface Water at the OEPA ([email protected]) why this is a bad plan. Hurry! The comment period ends March 26.



Becoming an Outdoors Woman

Registration is now open for the IDNR ‘Becoming an Outdoors Woman’ Workshop on June 6-8 at the Lorado Taft Field Campus in Oregon, Illinois. ‘Becoming an Outdoors Woman’ workshops are designed to provide introductory instruction and experiences in many outdoor-related activities and skills.

Class instruction is offered in a fun, non-competitive, and hands-on environment. BOW workshops are very popular, so register early.  The cost of $220 per person includes housing, meals, classes, use of equipment, transportation during the event, and much more. Registration information is online at www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/bow.



Steelhead eggs to be collected from Little Manistee River
The Michigan DNR will soon be collecting steelhead eggs at the Little Manistee River weir in Stronach.

Since 1968, the Little Manistee River weir has served as the sole source of winter-run steelhead eggs for fish hatcheries in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Yearling steelhead produced through hatchery operations are stocked in select tributaries of all the Great Lakes. To provide a backup egg-take source in case of emergencies, another broodstock steelhead population is being developed on the Platte River in Benzie County. This population will be used only if the Little Manistee River spawning run fails to provide enough fish. Steelhead provide one of Michigan’s premier sport fishing opportunities for both Great Lakes open water and tributary stream fishing. 

Egg-take operations begin by lowering the weir grates in mid-March. This stops the upstream steelhead migration in the Little Manistee River and diverts the fish into holding ponds. Usually during the first two weeks of April the fish ripen and egg-take operations begin, although this year’s harsh winter conditions could delay these operations by one to two weeks. These activities continue daily until the established egg quota has

been reached. 

During egg-take operations, unripe or “green” steelhead are counted and passed upstream to sustain the wild Little Manistee River steelhead run. Steelhead that are spawned during operations also are passed upstream, many eventually return to Lake Michigan as steelhead are capable of spawning multiple times. Once the quota of eggs is reached, the weir grates are removed and all remaining fish are allowed to migrate upstream. 

Egg-take scheduling information is available from the Little Manistee weir hotline at 231-775-9727, ext. 6072. The facility is open to the public for up-close viewing during egg-take operations. Formal tours will be offered Thursday, April 10, and Friday, April 11, at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Those interested in tours should call 231-389-2551. Fish also can be observed in the river below the weir at any time.

As a reminder, the Little Manistee River is closed to fishing until April 1. This regulation is in place to ensure enough steelhead make it to the weir for egg-take purposes and enough steelhead make it upstream to spawn naturally.


New York

The crossbow as a hunting implement

Bill # A 8557/S6357 Submitted by the Governor

This bill authorizes the DEC to permit the taking of wildlife with a crossbow, clarifies the protection from liability for landowners who open their property for recreational use and reduces the setback from occupied buildings for archery hunting to 150 feet.


All of these changes are focused on increasing the opportunities for outdoor recreational activities in the state as well as providing the DEC the flexibility needed to carry out its responsibility for efficiently managing the state’s wildlife resources.


These changes will have a positive economic impact across the state. It will bring nonresident hunters into the state while keeping those New York residents spending their money here that now go to other states to crossbow hunt. Recreational access for all types of outdoor activities will be broadened as property owners become more willing to grant access for recreational use.


This legislation would achieve two important objectives. First, it

establishes the crossbow as a legitimate archery-hunting implement; and second, it gives the DEC the authority to determine where and when specific hunting implements may be used. We believe that these changes will promote sound wildlife management.


One of DEC goals is to put more hunters in the field. Use of crossbows would provide an opportunity for people who have physical limitations or disabilities that preclude use of a compound or traditional bow. For others who just find the crossbow a challenge in its

own right there is an additional opportunity. This is particularly important in those areas where there is a burgeoning deer population and the use of firearms is precluded.


The second objective is to empower the DEC to manage the details of what implements can be used and within what parts of the season. While the Legislature is responsible for establishing the policy and direction of wildlife management, the professional staff at

the DEC should have the authority to provide for the detailed implementation of that policy.



Annual spring fish and game hearings April 14

MADISON -- Planning for the 2014 deer hunting season is underway and wildlife biologists with the Wisconsin DNR invite anyone interested in discussing Wisconsin's deer herd to attend deer herd status meetings.


These meetings will be held in conjunction with DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress' annual spring fish and game hearings on Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties.


DNR wildlife staff schedule deer herd status meetings annually and will once again seek public input on a variety of deer-related issues. Herd status meetings provide an early opportunity for hunters and other interested individuals to discuss the current status of the deer herd and ask other deer management questions.


Local wildlife biologists will present information about new deer hunting rules and regulations that were recently adopted as part of the deer trustee report's two-year management review. Wildlife biologists will attend each meeting to listen to ideas and observations from the public and discuss possible strategies for managing Wisconsin's deer herd.


"We annually rely on hunter input to help inform our decisions, especially as they relate to antlerless permit levels," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist.


"With all the changes as to how we approach deer management now, plus a tough winter and the impacts it will have on the herd, we hope that by holding the meeting jointly with the spring hearings, we will see an increase in public participation."


The spring fish and game hearings present an opportunity for anyone interested in natural resources management to share their input through non-binding vote and testimony to the DNR, State Natural Resources Board and the Conservation Congress on proposed hunting and fishing rule changes and advisory questions.


Those unable to attend a local meeting are encouraged to provide their personal input using an online herd status summary and survey, which will be active from March 25 to April 18. To participate, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "Deer Hunter Forum." Comments and survey results will be compiled and provided to the wildlife biologist responsible for each county before final permit levels are set for the 2014 deer season.


To find a meeting location search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "spring hearings."

For more info: Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist, 608-261-7589


DNR proposing to allow fish net pens in Wisconsin waters

Great Lakes Echo reports the Wisconsin DNR is proposing to allow nonprofit groups to place net pens in Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and their tributaries to increase the fish population there for recreational anglers.


The DNR normally raises fish at its own hatcheries before releasing them into the lakes. A new law passed last year allows nonprofit organizations to raise fish themselves, and the department is seeking public comment on a general permit to allow them to do so.  Michigan and New York are the only other states to allow such pens.


The general permit is intended for local sport clubs and fishing organizations, said David Boyarski, the Sturgeon Bay-based fishery supervisor for northern Lake Michigan at the DNR. No group would be allowed to raise fish for food or commercial purposes.  The purpose of the permits is to provide more fish for anglers, he said.


Prior to the legislation, the law did not allow new fish farms, said Boyarski, and the DNR allowed groups to keep fish only for up to two days without feeding them. If the fish were fed or kept for longer than two days, the pen would be considered an illegal farm.  The new permits will allow organizations to legally keep fish in a pen for a longer period of time and to feed them.

Fish would be transported to a net pen the same way as fish are taken to the DNR’s hatcheries, said David Geihtbrock, the DNR statewide fish production manager. The fish would be carried by truck to a pen and piped into the water. The fish would be kept in the net pens for one to three weeks, which would give them more time to acclimate to their environment while avoiding predators.  “The fish will be fed the same amount as fish in our own hatcheries,” said Geihtbrock.


Water level, temperature and pH would be measured to ensure the water remains safe for fish.


Boyarski said that mainly trout and salmon would be raised in the pens. Trout and salmon imprint on the chemical signatures of the tributaries they live in., and the pens would allow more time for the fish to imprint and adapt to the lakes.  Net pens also help generate more public interest in fishing organizations, said Russ Bleich, net pen chair for Grand Haven Steelheaders in Grand Haven, Mich.  “Net pens get people interested in fishing,” said Bleich. “It’s a good PR tool.”


The DNR is holding a public comment period through March 14. Afterwards, the DNR will finalize the requirements for permits and begin accepting applications, said Martin Griffin, the department t’s statewide waterway science and policy leader. The application fee would be $300.


Other Breaking News Items

(Click on title or URL to read full article)


Deep freeze means rare rise in Great Lakes water levels
Thanks to the deep freeze this winter, there is an expected 13-15 inch rise in water levels in the Great Lakes.


Wisconsin lawmaker rips tribes spearfishing goals-

Chippewa bands want to spear too many walleyes again this spring and risk re-igniting tensions if state officials adopt tight bag limits for non-tribal anglers, the state Assembly's tourism chairman warned. The tribes have declared they want to harvest a record 63,488


Corps to study possibility of limiting flow of St. Clair River
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is going to spend about $50,000 to figure out if it’s possible to slow the flow of water exiting Lake Huron through the St. Clair River.


Fish stocking program boosting Lake Ontario's viability
Lake Ontario is boasting some of the best sport fishing among the Great Lakes, thanks to a successful stocking program by New York state's environmental management agency.



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