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Monday, October 24, 2011

Can Catching a Spiny Dog Fish Make Someone Happy?

When you catch a spiny dog fish you might not want to grumble your usual expletives anymore.  That is if the fish is one of the many tagged by NOAA Fisheries that have a reward on their hide.  Otherwise swear to your hearts content.

White tags are worth $20 while orange and green tags can fetch $100.  The caveat is the green tagged fish must be kept whole and either iced or kept frozen.

If you happen to reel in one of these small sharks that are tagged write down the tag number and contact:

Call Toll Free: 877-826-2612
Email: sharkrecap@noaa.gov

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fin clipping hatchery fish may not be as harmless as believed

CBC/Radio Canada reports on their website that the common fish hatchery practice of clipping adipose fins may be harmful to fish.  A study at the University of Victoria found the adipose fins are sensory organs that help the fish negotiate turbulent water.

You can read the whole article on the CBC website:  Common hatchery practice could be harming salmon

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good News for New England's Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic salmon are showing some of the highest returns in decades to some of New England's salmon rivers.  By no means a recovered population the higher returns none the less show promise after years of decline.

On Maine's Penobscot River,  more than 3,100 salmon have been counted at the Veazie dam so far. That more than doubles the number that returned last year and makes this year the highest return since 1986.  Also in Maine, the Narraguagas River has already shown 186 salmon returned compared with last years return of 76 fish.  Fisheries personnel on the Kennebec River have counted 63 fish, a small number but an improvement over last years return of just 7 salmon.

Maine isn't the only place showing improved Atlantic salmon returns.  Massachusetts and New Hampshire's Merrimack River is having the best run in more than 30 years with over 400 salmon entering the river.  Many Canadian rivers are having larger runs this year too, but perhaps most exciting is that in Ireland, the Tolka River is having its first Atlantic salmon run in more than a century!

These returns aren't even close to signaling a recovery of this migratory fish that is listed as endangered in the state of Maine.  But, it is a sign that recovery efforts are beginning to pay off.  Better survival in the open ocean is cited as one of the reasons for better returns.  Dam removals and better fish passage structures on existing dams in the salmon rivers have had their positive impact too.

Fisheries managers would like to see increasing salmon returns for at least four or five more years before declaring a positive trend.  but that still doesn't detract from this years positive salmon return news.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New York's "Trees for Tribs" Stream Planting

Program Launches with Restoration Plantings in Hard Hit Flood Area

Together with the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today held the first tree planting event as part of the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program at Marcy Field (Municipal airstrip and multiuse park) in the Town of Keene, Essex County. Today's planting served as a kickoff for the Lake Champlain tributary corridor tree planting program, to be a program of the State Tree Nursery in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County.

The program's goals are to restore and protect the stream corridors that connect to Lake Champlain, comprising the Lake Champlain Watershed. At today's event, volunteers and local groups planted trees along an area of the Ausable River corridor damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

"In the wake of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, homeowners and communities across the state have witnessed the devastation that swollen rivers and streams can pose to people and property," Commissioner Martens said. "Our Lake Champlain Basin Trees for Tributaries program will provide no cost trees and shrubs to restore damaged banks of streams, tributaries and rivers damaged by the tropical storms and subsequent flooding. I am happy to announce this program in 2011, which Governor Andrew Cuomo has proclaimed New York Year of Forests to celebrate the United Nations' International Year of Forests in recognition of the great importance of New York's forests as the source of clean air and water, habitat for fish and wildlife, open space for public recreation and enjoyment, and a healthy forest products industry."

The Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program is one of several Lake Champlain conservation projects, which are part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and these conservation projects are receiving a total of $1.3 million dollars. On October 12, 2011 the Obama Administration released a report which details how AGO is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The report outlines combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds, and historic investments in large landscapes from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades.

"AGO is not only protecting our environment, it's creating jobs," said United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "We're working with farmers and ranchers to conserve working agricultural lands; we're restoring our forests in ways that create jobs in recreation and forest products; and we're creating employment opportunities for young adults, veterans and others on our National Forests."

I'm very pleased with this newly launched effort focused on the health of rivers and streams in the Adirondacks severely damaged by the recent storms," said Senator Betty Little. "Restoration follows recovery. Communities, landowners, sportsmen and environmentalists all are eager to begin the process of improving the quality and condition of these waterways and this is a great way to start."

"DEC thanks NRCS for its support and partnership in the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program. The program is modeled after the Hudson River Estuary "Trees for Tributaries" program started by the Hudson River Estuary Program in 2007," said New York State Forester Robert K. Davies. "This program will restore riparian areas, part of the "green infrastructure" that is the first line of defense against storm and flooding events, which have been identified as priorities in the state's Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy, Open Space Conservation Plan, and Climate Action Plan."

Creating the Lake Champlain Basin program provides a focus within state governments for the restoration, enhancement and protection of riparian areas and stream and tributary corridors. With the increased intensity and duration of storm events, taking action now to protect stream and tributary corridors is a tangible way for land owners to restore and protect their property from erosion and flooding. Studies have long documented the ability of trees and shrubs and other plant materials to absorb rain water and slow down water flows, as well as binding and stabilizing stream and riparian corridors banks.

In addition to stabilization benefits, trees and other natural vegetation along waterways (also called riparian forests) can reduce up to 69 percent of total nitrogen, 60 percent of total phosphorous, and 71 percent of total sediment from an average agricultural setting. Riparian buffer restoration is one of the most low cost ways to meet water quality goals established for major water bodies. Riparian forests also provide much-needed shading, cooling and food for trout and other fish habitat. DEC has enlisted the support of many partners including the federal government, local governments and volunteer watershed protection organizations that already are heavily involved in community and watershed protection programs.

In partnership with NRCS, the State Tree Nursery at Saratoga will be providing free native tree and shrubs grown at the State Tree Nursery. "The Saratoga Tree Nursery is proud to be providing native tree and shrub species for the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program," said Nursery Manager David Lee. "Planting stock is grown from seed and cutting stock sourced within New York State to provide trees and shrubs best adapted to the climate of the state."

The "Trees for Tributaries" program will coordinate volunteer and technical assistance for landowners within the Lake Champlain watershed to protect their stream and riparian corridors through a tree and shrub planting effort next spring. A similar program within New York's upper Susquehanna watershed is also being funded in partnership with the federal Chesapeake Bay program. Private landowners, municipalities and not-for-profit landowners within the New York portion of the Lake Champlain watershed will be eligible to apply to participate in the "Trees for Tributaries" program. Applications will be sought this winter for spring plantings. Further details will be posted on the webpage listed below when they become available.

To read the Progress Report or for more information about the America's Great Outdoors initiative, visit: www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov or http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/ago.

For more information on the Lake Champlain Basin "Trees for Tributaries" program, visit DEC's website, or email the program at treesfortribs@gw.dec.state.ny.us or call the Division of Lands and Forests at 518-402-9405.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Conservation, Recreation & Preservation Generate $1 Trillion Per Year for U.S. Economy

A study by Southwick Associates estimates that the Great Outdoors is worth $1 trillion dollars to the US economy.  Following is a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership outlining the study.

Oct. 12, 2011 Contact: Vaughn Collins, , vcollins@trcp.org
With unemployment rate still over 9 percent in the third quarter Labor Department jobs report, study illustrates job growth potential.

WASHINGTON – Officials looking for cost-effective ways to stimulate the economy should look no further than out their own windows: That’s where the authors of a new economic study demonstrate that the great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year.

“As a former Secretary of the Interior, governor, senator and mayor, I have witnessed firsthand how historic preservation, conservation and outdoor recreation result in tremendous benefits to our nation’s economy,” said Dirk Kempthorne. “This study is a valuable tool for reaffirming and quantifying those benefits.”

“Sportsmen put billions of dollars of their own money annually into conservation through the licenses they buy and the excise taxes that they pay on hunting and fishing equipment,” added Lindsay Thomas, a former U.S. Congressman and current chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “This combined with the other taxes that are paid through activities associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation total over $100 billion annually contributed to state and federal coffers.”

Conducted by Southwick Associates, the study is packed with highlights including:
  • In 2006, the total contribution from outdoor sports in the United States was nearly $730 billion per year, generating more than 6.4 million U.S. jobs and $99 billion in federal and state tax revenues. This includes hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor sports that include hiking, camping, skiing, paddle sports and bicycling.
  • In 2006, the combined spending effect of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching associated with National Forest Service land totaled $9.5 billion in annual retail sales, supported 189,400 jobs and provided $1.01 billion in annual federal tax revenues.
  • Every million dollars invested in residential historic rehabilitation generates approximately 36 jobs, $1.24 million in income and nearly $200,000 in state and local taxes.
  • In 2010, 15 million visitors to Civil War battlefields managed by the National Park Service in just five states (Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) generated 7,700 jobs.
Commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the study is being conducted as part of a larger ongoing effort by NFWF to determine the economics associated with natural resource conservation.

The study has commanded the attention of many, including America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, a coalition of more than 770 organizations representing tens of millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds who have united in support of conservation, recreation and preservation programs as a means to create jobs and improve the economy.

“Natural resource conservation and historic preservation programs provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and strong returns on public investments that primarily help rural communities and cannot be exported abroad,” said John L. Nau III, chairman emeritus of the Civil War Trust and co-chair of the AVCRP. “This country needs jobs that leverage private investment and conserve our precious natural resources and historic spaces.”

“The jobs that our public lands and cultural heritage create are jaw-dropping,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society and the AVCRP’s other co-chair. “This study is yet more evidence that investing in the environment is good for the fiscal health of our country.”

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Threat to thousands of sustainable fishing jobs prompts fisherman, Alaska Natives to take their story to the Lower 48

Tour will highlight proposed Pebble mine's threat to fishing jobs, Native way of life

Seattle — Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, sportsmen and seafood processors are heading south to the Lower 48 to raise awareness and build support for protection of Bristol Bay Alaska, which is threatened by the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine.

The mine, potentially three times as large as the largest mine that now exists in North America, would threaten the headwaters Bristol Bay, putting thousands of fishing jobs at risk, along with a Native way of life that has existed for centuries. The real gold in Bristol Bay is the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, a sustainable resource that returns year after year.

In six cities, commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, sportsmen and seafood processors will highlight the economic risks posed by the mine. The Save Bristol Bay Road Show will also feature a screening of the award-winning documentary, "Red Gold," delicious Bristol Bay sockeye prepared by local chefs, and locally produced beers.

Melanie Brown, an Alaska Native and commercial fisherwoman, and Ben Blakey, of family-run Snopac Products, a seafood processor, will travel to all of the cities as featured speakers, sharing the importance of the region as an economic engine, source of jobs, and resource for food. in each city, the program will also feature sportsmen, fishing guides or commercial fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on the clean waters and sustainable fish runs of Bristol Bay. More than 12,000 jobs depend on the commercial salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, along with more than 1,000 jobs related to sport fishing and countless other businesses.

The Save Bristol Bay Road Show visits the following six cities:

Seattle: Monday, October 17, Leif Erikson Lodge, 7 p.m.
Portland: Wednesday, October 19, Bagdad Theater, 7 p.m.
Corvallis: Friday, October 21, The Arts Center, 7 p.m.
San Francisco: Monday, October 24, Temple Nightclub, 7 p.m.
Santa Fe: Tuesday, October 25, Center For Contemporary Arts Cinematheque, 7 p.m.

For information, please visit: www.savebristolbay.org/roadshow

The Save Bristol Bay Road Show is coordinated by the Save Bristol Bay campaign, part of a broad, bipartisan, national coalition that supports protecting Bristol Bay and its natural resources from the severe risks of massive-scale development, including the Pebble Mine.

The Road Show is sponsored by the generous help of companies including Tiffany & Co., ExOfficio, Icicle Seafoods, Orvis, Sage, and Chef's Collaborative.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

EPA Launches New Website to Protect Wetlands

Urges Public to Report Any Violations of the Law

(New York, N.Y. - Oct. 6, 2011) From helping control floods to serving as natural buffers against water pollution to providing recreational opportunities and habitat for fish and wildlife, wetlands offer benefits almost too numerous to count. Members of the public can help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency protect these vital areas by reporting suspected violations of the federal laws that protect wetlands in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the areas that comprise EPA Region 2. Violations can now be easily reported on EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands/violations.html.

“Clean water is a vital natural resource and its protection is directly tied to preserving wetlands and other bodies of water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This website will give the public the ability to report possible violations of wetlands protection rules before significant damage has been done to a wetland.”

Once a suspected violation is submitted on the website, EPA scientists will perform an investigation to determine if regulatory action is required. Wetlands are protected by the federal Clean Water Act, and the Corps of Engineers - or in many instances a state or territory - must issue a permit before a wetland can be impacted. EPA works in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, the states and territories to oversee and enforce wetlands regulations. Suspected violations can be submitted anonymously, though a lack of contact information may hinder EPA’s ability to proceed with an investigation.

EPA Region 2 boasts a diversity of tidal and freshwater wetlands, including mangrove swamps and salt flats in the Caribbean, tidal salt marshes of the New York and New Jersey coasts, and coastal freshwater wetlands of the Great Lakes region. Interior regions also have a diversity of freshwater wetlands including swamps, bogs, fens, wet meadows, and marshes. Notably large wetland complexes in the region include the New Jersey Pinelands, the Hackensack Meadowlands and New York's Great Swamp.

For more information on wetlands, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/wetlands/.

Missouri Bans Felt Soles

Beginning March 1, 2012 trout fishermen in Missouri will no longer be allowed to use felt soled, or other porous soled waders.  Pending public comment, The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved a regulation change banning the use of porous-soled waders or footwear incorporating or having attached a porous sole of felted, matted, or woven fibrous material when fishing in trout parks and other specific trout waters.

Their hope is to prevent the introduction of  Didymosphenia geminata, aka, didymo or rock snot.  Right now the state is free from the scourge but with didymo reported in the White River just south of the Missouri-Arkansas border, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants to do what they can to prevent its introduction.

Didymo forms large, thick mats on the bottoms of cold-water streams and rivers.  In extreme cases, it can interfere with fishing tackle making fishing nearly impossible. All in all, not goor for the environment or the economy.

Didymo is native to the northern parts of North America and Europe.  MDC Fisheries Biologist Mark VanPatten says that didymo is kept in check naturally in other places by lower pH levels in the water. Missouri has many  limestone waters that create higher pH levels.  These higher pH levels can allow didymo to spread unchecked.

VanPatten warns, “There is no way to control or eradicate didymo once it gets established in the state.”

“Adapting waders is not a cure,” VanPatten warns. “It is just one step in prevention. It is still vital to check and clean or dry all waders and all other gear that have had contact with the water.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Trout Unlimited Receives Prestigious American Fisheries Society Award for Work in PA

Eastern Abandoned Mine Program receives distinction for work in Pennsylvania

Arlington, Va. — Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program (EAMP) was recently honored with one of the American Fisheries Society's (AFS) highest awards, the Presidents Fishery Conservation Award.

The award is given annually to an individual or organization for singular accomplishments or long-term contributions that advance aquatic resource conservation at a regional or local level. Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program was chosen for successfully advancing the restoration of trout streams at a watershed level of resolution. Trout Unlimited began its work in 1998 on abandoned coal mine cleanup in the Kettle Creek watershed in northcentral Pennsylvania. Since then it has completed nearly a dozen projects targeting abandoned mine drainage in the Kettle Creek watershed and provided technical assistance on more than 65 abandoned mine cleanup projects for other groups across Pennsylvania.

Amy Wolfe, EAMP Director, Rebecca Dunlap, EAMP Manager and Dr. Shawn Rummel, EAMP Field and Research Coordinator, accepted the award, which was presented on September 6 at the AFS annual convention in Seattle. AFS, founded in 1870, is the oldest and largest professional society representing fisheries scientists.

"Receiving this award is a tremendous honor," said Amy Wolfe. " our close collaboration with many AFS members, government agencies and other grassroots organizations has helped us to advance restoration of streams polluted by abandoned mine drainage throughout the West Branch Susquehanna watershed and beyond. This is certainly a team effort."

Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program is focused on the conservation, protection, and restoration of coldwater fisheries and their watersheds throughout the Appalachian region that have been impacted by historic coal mining. A main focus for Trout Unlimited's Eastern Abandoned Mine Program is the West branch Susquehanna Restoration Initiative, which was launched in 2004 as a comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at the restoration of coldwater streams and the ultimate recovery of the West Branch Susquehanna River.

Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds

Trout Unlimited calls on PA to do more to protect streams from gas drilling

Trout Unlimited Calls on Gov. Corbett to Tighten Marcellus Shale Environmental Standards and Dedicate Portion of Fee Revenue to Conservation

"Gov. Corbett's Marcellus Shale plan announced yesterday is a step in the right direction towards improving existing environmental standards related to Marcellus Shale development, but these measures, including the allocation of funding from an impact fee, must be greatly strengthened to adequately protect Pennsylvania's natural resources," said Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited's (TU) Eastern Water Project Director.

Echoing the state's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommendation, Gov. Corbett called for extending the distance between a gas well and surface water from 100 feet to 300 feet. While an improvement, the 300-foot distance must be measured from the edge of the well pad - as opposed to the well bore - to provide a reasonable buffer between drilling activities and water resources. The Governor's plan did not make this distinction. Additionally, for high quality, exceptional value streams and other important trout waters, TU calls for even greater setbacks from well pads - to be determined on a site-specific basis - to assure that coldwater resources are protected from possible pollution incidents.

"Gov. Corbett's proposed impact fee shows that environmental protection is not a priority for his administration," Dunlap said. "While Pennsylvania communities should receive compensation for damage and stress to local road and municipal systems due to Marcellus Shale drilling activities, some portion of the revenue generated from an impact fee must be used to mitigate the impacts on the state's natural resources as well," Dunlap continued.

Corbett's proposed impact fee ignores the environmental impacts caused by Marcellus Shale development, both the (1) short-term impacts that can be addressed by the agencies inspecting and enforcing Marcellus-related incidents; and (2) long-term impacts that can be addressed by conservation and restoration funding programs.

TU and its Pennsylvania Council strongly urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Corbett administration to ensure that a percentage of any impact fee be directed toward conservation funding programs such as Pennsylvania's Growing Greener Fund and conservation agencies that have taken on additional inspection and enforcement duties to Marcellus development, such as the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds

Sylvia G. Bashline August 13, 1933 - September 20, 2011

A friend of the outdoors and a noted outdoor writer was lost on September 20, 2011 when Sylvia Bashline passed away at her home. She was predeceased by her husband  James "Jim" Bashline in 1995, also a well known outdoor writer.

Mrs. Bashline was perhaps most known for her excellent cookbooks for fish & game, including The Bounty of the Earth Cookbook and many others.  She served as food editor for Field & Stream magazine from 1976 to 1990 and from 1991 to 1996 as the food columnist for Outdoor Life magazine.

A past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, Mrs. Bashline also served on the board of the Outdoor Writers of America becoming their executive director in 1984, a position she held for ten years.

Mrs. Bashline enjoyed trout and Atlantic salmon fishing, and ruffed grouse hunting.  In honoring her wishes, her love of the outdoors can be continued through memorial contributions to any of the following:

Sylvia and Jim Bashline Writers' Fund 
c/o OWAA, 615 Oak St., Suite 201
Missoula, Montana 59801

Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art
P.O. Box 33
176 Water Company Road
Millersburg, PA 17061

Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association1240 North Mountain Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Rest well Mrs. Bashline.  The world is a better place for you having visited.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pennsylvania Passes New Boating Regulation

Beginning Nov. 1, 2012, boaters will be required to wear life jackets on boats less than 16 feet in length and on canoes and kayaks from Nov. 1 through April 30.

Laurel Anders, director of the Bureau of Boating and Access described the need for the regulation,  “While boating accidents are more frequent during the traditional summer season, the risk of an accident being fatal is significantly higher when the air and water temperatures are colder in late fall through spring,”

She added, “Over the last 15 years, cold-water incidents represented only eight percent of boating-related accidents, but resulted in 24 percent of the fatalities.”