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Friday, September 27, 2013

EPA Announces Second Opportunity for Public Comments on Proposed Ban on Boat Sewage Dumping into Lake Erie

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reaffirmed its initial determination that there are adequate facilities around Lake Erie for boats to pump out their sewage. The determination will allow the establishment of a “no discharge zone” for 593 square miles of the lake, its tributaries and bays, and 84 miles of shoreline that comprise the New York State portion of the lake. The EPA is providing an opportunity for the public to comment on the boat sewage dumping ban for a second time. The EPA initially made a determination in December 2012 that adequate sewage pump out facilities exist and that the state’s proposal to designate areas of Lake Erie as a “no discharge zone” can go forward. The EPA received significant comments questioning the availability of sewage pump-out facilities, particularly for larger vessels, and the EPA conferred with New York State to gather more information. That information gathering is now complete and the EPA is confirming its original opinion that there are adequate facilities.

“Declaring this area of Lake Erie a ‘no discharge zone’ would provide cleaner water for Lake Erie and the people who use the lake,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA and New York State looked carefully at the information and agree that Lake Erie has enough facilities to remove treated waste from all types of vessels and keep it from entering the lake.”

A “no-discharge zone” means that boats are completely banned from discharging sewage into the water. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at specially-designated pump-out stations. Discharges of sewage from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to people’s health and impair marine life. The EPA is encouraging public comment on its proposed approval until October 28, 2013.

EPA’s tentative determination is available in the Federal Register at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/.

The proposed no discharge zone for the New York State portion of Lake Erie includes the waters of the lake from the Pennsylvania-New York State boundary, as well as the Upper Niagara River and numerous other tributaries, harbors and bays of the Lake, including Barcelona Harbor, Dunkirk Harbor and the Buffalo Outer Harbor.

Lake Erie, its harbors, bays, creeks and wetlands support fish spawning areas and habitat, commercial and recreational boating, and plethora of recreational opportunities.

For more information about no discharge zones, visit http://epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html. For the notice that appeared today in the Federal Register, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-27/pdf/2013-23688.pdf .

To comment on the proposed EPA approval, email, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov , Fax: (212) 637-3891 . Mailing address: Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NY DEC Announces Agreement to Improve Management of Ashokan Reservoir Discharges into the Lower Esopus and Nearly $3.4 Million for Environmental Projects

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced an agreement with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) to reduce the impact of discharges from the Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek, and advance additional initiatives that will protect the environment and promote recreational activities in Ulster County.
Under the agreement, New York City will perform a comprehensive environmental review of NYC DEP's releases from the Ashokan Reservoir, which are currently governed by DEC's Catskill Turbidity Control Program. DEC will be the lead agency for the review which, will be subject to full public participation. The Catskill Turbidity Control Program consists of management practices to control turbidity in the system, including management of the Ashokan Reservoir release channel, which balances multiple competing uses of water in the Ashokan Watershed.

New York City will also invest approximately $3.4 million to fund environmentally beneficial projects in the Esopus Creek Watershed. This program will include a stream management plan for the Lower Esopus and $2 million to implement that plan or related projects. Two major stream stabilization projects will be undertaken in the Ashokan Reservoir as part of a comprehensive program (that includes FAD projects) to reduce turbidity and erosion at its source. Fish stocking, installation of stream gauges and water quality monitoring will be undertaken on the Lower Esopus under this agreement. The sum of $80,000 will be provided to support Ulster County with technical consulting services during the environmental review process.

Recreational opportunities in Ulster County will also be expanded through a $2 million State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) appropriation for the Ulster County Rail Trail, extending recreational trail opportunities to include a connection with the Walkway Over the Hudson with rail trails in Ulster and Dutchess counties. The proposed public recreation trail will start in Kingston and follow the Ulster & Delaware line westward to the Ashokan Reservoir, linking the Catskill Park with the Hudson River and Walkway Over the Hudson. The $2 million in funding for this project was designated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in the 2013-14 State Budget.

"Protecting water quality is one of the primary goals of managing water systems and we are pleased that we have an order that will improve the management of the Ashokan system and reduce impacts on the Lower Esopus," Commissioner Martens said. "I commend the NYC DEP for working with us on a forward-looking order that will help to reduce turbidity, combined with additional funding for other related projects in the Esopus Creek Watershed, provide environmental benefits to communities and residents in the region, and also help to attract tourists and businesses. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who was a strong representative of his community throughout this process and a tireless advocate for local needs. DEC also appreciates the work of Congressman Chris Gibson to protect the interest of his constituents while also supporting environmental improvements within the Esopus Creek Watershed."

Under the agreement, which will be executed as a consent order, NYC DEP will be required to reduce the duration of any turbid releases to the Esopus Creek, flush the creek with clear water more frequently than in the previously-proposed order, limit the maximum release rate, and limit turbidity in releases that are intended to reduce storm flows downstream of the Ashokan Reservoir. The enforcement order includes a penalty if NYC DEP does not meet the order's requirements.

The order also includes significant funding for environmentally beneficial projects in the Esopus Creek Watershed, such as stream restoration projects on the Upper and Lower Esopus Creek, development and implementation of a stream management plan for the Lower Esopus, installation and maintenance of new stream gauges, and fish stocking.

The interim reservoir release protocol now in place has been enhanced in response to public comments. This release protocol will be fully assessed and improved through the environmental impact review process, and will ultimately be incorporated into a regulatory permit.

The order complements programs set forth in the Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) including stream management programs in the Lower Esopus similar to projects undertaken in the watershed. The New York State Department of Health, in consultation with United States Environmental Protection Agency and DEC, has released a draft Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) for public comment. The draft FAD has identified the following projects and funding in the New York City Watershed, including the portion of Ulster County in the City's watershed:
  • $50 million increase to continue NYC DEP's land acquisition program.
  • $15 million for a flood buy-out program. This program will include properties that fall outside of the FEMA flood buy-out eligibility criteria. Additional funds can be shifted to this program from the $50 million land acquisition allotment if flood buy-outs requests exceed the $15 million allotment.
  • $17 million to support a local flood hazard mitigation grant program (structure relocation, flood proofing, elevation, flood plain reclamation).
  • Seven major stream restoration/turbidity reduction projects in the Ashokan Watershed at an estimated $3 million.
  • $20.6 million increase for the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts to address erosion and stream stabilization and local flood hazard mitigation planning and projects.
  • $23 million for Watershed Agricultural Council farm conservation easements.
  • $6 million for Watershed Agricultural Council forestry conservation.
  • Nine stormwater retrofit projects annually, with potential funding available at approximately $3.6 million.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The American Museum of Fly Fishing Launches New Website to Help Anglers Catch and Release the Spirit of Fly Fishing

Educational Resources, Conservation Efforts, and Sport Heritage Engage New and
Experienced Anglers

Manchester, Vermont (September 4, 2012) – Continuing to share the legacy of fly fishing as well as to expand the sport, the American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF) has launched a new, highly informative web site at www.amff.com. The site features highlights of the museum’s exhibitions, permanent collections, educational resources, and upcoming activities. In order to further serve the fly fishing community, the museum will also host a number of fall events including their annual Museum Free Day, Fly Fishing Festival, and Heritage Award Dinner.

According to Catherine E. Comar, Executive Director, “Over 50 million people fly fish around the world and thatnumber continues to grow. As a steward of angling history, as well as a resource for active participants, theAmerican Museum of Fly Fishing strives to inspire anglers to engage in, advance, and promote the sport.”

Continued Comar, “Additionally, we hope that our new site will be a vehicle to introduce, educate, and inspire more people to discover the joys of fly fishing. As the lead national museum and advocate of fly fishing, we want to be the place people come to learn all there is to know about this great sport.”

The museum will also host several events this fall to further their goal. The annual Fly Fishing Festival kicks off October 13th at the museum grounds in Manchester, Vermont and will feature casting competitions, fly tying demonstrations, vintage tackle, and educational presentations. This always popular one‐day festival attracts hundreds of enthusiastic fly fishers. More information can be found at www.amff.com/info/news-a-events.html.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing’s mission is to be the steward of the history, traditions, and practices of thesport of fly fishing and to promote the conservation of its waters. Established in 1968 in Manchester, Vermont, the Museum serves as a home for the world’s largest historical collection of angling and angling related items including rods, reels, flies, tackle, art, and photographs dating back to the 18th century from the US and abroad. The Museum, a nationally accredited, nonprofit, educational institution, supports a publications program where books, catalogs, prints, art, and a national quarterly journal, The American Fly Fisher, are made available to the public.

The Museum’s ongoing collections and exhibitions are supported by membership, events, and donations. The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1995, one of only 4.5% of the museums in the U.S. with this designation.

For further information, hours of operation, and directions please contact, The American Museum of Fly Fishing, 4104 Main Street, Manchester, VT 05254, (802) 362‐3300. www.amff.com

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Carp on the Fly: a sight fishing challenge

There's an old phrase among fly fisherman that one of the attractions to the sport is the beautiful places it takes you. This has long been true with trout and salmon but with the current popularity of fly fishing for carp, the beautiful places seem to have gone by the wayside. Not that some carp don't live in pretty places, but their very nature lends them to be happy residents in places other fish would be too ashamed to call home.

A big attraction, no doubt, is the close proximity of carp to urban centers many fishermen call home. Another attraction is simply, pure fly fishing.

Carp put the angler on the stalk for a shallow water fish that must be approached with stealth. One wrong move and you're likely to see nothing more than a plume of cloudy water as a carp quickly swims to deeper and safer water. Casts are usually far and fine with delicate presentations. And finally, though in many ways it's first and foremost, it's a sight fishing opportunity. This sight fishing game is compared by many to be akin to bonefish on the flats or backwater redfishing.

Love them or hate them, carp have been here for more than 100 years and they're not going anywhere. They're challenging, take a well presented fly, fight hard, and best of all, just about everyone lives within 30 minutes of them.

If you haven't tried them, give it a go. You may become a carp groupie like many I know. We've had enough fun with them that we added them to our guiding itinerary and have great sport during the summer months when the trout fishing can become pretty fickle.

Visit our web site and call or drop us an email if you'd like to give carp on a fly a try.

Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan

NY DEC Releases Draft Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan to Improve Health of the Estuary


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a draft of the Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan to guide restoration and protection actions that will sustain priority habitats in the Hudson River estuary and tributaries from the federal dam at Troy to the Tappan Zee Bridge. The plan identifies four priority habitat types for restoration: intertidal (the area between high and low tide), shallow water, shorelines and tributaries. These habitats are all important to the overall health of the ecosystem; have been degraded or destroyed on a large scale by human action; and provide feasible opportunities for restoration. Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted through October 31.

"The Hudson River Estuary program is helping people enjoy, protect and revitalize the Hudson River and its Valley," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "The Habitat Restoration Plan provides a foundation to achieve the estuary's management goal by restoring tidal wetlands, natural shorelines and shallows, and by facilitating fish passage up the Hudson's tributaries. Restoration of healthy habitats will provide benefits for fish, birds, turtles, crabs, mammals and invertebrate animals and to the residents of the Hudson River Valley and the State of New York."

Dating back to the early 1800s, habitats in the Hudson River estuary have been damaged by a variety of activities including dredging of the navigation channel and filling of adjacent wetlands; construction of the railroad along sensitive shoreline habitats; and construction of dams in tributaries, affecting fish, bird, and wildlife populations. In addition, loss of coastal shallows and wetlands has reduced the diversity and productivity of these important natural areas, limiting the Hudson's ability to adapt to climate change and rapid sea-level rise. Loss of coastal shallows and wetlands also has made coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and intense storms by removing the natural barriers that protect against weather extremes.

The Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan is intended for use by community groups, government agencies, scientists, conservation organizations and other restoration organizations throughout the region to plan, carry-out and evaluate habitat restoration and protection projects that will improve ecosystem health and resilience and support adaptation to sea-level rise by river shoreline communities.

The Draft Hudson River Habitat Restoration Plan was developed with input from state and federal regulatory agencies, scientists, natural resource managers and non-governmental organizations. Many technical resources produced by these groups were used to develop an understanding of current conditions and how they have changed due to human action.

The Draft Hudson River Habitat Restoration Plan is available on DEC's website. Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted through September 30 and may be submitted with the subject line "HR Restoration Plan" to hrep@gw.dec.state.ny.us . In addition, DEC will hold two Public Information Sessions, on September 18, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. at the Norrie Point Environmental Center at Margaret Norrie State Park in Staatsburg; and on September 24, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the Professional Academic Center, the Saland Room, at Columbia Greene Community College in Hudson.

The Hudson River Estuary Program protects and improves the natural and scenic Hudson River watershed for all its residents. The program was created in 1987 and extends from the Troy dam to the upper New York Harbor. Its core mission is to ensure clean water; protect and restore fish and wildlife and their habitats; provide river access and water recreation; adapt to climate change; and conserve the Hudson Valley's world-famous scenery. The Hudson River Estuary Program is a project of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

First-Time Anglers are Two Times More Likely to Lapse than Repeat Anglers

Key Findings Help Shape RBFF State Marketing Programs, Highlighting the Importance of Retention Efforts 

First-time anglers are two times more likely to lapse out of fishing than repeat anglers, according to new research from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) released this week at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Annual Meeting. The analysis, which was conducted in partnership with Southwick Associates, looked at license sales data in 36 states. The findings highlight the importance of retention efforts and will help RBFF shape future state marketing programs to increase fishing license sales.

“There are a significant number of people who lapse out of fishing each year,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “We took a close look at both first-time and repeat anglers to identify and characterize their differences, so we can better target our messaging to these audiences, and keep them engaged in fishing.”

  • First-time anglers are two times more likely to lapse than repeat anglers, with renewal rates of 31% and 68% respectively.
  • First-time anglers are more likely than repeat anglers to be: younger, female, Hispanic, live in metro and urban communities and have families with young children.
  • Nearly 80% of first-time anglers purchased an annual fishing license in 2012.
  • On average, repeat anglers spend 47% more annually than first-time anglers on fishing licenses, tags and permits.
“If we can convert first-time anglers to repeat anglers, we can have a significant positive impact on fishing license sales and revenue for state conservation and wildlife management efforts,” added Peterson.

RBFF is conducting additional research to gain further insights into first-time license buyers’ preferences and motivations to develop an effective retention strategy that will compel first-time anglers to renew their license. Additional findings will be shared in December in conjunction with RBFF’s State Marketing Workshop and in March at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference.

The full report is available on TakeMeFishing.org/Corporate.

About The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)
Celebrating 15 years in 2013, RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ campaign to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing helps boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign website, TakeMeFishing.org, features tips and how-to’s that can be used all over the country, tools to compare different styles of boats, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BOATLIFT - An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience

Narrated by Tom Hanks. This short film documents the largest evacuation by boat in history.

"A hero is a man who does what he can" Romain Rolland

Monday, September 09, 2013

$1 Million to Partners in 10 States to Rescue Stranded Marine Mammals and Investigate Health Problems

NOAA’s Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) announced today the award of 12 grants to partner organizations totaling more than $1 million to respond to and rehabilitate stranded marine mammals and collect data on their health.

The federal John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program allows funding to be given to academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and state agencies that are members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network and that apply for assistance.  A detailed list of the 2013 round of annual grants awarded is found below.

“The Prescott grant program helps support our stranding network partners and their life-saving rescue work to help provide humane care to whales, dolphins, seals or sea lions that are sick, injured or in peril,” said Dr. Teri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries’ lead marine mammal veterinarian and coordinator of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.  “Marine mammals are important indicator species of ocean health since they are top-level predators that eat many of the same fish that we do, and several species live in coastal areas utilized by people.  When marine mammals show signs of illness, they may be signaling changes in the marine environment that might have significant implications for the overall health of our ocean ecosystems, so monitoring the health of marine mammals provides vital information on the impacts of, and to, humans.”

The Stranding Network is comprised of trained professionals and volunteers from more than 100 organizations that partner with NOAA Fisheries to investigate marine mammal strandings, rehabilitate animals, and assist with research on marine mammal health issues. NOAA Fisheries relies on its long-standing partnership with Stranding Network members to obtain the vital information about marine mammal health needed to develop effective conservation programs for marine mammal populations in the wild.

Since the Prescott program’s inception, NOAA Fisheries has awarded 471 Prescott grants to 93 recipients in 25 states and 2 U.S. territories, totaling more than $41.8 million. Over the years, Prescott grants have enabled network members to make improvements to their operations such as: expanding response coverage; enhancing response capabilities and data collection; and improving rehabilitation of marine mammals.

Prescott Grants are made under Title IV of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which authorizes NOAA Fisheries to fund eligible members of the national stranding network through grants and cooperative agreements.

For more information about the Prescott Grant Program, details on each 2013 grant, eligibility requirements, and funding opportunities, please go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/prescott/

Thursday, September 05, 2013

30-year old Atlantic salmon restoration program in the Merrimack River comes to an end

Atlantic salmon. credit: Greg Thompson/USFWSBased on continued low annual sea-run salmon returns and shrinking Federal budgets, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced it will end its investment in the more than 30-year old Atlantic salmon restoration program in the Merrimack River.

The Service has worked cooperatively with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S.Forest Service to raise and stock Atlantic salmon for the Merrimack River at two hatcheries: Nashua National Fish Hatchery in New Hampshire, and North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery in Massachusetts.
map of Merrimack River

“This was a hard decision, but the science tells us that there is little chance that we will successfully restore Atlantic salmon to the Merrimack,” said Wendi Weber, the Service’s Northeast Regional Director. “While the science is driving our decision, our declining budgets hastened it. We need to prioritize. With the lack of success, we need to shift our scarce resources to priority restoration efforts where we can make a difference. ”

At today’s Merrimack River Policy Committee meeting in Concord, N.H., the Service and the committee asked the Merrimack River Technical Committee to develop a plan that outlines program next steps, including stocking the last of the Merrimack salmon that are currently at the two hatcheries, and options for continued Atlantic salmon monitoring in river.

The Service has already begun to shift resources toward higher priority restoration efforts, such as American shad. Both Nashua and North Attleboro National Fish Hatcheries raise shad that are stocked in rivers from New Hampshire to Rhode Island.

Today’s announcement follows a decision in 2012 to end the Service’s investment in Atlantic salmon restoration in the Connecticut River. In both the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers, salmon returns have been limited due to poor marine survival, in-river habitat degradation, and dams that impede fish migration.
The Service continues to focus on recovery of endangered Atlantic salmon in Gulf of Maine rivers, which are the last remaining wild Atlantic salmon in the country.