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Monday, December 28, 2015

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases 2015 List of Candidates for Endangered Species Act Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released the Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly status appraisal of plants and animals that are candidates for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. Two species were removed from the list, and two changed in priority from the last review, conducted in December 2014. There are now 60 species recognized by the Service as candidates for ESA protection.

All candidate species are assigned a listing priority number based on the magnitude and imminence of the threats they face. When adding species to the list of threatened or endangered species, the Service first addresses species with the highest listing priority. Today’s notice announces changes in priority for two species.

The priority for Hirst Brothers’ panic grass was increased based on a re-evaluation of the imminence of the threat due to an increase in regional precipitation patterns that are causing long-term flooding in the species’ coastal plain pond habitat. The priority for whitebark pine was lowered based on the reduced magnitude of the threat from mountain pine beetle; the beetle epidemic appears to be subsiding, and the Service no longer considers this threat to be having the high level of impact that was seen in recent years.

The removal of two species announced today – both anchialine pool shrimp originally thought to be endemic to Hawaii – is based on new information showing they occur on other islands, largely exist in protected areas where known to occur and may use broader habitats than originally reported.

The Service is soliciting additional information on the candidate species and others that may warrant ESA protection to assist in preparing listing documents and future revisions or supplements to the Candidate Notice of Review.

Candidate species are plants and animals for which the Service has enough information on the status and threats to propose them as threatened or endangered but for which a proposed listing rule is precluded by other, higher priority listing actions. The annual review and identification of candidate species helps landowners and natural resource managers understand which species need most to be conserved, allowing them to address threats and work to preclude ESA listing.

Although candidate species do not receive ESA protection, the Service works to conserve them and their habitats using several tools: a grants program funds conservation projects by private landowners, states and territories; and two voluntary programs ­– Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCAs) and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) ­– engage participants to implement specific actions that remove or reduce the threats to candidate species that help stabilize or restore the species and can preclude ESA listing.

For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/cnor.html.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NY DEC Arrests Two Men for Poaching Trout & Salmon

Two men are charged with poaching trout and salmon from the Saranac River in the City of Plattsburgh, Clinton County, New York.

 Environmental Conservation Police Officers arrested 38-year-old Joshua Todd and 34-year-old Christopher J. Dumas, both of Plattsburgh, N.Y., on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. The two men allegedly were snagging fish. They're charged with taking fish by means other than angling and Mr. Dumas is also charged with fishing without a license.

Rich Redman, President of the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited said, "This is great news for every law-abiding angler in the North Country. It's great to see the salmon back, and DEC protecting them.”

A primary indicator of strengthening salmon populations is annual spawning runs. DEC staff observed good fall runs in the Ausable River, Boquet River and especially the Saranac River. It’s a great sign for these fish populations, the health of Lake Champlain, anglers, and the economic health of local communities that see the benefit from improved fishing opportunities.

Todd and Dumas are scheduled to appear in the City of Plattsburgh Local Criminal Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2016. They both face fines.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

US Coast Guard Busts Striped Bass Violators

The Coast Guard issued violations last week on two separate occasions off Cape May, NJ due to the possession of Atlantic striped bass within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Coast Guard law enforcement crews conduct boardings on a routine basis throughout the Mid-Atlantic and place an emphasis on the protection of the Atlantic striped bass against commercial and recreational fishing within the EEZ.

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Cape May discovered three Atlantic striped bass while boarding a pleasure craft approximately eight miles off Cape May.

A boarding team from the Virginia-based Coast Guard Cutter Dependable found five Atlantic striped bass while boarding a pleasure craft approximately three and a half nautical miles off Cape May within the EEZ.

More stringent regulations adopted in the 1980s were lifted in the mid-90s as stocks replenished; however, the prohibition of catching, fishing for or possessing Atlantic Striped Bass in the EEZ continues to be a federal offense.

“It is illegal to possess or target the Atlantic striped bass in federal waters, which begin three miles from shore,” said Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Bennett, the deputy enforcement chief for the Fifth Coast Guard District in Portsmouth, Virginia. “In state waters – waters less than three miles from the coast – each state has its own laws designed to protect stripers. Even though the Coast Guard does not enforce those state laws, if we find a violation at the state level, we may notify state authorities.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pennsylvania Launches “Save Our Susquehanna” Online Fundraising Site

Today the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced it has partnered with the non-profit Ralph Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund to launch an online FirstGiving fundraising site for the Susquehanna River, broadening the agency’s efforts to save the ailing river.
The fundraising site can be found here. Individuals can donate by selecting the green “Donate” button in the lower right corner.
"Direct fundraising is an unusual step for a state government agency, but we thought that there are many people who care about the river and would want to be able to contribute to our ‘S.O.S. – Save Our Susquehanna’ campaign,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The connection to the Ralph Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund was the perfect step in expanding the reach of the campaign since Mr. Abele was a leader in conservation and loved the river. The fund was set up to provide for tax deductible contributions to the campaign with the funding being used by the Commission for projects to improve the water quality of the Susquehanna and its tributaries."
“This is an opportunity to carry on Mr. Abele’s legacy by further raising awareness of the issues plaguing the Susquehanna River,” he added. “At the same time, the online site will help deliver a conservation message to a far greater audience and provide a mechanism for others to contribute to a fund to help the river.”
The PFBC launched its S.O.S. campaign to save the river on June 2 by announcing that a portion of license sales and proceeds from a $10 S.O.S. button would be dedicated to funding water and soil conservation projects along the Susquehanna River, whose young smallmouth bass population has been plagued over the last decade by illness and elevated mortality rates.
To kick off the campaign, the PFBC pledged $50,000 in matching funds.
So far, more than $29,000 has been raised for the S.O.S. campaign, including a $1,000 donation from the Enola Sportsmen’s Association in Cumberland County and a $5,000 donation from the Fishing Creek Sportsmen’s Association in Columbia County.
Today’s announcement coincides with a report released Monday by the PFBC and state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which concluded that herbicides and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are likely causes contributing to the smallmouth bass population decline. The report also identified parasites and pathogens as likely causes.
“The report released this week confirms what we’ve said all along, that the Susquehanna River is sick and needs our help before it’s too late,” Arway added. “The next step is to identify the sources of the herbicides and EDCs and to develop plans to reduce them in the river.”
“The ‘Save Our Susquehanna’ message is resonating with anglers, with sportsmen’s clubs and with others who care about the river,” he added. “I’m optimistic that with the new FirstGiving site, we will raise and exceed the $50,000 from anglers, other conservationists, and anyone who cares about our natural resources and supports our efforts to do everything in our power to protect and conserve them. Once we raise $50,000, the S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna! campaign will have its first $100,000 to begin working on projects to fix the river.”

Monday, December 14, 2015

Likely Causes for Smallmouth Bass Decline in the Susquehanna River

 Endocrine Disruptors and Pathogens and Parasites Appear as Culprits

Based on a multi-agency, multi-year study of one of the most complex river systems in Pennsylvania, the two most likely causes for the population decline of smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides; and pathogens and parasites.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), along with nearly 50 participants and 6 partner agencies, released the findings today that narrow the likely causes from an initial field of 14 candidate causes to those two. More research into these causes is needed, but evidence collected during the study points to these likely sources more than any other candidate causes.

Following a smallmouth bass population crash in 2005, and additional observed maladies, such as tumors and lesions on smallmouth bass, the team used ground-breaking monitoring strategies to collect more than 30,000 water quality records annually, along with review of existing research to isolate the possible causes keeping young-of-the-year (YOY) smallmouth bass from growing to adulthood.

The panel of experts was challenged by the fact that the Susquehanna River is a complex system in which the tributaries at times don’t mix for more than 40 miles. “What looks like just one body of water acts like five unique rivers, all with different characteristics,” said John Quigley, DEP Secretary. The Juniata, West Branch, and main stem each tend to run in their own isolated lanes in the riverbed, with the smaller tributaries hugging both shorelines.

Collaborating scientists began the study in 2014, using a scientific protocol known as CADDIS (Causal Analysis/Diagnosis Decision Information System). Of the 14 initial candidate causes identified by the workgroup, only two were determined to be likely causes of the poor recruitment: Endocrine disrupting compounds/herbicides, and pathogens and parasites.

“We appreciate the assistance of the U.S. EPA, DEP and our other partners in the evaluation of many possible stressors to the smallmouth bass population using the CADDIS process’” said Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission John Arway. “The health of the smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River continues to be compromised and this analysis rules out certain causes, prioritizes other uncertain causes for further study and most importantly identifies likely causes which can be targeted for action.”

The original potential causes included high flows, pH and dissolved oxygen (deemed unlikely as a result of this study), as well as invasive species, habitat, and algal blooms (deemed uncertain).

The next step is to focus on identifying the sources of the endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, and what is causing the increased prevalence and lethality of the pathogens and parasites in smallmouth bass, including monitoring in the tributaries of the Susquehanna.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed CADDIS to help agencies conduct causal assessments in aquatic systems. This scientific panel represents DEP, PFBC, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies and nearly 50 staff from federal and state agencies and partner organizations.

“This study does not identify a single smoking gun,” said Quigley “But it does point the way toward likely causes, which we will continue to pursue. On top of that, through this study, DEP staff developed new approaches to monitoring this complex system, dramatically increasing our water quality monitoring capacity in the Susquehanna River, and providing tools that we can use to ensure fishable, drinkable water statewide.”

“The Susquehanna River's smallmouth bass fishery once attracted anglers from all over the world,” said Arway. “I am confident that the results from the CADDIS study along with the continued commitment by DEP to identify the causes and reduce the sources will provide for the recovery and return of that once world class recreational fishery.”

Details of the study, a webinar to present the findings of the study, and the full report can be found here.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Webinar on Smallmouth Bass Populations in the Susquehanna River

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will be holding a webinar to discuss the findings of a multi-year study investigating the causes of population decline among smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River.

The Causal Analysis/Diagnosis Decision Information System (CADDIS) process was used to identify and eliminate candidate causes behind a smallmouth bass population crash that began in 2005, as well as a host of other maladies affecting smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River basin. DEP and PFBC staff will outline the need for the study and the analysis of candidate causes in an online presentation.

Registration for the webinar is required; to register, click here. Questions will be accepted from credentialed media at the conclusion of the presentation.

WHAT: Webinar discussing the CADDIS study on Susquehanna River smallmouth bass.
WHEN: Monday December 14, 2015 at 1 p.m.
TO REGISTER: Click here to register

**If you are having technical difficulties with the above hyperlink, use the following link:

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

NJ Introduces Half Price Fishing Buddy License

Resident or non-resident, save some money when you buy your fishing license and introduce or reintroduce someone who hasn't had an annual NJ fishing license since 2010. This could be a way to get your out of state fishing buddy a NJ non-resident license at half price while saving half on your license too. Or if you're a non-resident who buys a NJ fishing license, bring a buddy and you each pay less than a regular resident license costs.

Of course were talking about fishing here so there are a few hooks to deal with:

  • Discount price is applied to both the current and “Buddy” license buyers.
  • The Buddy fishing license is available ONLY at license agents; cannot be purchased online.
  • BOTH anglers must be present at the time of purchase.
  • Applies to both resident and non-resident anglers.
  • Certified disabled veterans, National Guard personnel, senior license buyers (65 years of age and older) and residents over 70 (license not required) are not eligible for the “Fishing Buddy” program as they already receive special pricing through existing discount programs. 
For more info and clarity visit the NJ Fish & Wildlife webpage: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/fishbuddy.htm

Monday, November 30, 2015

Count Birds for Science during Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count

Now in its 116th year, the National Audubon Society’s  annual Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14 through January 5. During the count, more than 72,000 volunteers from 2,400-plus locations across the Western Hemisphere record sightings of bird species with the data collected and submitted to Audubon for research on bird populations and environmental conditions.

For more than 100 years, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running wildlife census, has fueled science and conservation action. Each winter, citizen scientists gather in 15-mile-wide circles, organized by a count compiler, and count every bird they see or hear. Their hard work provides valuable insights into population trends for many species that would otherwise go unnoticed and undocumented.

“New tools, including apps, smartphones and map-based technologies, are making it easier than ever for anyone to be a citizen scientist,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). People who watch birds are seeing changes. By recording all those observations, they're contributing the information that's needed to make a difference. I couldn’t be prouder of the volunteers who contribute each year.”

To date over 200 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with Christmas Bird Count data. Bird-related citizen science efforts are also critical to understanding how birds are responding to a changing climate. This documentation is what enabled Audubon scientists to discover that 314 species of North American birds are threatened by global warming as reported in Audubon’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Study.

Last year’s count shattered records.  A total of 2,462 counts and 72,653 observers tallied over 68 million birds of 2,106 different species. Counts took place in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces and over 100 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.  Four counts took place in Cuba and new counts in Mexico, Nicaragua and Colombia partook for the first time.

Snowy Owl numbers were once again above average, though mostly appearing north and west of the year prior with record highs for Ontario. It was the largest influx ever documented on the CBC in Canada, and very unusual for it to happen for four consecutive years.  Researchers are anxious to see what happens next as “Snowies” begin to make early winter visits in Minnesota and the Midwest this year. The tradition of counting birds combined with modern technology and mapping is enabling researchers to make discoveries that were not possible in earlier decades.
Northern Canada also noted record numbers of redpolls while Alaska recorded a Eurasian Siskin, a species normally found in the Eastern Hemisphere, for the very first time on Unalaska Island. On a less positive note, numbers of Northern Bobwhite, American Kestrels and Loggerhead Shrikes continue to decline in most regions. These are all species of hedgerows and shrub lands that require food negatively affected by pesticides—and are also affected by habitat loss across North America. Shrub land and grassland species are among the most rapidly declining worldwide, and CBC results can help track how these species fare over the coming decades in the Americas.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – which evolved into Audubon magazine – suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds. 116 years of counting birds is a long time, but the program somehow brings out the best in people, and they stay involved for the long run. Remarkably the entire existence of the program can still be measured with the involvement of two ornithologists—Chapman, who retired in 1934, and Chan Robbins, who started compiling in 1934 and still compiles and participates to this day. The old guard may someday move on, but up-and-coming young birders will fill the ranks. And so the tradition continues.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a citizen science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate and the quarterly report, American Birds, is available online. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to chip in. For more information and to find a count near you visit www.christmasbirdcount.org.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pennsylvania's 2016-17 Trout Management Plan

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has opened a public comment period for individuals to submit comments on the agency’s draft 2016-17 Trout Management Plan.
The plan can be viewed online at http://fishandboat.com/troutplan.htm. Comments may be submitted online at http://fishandboat.com/promo/form/trout-plan2016.htm. Written comments may be submitted to Mackenzie Ridgway, PFBC, 450 Robinson Lane, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
Comments will be accepted through Dec. 31.
“The goal of the strategic plan is to ensure that adequate protection is afforded to wild trout resources and that fisheries provided through the management of wild trout and the stocking of adult and fingerling trout will continue to provide excellent angling opportunities in Pennsylvania,” said Jason Detar, Chief of the Division of Fisheries Management. 
“The plan includes input provided by a work group that consisted of commission staff, anglers affiliated with a variety of sportsmen’s organizations, and independent anglers not affiliated with a sportsmen’s organization,” he added.
As part of the plan, 22 priority issues have been identified encompassing four primary resource categories, which include:
  • management of wild trout streams,
  • management of stocked trout streams,
  • management of stocked trout lakes, and
  • trout management in Lake Erie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Shortnose Sturgeon Return to Historic Habitat After 100 Year Absence

Endangered shortnose sturgeon have rediscovered habitat in the Penobscot River that had been inaccessible to the species for more than 100 years prior to the removal of the Veazie Dam in 2013. University of Maine researchers confirmed evidence that three female shortnose sturgeon were in the area between Veazie (upriver of the dam remnants) and Orono (Basin Mills Rips), Maine in mid-October. Researchers had previously implanted these sturgeon with small sound-emitting devices known as acoustic tags to see if they would use the newly accessible parts of the river.
Graduate student C. Johnston and Associate Professor J. Zydlewski implant a small tagging device into a shortnose sturgeon (ESA Permit #16036 compliant, photo courtesy G. Zydlewski).
Among the most primitive fish to inhabit the Penobscot, sturgeon are often called “living fossils" because they remain very similar to their earliest fossil forms. Their long lives (more than 50 years) and bony-plated bodies also make them unique. Historically, shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon (a related species also present in the watershed) had spawning populations in the Penobscot River as far upstream as the site of the current Milford dam, and provided an important food and trade source to native peoples and early European settlers. Overharvest and loss of suitable habitat due to dams and pollution led to declines in shortnose sturgeon populations and a listing as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967. In 2012, Gulf of Maine populations of Atlantic sturgeon were listed as threatened under the ESA.
Today, a network of sound receivers, which sit on the river bottom along the lower river from Penobscot Bay up to the Milford Dam, detect movement and location of tagged fish. According to Gayle Zydlewski, an associate professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, the three individual fish observed were females. These fish have since been tracked joining other individuals in an area identified as wintering habitat near Brewer, Maine. Wintering habitat in other rivers is known to be staging habitat for spawning the following spring.
After measurement and implantation of a small tagging device, graduate student L. Izzo releases a shortnose sturgeon back into the Penobscot (ESA Permit #16036 compliant, photo courtesy G. Zydlewski).
“We know that shortnose sturgeon use the Penobscot River throughout the year, and habitat models indicate suitable habitat for spawning in the area of recent detection upriver of Veazie, although actual spawning has not yet been observed,” Zydlewski said.

Since 2006, Zydlewski has been working with Michael Kinnison, a professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology, and multiple graduate students, including Catherine Johnston, to better understand the sturgeon populations of the Penobscot River and Gulf of Maine. Johnston, who has been tagging and tracking sturgeon in the Penobscot for two years to study the implications of newly available habitat to shortnose sturgeon, discovered the detections of sturgeon upstream of the Veazie dam remnants. Each new bit of information adds to the current understanding of behavior and habitat preferences of these incredible fish.

“We’re very excited to see sturgeon moving upstream of where the Veazie Dam once stood, and into their former habitats,“ said Kim Damon-Randall, assistant regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Protected Resources Division. “We need to do more research to see how they're using it, but it's a tremendous step in the right direction.”

Habitat access is essential for the recovery of these species. The removal of the Veazie Dam is only a portion of the Penobscot River Restoration Project, which, when combined with the removal of Great Works Dam in 2012, restores 100 percent of historic sturgeon habitat in the Penobscot. In addition to dam removals, construction of a nature-like fish bypass at the Howland Dam in 2015 significantly improves habitat access for the remaining nine species of sea-run fish native to the Penobscot, including Atlantic salmon and river herring.
“Scientific research and monitoring of this monumental restoration effort has been ongoing for the past decade,” said Molly Payne Wynne, Monitoring Coordinator for the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. “The collaborative body of research on this project is among the most comprehensive when compared to other river restoration projects across the country,” Wynne said.

NOAA Fisheries is an active partner and provides funding for this long-term monitoring collaboration that includes The Penobscot River Restoration Trust, The Nature Conservancy and others. These efforts are beginning to shed light on the response of the river to the restoration project. Restoration of the full assemblage of sea-run fish to the Penobscot River will revive not only native fisheries but social, cultural and economic traditions of Maine’s largest river.

Guilty Plea in Illegal NJ Black Bear Killing


A Passaic County man pleaded guilty today to illegally killing a black bear in New Jersey, transporting it across state lines to New York and veiling the crime by making false statements and staging a fake kill site.

Martin Kaszycki, 36, of Ringwood, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda D. Wettre in Newark federal court to two counts of violating the federal Lacey Act for unlawful transport of wildlife that has been illegally taken, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.

New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers received the original complaint for the crime and conducted an intensive field investigation, evidence gathering and interviews before working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring the Lacey Act violations to court.

“We would like to extend thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for providing both legal and staffing support necessary to successfully prosecute this case as a Lacey Act violation,” said Mark Chicketano, Chief, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Law Enforcement. “In complex cases such as this, where the violator has gone through extensive effort to conceal their violations, the added enforcement penalties provided by the Lacey Act serve as a valuable deterrent against those who would make such attempts to hide their crimes.”

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Kaszycki killed a 450-pound, male black bear from an elevated tree stand in a wooded area in Newfoundland in Passaic County on Oct. 5, 2012, which is outside of the legal bear hunting season in New Jersey. Kaszycki set out bait for the bear within 300 feet of the stand and a used a bow and arrow for the kill, all in violation of New Jersey game code.

Kaszycki drove the bear to New York, where archery hunting was in season. He falsely told a New York weigh station employee that he had killed the bear in New York’s Sterling State Forest, resulting in the employee filing false information on a New York state Bear Data Form.

On Oct. 8, 2012, Kaszycki drove the hide and skull of the bear to a taxidermy shop in Pennsylvania for mounting of a trophy display.

After receiving a tip, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers confronted Kaszycki about the bear on Oct. 10, 2012 at his place of business. Kaszycki informed the officers he had killed the bear in New York. Later that night, Kaszycki brought the entrails of the bear to Sterling State Forest and placed them in the woods to stage a fake kill site.

Kaszycki was interviewed again the next day by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers and he led them to the staged kill site, prompting further investigation. The officers also located the suspected kill site in New Jersey and confirmed it was the location through the testing of recovered DNA evidence by East Stroudsburg University.

“New Jersey has in place a Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy that manages the state’s bear population through a carefully monitored hunting season complemented by education and research efforts,” said New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “We will not tolerate activities that are not consistent with bear hunting regulations that are established within the framework of this management policy.”

The Lacey Act prohibits the interstate transport of wildlife taken or possessed in violation of any state law or regulation as well as the making of a false record for wildlife that has been or is intended to be transported in interstate commerce.

As part of his plea agreement, Kaszycki must pay a fine of $5,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lacey Act Reward Fund. He must also forfeit the skull and hide of the bear and pay $1,250 to the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge in Pittstown for the care and release of orphaned and injured black bears in New Jersey.

Kaszycki was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond with the condition that he not engage in hunting, pending sentencing, or renew any hunting license, permit or certificate. As a condition of bail, he was also ordered to surrender his current hunting license.

The charge to which Kaszycki pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $100,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2016.

Friday, October 30, 2015

New York DEC Proposes New Sea-Level Rise Projection Regulations

To better prepare coastal communities and business owners for extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy three years ago, New York continues its national leadership by proposing new state sea-level rise projections that will help state agencies and project planners develop more resilient structures, Basil Seggos, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. Public comments on the proposed regulation will be accepted following publication in the State Register through December 28.

"The sea-level rise projections DEC is proposing today reflect the best science available and are critical to Governor Cuomo's vision of a more resilient New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated whole communities that are still rebuilding," Acting Commissioner Seggos said. "Sea level projections will help state agencies, developers, planners and engineers to reduce risks posed by rising seas and coastal storms over the next several decades."

Governor Cuomo signed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) in September 2014. CRRA requires applicants for certain permit and funding programs to demonstrate consideration of future physical risks due to sea-level rise, flooding and storm surge. DEC is required by CRRA to adopt state sea-level rise projections.

DEC's regulation to adopt sea-level rise projections does not by itself create any new design standards or permit requirements. Project planners and state agencies will, however, be able to use these projections in project design, and routine permit and funding decision making, which will result in more resilient projects and safer communities to live, work and conduct business in. DEC is working with other agencies to prepare guidance that directs and supports thorough examination of sea-level rise, flooding and storm surge in several permitted and funding programs, as required by CRRA. The guidance will help project planners and agency staff select appropriate sea-level rise and flooding scenarios so they can plan for changing water levels and associated risks that might occur over the life of a project.

DEC's proposed projections are based on peer-reviewed research by scientists at Columbia University, Cornell University and Hunter College in the ClimAID study, which was funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The original 2011 research report and the 2014 update are available at NYSERDA's website (leaves DEC website.)

The ClimAID projections include consideration of the possibility of rapid melt of land-based ice on Antarctica and Greenland, which could result in significantly higher rates of sea-level rise than would otherwise occur. Subsequent reports continue to affirm the underlying assumption that ice melt will likely accelerate beyond historical rates of melt.

The proposed regulation provides a range of projections suitable for risk-based planning and review of projects of varying projected life times and risk tolerance. For example, the New York City/Lower Hudson projections range from a low of 15 inches to a high of 75 inches by 2100. Projections for Long Island and the Mid-Hudson are similar. By having a full range of projections, decision makers will be able to consider the possibility of more rapid sea-level rise when planning long-term land-use change and critical, long-lived infrastructure.

New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said, "These proposed regulations are a critical step forward as the Department of State and other State agencies work to provide clear and consistent guidance to communities on how to address the future threats they face from sea level rise. These projections will help the Department work with its State, local and regional partners on the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and SmartGrowth initiatives to plan for and create a more resilient New York."

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Mathew J. Driscoll said, "Governor Cuomo is leading the way in making New York stronger, safer and better prepared for rough weather and high water. Working with our sister agencies, these new sea-level rise projections are an important step in helping us develop a transportation network that is more resilient and weather ready now and in the future."

State Senator Tom O'Mara, chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee said, "The Senate has shown a great willingness to address these short- and long-term risks and challenges with last year's passage of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act. It was overwhelmingly supported and requires consideration of extreme weather events for a large number of state programs and in the issuance of major permits. So we are a willing partner in addressing the range of these concerns with solutions like this one that are reasonable and effective."

State Senator Diane J. Savino, the Senate sponsor of the Act, said, "The Community Risk and Resiliency Act will play a crucial role in reducing our risks from sea level rise and extreme weather events. It requires advance planning for extreme weather events as well as the consideration of the effects of climate change. Taking full consideration of the risks from sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding will increase the resilience of our communities. I am very pleased that the Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed regulations to adopt sea-level rise projections pursuant to the Act, and I'm looking forward to a vibrant discussion of these proposals in the weeks to come."

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation said, "According to the National Climate Assessment, 'the Northeast has experienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events). These statistics have been illustrated most recently by the devastating impacts of storms such as Sandy, Lee and Irene. In addition to the tragic loss of life, property and environmental damage, there is also a steep economic cost of extreme weather events and rising sea level. For example, the financial toll of Superstorm Sandy on New York is estimated to be at least $42 billion dollars. Sea level rise projections will help build resiliency into coastal communities and reduce risks to life and property by allowing critical infrastructure to be constructed in a manner to withstand future weather events."

Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency said, "Accurate science is critical to effective climate adaptation. By adopting sea level rise projections that are consistent with the climate change projections produced by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, the State is demonstrating a forward-looking approach that reflects the best available science. These coordinated projections, which also inform the City's investments, will support the critical work of making investments in climate adaptation and resiliency across the entire State."

Stuart F. Gruskin, chief conservation officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York said, "The state's release of sea level projections to implement the Community Risk and Resilience Act is another significant and welcome step to ensure that New York State is ready to face the changing climate. As we look back at the catastrophic impacts of storms like Sandy, Irene, and Lee, we are encouraged that under Governor Cuomo's leadership New York is affirmatively acting to protect our communities from similar devastation in the future. We look forward to reviewing the proposed projections and to continuing our work with the State to implement important programs that enhance resilience across New York."

Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters said, "These projections are the fruit of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act, which was a top priority for NYLCV in 2014. As we pause to remember the three year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy this week, this data will help us make smarter decisions as we strengthen our infrastructure and improve resiliency in advance of the next big storm. I commend Governor Cuomo and Acting Commissioner Seggos for their forward thinking."

Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York said, "Audubon New York applauds Acting Commissioner Seggos' introduction of sea-level rise predictions as another step towards making our coastal communities more resilient in the face of future storm events and sea level rise. Some of our most vulnerable areas lie within the Long Island Sound and Hudson River estuaries, both of which are ecologically and economically significant to the people, birds, and wildlife of New York and the Atlantic Coast. Sea level rise projections will allow for proper planning to ensure the safeguarding of natural features, processes and irreplaceable habitat in our most vulnerable areas while ensuring the protection of our residents and communities."

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, "Governor Cuomo is showing strong national-caliber leadership to ensure New York is combatting climate change and preparing for its impacts. Scenic Hudson has collaborated with the Department of Environmental Conservation to help communities plan for rising sea level, identifying areas and property likely to suffer inundation and damage and utilities such as sewage treatment plants likely to be disabled by intense storms and associated surges. The DEC's new sea level rise projection regulations under CRRA provide crucial guidance that will help ensure that New York is building for resilience under the 'new normal' of climate change."

The proposed regulation and support documents are available on DEC's website.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Feds to Auction 344,000 Acres Offshore New Jersey for Wind Energy Development

Thirteen energy companies qualified to bid in lease sale

 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced that 343,833 acres offshore New Jersey will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a competitive lease sale on November 9, 2015.

BOEM has awarded nine commercial offshore wind leases, including seven through the competitive lease sale process (two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). These lease sales have generated about $14.5 million in winning bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters.

BOEM has determined that the following energy development companies are legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming New Jersey lease sale:

●      Convalt Energy LLC
●      GSOE I LLC
●      EDF Renewable Energy Development Inc.
●      Energy Management Inc.
●      Fishermen’s Energy LLC
●      Green Sail Energy LLC
●      New Jersey Offshore Wind LLC
●      OffshoreMW LLC
●      RES America Developments Inc.
●      Sea Breeze Energy LLC
●      US Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore) Inc.
●      U.S. Wind Inc.

The New Jersey Wind Energy Area starts about seven nautical miles from shore. A map of the Wind Energy Area can be viewed at http://www.boem.gov/New-Jersey/.  Additional information on the New Jersey Wind Energy Area and upcoming auction can be found at http://www.boem.gov/State-Activities-New-Jersey/.

In the meantime BOEM has invited all recreational and commercial fisherman to a workshop on November 4, 2015 in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ for BOEM to understand how the lease area is used for fishing. You can see the invitation here: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/images/marine/boemnj11-15.jpg

Thursday, October 01, 2015

New Discovery Channel series “Pacific Warriors” highlights Kayak Fishing

Beneath the pristine waters of Hawaii, ancient volcanoes have forged steep underwater cliffs, resulting in the best deep-sea fishing in the world. For centuries, generations of Hawaiians have caught these monster fish from small, hand-made canoes, using nothing more than a fishing pole and their bare hands. Now, a rare breed of men and women – armed with just a sea kayak – are re-inventing this ancient art, and risking their lives to catch 100-plus pound fish. One fresh catch can reel in $1,500 dollars or more; but big rewards bring stiff competition. PACIFIC WARRIORS, an all-new series premiering Friday, October 23, at 10 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel, follows these brave adventurers who will stop at nothing to bring in their prize. The series is produced by Original Media.

Though these men and women survive and thrive by living off the ocean, kayak fishing is not for the faint of heart; even the slightest mistake can invite deadly consequences. The series follows seven teams as they train and battle it out on the rough waters. Using
primitive means, the fearless fishermen and women are regularly taken on what they call "Hawaiian Sleigh Rides," which occur when they hook monster fish that drag them out to sea – sometimes as much as 10 miles or more. They also fend off sharks regularly, deeming them "tax men," which are looking for an easy meal.

Each fishing expert brings his or her own techniques and expertise to the craft. Veteran fisherwoman Kimi Werner’s
style of kayak fishing is one of the most dangerous. Unlike the others, Kimi goes straight to the source by “free diving” to depths of 150 feet, where she hunts down her prey.

“Though being brave is part of the job, having an appropriate amount of fear and trepidation is healthy, and is what keeps me alive,” Kimi said. “It reminds me that I’m really so small and humbled in this big ocean. I think the people who forget that are the ones who end up in danger.”

The last pioneers of this ancient art face brutal conditions and bloodthirsty predators. Man versus fish is in their DNA; despite the risks, Pacific Warriors live for the moment when they hook their catch.
PACIFIC WARRIORS is produced for Discovery Channel by Original Media. For Original Media, Executive Producers are Glenda Hersh, Steven Weinstock, Lisa Bloch, Peter Goetz, Kelly Hefner and Bryan Severance. For Discovery Channel, Executive Producers are Joseph Schneier and Christo Doyle. To learn more, go to www.discovery.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/discovery and on Twitter @Discovery. 
About Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 224 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit www.discovery.com

About Discovery Communications
Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries and territories. For 30 years Discovery has been dedicated to satisfying curiosity and entertaining viewers with high-quality content through its global television brands, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science and Turbo/Velocity, as well as U.S. joint venture network OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Discovery controls Eurosport, the leading pan-regional sports entertainment destination across Europe and Asia-Pacific. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools, including an award-winning series of K-12 digital textbooks, through Discovery Education, and a digital leader with a diversified online portfolio, including Discovery Digital Networks. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.

About Original Media
Original Media is a subsidiary of Endemol Shine North America and is run by Emmy award-winning producers Glenda Hersh and Steven Weinstock. Producing hundreds of hours of programming across unscripted and scripted television, digital media and feature film, Original Media has built a strong reputation for cutting-edge content and quality production. Hit series include “Swamp People,” “Dual Survival,” “Ink Master,” “Comic Book Men” and “I Love You But I Lied.” Original Media also produced the Academy Award-nominated films “The Squid and the Whale” and “Half Nelson.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fracking Chemical Released into Water Supply in Potter County, PA

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is issuing a Notice of Violation to JKLM Energy after the chemical release from JKLM’s Reese Hollow 118 well pad on September 18, 2015. The wellpad is located in Sweden Township.

The Notice of Violation includes:
• Failure to prevent pollution of fresh groundwater;
• Drilling through fresh groundwater with a substance other than air, freshwater or freshwater based drilling fluids; and
• Violations of Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.

DEP has had representatives in the area almost daily since September 21, collecting samples, meeting with property owners affected by the release, and overseeing operations at the gas well. More than 60 individual water samples have been taken from residential water supplies through September 29, 2015. DEP is continuing to test and analyze residential and municipal water supplies for evidence of contamination.

DEP is also ensuring water supply replacement to affected residences, including the Cole Memorial Hospital, which was transitioned to municipal water sources as a precaution. The Department also participated in a September 25, 2015 meeting with the Potter County Commissioners, PEMA, Potter County EMA, Cole Memorial Hospital, Coudersport Borough, and JKLM Energy.

According to JKLM estimates, approximately 98 gallons of surfactant (F-485) was released to groundwater during top-hole drilling activities. This surfactant included isopropanol at 10-15% concentration, which is not approved for use when drilling through freshwater aquifers. The surfactant was reportedly diluted in 22,000 gallons of water and also included 35 gallons of rock oil, a paraffinic petroleum product used to lubricate the drill bit. DEP is working to verify this information.

DEP is currently in discussions with JKLM Energy on cleanup and remediation of the release. JKLM has also voluntarily suspended related drilling activities at the Reese Hollow site.

If residents suspect contamination with their water supply, they should contact DEP at 570-327-3636 immediately. Residents with impacted water supplies should not use their water for drinking, washing or bathing.

New Strategic Plan Targets Current, Future Challenges to Fish and Aquatic Resources

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a new strategic plan for its Fish and Aquatic Conservation (FAC) Program that will address some of the nation’s greatest aquatic conservation challenges. The plan provides an overarching strategic vision that will guide the program’s annual operations for fiscal years 2016-2020.

Issues addressed in the document include habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation; overharvest; competition for water; introduction and establishment of invasive species; and climate change. Collectively, these ecological threats continue to pose significant risks to our nation’s aquatic resources.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long and proud history of conserving and protecting our nation’s fish and aquatic resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The framework provided by the strategic plan will help us work with states, tribes, other federal agencies and our partners to protect aquatic species and their habitats for generations to come.”

The plan identifies seven interdependent goals, each representing a fundamental theme that is critical to accomplishing the mission of the FAC Program. The goals include:

• Conserving aquatic species.
• Conserving, restoring and enhancing aquatic habitats.
• Managing aquatic invasive species.
• Fulfilling tribal trust and subsistence responsibilities.
• Enhancing recreational fishing and other public uses of aquatic resources.
• Increase staffing levels, technical capabilities and natural and physical assets to fully meet the Service’s mission.
• Educating and engaging partners and the public to advance the Service’s conservation mission.

“The Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program is uniquely qualified to address the significant and constantly evolving conservation challenges facing our nation’s fish and aquatic resources,” said David Hoskins, Assistant Director of the FAC Program. “The strategic plan will help us direct our resources toward our highest priorities. As a result, we will be better positioned to fulfill the plan’s goals and will ensure the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program is fit for the future. We look forward to working with our many colleagues, partners and stakeholders to implement this new strategic plan for the benefit of all Americans.”

The plan builds on prior FAC strategic plans. In August 2014, a public comment period for the draft plan was announced on the FAC Program’s website. Comments were received from various individuals and organizations, including the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, eight U.S. states, seven federally recognized Tribal entities, Service staff, the American Fisheries Society, Trout Unlimited, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, National Fisheries Friends Partnership, National Fish Habitat Partnership, the Booth Society, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The Service’s FAC Program operates across the nation to recover and restore endangered, threatened and imperiled species, fulfill tribal trust and mitigation responsibilities, and conserve a wide range of fisheries and other aquatic resources. The program also works to restore habitat across the landscape, prevent and control invasive species, assist Native American tribes and other partners in managing their fish and wildlife resources, advance fisheries and aquatic sciences and technologies, foster outdoor recreational opportunities, educate the public on the economic and ecological benefits of aquatic species and their habitats, and address new and emerging challenges, such as climate change.

This complex conservation portfolio reflects the challenge of managing aquatic species at a national scale in the 21st century. The broad responsibilities of the FAC Program underscore the need for a focused vision and strategic plan to make smart, well-informed decisions that make the best use of limited resources for achieving the program’s mission and long-term conservation goals.

For information about the plan visit http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/pdf_files/FAC_StrategyPlan_2016-2020.pdf. For more information about the Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program visit http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Commissions Seek Public Comments on Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Aug. 12) –The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) are seeking public input through Sept. 11 on the draft 2015-2025 Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan.
The draft plan and comment forms can be found at: http://fishandboat.com/swap2015.htm.  Questions can be directed to the Game Commission at WildlifePlanCmnts@pa.gov or to the Fish and Boat Commission at RA-FBSWAP@pa.gov. Use “SWAP” in the subject line.
The purpose of the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan is “to conserve Pennsylvania’s native wildlife, maintain viable habitat, and protect and enhance Species of Greatest Conservation Need.” First developed in 2005, the plan has been the Commonwealth’s blueprint for managing and protecting imperiled species. As required by Congress, State Wildlife Action Plans must be revised no less than every 10 years. For the past 10 years the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan and associated funding from State and Tribal Wildlife Grants have been crucial for protecting and recovering imperiled species and their habitats. 
“State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) are designed to help keep our common native species from becoming more rare,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “For rare species already listed as threatened or endangered, the plan is a framework to assist with their recovery. The SWAP is a unique opportunity to plan how we can work together to protect, conserve and enhance not only our diverse fish and wildlife resources but also the habitats that allow them to continue to live and survive on our Commonwealth’s lands and in our waters.”
“Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan is a commitment to maintaining the Commonwealth’s vast diversity of native wildlife, something we are bound to preserve in accordance with our state constitution,” added Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “It isn’t enough to say we will. We are bound by our constitutional promise to generations yet to come and our conservation ethic to manage all of the state’s natural resources wisely. This plan helps us do that, and it ensures our efforts will be in step with the federal government and other states.”
Bringing together conservation agencies and organizations from across the Commonwealth, for nearly three years  the Game Commission, Fish and Boat Commission, and their partners have compiled and analyzed information related to species, habitats, threats, conservation actions to address the threats, and monitoring of these species and habitats. The revised draft plan has identified 664 species including 90 birds, 19 mammals, 18 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 65 fishes and 450 invertebrates that require attention.
A State Wildlife Action Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required for states to receive State & Tribal Wildlife Grant Program funds. The Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Sept. 30, 2015.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Report Shows U.S. Fishing Participation Rate Holding Steady

2015 Special Report on Fishing offers detailed information on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region

Forty-six million Americans, or 15.8 percent of the U.S. population ages six and older, participated in fishing last year according to the 2015 Special Report on Fishing released today by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show (ICAST) in Orlando, Fla. Produced in partnership with the Outdoor Foundation, the report details the state of fishing participation throughout the country in 2014, offering detailed information on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region.

"We are pleased with the findings of this report, including the 2.4 million newcomers who tried fishing for the first time in 2014," said RBFF President and CEO, Frank Peterson. "Fishing remains a popular outdoor activity and with increasing numbers of newcomers, we look to growing overall participation in the future, securing critical support for state conservation efforts."

Now in its seventh year, the report provides a comprehensive look at overall trends in participation. The report also looks into barriers, motivating factors and preferences of key groups while also identifying opportunities for engaging new audiences. As both foundations look to tap into the growing youth and Hispanic populations, special attention is paid to these segments of the U.S. population in the report.

"Recreational fishing is an essential piece of America's outdoor tradition, often leading children to a love of the outdoors and a healthy, active lifestyle," said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. "We hope this report will help the fishing industry - and the entire outdoor industry - engage young fishing participants and ultimately create the next generation of passionate outdoor enthusiasts."

  • Outdoor Activity - Among adult outdoor participants, fishing is the second most popular outdoor activity 
  • Newcomers - More than 2.4 million people, had their very first fishing experience in 2014 
  • Women anglers - Over 47% of first-time fishing participants are female 
  • Social - Nearly 82% of fishing trips involve more than one person 
  • Youth - Fishing participation as a child has a powerful effect on future participation - more than 85% of adult anglers fished as a child, before the age of 12 
  • Future Participants - Almost 4.3 million youth (11%) would like to try fishing, a growth opportunity for the industry 
  • Number of outings for Hispanic participants - Hispanic Americans fishing participants average 25.8 days on the water per year; over six days more than the average for all fishing participants (19.4 days) 
  • Spontaneous - 81% of fishing trips are spontaneous or planned within a week of the trip 
  • Motivation - Spending time with family and friends continue to be the largest reason to participate in fishing, specifically, 72.2% for ages 6-12 and 66.8% for ages 13-17 
To download the report, as well as an infographic detailing the top findings, visit the Take Me Fishing Resource Center

About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)
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™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar help boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign websites, TakeMeFishing.org and  VamosAPescar.org feature how-to videos, 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.

About The Outdoor Foundation Founded in 2000, the Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through youth engagement, community grant-making, and groundbreaking research, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Foundation has invested $4 million into 785 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 200,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90¢ of every dollar goes directly into this critical work. Visit us at outdoorfoundation.org and outdoornation.org for more information.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New York City's Hydro Scheme Threatens Entire Ecosystems

NYC has trashed the Cannonsville Reservoir and the Upper Delaware River. Due to their negligence in installing a hydo turbine on a dam never designed for hydro power, they may have caused serious harm to a drinking water reservoir and the river system it feeds. This river just happens to be the longest free flowing river east of the Mississippi.  The river is home to one of the finest cold water fisheries in the US, and is also a major spawning ground for the imperiled American shad. It is home to the endangered dwaf wedge mussel, and is a major breeding ground for Bald Eagles too.

Their negligence leaves them no choice but to dump 95 billion gallons of drinking water that more than 10 million people depend on. Right now, all looks good for the West Branch & Main Stem with an abundance of cold water flowing down the river. But, this water can come to an all to soon end as the reservoir that feeds the river is prematurely depleted due to New York City's negligence & mismanagement. NYC drinking water is also threatened by a man made artificial drought thanks to NYC misdirected management and gross negligence. 

Already we are seeing the results of this through a table change in the Flexible Flow Management Plan that regulates the discharge from the reservoirs. The incident that's causing the city to drain Cannonsville reservoir has dropped the average storage in the Delaware reservoirs to a level that has has triggered a large reduction in the water flow in the East Branch of the Delaware via Pepacton reservoir. The Mayor & his DEP Commissioner have been eerily silent on this. Their response has been to send their underlings to hold some public meetings in upstate NY towns whose safety has been threatened, never once showing their own faces or making any public statements or acknowledgements that a problem even exists. Unbelievable!

Friends of the Upper Delaware River has been on top of this from the start and is the #1 advocate the river has. Below is an update from them. It would help a lot if you could take a minute and visit their website  www.fudr.org and become a member:

We were informed this morning from personnel working at the Cannonsville Dam that the emergency repair work to address the leak incident may not involve around-the-clock shifts. In the interest of public safety and to salvage what remains of the recreational season below the dams, please give the authorities at NYCDEP a phone call and urge them to accelerate the repair work and stabilize this situation as quickly as possible.

Adam Bosch: 845-334-7868
Paul Rush: 845-340-7800

For the river,

Jeff Skelding, Executive Director

We need your help - to become an FUDR member, renew your membership, or make a donation, go to www.fudr.org

Saturday, July 04, 2015


 Mid-year survey documents 277 nests statewide

It was a scene that warmed many hearts.

A bald eagle incubating two eggs in a falling snow, unwilling to budge as the nest turned white. As the flakes piled high, the bird was blanketed. Only its head could been seen, periscoping above the snow. 

A bald eagle incubates two eggs during a March snowstorm, as its mate stands atop the snow in a nest near Hanover, Pa. The event, which was livestreamed on the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Eagle Cam, drew national attention and helps to explain why the state's bald eagles have been so successful in their comeback. So far this year, a record-high 277 nests have been documented statewide. Get Image

         The images captured in early March on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Eagle Cam spotlighted the sacrifices parents make, and showed a lot about the resilience of bald eagles, and why they have been so successful in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

And as the Game Commission releases its annual mid-year report on bald-eagle nests statewide, the preliminary numbers represent an all-time high.

So far this year, 277 bald-eagle nests have been documented in Pennsylvania, with nesting eagles present in at least 58 of the state’s 67 counties.

That shatters the 2014 preliminary number of 254 nests, which also was an all-time high. And more nests remain to be counted as the year goes on.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough spoke with excitement about the record numbers.

“Like many Pennsylvanians, I remember a time when bald eagles were absent just about everywhere in the state, and it truly is astonishing how things have turned around,” Hough said. “Through our reintroduction program, our protection of eagles and effective management, we’ve gone from three nests statewide to what soon could be 300, all within the span of my career with the Game Commission.

“It’s an accomplishment of which all Pennsylvanians can be proud,” Hough said.

Of the nests reported so far this year, 20 are new, which could mean they were built and used for the first time this year or, if they existed previously, they were reported for the first time this year.

The Game Commission urges all eagle nests be reported.

Even if nests were reported in a previous year, it’s important to report them again if they were used again this year, said Patti Barber, a biologist with the Game Commission’s Endangered and Nongame Birds section.

People who have reported a nest as active in a previous year might not realize they should report back each year to help the Game Commission track the population over time, Barber said. It’s one of the challenges of documenting bald-eagle nests as the population of eagles continues to grow. Also, folks might assume bald eagles they’re seeing are associated with long-established nests, as opposed to new pairs setting up territories near established nests, Barber said.

Reports of bald-eagle nests always are appreciated. Perhaps the easiest way to report a nest is to contact the Game Commission through its public comments email address: pgccomments@pa.gov, and use the words “Eagle Nest Information” in the subject field. Reports also can be phoned in to a Game Commission Region Office or the Harrisburg headquarters.

“Even if nests are well known locally, please don’t hesitate to report them,” Barber said. “You might be adding a new nest to the list, or making certain that one reported in a previous year is accurately counted this year.”

Each year, bald-eagle nests continue to be reported as the year goes on. In 2014, for instance, the preliminary number of 254 nests ballooned to 273 nests by year’s end. Other years have produced similar results.

But the mid-year numbers are an accomplishment in their own right, Barber said.

In 1983, when the Game Commission launched a seven-year reintroduction program, only three bald-eagle pairs were nesting statewide. Today, there are 277 with more remaining to be counted.

“We so often refer to the story of the bald eagle as one of the greatest wildlife success stories out there, but it just keeps getting better all the time,” Barber said. “People are fascinated with eagles, and their chances to see them and watch them are better now than they’ve ever been.”

Hough said the nearly 1.4 million people who viewed the Game Commission’s Eagle Cam online this year illustrate the connection people have with bald eagles. And that connection is an important part of the bald eagle’s success, he said.

“Without people who care, we wouldn’t have nearly the number of bald eagles we have in Pennsylvania today, and we probably wouldn’t have them at all,” Hough said. “When bald-eagles were in decline, it was people who led the way for their recovery. We joined to clean up the environment, entrusted wildlife agencies like the Game Commission to jumpstart restoration of eagle populations, and placed priority on protecting eagles to give them a chance to take hold.

“The rest we left up to the eagles, and they continue to prove they’ll continue to be here for more and more Pennsylvanians to enjoy,” Hough said.

Eagle cam to go offline 
         For the second straight year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission livestreamed video from a bald-eagle nest, giving visitors to the agency’s website an opportunity to see eagles up close through their nesting cycle.

The nest was successful, with the adults hatching two eggs, and both chicks growing large enough to fledge in June.

The Eagle Cam is slated to go offline sometime on Thursday.

The Game Commission would like to thank the more than 1.4 million people worldwide who watched the livestream from the nest near Hanover.

Eagle reintroduction
       While Pennsylvania’s bald-eagle population is soaring, just a few decades ago, the bald eagle’s future looked bleak.

Its population decimated by the effects of water pollution, persecution and compromised nest success caused by organochlorine pesticides such as DDT, only three pairs of nesting eagles remained in the state – all of them located in Crawford County, in northwestern Pennsylvania along the Ohio border.

In 1983, the Game Commission launched a seven-year bald eagle restoration program. The agency, as part of a federal restoration initiative, sent employees to Saskatchewan to obtain eaglets from wild nests.

Initially, 12 seven-week-old eaglets were taken from nests in Canada’s Churchill River valley and brought to specially constructed towers at two sites. At these towers – at Haldeman Island on the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, and at Shohola Lake in Pike County – the birds were “hacked,” a process by which the eaglets essentially are raised by humans, but without knowing it, then released gradually into the wild.

In all, 88 bald eaglets from Canada were released from the sites as part of the program, which was funded in part by the Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh and the federal Endangered Species Fund.

This reintroduction jumpstarted the recovery.

By 1998, Pennsylvania was home to 25 pairs of nesting bald eagles. Within the next three years, the number of nesting pairs doubled and by 2006, more than 100 nests were confirmed statewide.

The bald eagle population has continued to grow and expand in Pennsylvania and in 2014 the Game Commission removed the bald eagle from the state’s list of threatened species.

 Eagle-viewing tips
        While the bald eagle is no longer threatened in Pennsylvania or nationally, care still should be taken when viewing eagles, to prevent frightening them.

        Those encountering nests are asked to keep a safe distance. Disturbing eagles is illegal under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Some pairs are tolerant of human activity, while others are sensitive. Their reaction often depends on the activity and approach of the individual, the nesting cycle stage, and if the eagles are used to seeing people.

Adults that are scared from a nest could abandon it, or might not return in time to keep unhatched eggs or young nestlings at the proper temperature. Frightened eaglets also could jump from the safety of the nest, then have no way to return.

Those viewing eagle nests are urged to keep their distance and use binoculars or spotting scopes to aid their viewing.

For more information on bald eagles and eagle-viewing etiquette, visit the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us.