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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fishing Participation up 1.5 Million According to 2017 Special Report on Fishing

Report also reveals participation trends and motivating factors
 
The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) today announced the release of its 2017 Special Report on Fishing. Most significantly, the report shows fishing participation has increased by 1.5 million over the previous year. Additionally, several trends and participation increases among key segments are highlighted in the report. 
  • Fishing is still the number two adult outdoor activity, but it's gaining ground on jogging
  • 2.5 million participants tried fishing for the very first time
    • New participants accounted for 5.3% of the total participant base and tended to be young and female
  • 3.8 million Hispanics participated in fishing (an 11% increase)
  • Hispanic anglers go on 6 more outings per year than their general market peers
  • Youth participation increased 3% to 11 million total participants
  • Americans took 855 billion total fishing trips, equating to 18.8 trips per participant
"These findings energize us and provide some validation for the work we are doing on a daily basis," said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. "Our efforts to recruit new audiences and bring families to the water are certainly paying off. 60 in 60 is off to a great start, and effective R3 (recruitment, retention and reactivation) programs will only grow the participant base and secure funding for conservation programs for years to come."

The Special Report on Fishing is the product of a partnership between RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation and looks into participation trends, barriers to entry, motivating factors and preferences of key groups of anglers.

"Research shows that fishing is an essential piece of America's outdoor tradition, and it often leads children to pursue outdoor activities and healthy living into adulthood," said Ivan Levin, deputy director of the Outdoor Foundation. "This report aims to help the fishing industry, and the entire outdoor industry, understand fishing participation in order to engage even more people in recreational fishing and create the next generation of lifelong anglers and outdoor enthusiasts."

The full report and an accompanying infographic is available in the RBFF Resource Center.

NY DEC Confirms First Infestation of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in Adirondacks

A minor infestation of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) was confirmed on Forest Preserve lands in the town of Lake George in Warren County on July 18, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced. This is the first known infestation of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) in the Adirondacks.

"To track and prevent the spread of this invasive pest, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, DEC has surveyed 250 acres of forest in the Adirondacks," said DEC Commissioner Seggos. "Preventing the spread of invasive species is the most effective way to fight and address the damage these species can cause to our natural resources. DEC encourages hikers, campers, boaters, sportsmen, and others recreating on or along forestlands in northern Schenectady, Saratoga, and southern Warren counties to check Eastern Hemlock trees and report any HWA infestations."

A small cluster of early stage HWA was detected on one branch of an old-growth Eastern hemlock tree on Prospect Mountain during a field trip by a Senior Ecologist from the Harvard Research Forest.
NYDEC immediately dispatched a survey crew to the site and was joined by staff from Cornell University's New York State Hemlock Initiative. HWA was located and confirmed on a number of branches on the tree by a Cornell scientist and later by DEC's DEC Diagnostic Lab. The mature tree had no visible sign of crown thinning.

The crews surveyed 250 acres of forest and found only one other tree, a small Eastern hemlock near the original infested tree, that contained one branch with a small cluster of early stage HWA.

This is the first recorded infestation of this invasive, exotic pest in the Adirondacks. Previously, it has been detected in 29 other counties in New York, primarily in the lower Hudson Valley and, more recently, in the Finger Lakes region. Seventeen other states along the Appalachian Mountain range from Maine to Georgia also have HWA infestations. HWA is a listed prohibited species under DEC's invasive species regulations.

DEC is evaluating means to eradicate this infestation and prevent it from spreading. This will not include cutting down trees, which is not an effective means for controlling HWA as it is with other invasive forest pests.

The most effective treatment method for control of HWA is the use of insecticides. The insecticide is applied to the bark near the base of the hemlock tree and are absorbed and spread through the tissue of the tree. When HWA attaches itself to tree to feed, it receives a dose of the pesticide and is killed.

In the past three years DEC has treated infested hemlock trees with insecticides at a few select locations where the control is likely to slow the spread of HWA, or where the hemlocks provide a significant public value. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has treated many hemlocks trees at a number of State Parks. Both chemical and biological control options are important in the long-term fight against HWA.

Dispersal and movement of HWA occur primarily during the first life stage ("crawler") as a result of wind and animals that come in contact with the sticky egg sacks and crawlers. Isolated infestations and long-distance movement of HWA, most often occur as the result of people transporting infested nursery stock.

DEC monitors the distribution and spread of HWA by annual aerial and ground surveys as well as reports from partners and the general public. DEC has been involved in biological control efforts against HWA since the 1990s, and has released several approved natural enemies of HWA at locations in the Finger Lakes and Catskills regions.

HWA, a tiny insect from East Asia first discovered in New York in 1985, attacks forest and ornamental hemlock trees. It feeds on young twigs, causing needles to dry out and drop prematurely and causing branch dieback. Hemlock decline and mortality typically occur within four to 10 years of infestation in the insect's northern range.

Damage from the insect has led to widespread hemlock mortality throughout the Appalachian Mountains and the southern Catskill Mountains with considerable ecological damage, as well as economic and aesthetic losses. HWA infestations can be most noticeably detected by the small, white, woolly masses produced by the insects that are attached to the underside of the twig, near the base of the needles.

Eastern hemlock trees, which comprise approximately 10 percent of the Adirondack forest, are among the oldest trees in New York with some reaching ages of more than 700 years. They typically occupy steep, shaded, north-facing slopes and stream banks where few other trees are successful. The trees help maintain erosion control and water quality, and the hemlock's shade cool waters providing critical habitat for many of New York's freshwater fish, including native brook trout.

Survey efforts by DEC and Cornell's New York State Hemlock Initiative will continue to determine if other infestations are present in the surrounding area. As the closest known infestation of HWA is 40 miles away in Schenectady County, DEC is asking hikers, campers, boaters, sportsmen, and others recreating on or along forestlands in northern Schenectady, Saratoga, and southern Warren counties to check Eastern Hemlock trees and report any HWA infestations.

New York is particularly vulnerable to invasive species due to its rich biodiversity and role as a center for international trade and travel. Rapid response and control is a critical line of defense in minimalizing the establishment, and ultimately permanently removing, an invasive population.

More information on HWA, including identification, control techniques, and reporting possible infestations can be found at Cornell's New York State Hemlock Initiative (link leaves DEC's website) or DEC's website. You can also call DEC's toll-free Forest Pest Information Line at 1-866-640-0652 to ask questions and report possible infestations.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pennsylvania to Host Wild Trout Summit

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will host a wild trout summit open to the public at its Centre County regional office on Saturday, Aug. 26 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
 
“This is the first time the agency has hosted a meeting to discuss wild trout,” said Andy Shiels, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Fisheries. “This will bring agency, academic and Trout Unlimited experts together to present and discuss the past, present and future of Pennsylvania’s wild trout resources.”
 
The event will be held at the PFBC’s newly renovated Centre Region Office Building, located at 595 East Rolling Ridge Drive in Bellefonte, PA 16823. This Centre County location can be easily reached via I-99 by taking the Bellefonte/Route 150 North exit.
 
Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. The program will start at 10:15 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.
 
Speakers will present information on the history of wild trout management in Pennsylvania, the Unassessed Wild Trout Waters Initiative, special regulations for wild trout, and how environmental permit review affects wild trout protection.
 
In addition, there will be presentations on the potential impacts of climate change, the PFBC’s wild trout stream habitat improvement priorities, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wild Trout Management Plan, and Implications of Genetics on Wild Trout Management.
 
New information on several Penn State University trout radio-tracking studies will also be provided.
 
Finally, there will a panel discussion at the end of the day to bring the presenters together for a question and answer session with the attendees. A tentative agenda can be viewed on the PFBC website.
 
The Wild Trout Summit is open to the public, but registration is required. Attendees may register online.
 
“This will be an informative event and an opportunity for wild trout enthusiasts and supporters to spend a day learning about a truly unique Commonwealth aquatic resource,” added Shiels.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Public Lands Spur Local Economies

Joint Economic Committee Democrats released state fact sheets today on the economic impact of public lands on their neighboring communities. Our nation’s public lands are a cherished aspect of American heritage and a key contributor to local economies. Each state-specific fact sheet highlights the importance of public lands to communities across the country.

 The fact sheets show that in 2016, the 331 million people who visited national parks spent an estimated $18.4 billion in local gateway communities, supported 318,000 jobs, and added $34.9 billion in economic output to the national economy. Protected public lands also boost local economies by increasing income per person.

“America’s public lands are not only a part of our heritage that we cherish passing onto our children and grandchildren, but they are also the backbone of a thriving outdoor recreation economy,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee. “National monuments, national parks, and other public lands draw locals and visitors alike to go outdoors and represent billions of dollars in economic output and millions of American jobs—especially in rural areas. The campaign to shrink or even sell off our shared lands would devastate outdoor traditions like hunting, camping, and fishing that are among the pillars of Western culture and a thriving outdoor recreation economy. I remain deeply committed to standing with New Mexicans and all Americans to protect our public lands, water, and wildlife for our children and all future generations to enjoy.”

Click here to find your state’s fact sheet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Publishes 2016 Annual Report

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today released its 2016 annual report highlighting ongoing efforts to manage the water resources of the 13,539-square-mile Delaware River Basin that provides drinking water for an estimated 15 million people.

This year’s report focuses on “Clean Water by the Numbers” emphasizing the efforts and results of the commission and its staff of engineers, aquatic biologists, geologists, modelers, planners, and others to provide clean and sustainable water resources throughout the Delaware River Basin.

“Measuring changes to water quality can be complex,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini.  “In 2016, we saw a continuation of DRBC-driven water quality improvements throughout the basin.”  For example, in watersheds that drain to the basin’s Special Protection Waters (from Hancock, N.Y. to Trenton, N.J.), DRBC’s goal is no measurable change to existing water quality except toward natural conditions.  DRBC’s monitoring and assessment programs confirmed in a report published in 2016 that the Lower Delaware – a 76-mile stretch of the river extending from just below the Delaware Water Gap at Portland, Pa./Columbia, N.J. to Trenton – not only met the no measurable change water quality objective, but showed reductions in nutrient pollution at most sites.  “Our annual report highlights these improvements along with many other DRBC programs that we employ to effectively manage our shared water resources in the basin,” said Tambini.

The annual report, along with short supporting videos that give an overview of the commission’s work, can be viewed at www.nj.gov/drbc/about/public/annual-report2016.html.

The compact that formed the DRBC in 1961 requires the publication of an annual report covering the commission’s programs, operations, and finances.  The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries.  The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

To learn more about the commission, please visit www.drbc.net or follow DRBC on Twitter at @DRBC1961

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Summer on the Upper Delaware River

It’s been an excellent water year so far and that's resulted in some very good drift boat fishing on the Upper Delaware. The Main Stem, West Branch, and East Branch have had high cold water flows providing excellent all day fishing opportunities.

Blue Quills, Hendricksons, caddis flies, March Browns, grey fox, green, and brown drakes, and golden stone flies have been on the trout’s menu. As we come into summer, Isonychia, aka slate drakes, Cahills, and blue wing olives will play a major role in the trout's diet. Time of day can become critical in determining your success. To help you maximize your time on the water we have several different options available for trout fishing, and to maximize your summertime opportunities we also have a couple of other species we throw into the mix.


Here's what can be in store for your summer fishing fun.

Magic Hour Dry Fly Fishing
This Summer we're once again offering a Magic Hour evening float trip where you can try your hand on twilight fishing for the Delaware’s famed wild rainbow trout. This 3 to 4 hour
float trip begins with meeting us around 6:00 PM and fishing until dark from the safety and comfort of a drift boat. Catch the excitement of evening spinner falls for just $250 for one or two anglers.
 

Our Full Day guided trip for up to 2 people is still available for $425. A five hour Half Day’s trip is $325.

Sunrise Half Day 
Start your day at daybreak and enjoy the sights and sounds of the river awakening. Early morning sippers eating their breakfast from the film or aggressive meat eaters willing to chase down a streamer with a smashing grab, you never know which way the day will start. It's cool just being there.


Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Upper Delaware River

Field and Stream Magazine names the Upper Delaware as one of the top five smallmouth bass Rivers in the US - July 2007

The number one reason you should fish for smallmouth bass with us is because it's just downright fun! Perfect for the novice or expert.


On spin tackle or on a fly rod the smallmouth is inch for inch and pound for pound, the sportiest fish in freshwater. As soon as they're hooked a smallmouth lets off with an exciting series of runs and jumps, fighting against the rod and giving the impression that it's a far bigger fish than it is.

Our Full Day guided Smallmouth trips are for up to 2 people, 8+ hours, snacks, soft drinks, and lunch included. 

Fly Fish for Carp! 

The ubiquitous common carp provides summertime sight fishing opportunities for a challenging and strong fighting fish.


Spooky and nervous, it takes a perfectly presented fly for a feeding carp to take interest, but once he does, watch out, for it's game on with a hard fighter that can put your tackle to the test.

Once introduced to this fascinating fish many fly anglers quickly become obsessed with the both the challenge and quarry. Don't be a fish snob, come find a new obsession with us!


Evening to Midnight Mousing for Brown Trout

One thing we've learned over the years is that it doesn't pay to stay up all night. The best carnivore activity happens from dusk to somewhere between 11 PM and midnight, and then again for a brief period just before dawn. This is definitely not for the faint of heart or the beginner fly fisher. Swimming a mouse pattern through the darkness is truly an adventure that requires solid casting skills. 

When your line gets tight with the slurp of a big brown trout you'll be hooked on fly fishing the cooler summer nights! Our favorite pattern is Cermele's Master Splinter, a simple, easy to tie fly that gives a realistic silhouette that brown trout find hard to resist. It's easy to cast too making the darkness game that much less complicated.

Check out if this might be for you: Mousing the Upper Delaware and then give us a call to schedule your date.



  Call us today and get your summer fishing fun together!

914-475-6779 or 800-463-2750


Capt. Joe Demalderis
2010 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year
www.crosscurrentguideservice.com

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

NY DEC to Host Trout Fishing Public Meeting

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public meeting to discuss Delaware River Tailwater and Main Stem trout fishing regulations at the Hancock High School, 67 Education Lane, Hancock, on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. The upper Delaware River system is made up of two tailwater rivers, the East and West branches, which converge in Hancock to form the Main Stem of the Delaware River.

The meeting will outline the recent history of fishing regulations for the area’s trout streams and gather public input on ways to improve the regulations. DEC Fisheries and Law Enforcement staff will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about trout regulations and the enforcement of those regulations.

The fishing regulations are designed to ensure the continued sustainability of the fishery by setting daily catch limits as well as minimum size limits for allowable fish. In addition, some stretches of the river are designated as catch and release only, and some stretches have restricted angling methods, such as artificial lures only. The public is invited to bring their ideas and questions about how DEC manages the fishery resource in the Delaware River and its main tributaries.

For those unable to attend the meeting, the public is invited to comment on the current trout regulations and suggest ways they could be improved. Comments should be sent to Chris VanMaaren, DEC Region 4 Fisheries Manager, 65561 State Hwy 10, Stamford, NY 12167, or emailed to fwfish4@dec.ny.gov.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Worse Fly in Fly Fishing

Venomous snakes lurk in the brush through much of the area I spend my time. Ticks lie in ambush, waiting to jump aboard and inject disease into my blood stream. Mosquitoes hone in on carbon dioxide so they can join their tick cousins in injecting pathogens all under the guise of feeding. Then there are the over 250 black fly species in North America, with about a half dozen different ones that have been determined to bite you. 

The way I see it, they are all determined to bite you. Though we do fare better than livestock and poultry when it comes to fly bites. These animals can catch all sorts of nasty and deadly diseases and even drop dead from severe blood loss and toxic shock.

Black flies exist simply to annoy. Yes, they bite, and in some people they might cause an allergic reaction at the bite site, but according to Purdue University, there are no known diseases they transmit to humans in North America. In some areas they are called Buffalo Gnats, implying you don't need to worry about them if there aren't any bison around.

Though many black fly bites can collectively cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, and headache, don't worry about it. It's called 'Black Fly Fever" and is no big deal to those not suffering from it. 

In Central and South America, and also parts of Africa, black flies can inflict a disease known as river blindness. Basically, they inject you with a worm larva that causes all sorts of skin problems and blindness. It hasn't found its way north yet, but like most things infectious, I'm sure one day it will.

Black flies require clean, well oxygenated water to to breed in. With less and less of that around, it's only a matter of time until black flies become eradicated. It still has me baffled how one time I was bitten by a black fly in Bayonne, NJ.

So don't sweat the black flies. They'll only crawl in your ears, up your nose, and get in your eyes, all the while nipping at your flesh for its vampire meal. Wear a head net, bug suit, duct tape your shirt sleeves to your wrists, spray down with Raid, or any of the concoctions devised over the years to repel the bugs, and be happy knowing that at least in North America they'll only drive you crazy. Unless you're a cow... or a chicken.

Friday, March 17, 2017

College Students Encouraged to Apply for NY DEC's Summer Internship Program

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging students who have completed at least two years of college to apply for summer job opportunities through DEC's annual internship program. The program offers multiple part-time unpaid internships in the fields of engineering, science, planning, sustainability, law, community outreach, social media, and more.

"DEC's summer internship program connects the Capital Region's college students with opportunities to learn about future careers and garner professional experience," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "By working closely with DEC's engineers, scientists, and other professionals, we hope that our interns are inspired to protect New York's public health and the environment as the next generation of conservationists and dedicated public servants."

Candidates must submit applications by April 20, 2017. The majority of the internships are located at DEC's downtown Albany office. Prospective interns are encouraged to carefully read the qualifications for each job to determine whether they meet the requirements before submitting an application.

Those accepted into the six-week summer internship program will have the chance to work alongside a team of highly trained and skilled DEC employees who regulate and manage New York State natural resources and the environment. Placements are made within one of DEC's divisions, and interns will be assigned to specific program areas such as public lands, air or water quality, fiscal and personnel management, legal counsel, or environmental education. Every effort is made to match the intern's career interests, experience, and field of study with the needs of and the experiences offered by each program.

For more information about these internships, including online applications, visit DEC's website.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

New Jersey Eagle, & Osprey Populations Climb to Record Highs

Bald eagle and osprey populations continue to reach record highs in New Jersey, according to surveys conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

The  surveys of eagle and osprey populations and nest sites conducted last year documented 172 nesting or territorial pairs of bald eagles in New Jersey, up from 161 the previous year, with southern New Jersey, especially the Delaware Bay region, remaining the species’ stronghold.

In addition, 42 new osprey nests were counted, for a record total of 515. The Atlantic coast – in particular the wetlands and waterways around Barnegat Bay and Great Egg Harbor – accounted for the vast majority of nests.

“These surveys confirm that New Jersey’s ecologically sensitive coastal environments are healthy and thriving,” Commissioner Martin said. “The steady recoveries of these magnificent birds of prey would not be possible if not for our strong partnership with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the work of vigilant volunteer nest watchers who give their time to monitor these nests.”

The Endangered and Nongame Species Program’s efforts protecting these and a wide variety of other species depend in large part on funds provided by the Endangered Wildlife Fund state income-tax check-off, which allows taxpayers to provide a portion of their state refunds to fund wildlife protection.

The Endangered Wildlife Fund check-off is on Line 59 of Form NJ-1040. Taxpayers are provided the option of contributing $10, $20, or an amount of his or her choosing, toward protection of threatened and endangered species.

The Endangered and Nongame Species Program also depends on strong partnerships with local conservation groups, and recently awarded Conserve Wildlife Matching Grants – funded by sales of Conserve Wildlife license plates – to help nonprofit conservation organizations enhance public education, research and habitat management projects.

“Without the help of local residents who care deeply about wildlife, we would not be able to accomplish as much as we do,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Acting Director Larry Herrighty. “As important and visible as eagle and osprey recoveries are, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program protects a truly wide variety of species such as the red knot, piping plover, bobcat, Indiana bat, bog turtle, eastern tiger salamander, timber rattlesnake, wood turtle, even various species of dragonflies and butterflies, to name a few.”

The recovery of eagles and ospreys is largely the result of a decades-old ban on DDT, a once widely-used pesticide that caused egg failure. But the species have needed a lot of nurturing along the way, including programs to incubate eggs in laboratory settings and intensive monitoring of nest sites. The Endangered and Nongame Species Program also works to identify habitats that are critical to support the state’s bald eagle nesting and wintering populations.

Among the state’s endangered species wildlife recoveries, perhaps none have been as dramatic as that of the bald eagle. In 1982, there was just one nest left in the state, in Cumberland County’s Bear Swamp, and that nest repeatedly failed due to DDT. Eagles were ultimately brought in from Canada to begin rebuilding New Jersey’s population.

In 2016, a record 172 pairs of nests were counted, up from 161 in 2015 and continuing the trend of new nests being identified ever. Of these, 150 actively nested, and the remainder were in the process of establishing nesting territories before, which is part of the species biological behavior. The active nests produced a total of 216 eagle chicks.

The majority of the state’s nests are in southern New Jersey. Nearly half of the nests are found in the Delaware Bay region – believed to be the species’ historic stronghold prior to steep DDT-related declines.

Both eagles and osprey depend primarily upon fish for survival. The DDT ban eliminated a toxin that accumulated in the tissue of fish that eagles ate and caused their eggs to become brittle and fail.
The trend for the osprey, a primarily coastal bird-of-prey, continues to be equally uplifting. During the osprey survey conducted last June and July, volunteers and staff checked nests from Sandy Hook to Cape May, and then up Delaware Bay to record nest occupancy and success.

Of the 515 nests counted statewide, the majority – 316 – are found along the Atlantic coastline.
Notably, the survey confirmed that osprey in the Barnegat Bay area tagged with special red bands are increasingly using the bay for nesting. The Barnegat Bay region and Sedge Islands Wildlife Management Area located in the bay adjacent to Island Beach State Park accounted for 102 of the state’s counted nests.

This three-year-old project, known as Project RedBand, is designed to chart the migration, feeding patterns, lifespans and nesting patterns of osprey in the ecologically important Barnegat Bay region while engaging the public in the recovery of this species through the special bands that can be identified from a distance.

The nests that were counted during the statewide survey are believed to account for at least 80 percent of the nests actually present in the state. Detailed data collected from 376 of the nests showed that 670 chicks were hatched, for an average 1.78 young per nest, more than twice the rate needed to sustain a stable population. A total of 361 young were banded for future tracking.

Volunteers work to build and maintain osprey nest platforms that have helped greatly in the recovery of the species.

To review the 2016 bald eagle project report, visit: www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/pdf/eglrpt16.pdf
To review the 2016 osprey project report, visit: www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/pdf/osprey16.pdf
For more information about the Conserve Wildlife Matching Grant Program, visit: www.nj.gov/fgw/ensp/cwgrants.htm or call (609) 292-9400.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New York Adopts New Freshwater Fishing Regulations

New freshwater fishing regulations go into effect April 1, 2017

"New York State is known for fantastic freshwater sport fishing opportunities," said Commissioner Seggos. "These regulatory changes will help maintain these opportunities and enthusiasm for the sport."

The modifications to the sport fishing regulations are a result of a two-year process that included biological assessment, discussions with anglers, and a formal 45-day public comment period. DEC used public input to finalize the changes. These regulations will be published in the 2017-18 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide that will be available at all license sales vendors and on-line in March.

Highlights of the new regulations include:
  • Adjustments to existing walleye regulations in various waters throughout the state, including measures to protect spawning walleye and conservative minimum harvest size and creel limits in waters where managers are trying to establish self-sustaining populations of this popular sport fish. Regulations have also been liberalized for two waters where successful management has resulted in increased walleye abundance, Chautauqua Lake (Chautauqua County) and Franklin Falls Flow (Essex County);
  • Modifications to DEC Region 7 Finger Lakes rules to increase survival of rainbow trout, brown trout, and Atlantic salmon and to create a greater balance between these species and lake trout;
  • Allowing ice fishing in some waters and restricting the number or use of devices used for fishing through the ice (including, but not limited to hand line, tip-up, tip down, etc.) in other waters to protect self-sustaining populations or limit fishing pressure;
  • Simplification of the black bass regulations in Lake Erie by compressing the three existing seasons into two while expanding opportunities to use live bait and harvest one large bass per day during a special season;
  • Greater protection for northern pike in the St. Lawrence River due to the declining abundance of spawning adults and poor recruitment of young-of-year fish in the Thousand Islands region;
  • Relaxing of special regulations for trout and Atlantic salmon for various waters in DEC Region 5 (Adirondack Region) due to poor survival; and
  • Multiple updates to clarify existing regulations.
For a summary of the regulations changes, visit DEC's website.

Monday, February 27, 2017

New York Anticipates an Early Salamander and Frog Migration

Volunteers in the Hudson Valley are getting ready for the annual breeding migrations of salamanders and frogs, which may occur as soon Saturday, February 25, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The volunteers will be documenting their observations as part of DEC's Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project. With this week's unseasonably warm temperatures and the rainy weekend forecast, the 2017 migration may have an unusually early start.

After the ground starts to thaw in late winter and early spring, species such as spotted salamander and wood frog emerge from underground winter shelters in the forest and walk overland to woodland pools for breeding. In New York, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights in late March and early April, when the night air temperature is above 40F. When these conditions align just so, there can be explosive ("big night") migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move, many having to cross roads.

"New York hosts an incredible array of amphibians, and an even more amazing volunteer network that helps ensure their survival each spring," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "As the State's Wildlife Action Plan identifies road mortality as a significant threat to frogs, toads, and salamanders, I encourage all New Yorkers and visitors traveling through our state to keep an eye out for amphibians, and our committed community of volunteers helping them cross the road."

Volunteers of the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project document Hudson Valley locations where migrations cross roads, record weather and traffic conditions, and identify and count the salamanders, frogs, and toads on the move. The volunteers also carefully help the amphibians to safety cross roads. Now in its ninth year, more than 300 project volunteers have assisted more than 8,500 amphibians cross New York roads.

Drivers on New York roads are encouraged to drive with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads.

For more information, visit Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings on DEC's website or contact woodlandpool@dec.ny.gov. Project volunteers are encouraged to use the hashtag #amphibianmigrationhv in their photos and posts on social media.

Interested community members are also invited to attend "Why Did the Salamander Cross the Road?" a talk on the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings project on Sunday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Gardiner Library, 133 Farmer's Turnpike, Gardiner, NY. This talk on the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings project is part of a Wallkill River Watershed Alliance lecture series. DEC staff will discuss the importance of forests and wetlands in the Hudson River Estuary watershed, and the value of this habitat for amphibians, as well as how volunteers can get involved with documenting "big night" road crossings, assisting amphibians in their overland travel, and conserving important natural areas in their communities.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Join the 20th Great Backyard Bird Count!

This years dates are February 17-20


A lot has changed since the first Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was held in 1998. Each year brings unwavering enthusiasm from the growing number of participants in this now-global event. The 20th annual GBBC is taking place February 17-20 in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches—anywhere you find birds.

Bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org. All the data contribute to a snapshot of bird distribution and help scientists see changes over the past 20 years.

“The very first GBBC was an experiment,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. “We wanted to see if people would use the Internet to send us their bird sightings. Clearly the experiment was a success!” eBird collects bird observations globally every day of the year and is the online platform used by the GBBC.
Bohemian Waxwing by A. Blomquist, 2016 GBBC.

That first year, bird watchers submitted about 13,500 checklists from the United States and Canada. Fast-forward to the most recent event in 2016. Over the four days of the count, an estimated 163,763 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 162,052 bird checklists reporting 5,689 species–more than half the known bird species in the world.

“The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to introduce people to participation in citizen science,” says Audubon vice president and chief scientist Gary Langham. “No other program allows volunteers to take an instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations that can contribute to our understanding of how a changing climate is affecting birds.”

Varying weather conditions so far this winter are producing a few trends that GBBC participants can watch for during the count. eBird reports show many more waterfowl and kingfishers remaining further north than usual because they are finding open water. If that changes, these birds could move southward.

Also noted are higher than usual numbers of Bohemian Waxwings in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains. And while some winter finches have been spotted in the East, such as Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks, and a few Pine Grosbeaks, there seem to be no big irruptions so far. A few eye-catching Snowy Owls have been reported in the northern half of the United States.

Jon McCracken, Bird Studies Canada’s National Program Director, reminds participants in Canada and the U.S. to keep watch for snowies. He says, “The GBBC has done a terrific job of tracking irruptions of Snowy Owls southward over the past several years. We can’t predict what winter 2017 will bring, because Snowy Owl populations are so closely tied to unpredictable ‘cycles’ of lemmings in the Arctic. These cycles occur at intervals between two and six years.  Nevertheless, there are already reports of Snowy Owls as far south as Virginia.”

In addition to counting birds, the GBBC photo contest has also been a hit with participants since it was introduced in 2006. Since then, tens of thousands of stunning images have been submitted. For the 20th anniversary of the GBBC, the public is invited to vote for their favorite top photo from each of the past 11 years in a special album they will find on the GBBC website home page. Voting takes place during the four days of the GBBC.

Learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at birdcount.org where downloadable instructions and an explanatory PowerPoint are available. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Pennsylvania Changes Drought Declarations for 17 Counties

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that two counties remain in drought warning status. Six improve from warning to watch status, and 11 improve from watch to normal status.
•    Drought warning: Mifflin and Union Counties remain in drought warning status. DEP encourages a voluntary water use reduction of 10–15 percent.
•    Drought watch: Six counties moved from drought warning to drought watch: Carbon, Juniata, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Snyder. Fifteen other counties remain on watch: Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill. DEP encourages a voluntary water use reduction of 5 percent.
•    Normal: Eleven counties—Adams, Bedford, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Pike, Wayne, Sullivan, and York—moved from drought watch to normal status, joining the rest of the state.

Although drought watch and warning declarations in winter aren’t common, they have occurred several times in the past decade, in 2011, 2010, and 2008.

DEP bases its declarations on four indicators: precipitation deficits (averaged from numerous gauges), stream flows, groundwater levels, and soil moisture.

Public water systems in affected counties continue to implement voluntary and mandatory water reductions in response to reduced supplies. DEP suggests several steps citizens can take to voluntarily reduce their water use:
•    Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the amount of time you let the water run to warm up before you shower. Use a bucket to catch the water and then reuse it to water your plants.
•    Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
•    Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
•    Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
•    Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

DEP also offers other water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and educational institutions. These recommendations and additional drought monitoring information are available on the DEP Drought Information website.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fisheries Disasters Declared for Nine West Coast Species

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker determined there are commercial fishery failures for nine salmon and crab fisheries in Alaska, California and Washington. In recent years, each of these fisheries experienced sudden and unexpected large decreases in fish stock biomass due to unusual ocean and climate conditions. This decision enables fishing communities to seek disaster relief assistance from Congress.

In Alaska:
  • Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fisheries (2016)
In California:
  • California Dungeness and rock crab fishery (2015-2016)
  • Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery (2016)
In Washington:
  • Fraser River Makah Tribe and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe sockeye salmon fisheries (2014)
  • Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay non-treaty coho salmon fishery (2015)
  • Nisqually Indian Tribe, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, and Squaxin Island Tribe South Puget Sound salmon fisheries (2015)
  • Quinault Indian Nation Grays Harbor and Queets River coho salmon fishery (2015)
  • Quileute Tribe Dungeness crab fishery (2015-2016)
  • Ocean salmon troll fishery (2016)
“The Commerce Department and NOAA stand with America's fishing communities. We are proud of the contributions they make to the nation's economy, and we recognize the sacrifices they are forced to take in times of environmental hardship," said Samuel D. Rauch III, deputy assistant administrator for regulatory programs, NOAA Fisheries. "We are committed to helping these communities recover and achieve success in the future."

Under the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Commerce Secretary can determine a commercial fishery failure due to a fishery resource disaster, which then provides a basis for Congress to appropriate disaster relief funding to provide economic assistance to affected fishing communities, including salmon and crab fishermen, affected by the disaster.

If Congress appropriates funds to address these fishery failures, NOAA will work closely with members of Congress and affected states and tribes to develop a spending plan to support activities that would restore the fishery, prevent a similar failure, and assist affected communities.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

 
 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sex & Drugs Don't Rock & Roll, at least as far as fish are concerned.

Pharmaceuticals Impact in Waterways

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) Executive Director John Arway described to the PA Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee how fish and aquatic life are impacted by complex mixtures of pharmaceuticals and other compounds released into waste streams and found in runoff from landscapes and urged the public to properly dispose of expired and unused medications.
 
“Research beginning in 1999 first showed that chemicals found in medications were being absorbed by fish and were contributing factors to a number of fish health problems,” Arway said. “Perhaps the most troubling condition is intersex fish. This is where male fish develop female egg cells in their testis.”
Arway noted that the U.S. Geological Survey Fish Health Laboratory reported in 2013 that approximately 50 percent of male bass in the Delaware River had intersex condition, 10 percent in the Ohio River drainage were affected, and up to 100 percent of the males sampled in the Susquehanna River were found to have intersex. More recent samples in the Susquehanna confirm that 90–100 percent of male Smallmouth Bass have intersex condition and that this condition is more severe than found in other drainages.
“How can we as a society make progress in reducing pharmaceuticals from getting into our lakes, streams and rivers?” Arway said. “Removing unused pharmaceuticals from homes and providing proper disposal alternatives is an important first step in reducing the amount of compounds getting into lakes, rivers and streams. Improving wastewater treatment processes to provide more effective removal of medications is another effective solution.”
Last month, the PFBC announced that it had partnered with Geisinger Health System to install a drug take-back box in the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters to provide a way for citizens to safely dispose of unused medications and help improve the health of the Susquehanna River and its Smallmouth Bass.
The full text of Director Arway’s testimony can be found here.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Can It Be Buyer Beware When It Comes to a Sporting License?


This is an advisory the NY DEC just put out:

Anglers and hunters should be aware of at least two currently active non-DEC websites where one can, purportedly, purchase a fishing license, hunting license, or receive hunter education training that meets New York requirements:

Fishinglicense.org
Hunting-license.org

Among other things, these sites offer information on how their products can simplify the purchase of a New York State fishing license or hunting license. Though some of the logistical licensing information is correct and may be useful, these sites also offer a consumer the ability to purchase time-saving downloads for recreational licensing services that are specifically NOT affiliated with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The consumer on these sites should understand that they are only getting ‘assistance’ for their money and not an actual fishing or hunting license.  Additionally, the money being charged by these websites is not a ‘credit’ toward the purchase of any New York fishing or hunting license.

All of the New York licensing information that one needs can be found on the DEC Sporting Licenses webpage at www.dec.ny.gov/permits/365.html