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Thursday, January 30, 2014

EPA National Stormwater Calculator

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released phase II of the National Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package. The updated calculator includes future climate vulnerability scenarios.

The calculator, a part of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of stormwater runoff from a specific location. The calculator now includes changes in seasonal precipitation levels, the effects of more frequent high-intensity storms, and changes in evaporation rates based on validated climate change scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Climate change threatens our health, our economy, and our environment,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. “As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, this tool will help us better prepare for climate impacts by helping build safer, sustainable, and more resilient water infrastructure.”

The updated calculator includes climate models that can be incorporated into the calculation of stormwater runoff. This adds future climate scenarios to last year’s phase I release, which included local soil conditions, slope, land cover, historical rainfall records.

Users can enter any U.S. location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes, including inexpensive changes such as rain barrels and rain gardens, can reduce stormwater runoff. This information shows users how adding green infrastructure, which mimics natural processes, can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff.

Every year billions of gallons of raw sewage, trash, household chemicals, and urban runoff flow into our streams, rivers and lakes. Polluted stormwater runoff can adversely affect plants, animals, and people. It also negatively impacts our economy – from closed beaches to decreased fishing in polluted areas. Green infrastructure can reduce the damage caused by climate change by improving water quality in streams and rivers, protecting groundwater sources, and enhancing recreational activities. Using the calculator to choose the best green infrastructure options for an area is an innovative and efficient way to promote healthy waters and support sustainable communities.

More information on the National Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package:

More information about the virtual climate resilience toolkit:

NY DEC offers some winter fishing advise

DEC Reminds Anglers to Put Safety First When Enjoying Ice Fishing

A Minimum of Three To Four Inches of Solid Ice Is Usually Safe For Anglers on Foot

Ice thickness can be difficult to predict, however, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded ice anglers to enjoy the ice responsibly. With the early cold weather that New York has experienced this year, anglers will likely be headed out on the ice earlier than they have in the past few years. DEC cautions that the presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions for themselves and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk.

Ice thickness varies on every body of water or even within the same body of water, and anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup. Testing the thickness of ice can be done with an auger at various spots. For more information on ice fishing visit DEC's website.

The use of fish for bait is very popular when ice fishing and bait fish may be used in most but not all waters that are open to ice fishing. Visit the DEC website for a list of special regulations by county to find out where bait fish can and cannot be used, and for other regulations that apply to baitfish.
Anglers are reminded to take these important steps when using baitfish while ice fishing:
  • Follow the bait fish regulations to prevent the spread of harmful fish diseases and invasive species.
  • Use only certified disease-free bait fish purchased at a local tackle store, or use only personally collected bait fish for use in the same water body in which they were caught.
  • Do not reuse baitfish in another water-body if you have replaced the water they were purchased in.
  • Dump unused baitfish and water in an appropriate location on dry land.
Anglers looking for a good place to ice fish should check out DEC's Public Lakes and Ponds map available on DEC's website. This interactive map provides recommendations on waters open to ice fishing provided by DEC staff.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pennsylvania Students Invited to Apply for Summer Environmental Careers Camp

Young Pennsylvanians interested in pursuing environmental careers are invited to apply by April 15 for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ summer residential camp, DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti said today.

“Exploring Careers Outdoors Camp has become one of DCNR’s strongest success stories since beginning 12 years ago,” said Ferretti. “We’ve successfully worked with hundreds of young people to hone their awareness of the natural world and the variety of related careers available to them.”

The six-day camp begins Sunday, July 13, at Kirby Episcopal House and Chapel, Mountain Top, Luzerne County. The camp is near Nescopeck State Park and about 10 miles south of Wilkes-Barre.

“Past campers have come from small towns and large cities, forming a unique pool of intelligence, spirit and commitment to environmental improvement,” Ferretti said. “In addition, many DCNR employees have supported this camp effort, some coming back year after year.”

The camp will introduce 20 to 25 students in grades 10-12 to conservation and environmental careers, and encourage their pursuit. From wildlife conservation projects and stream sampling of aquatic life, to forestry skills, daily activities will offer students a hands-on, team-building learning experience in an outdoor setting.
Participants are exposed to a wide range of career experiences, including water quality assessments, geology field studies and overnight camping.

Offered free of charge, the instruction and daily activities will be overseen by specialists and officials of DCNR’s bureaus of state parks, forestry and topographic and geologic survey. After the camp, attendees will have a chance to seek internships, mentoring and job-shadowing positions.

For more details and applications, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/ecocamp; email RA-ECO_Camp; write to ECO Camp Coordinator, Bureau of State Parks, Outdoor Programming Services Division, P.O. Box 8551, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8551; or call 724-865-7857

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 Atlantic Cyclone Names

The 21 names for Atlantic cyclones in 2014 are:
  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isaias
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paulette
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred

If we get past the 21 named storms then the names come from the letters of the Greek alphabet:

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma
  • Delta
  • Epsilon
  • Zeta
  • Eta
  • Theta
  • Iota
  • Kappa
  • Lambda
  • Mu
  • Nu
  • Xi
  • Omicron
  • Pi
  • Rho
  • Sigma
  • Tau
  • Upsilon
  • Phi
  • Chi
  • Psi
  • Omega

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2014

People from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 14–17, 2014. Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.

Snowy Owl by Diane McAllister, 2013 GBBC
In North America, GBBC participants will add their data to help define the magnitude of a dramatic irruption of magnificent Snowy Owls. Bird watchers will also be on the lookout for the invasive Eurasian Collared-Dove to see if it has expanded its range again. GBBC observations may help show whether or not numbers of American Crows will continue to rebound after being hit hard by the West Nile virus and whether more insect-eating species are showing up in new areas, possibly because of changing climate.

 Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time, thanks to integration with the eBird online checklist program launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab and Audubon. Participants reported their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded—nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and make a difference for birds. It’s free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count visit www.birdcount.org and view the winning photos from the 2013 GBBC photo contest

Friday, January 24, 2014

$16.5 Million in Grants to Conserve Coastal Wetlands

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $16.5 million in grants to support 21 critical coastal wetland projects in 12 states and Puerto Rico under the National Coastal Grants Wetlands Conservation Grants Program.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute an additional $18.2 million to these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

“Coastal wetlands not only provide key habitat for fish and wildlife but they also improve water quality, support local economies through jobs and provide flood protection,” Jewell said. “These grants, funded through excise taxes paid by anglers and boaters, give us the opportunity to join with states and territories and other partners to conserve and restore these areas that are so vital to our environment and our quality of life.”

Coastal wetlands comprise less than 10 percent of the nation’s land area yet support a significant number of wildlife species, including 75 percent of migratory birds, nearly 80 percent of fish and shellfish, and about half of all our threatened and endangered species. Wetlands in coastal watersheds in the U.S. are experiencing a net annual loss of about 80,160 acres according to a new study by the Service.

“With the latest data showing dramatic annual loss of coastal wetlands, these grants become even more important,” Ashe said. “These wetlands are invaluable resources we must protect, and, with these grants, states, territories and partners will be able to undertake high priority projects.”

States and territories receiving funds are Alabama, Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The complete list of projects funded by the 2014 grant program can be found here
The National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program is administered by the Service and funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Funding is provided by Sport Fish Restoration Act revenue – money generated from an excise tax on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels
The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which allows states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas
Since 1992, the Service has awarded $336 million in grants under the program.

Examples of projects receiving grants today are:

Lillian Swamp Wetlands
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is awarded $464,750 to acquire the 675-acre Lillian Swamp Wetlands tract as an addition to the Lillian Swamp Wetlands Complex. The wetlands complex lies within the Perdido River Coastal Area at the mouth of the Perdido River and borders Perdido Bay. Acquisition of this tract will support the goals of multiple federal, state, and other agencies to protect sensitive species and their habitats. The ADCNR has recommended this area as a Geographical Area of Particular Concern (GAPC), which are managed according to conservation plans. The wetlands have also been designated as a Gulf Ecological Management Site (GEMS), which means that it is considered to be important to the environmental quality of the Gulf of Mexico. Perdido Bay has also been identified as a conservation priority in Alabama’s Wildlife Conservation Strategy and by the Northern Gulf Coast Wetlands Planning Program.

Popes Creek Coastal Wetland Conservation
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) is awarded an $1 million grant to permanently protect 220 acres of marsh, palustrine wetlands, and forested land in burg, Charles County, Maryland. The property will be acquired through fee simple purchase, with the property to be held and managed by Charles County Department of Parks and Recreation. The property contains 92 acres of upland forest and 128 acres of wetlands, as well as some open water and beach front. Popes Creek is a conservation focus area, having been identified by MD DNR as both a Targeted Ecological Area and a Natural Heritage Area. It lies within the Zekiah Swamp area, which is a priority protection for the USFWS Chesapeake Bay Program, MD DNR, and Charles County. Plans for the site also include the creation of a biking/walking trail along an abandoned railway bed.

South Slough Shorelands Project
The Oregon Department of State Lands, partnering with Coos Watershed Association and the South Coast Land Conservancy, is awarded $1 million to acquire and permanently protect 596 acres of estuarine wetland habitats in South Slough in Oregon's Coos Estuary. South Slough is the site of a longstanding effort to conserve estuarine wetland habitat. The project site is adjacent to South Slough National Estuary Research Reserve and state protected lands. The project site contains tidally influenced coastal wetlands, adjoining coastal fresh water wetlands, and forested uplands. This project supports goals of multiple management plans and will benefit numerous wildlife and plant species, including shorebirds, harbor seals, shellfish, and federally listed coho salmon and western bog lilies. It also is identified as a priority in the Oregon Strategic Plans for the Coastal Program and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the 1994 Pacific Coast Joint Venture 1994 Implementation Plan for the Southern Oregon Focus Area.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Atlantic salmon numbers are dropping once they head into saltwater.

Top researchers with the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) are trying to figure out why wild Atlantic salmon numbers are dropping dramatically once they leave their home rivers and head into saltwater.

Jonathan Carr, ASF’s Director of Research and Environment, recently presented his latest scientific findings at the Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Forum in Orono, Maine. Scientists from across North America gathered to exchange information regarding the latest research on wild Atlantic salmon and their habitat.

Carr presented more than 10-years worth of research, using acoustic telemetry to track both juvenile salmon (smolt) and repeat-spawning salmon (kelts). The tracking of smolt began in 2003 on the Miramichi and Restigouche rivers in New Brunswick and the Cascapedia river in Quebec, after a decade of developing the technology required to track fish in the ocean.

“Every year we gather new bits of information so it’s very important to track over time, “said Carr. “Our research has shown that freshwater survival in those rivers for outgoing smolt is good, but there is high mortality in the estuary and bay areas.”

Carr and a team of researchers are launching new studies to try to figure out what is causing these high mortalities. The team will be tracking striped bass as well to see if they are found in the same areas as smolt. They will also be looking at the stomach contents of the striped bass to determine what percentage of smolt may be in their diet. The study is a partnership among ASF, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Miramichi Salmon Association.

“We’ll also be looking at the potential impact cormorants may have on smolt survival in the Restigouche estuary and Chaleur Bay region,” said Carr. “We ran an aerial survey over the colonies last year looking for eggs and nests. Using visual bird surveys, population abundance and size of out-migrating smolt, we can estimate what percentage of the cormorant diet may be composed of salmon smolt in that region.”

Partners involved with the cormorant study include the Restigouche River Watershed Management Committee, Gespe'gewaq Mi'gmaq Resource Council, DFO, and Institut national de la recherche scientifique.

In 2014, Carr and the team will use pit tags, which are inserted in smolt, to determine if the birds may be eating the fish. They then search areas where cormorant populations are located, seeking out the pit tags using metal detectors.

“Being able to address the problems of high mortality that are close to home improves our chances of success in restoring Atlantic salmon,” said Carr.

ASF researchers will be back in the field tracking salmon beginning in May of this year.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well-being and survival depend. ASF has a network of seven regional councils (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine and Western New England). The regional councils cover the freshwater range of the Atlantic salmon in Canada and the United States. - See more at: http://asf.ca/asf-explores-high-mortality-in-early-part-of-migration.html#sthash.W9HD6qBE.dpuf

$12 Million Available to Protect Water Quality & Make New York's Farms Safer & Cleaner

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $12 million to aid farms in implementing water quality conservation systems that will help make New York’s farms cleaner and safer. This funding is available to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. Grants will be administered by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee.

“New York’s agricultural industry has been an economic success story for the past three years and its continued growth depends on keeping our farms safe and clean,” Governor Cuomo said. “This $12 million will help local farmers across New York maintain a clean water supply which is vital to their livelihood. With our support, New York’s farms are going to continue to expand, creating more jobs and making our state’s home grown products popular across the country.”

Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution is runoff from agricultural lands that has the potential to enter water bodies. This funding will help farmers work with County Soil and Water Conservation Districts to prevent such pollution from occurring by employing soil erosion prevention methods, planting vegetation along streams to prevent runoff, adopting nutrient management systems, and planting cover crops after the annual harvest to protect the soil.

County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can apply for grants under the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program (AgNPS Program) Request for Proposals (RFP). The AgNPS Program is a competitive grant program that awards funding to County Soil and Water Conservation Districts. In turn, these Districts will address water quality challenges facing farms in priority watersheds throughout the State.

Conservation Districts utilize the state’s Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) framework to help farmers meet these challenges head on. The AEM framework sets water quality priorities and helps farmers develop specific plans to qualify for implementation through the AgNPS Program. Administered through the County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, AEM helps farms make common sense, cost-effective and science-based decisions to help meet business objectives while protecting and conserving the State’s natural resources. Currently, more than 13,000 farms participate in AEM, which has helped install 5,000 new conservation practices with the assistance of AgNPS Program funds. Since the program’s inception in 1993, New York State has dedicated more than $125 million to the AgNPS Program.

George Proios, Chair of the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee, said, "New York's 58 local Soil & Water Conservation Districts are extremely grateful for the strong support Governor Cuomo has shown us over the past several years: for signing legislation that authorizes increased state funding; by providing increased reimbursement in his state budget to recognize local Districts’ critical work during two major storm events; and for increases each year to the Environmental Protection Fund that provide important resources to local farmers for projects that protect, preserve and enhance our state's natural resources. In this 20th cycle of funding, the Committee is pleased to be able to once again provide opportunities to partner local Conservation Districts with farmers to promote conservation across New York State.”

The Round 20 AgNPS Program RFP for County Soil and Water Conservation Districts is available on the Department of Agriculture and Markets website: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html. All appropriate materials must be submitted by the deadline of March 31, 2014 for the application to be considered complete.

For additional details about this program and other natural resource protection programs, please contact your local County Soil and Water Conservation District. A complete listing of County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can be found here: http://www.nys-soilandwater.org/contacts/county_offices.html.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Susquehanna River water quality study

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released an all-new educational video about the ongoing water quality study on the Susquehanna River.

“This video illustrates the complexity and rigorous nature of a technical and time-consuming scientific study,” DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “With a renewed focus on public education, resources like this video are essential to teach Pennsylvanians about this important issue.”
Since beginning the study in 2012, DEP scientists and staff, in cooperation with other federal and state agency personnel, are conducting an analysis of the Susquehanna River’s water quality, water flow, sediment, pesticide and hormone levels, invertebrates and fish tissue.

The investigation was broadened in 2013 to include tributaries to the Susquehanna River and its West Branch, as well as the Juniata River. The study was also expanded to explore the cause of a number of issues affecting smallmouth bass in certain areas of the river.

In 2012, DEP staff spent 187 cumulative work days sampling on the river. In 2013, that number grew to 927 cumulative staff days. There were more than 2,600 water quality samples collected on the Susquehanna River by DEP staff in 2013.
Samples are being studied and analyzed by DEP’s Bureau of Laboratories, the U.S. Geological Survey and Central Michigan University.

DEP continues to work in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat and the Susquehanna River Basin commissions on portions of the study.

DEP staff is currently examining the samples collected in 2013 before the start of the 2014 sampling season. This summer marks the third year of the study, and a sampling plan is being developed in advance of the summer sampling season. Sampling efforts on the Susquehanna River will remain ample until DEP has collected enough data to draw conclusions about the overall health of the river and what, if any, action is needed.

DEP worked with Commonwealth Media Services to produce this video. It is the second in a new series of educational videos DEP is developing as part of its Public Participation and Education Initiative launched last fall.

For more information visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Susquehanna River Study Update” button.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Great Lakes Ice Balls

Check out this video of ice balls forming in Lake Michigan. This is caused by wave action tossing ice chucks around on the shore until they get formed into these ice balls. In effect, the lakes makes its own snowballs.

This isn't an unusual occurrence, but experts say the right conditions are needed, like cold weather and water. :)  By any measure, it's one of those cool things that you happen upon every so often.

New Citizen Science Website

EPA Launches New Citizen Science Website
Resources Available to Conduct Scientific Investigations in Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revamped its Citizen Science website to provide new resources and success stories to assist the public in conducting scientific research and collecting data to better understand their local environment and address issues of concern. The website can be found at www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience.

“Citizen Science is an increasingly important part of EPA’s commitment to using sound science and technology to protect people’s health and safeguard the environment,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The EPA encourages the public to use the new website as a tool in furthering their scientific investigations and developing solutions to pollution problems.”
The updated website now offers detailed information about air, water and soil monitoring, including recommended types of equipment and resources for conducting investigations. It also includes case studies and videotapes that showcase successful citizen science projects in New York and New Jersey, provides funding opportunities, quality assurance information and workshops and webinars.

The EPA Region 2 Citizen Science Program, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations within New York State, welcomes the efforts of citizen scientists to better understand and protect the environment. By providing the tools to increase the quality of the data collected and assist in its interpretation, the EPA is helping the public achieve greater levels of environmental protection.
Visit http://www.epa.gov/region2/citizenscience today to explore the new Citizen Science website and sign up for our mailing list to receive regular updates on Citizen Science from EPA Region 2.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

New York Proposes New Regulations to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

DEC Proposes Regulatory Changes to Prevent the Introduction of Aquatic Invasive Species at Boat Launches
 Public Comments Accepted Through February 24
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing new regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) at DEC boat launches, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced. The proposed regulatory changes require boaters to remove all visible plants and animals from boats, trailers and associated equipment and to drain boats before launching at or leaving a DEC boat launch and waterway access.
DEC will accept public comments on the proposal through February 24, 2014. The full text of the proposed regulation can be found on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.
"These proposed regulatory changes are the latest in a series of actions DEC has taken over the past few years to combat the spread of harmful invasive species, including the emerald ash borer," Commissioner Martens said. "Cooperation and assistance from the public is essential in order for these efforts to succeed. Boats, trailers and the equipment can spread aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody and significantly harm recreational and commercial use of a waterbody while having a detrimental effect on native fish, wildlife and plants. This regulation is an important component of DEC's efforts to help ensure AIS-free waters remain free and additional AIS are not introduced to other waters.
"Boaters are advised to carefully check their boats, trailers and equipment for any plant or animal material that may be clinging to it and remove it if found. Nuisance Invasive Species Disposal Stations are provided at many DEC boat launches for this purpose. The boat should also be completely drained, including live wells, bait wells and bilge tanks, and dried before it is used in another waterbody.
Recommended drying times for each month of the year can be calculated at http://100thmeridian.org/emersion.asp. Additional information on aquatic invasive species and preventing their spread can be found on DEC's website.
Comments on the proposed regulations can be sent via e-mail to fishregs@gw.dec.state.ny.us, or mailed to Edward Woltmann, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Hard copies of the full text may also be requested from Mr. Woltmann at the above address.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Schuylkill River Named Pennsylvania’s 2014 River of the Year

Once among Pennsylvania’s most heavily-polluted waterways, the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania has undergone a dramatic recovery and has been voted the 2014 Pennsylvania River of the Year. 

Four other rivers were nominated finalists. They were: Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh rivers in the southwest; Ohio in the west; Brodhead Creek Watershed in the northeast; and the West Branch of the Susquehanna in the north central section of the state.

The general public was invited to vote online from Nov. 25 – Dec. 27, with a total of 5,527 votes being registered. Final tallies in voting overseen by the Pa. Organization of Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) showed the Schuylkill River receiving 43 percent; Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers, 21 percent; Ohio River, 12 percent; Brodhead Creek Watershed, 12 percent; and West Branch of the Susquehanna,12 percent.

“The number of waterways nominated, coupled with a vote tally that increases every year, showcases both the unique diversity of Pennsylvania’s rivers and the strong community allegiances that protect and enhance them,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti. “All five of these waterways have winning qualities that their supporters recognize and respect.”

The winning applicant in the competition, Schuylkill River Greenway Association, will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund River of the Year activities. The association manages the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area.

"We are elated to have the Schuylkill be selected as Pennsylvania River of the Year for 2014,” said Schuylkill River Greenway Association Executive Director Kurt Zwikl.  “We are particularly pleased to be named because in last year's balloting we lost out by less than two hundred votes.

“We would like to thank the Schuylkill River Development Corp. and Montgomery County, who also nominated the Schuylkill and will partner with us in 2014 to bring some outstanding river programming to southeast Pennsylvania. It is a statewide honor to be chosen, and our thanks go out to all of the individuals and organizations that endorsed us and voted for the Schuylkill."

This is the second time the Schuylkill has been named River of the Year, having last received the distinction in 1999.

The organization plans to integrate the River of the Year message into its existing programs, including the Schuylkill River Sojourn; newer pedal/paddle events; and a bike tour series on the adjacent Schuylkill River Trail. Also, POWR and DCNR will work with the greenway association to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the Schuylkill as the 2014 Pa. River of the Year.

The Schuylkill stretches 128 miles from Schuylkill County headwaters to its confluence with the Delaware River in Philadelphia. On the brink of becoming a wasteland, the river was targeted by the state in the Schuylkill River Project, beginning in 1945. The first major government-funded environmental cleanup saw millions of tons of coal culm dredged from the river.

In roughly half a century, one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water has improved to a point where it now is a popular recreational destination for paddlers, trail users and anglers. The Schuylkill is a source of drinking water for 1.5 million people, and waterfront communities along its corridor now look to the river to bolster community revitalization efforts.

“POWR would like to commend everyone for their support for the nominated rivers, especially for the strong showing of support for the Schuylkill River,” said POWR Vice President Janet Sweeney.

“The River of the Year program is a wonderful opportunity to showcase all of the nominated rivers and the great work being done in Pennsylvania communities on these valuable resources. We are excited about this opportunity to promote the successes and challenges facing the Schuylkill River, as well as all of Pennsylvania's waterways."

POWR administers the River of the Year program with funding from DCNR. Presented annually since 1983, the 2013 designation was awarded to the Monongahela River in southwest Pennsylvania. Each year, finalists are determined based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes, as well as celebration plans should the nominee be voted River of the Year.

Part of those plans include a River of the Year sojourn, which is just one of many paddling trips supported by DCNR and POWR each year. This water-based journey down the winning river will include canoeists, kayakers and others to raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers. For more information visit www.pawatersheds.orgTo learn more about the River of the Year program, the nominated waterways, and past winners visit www.pariveroftheyear.org.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Anglers can "Button Up" in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania anglers have long had to wear their fishing license on an outer garment while engaged in angling, also known as fishing. This changed on January 1, 2014 (not really)  thanks to an order from the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

The conspicuous display of permission from the commonwealth to engage in angling isn't eliminated. The new regulation allows for the purchase of a "fishing button" from the PA Fish & Boat Commission. So now you can wear the button instead of a license, but if you do, you still must have the actual license on your possession.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

New York's Adventure License Links Fishing & Hunting License to Drivers License

New Yorkers who purchase lifetime fishing or hunting licenses will soon be able to voluntarily link those licenses to their drivers license. Under a plan scheduled to be released this week, in addition to sporting licenses, boater safety certificates, some state park passes will also have the option of being added to a drivers license.

This optional program, labeled the New York State Adventure License, will allow participants to carry only one document.

Recently NY announced the lowering of hunting and fishing license fees effective this February. See: http://crosscurrentfishing.blogspot.com/2013/10/new-york-to-decrease-sporting-license.html for more information on reduced license fee.

The High Price of Tuna

 "You have to wonder what the last fish is going to cost."

The Annual Bluefin Tuna Auction just took place at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo with the priciest fish commanding a nearly US$70,000 price tag for a 507 lb bluefin tuna. Though a steep price, it was substantially less that last years record setting $1.76 million.

These high prices don't necessarily reflect the quality of the fish nor do they reflect the actual market prices. Restauranteurs from Japan and Hong Kong bid one tuna to a high media grabbing publicity stunt of a price, reflecting the price of advertising more than tuna prices. This happens on the first auction of the year. It's more Japan vs China than an actual market driven auction.

80% of the worldwide consumption takes place in Japan though demand is increasing globally for these imperiled, considered endangered by many, pelagic fish. The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean claim the bluefin tuna population is below 4% of its population.

According to Amanda Nickson, The Pew Environment Group's director for global tuna conservation, "Over 90 percent of bluefin tuna are caught before they reach reproductive age. You have to wonder if this remotely sustainable." Adding, "You have to wonder what the last fish is going to cost."

The high bidder at this first auction of the year gets more than an overpriced tuna for his bid. It comes with worldwide free advertising on every TV station, newspaper, magazine, website, and social media network that carries the story. Pretty cheap advertising when you consider it.

Other accounts of this high priced auction most often mention the restaurant's and owner's names. I deliberately left out that information. I don't see the need to further encourage the exploitation of a threatened and over-fished species. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Kids Endangered Species Youth Art Contest!

Kids, Get Your Paintbrushes, Pens and Pencils Out for the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest!

Parents, teachers and youth group leaders across America are invited to engage children in putting their creative skills to work in the 2014 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, an integral part of the ninth annual national Endangered Species Day celebration.

Organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Coalition, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and International Child Art Foundation (ICAF), the contest engages school children in grades K through 12 in expressing their appreciation for our nation’s most imperiled wildlife, including their place in our native ecosystems. The contest also promotes national awareness of the importance of saving endangered species, and helps recognize conservation initiatives across the country.

ICAF will select 40 semifinalists from the thousands of entries expected. Contest winners will be chosen by a prestigious panel of artists, photographers and conservationists, including Wyland, renowned marine life artist; Jack Hanna, host of Jack Hanna's Into the Wild; David Littschwager, a freelance photographer and regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine; Susan Middletown, a photographer who has collaborated with Littschwager and whose own work has been published in four books; and Alice Tangerini, botanical illustrator for the Smithsonian Institution.

Along with direct action, it takes empathy and awareness to prevent the extinction of endangered species, and these are qualities the judges will look for in the winning submissions.

For more information, including entry categories, judging criteria, prizes and the entry form, visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org. Entries must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2014.

Endangered Species Day, which in 2014 will take place on May 16, was first proclaimed by the United States Congress in 2006. It is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places and is an opportunity for people to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species, as well as everyday actions they can take to help protect them.

Across the country, organizations hold special events to celebrate Endangered Species Day. Many of the Service's field and regional offices will be hosting such events in their communities and providing unique programs to visitors on endangered species conservation. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/endangered/ESDay/index.html.

New York DEC Rids Adirondack Pond of Non-Native Fish to Restore Native Brook Trout Fishery

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently completed a major effort to eradicate non-native fish from Lower Sargent Pond in Hamilton County, DEC Regional Director Robert Stegemann announced today. The pond will be stocked with fish next year to reestablish the high quality, naturally reproducing native brook trout fishery that had existed there before its population was depleted due to the presence of the non-native fish.

"Native brook trout populations have been significantly reduced in the Adirondacks and other areas throughout the east, but we are committed to restoring these populations in local waters," said Director Stegemann. "This tremendous coordinated effort will ensure the continued existence of a natural aquatic community and provide a high quality wilderness fishing experience for anglers."

Providing a high quality wilderness fishing experience on Lower Sargent Pond promotes Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, which has improved recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen, and boosted tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing along with reduced license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state and increased regional hunting and recreational opportunities.

The eradication of non-native fish, followed by restocking with native brook trout is a key component of DEC's Brook Trout Restoration Program. DEC is a partner in the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (http://easternbrooktrout.org/), which is working to protect, restore and enhance brook trout populations and habitats across their native range.

For decades Lower Sargent Pond was considered a high quality fishery, which sustained natural reproducing brook trout population. It was one of the most popular fly-in fishing destinations in the Adirondacks, and many anglers would walk the two miles into the pond to fish for brook trout.

As the abundance of largemouth bass increased in the pond, the brook trout population severely declined. In 2012, no young brook trout were present; only large, older brook trout that had been hatched before the bass population had grown. The decline in the brook trout population was not due to overfishing. The primary causes were illegal fish stocking and use of bait fish.

The eradication of non-native fish from a water body is known as a "reclamation." The reclamation procedure is used to return the water to a historic natural aquatic community, provide higher quality fishing opportunities and, where possible, to reintroduce endangered fish species such as round whitefish.

The reclamation of the 131-acre Lower Sargent Pond is the largest reclamation in New York State in several decades. A considerable amount of resources and a extensive coordination were needed to complete the reclamation over a five-day period. The effort included the participation of dozens of DEC staff from various regions and programs, and assistance from the State Police Aviation Unit for helicopter transport of personnel, equipment and supplies. There were 37 trips by helicopter during the project, but many workers still had to walk two miles to and from the nearest road carrying equipment and supplies.

Non-native fish, such as bass, yellow perch and golden shiner, negatively impact the native fish communities and ecosystems of Adirondack waters. Non-native fish prey on the eggs and young of native fish. They out compete brook trout and other native fish by consuming large quantities of zooplankton (very small aquatic animals) and other prey food that the native fish feed upon.

It is illegal to move fish from one water body to another without a permit from DEC. The possession or use of fish as bait is prohibited in Lower Sargent Pond and many other trout ponds in the Adirondacks to prevent the introductions of non-native fishes.

Adirondack heritage strain Little Tupper brook trout will be stocked in the pond next year. It is projected that in the next three to five years, Lower Sargent Pond will once again be a high quality wilderness brook trout fishing destination.

Brook trout thrive on a diet of insects and other invertebrates, and grow to large size in ponds that do not have minnows as forage. The current state record brook trout is a 6 pound fish caught in an Adirondack wilderness pond that contains no other fish species. Minnows can become abundant in a pond or lake and compete with brook trout for food - decreasing the brook trout population.

More information on protection of native brook trout, impacts of non-native fish, rotenone and other topics can be found on the DEC Protecting Adirondack Fish web page.