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Friday, June 19, 2015


With the summer boating and tourism season kicking into high gear, the Department of Environmental Protection is reminding boaters to use caution while navigating ecologically sensitive areas of Barnegat Bay.

The reduction of impacts from boats and personal watercraft within Barnegat Bay’s critical ecosystems, including wetlands, aquatic vegetation, shellfish and fish habitats, is part of the Christie Administration’s comprehensive plan to protect and restore the bay.

“Barnegat Bay is one of New Jersey’s most cherished locations and it offers great recreational opportunities,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “But we ask for help from the boating community in protecting the ecologically sensitive areas of the bay.”

An online interactive map for boaters, which can be accessed on mobile devices and computers, is available so they can easily ascertain the locations of 16 designated ecologically sensitive zones on Barnegat Bay. Users also can find helpful services such as the locations of marinas, sewage pump-out facilities, bait-and-tackle shops, launches and ramps, restrooms, and places to dispose trash.

To view the map, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/plan-watercraft-map.htm

The green boating effort is being done cooperatively with the boating and fishing industries in New Jersey, which are vital to the economic and recreational needs of the state.

“We work to preserve and protect our natural resources and provide boaters with the information and tools they need to do their part.” said Melissa Danko, Executive Director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey. “Spending summers on the water and enjoying all that New Jersey’s waterways have to offer is a way of life for so many residents and visitors.  That is why it is so important that we work together to protect these natural resources for this and future generations."

Barnegat Bay's 75-square-mile, environmentally sensitive estuarine system is home to plants, fish and other wildlife that populate these areas in the bay. They contain submerged aquatic vegetation which acts as nursery grounds for fish and wildlife. Motor boat propellers and turbulence caused by boat wakes can disturb and harm these special areas.

Continued green boater outreach efforts include additional distribution of green boater posters to marinas and public access areas along Barnegat Bay.

The DEP encourages boaters to take these actions to help keep the bay vibrant:
  • Stay out of restricted areas set aside for wildlife. 
  • Do not harass nesting birds and other animals
  • Maintain a 100-foot distance from natural shorelines
  • Minimize wakes in all shallow areas to help reduce erosion and harm to aquatic plants and animals
  • Buoy mooring chains and lines to prevent them from scraping on the Bay bottom and harming submerged aquatic vegetation
  • Appreciate wildlife from a distance
  • Reduce air pollution by not idling in open water
For more tips on how to become a green boater and reduce your impact to Barnegat Bay and other state waters, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/docs/BoaterESA.pdf

You can also reference the Clean Boating tip sheets for boaters through the Clean Marina Program: http://www.nj.gov/dep/njcleanmarina/boaters.htm

For more information on the Barnegat Bay Action Plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/barnegatbay/

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pennsylvania Adds Ten More Counties to the Drought Watch

DEP Expands Drought Watch from 27 to 37 Counties
Lack of significant precipitation major factor

Despite several recent precipitation events, portions of Pennsylvania continue to have below-average precipitation, below-average groundwater levels, and in some areas, below-average surface water levels. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has expanded its drought watch declaration from 27 to 37 counties across Pennsylvania.

The 10 additional counties under the drought watch issued today are: Bedford, Blair, Centre, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lehigh, Mifflin, and Northampton.

The 27 counties that remain under drought watch are: Berks, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Westmoreland, and Wyoming. These counties were originally put on a drought watch on March 24.

The expanded declaration was recommended following a June 8 meeting of the state’s Drought Task Force. The very dry fall and below-normal precipitation from January to May continues to contribute to low groundwater and surface water levels throughout the state. Many counties, including some under drought watch, have recently had rapid, heavy rain events. These rain events cause erosion and typically do not improve conditions for ground water and soil moisture.

A drought watch declaration is the first and least-severe level of the state’s three drought classifications. It calls for a voluntary five percent reduction in non-essential water use and puts large water consumers on notice to begin planning for the possibility of reduced water supplies.

All Pennsylvanians are advised to heed this drought watch by conserving their water use and consumption. To reduce their water use, residents can:
• Run water only when absolutely necessary; and avoid keeping water flowing while brushing teeth, or turning on the shower many minutes before use;
• Check for household leaks – a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day;
• Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads;
• Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy; and
• Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

DEP will notify all water suppliers in the affected areas of the need to monitor their supplies, particularly those that rely upon groundwater, and update their drought contingency plans as necessary.

DEP also offers water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels, and educational institutions.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Oldest Banded Bald Eagle Found in Henrietta, NY

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff responded to a report of a deceased eagle alongside a road in Henrietta, Monroe County, on Tuesday, June 2. According to the bald eagle's leg band number, it was 38 years old. The USGS Banding Lab Longevity Records indicate that the eagle is the oldest banded bald eagle encountered in the nation to date--by five years.

"This record eagle is a testament to the diligent conservation and restoration work done under New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Program," said Executive Deputy Commissioner, Marc Gerstman. "It's truly noteworthy that this eagle lived a long life and thrived in New York, returning to his New York nest site to continue breeding. DEC's work to conserve habitat and ensure clean air and clean water for bald eagles and many of the other fish and wildlife is ongoing, including participation in many research programs to ensure these species continue to thrive in New York State."

According to banding records, this bird was a nestling originally brought from Lake Puposky in northern Minnesota as part of New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Program, one of only five young eagles raised and released at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in the second year of the program. The eagle was banded at few months of age in Seneca Falls, Seneca County, in August of 1977 and raised and released at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Once it reached breeding age in 1981, it began nesting at Hemlock Lake, now part of Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.

The Hemlock Lake nest territory continued on, and this eagle, banded as 03142, became a steady and successful father to many eaglets fledged from that site for many more years.

Peter Nye, retired DEC Wildlife Biologist, who spearheaded New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Program reflected on the early days of the program stated, "When we banded 03142 on August 5, 1977 and had no idea how very special and significant this young bald eagle would become to our nascent bald eagle restoration program. Based on his recent recovery near this site, we have to assume he has been the resident male, breeding here for the past 34 years. That's quite a stretch, and likely a record in itself. His longevity, 38 years, although ingloriously cut short by a motor vehicle, is also a National record for known life-span of a wild bald eagle. All I can say is, hats off too you 03142; job well done!"

Following a national ban on the chemical pesticide, DDT in 1972 and prohibitions against taking or killing bald eagles in the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, New York State initiated a Bald Eagle Restoration Project in 1976 to reestablish a breeding population.

The state hosted one remaining unproductive bald eagle nest on Hemlock Lake in Livingston County. As an attempt to reestablish a small breeding population in New York State, DEC released 23 fledgling bald eagles at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in 1976 - 1980. In 1980, the resident male of the state's last native pair of eagles at Hemlock Lake was tragically found shot to death near the nest.

Over a 13-year period, 198 nestling bald eagles were collected from nests in other states, raised to independence with minimal human contact (a technique known as hacking), and released in New York. The hacked eagles flourished and many of them returned to New York to nest and breed. The hacking program concluded in 1988 because of its overwhelming success, surpassing its original goal of 10 nesting pairs of bald eagles in New York. Today, New York supports 350 pairs of nesting bald eagles.

The record eagle, found with a freshly killed rabbit nearby and apparently had been hit by a vehicle. Vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of eagle deaths in New York State, accounting for more than 30 percent of known recorded mortality.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

“S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna!” Campaign Aims to Help Sick Bass

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) today announced that it has launched an “S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna!” campaign to fund water and soil conservation projects along the Susquehanna River, whose young smallmouth bass population has been plagued over the last decade by illness and elevated mortality rates.
“The Susquehanna River is sick and someone has to take steps to fix it before it is too late,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “This is about conservation and protecting our aquatic resources so they may be enjoyed by future generations as guaranteed by our state constitution. We need leadership to begin working on fixing problems that we know exist.”
“The PFBC’s very mission of Resource First requires us to step up our efforts to help our smallmouth fishery before it’s too late,” he added. “The time for action is now. This campaign will help fund projects to reduce known sources of pollution in critical areas where diseased bass have been found.”
Examples of some projects include:
  • Identifying sites and working with willing farmers and colleges and universities to test soils and reduce nutrient and sediment run-off to control nuisance algae blooms that produce low oxygen levels and high pH conditions that are harmful to young bass;  and
  • Working with physicians and hospitals throughout the basin to keep pharmaceutical drugs and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) out of the river because of the harmful effects that they cause to fish.
From now until the end of the year, the PFBC expects to receive $3 million in revenue from sales of approximately 130,000 resident annual, senior resident annual, and non-resident annual licenses. Under the S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna! campaign, once the $3 million threshold is met, all additional sales from the three licenses will be dedicated solely to funding Susquehanna River projects.
“To kick off the campaign, we are pledging $50,000 in matching funds from the Commission,” Arway said. “I’m optimistic that we will raise and exceed the $50,000 from anglers, other conservationists, and anyone who cares about our natural resources and supports our efforts to do everything in our power to protect and conserve them.”
“Once we raise $50,000, the S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna! campaign will have its first $100,000 to begin working on projects to fix the river,” he added.
The campaign coincides with the upcoming start of bass season on June 13.
“Bass fishing is about to start, and memories of what bass fishing used to be like on the Susquehanna are on the minds of all anglers,” Arway said. “By announcing the campaign now, we hope that our avid anglers will share the news with colleagues and friends who may not fish, but care about the river and will want to contribute to help save it.”
Arway added that anyone can contribute to the campaign by purchasing a fishing license.
“The fishing license is simply the mechanism we’re using to raise the funds,” he said. “You don’t have to be an angler. You just have to care about the Susquehanna River. By buying an annual fishing license, you can help make this campaign a success.”
Arway added that by supporting this campaign, individuals can also help the Chesapeake Bay, which is fed by the Susquehanna River. “If you care about the Chesapeake Bay, buy a Pennsylvania fishing license to help us fix the river, which will also help to ‘Save the Bay.’”
A resident annual fishing license is $20; senior resident annual $9; and non-resident annual $50.
Also, individuals can further demonstrate their support by purchasing a special S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna button for just $10. A fishing license is required in order to purchase the button and all proceeds from the button sales will also go to fund the campaign. Buttons will be available to purchase on June 8.
Arway added that anglers and individuals also have the option of contributing to the campaign by writing a check to “S.O.S. – Save Our Susquehanna” and mailing it to the PFBC headquarters at P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106.
Fishing licenses and buttons can be purchased online through the PFBC’s Outdoor Shop or at any of 900 licensing agents across the Commonwealth.
“Help us help the river,” Arway added. “The smallmouth bass need your support today.”