Archive for » March 19th, 2017«

Outdoors column: Chesapeake Bay restoration effort threatened …

On the way to work one day this week I saw a bald eagle, pair of ospreys, and a flock of Canada geese. Unseen to my eye, swimming hard upriver toward their spawning grounds, were the mind-blowing numbers of rockfish, shads and herrings. Aside from the obvious connection that they’re birds and fish, the much more important point here is that at one time during the past 50 years the numbers of each were so low humans had to intervene to arguably prevent irreversible collapses of each of these Chesapeake icons.

As I spied the geese feeding in a field, a radio journalist was describing how the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, if enacted, would gut programs helping restore the Chesapeake and other national waters. In fact, there is zero money budgeted for fiscal 2018 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Bay Program Office. Championing this plan is the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, who infamously as attorney general for the great land-locked state of Oklahoma, supported a lawsuit claiming the agency he now leads doesn’t have the authority to enforce pollution limits in the Chesapeake watershed. Sweet.

Environmentalists and conservationists tell us the Trump plan could bring decades of progress to clean up the bay to a screeching halt. It’s also conceivable if rollbacks in pollution controls take effect we may experience declines in air and water quality, wildlife and marine habitats and sustainable fisheries at an accelerated pace. To paraphrase that great fictional philosopher Jeffery Lebowski, “I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.” I jest here, of course, because what I really shouted into the steering wheel referred descriptively to the final product of bovine’s digestive process. To repeat verbatim would be too coarse for a family paper.

As bad as things look for the bay it’s possibly worse for the nation. Hundreds of millions of dollars in grants that fund numerous water-quality and agricultural initiatives to prevent pollution and restore habitat are at risk if Trump’s proposal becomes reality. I cannot think of a single group — farmers, boaters, watermen, sport anglers, hunters, bikers or hikers — that either makes a living or gets enjoyment, or both, from the greater Chesapeake region that won’t suffer. Maybe not next month or even next year, but if the rollbacks are not contested none of us can avoid getting sucked into the wash such draconian actions would create.

Email outdoors news, photos and calendar listings to Chris Dollar at cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com.

Outdoors calendar

March 20: MSSA Broadneck/Magothy Chapter Meeting, American Legion Post #175, 832 Manhattan Beach Road, Severna Park at 7:30 p.m. Contact Skip Zinck at skipzinck@comcast.net.

March 23: Annapolis Boat Sales hosts Capt. “Walleye” Pete Dahlberg. Light tackle techniques for trophy rockfish. 1725 South Piney Road, Chester MD 21619. RSVP to jack@annapolisboatsales.com.

March 25: 3rd annual Hunting Legacy Dinner Benefit, hosted by the Maryland Hunting Coalition. Noon-4 p.m., Martins Westminster. Tickets at mdhuntingcoalition.org.

March 28: Angler’s Night Out, hosted by Boatyard Bar Grill, in cooperation with CCA MD Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Feature film is “Providence.” Happy hour appetizer specials from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., film starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar Grill, 4th Street Severn Avenue, Eastport.

April 10: Pasadena Sportfishing Group monthly meeting. Speaker is Capt. Dale Kirkendall of Wild Goose Charters, on “Spring Trolling.” Earliegh Heights Firehall, Ritchie Highway, Severna Park. Contact (410) HEY-FISH or pasadenasportfishing.com.

April 15: Boatyard Bar Grill’s “Catch and Release Rockfish Tournament.” Registration is open at boatyardbarandgrill.com. Contact boatyardevent@gmail.com or (410) 216-6206.

April 20: CCA MD Annapolis Chapter Banquet. CBF’s Merril Center, 6 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis. 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Email mkupfer@ccamd.org for details.

April 21-23: Bay Bridge Boat Show. Details at annapolisboatshows.com/bay-bridge-boat-show.

May 5-7: MSSA’s Championship on the Chesapeake. Details at mssa.net.

May 6: Small Boat Offshore Seminar, hosted by CCA MD Baltimore Chapter. Loew’s Annapolis Hotel, 126 West Street, Annapolis.

June 3: Kent Narrows Light Tackle Fly Tournament. Hosted at The Jetty, 201 Wells Cove Road, Grasonville. Contact David Sikorski at (443) 621-9186 or davidsikorski@ccamd.org.


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W.Va. missing the boat on marijuana issue – Beckley Register

I’m going to take some heat for this. Gov. Justice campaigned, saying, “I’m tired of West Virginia being last.” I think we are missing the boat on the marijuana issue.

He said, “As long as I’m governor, marijuana for recreational use will never be legal.” Now he has “proposed” getting a medical panel as to medical marijuana hoes?

Let’s look at the lost revenue he is costing this state: tax revenue from hemp, which can be grown on strip mines to reclaim the land! Jobs. Hemp can be used to make paper, rope and fabric! It enriches the soil and fights erosion as well. 

On to pot. If this state would make it legal for both medical and recreational use, look at the tax revenue. Look at the Industry it would bring in. Suppliers, warehouse workers, hydroponics suppliers, packagers, sales people, farmers and tractor and farm related equipment sales.

Yes, there are cons, but look at the pros: less crowded prisons and jails and less burden on our courts.

If West Virginia does not do this now, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia will. And we will be LAST again. With Gov. Justice, we can look forward to being last for some time to come.

 

Woodrow Brackens

Victor


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Pennsylvania considers raising cost of fishing licences – Tribune

Updated 5 hours ago

The state Fish and Boat Commission may soon start angling for more of what’s in your wallet.

Legislation submitted to the state General Assembly seeks to raise the price of next year’s fishing licenses for the first time since 2005.

Senate Bill 460, submitted Feb. 28 by Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, aims to raise next year’s resident fishing license fee from $21 to $27.30.

That’s an increase of 30 percent, the largest license fee increase in the commission’s history.

The bill would similarly raise the fees for all types of fishing licenses and permits issued by the commission.

According to John Arway, Fish and Boat Commission executive director, the increased fees are both necessary and unavoidable.

“These fee increases are inevitable,” he said. “The conundrum this cycle is that we need to keep up with inflation, and we got hit with increased pension costs.

“We’ve been trying to get alternative revenues to delay increasing fees, but it’s not to the place where we can see some relief,” Arway said.

The commission has reduced staff from 432 to 376 employees, Arway said. But even with a leaner workforce, the commission must either raise revenue or cut services.

Arway said he hopes raising fees now will result in increased services to anglers.

“You should expect to see better service from us,” he said.

Track record

While this extra money may offset the cost of operating the Fish and Boat Commission in theory, historically, large increases in the price of fishing licenses have resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of licenses sold.

According to information provided by the Fish and Boat Commission to the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee last year, a fee increase in 1982 was followed by a nearly 8 percent drop in license sales.

Sales rebounded in the decade following.

But when a trout and salmon stamp was introduced in 1991, sales again dropped nearly 8 percent and have never recovered.

In 1995, fees went up again and included the introduction of a permit to fish on Lake Erie or its tributaries. These increases were again followed by a drop in sales, this time of nearly 9 percent.

The last increase, in 2005, included an increase in the cost of trout and salmon stamps, an increase in Lake Erie permits and a license fee increase. These added costs were followed by a nearly 10 percent drop in license sales.

As of last year, fewer than 850,000 licenses were issued — a more than 25 percent drop in sales since they peaked in 1990 at just shy of 1.2 million.

More possible

Brewster’s legislation includes a provision that would see the fees continue to increase at a rate of 3 percent per year until the 2023 season, when the license fee would reach $31.65.

A combination trout, salmon and Lake Erie fishing stamp, currently sold for $14, could cost you $22.69 in 2023 if Brewster’s legislation is successful.

This means the cost of a fishing license in 1981, $9, will have increased by 525 percent to $56.24, with stamps and other fees included, by 2023.

Brewster did not return a request for comment.

Do anglers benefit?

While it may be necessary for the Fish and Boat Commission to occasionally raise fees, said Lee Murray, the owner of Lock 3 Bait and Tackle in Harmar, every increase in cost hurts anglers and tackle salesmen, alike.

“If license sales drop 10 percent because less people are buying them, my business goes down by 10 percent,” he said.

Murray said he has been in the tackle business for 31 years and that the increase in license cost and addition of other fees has gone too far with nothing to show for it.

“I wouldn’t mind paying the increased fees if it came with better services, but it doesn’t,” he said. “We have some of the worst boat launches in the country, and fishing just keeps getting worse.”

Arway was quick to admit that Murray wasn’t exaggerating, saying cuts to the commission and the need to cover pension costs have, indeed, limited the services provided by the commission in recent years.

“One of the things that have declined is services,” he said. “All of our programs have been hit by those cuts.”

Those cuts are noticed by anglers, too. Tim Szczypinski, who drove to Cheswick from Robinson to have his rod fixed by Murray, said that he will pay whatever fee is asked as long as it is used for conservation efforts in the state, something he said he doesn’t think is the case.

“It seems like all I see them do is stock trout,” he said. “There are several species of fish and some really good fisheries that could use the same attention.”

Business outlook

Matt DiMichele, owner of Allegheny Angler in Tarentum, said license cost increases don’t bother him in the grand scheme of things.

“How much is a case of beer? How much is a tank of gas?” he asked. “It’s the most fun you can have for a year for that price.”

But DiMichele agreed with Murray’s sentiments about services provided by the Fish and Boat Commission.

“They’re only interested in writing tickets,” he said.

Dan McMaster, owner of Ligonier Outfitters, isn’t worried. A fishing license is still a good deal, he said, even if the price goes up.

“I’m not too upset on that, because you can use it all year round, 24 hours a day if you need to. Compare that to a round of golf, and you’re saving money.”

Even though license sales have dipped with previous price hikes, McMaster doesn’t think his business will suffer.

Swivel’s Bait Shop in Mt. Pleasant doesn’t sell licenses anymore. Co-owners Frank and Pattie Sevcik decided it wasn’t worth it after the last price increase in 2005. But Pattie Sevcik said she’s worried a new increase might mean fewer fishermen and less business.

“Fishing, itself, I’ve noticed has slacked off really a lot, over the last five or 10 years, she said. “Our last year was really bad.

“If (the price of licenses) is going to go up, I see even more dwindling in people going out. You’ve got people who only go out two or three times a year, who will say if it’s going up more, it’s not worth it.”

Another solution sought

The problem is one of bureaucracy, said Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair County. Because of the way the law is structured now, the Fish and Boat Commission doesn’t have the power to raise its fees without legislative approval.

That means fewer attempts to increase the cost of a license are made, causing years to pass without the commission increasing fees.

The result, he said, are the sharp increases every five to 10 years.

Eichelberger has submitted legislation that will give the Fish and Boat Commission the authority to change its fees as it sees fit, which he said would prevent large increases in a single year.

“They wouldn’t have to raise fees at the same level,” he said. “That wouldn’t have as great an impact on people, and that’s what currently happens.”

Eichelberger said his bill still includes protections to ensure the commission doesn’t make changes the Legislature would find disagreeable, but that more than anything else, it puts them on the same footing as most other state agencies.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me that the fish commission and the game commission are the only two commissions that aren’t permitted to set their own rates,” he said.

“A local commission or local authority has that authority. I don’t think it makes any sense.”

Eichelberger thinks the fish commission should function like a business.

“Everyone talks about how these government agencies need to run like businesses.”

Staff writer Jacob Tierney contributed to this report. Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675 or mmedsger@tribweb.com.


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Outdoors column: Chesapeake Bay restoration effort threatened

On the way to work one day this week I saw a bald eagle, pair of ospreys, and a flock of Canada geese. Unseen to my eye, swimming hard upriver toward their spawning grounds, were the mind-blowing numbers of rockfish, shads and herrings. Aside from the obvious connection that they’re birds and fish, the much more important point here is that at one time during the past 50 years the numbers of each were so low humans had to intervene to arguably prevent irreversible collapses of each of these Chesapeake icons.

As I spied the geese feeding in a field, a radio journalist was describing how the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, if enacted, would gut programs helping restore the Chesapeake and other national waters. In fact, there is zero money budgeted for fiscal 2018 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Bay Program Office. Championing this plan is the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, who infamously as attorney general for the great land-locked state of Oklahoma, supported a lawsuit claiming the agency he now leads doesn’t have the authority to enforce pollution limits in the Chesapeake watershed. Sweet.

Environmentalists and conservationists tell us the Trump plan could bring decades of progress to clean up the bay to a screeching halt. It’s also conceivable if rollbacks in pollution controls take effect we may experience declines in air and water quality, wildlife and marine habitats and sustainable fisheries at an accelerated pace. To paraphrase that great fictional philosopher Jeffery Lebowski, “I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.” I jest here, of course, because what I really shouted into the steering wheel referred descriptively to the final product of bovine’s digestive process. To repeat verbatim would be too coarse for a family paper.

As bad as things look for the bay it’s possibly worse for the nation. Hundreds of millions of dollars in grants that fund numerous water-quality and agricultural initiatives to prevent pollution and restore habitat are at risk if Trump’s proposal becomes reality. I cannot think of a single group — farmers, boaters, watermen, sport anglers, hunters, bikers or hikers — that either makes a living or gets enjoyment, or both, from the greater Chesapeake region that won’t suffer. Maybe not next month or even next year, but if the rollbacks are not contested none of us can avoid getting sucked into the wash such draconian actions would create.

Email outdoors news, photos and calendar listings to Chris Dollar at cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com.

Outdoors calendar

March 20: MSSA Broadneck/Magothy Chapter Meeting, American Legion Post #175, 832 Manhattan Beach Road, Severna Park at 7:30 p.m. Contact Skip Zinck at skipzinck@comcast.net.

March 23: Annapolis Boat Sales hosts Capt. “Walleye” Pete Dahlberg. Light tackle techniques for trophy rockfish. 1725 South Piney Road, Chester MD 21619. RSVP to jack@annapolisboatsales.com.

March 25: 3rd annual Hunting Legacy Dinner Benefit, hosted by the Maryland Hunting Coalition. Noon-4 p.m., Martins Westminster. Tickets at mdhuntingcoalition.org.

March 28: Angler’s Night Out, hosted by Boatyard Bar Grill, in cooperation with CCA MD Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Feature film is “Providence.” Happy hour appetizer specials from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., film starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar Grill, 4th Street Severn Avenue, Eastport.

April 10: Pasadena Sportfishing Group monthly meeting. Speaker is Capt. Dale Kirkendall of Wild Goose Charters, on “Spring Trolling.” Earliegh Heights Firehall, Ritchie Highway, Severna Park. Contact (410) HEY-FISH or pasadenasportfishing.com.

April 15: Boatyard Bar Grill’s “Catch and Release Rockfish Tournament.” Registration is open at boatyardbarandgrill.com. Contact boatyardevent@gmail.com or (410) 216-6206.

April 20: CCA MD Annapolis Chapter Banquet. CBF’s Merril Center, 6 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis. 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Email mkupfer@ccamd.org for details.

April 21-23: Bay Bridge Boat Show. Details at annapolisboatshows.com/bay-bridge-boat-show.

May 5-7: MSSA’s Championship on the Chesapeake. Details at mssa.net.

May 6: Small Boat Offshore Seminar, hosted by CCA MD Baltimore Chapter. Loew’s Annapolis Hotel, 126 West Street, Annapolis.

June 3: Kent Narrows Light Tackle Fly Tournament. Hosted at The Jetty, 201 Wells Cove Road, Grasonville. Contact David Sikorski at (443) 621-9186 or davidsikorski@ccamd.org.


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