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Page 42 of President’s budget plan released today “Eliminates funding for…Great Lakes Restoration Initiative”. This program has received bipartisan support in every budget since its inception in 2010. Over $130,000,000 has come to New York State to improve wetlands, fish habitat, invasive species detection and prevention, pollution abatement and other important projects that have created direct and indirect jobs, improving our environment and our economy. Over $6.4 million has been spent directly in the St. Lawrence River watershed.
Zero it out? Seriously. Decidedly. Outrageous!
Among many other programs cut or zeroed out is a Department of Agriculture program that assists communities with fewer than 10,000 people with water and sewer infrastructure.
It’s hard to imagine describing the St. Lawrence River as “great” if the water is no longer swimmable, fishable, or drinkable.
The President’s budget plan is chock full of disappointments for anyone who has benefitted from the last half century of progress the United States has made in air and water quality and human health.
Common sense tells us we have more to do to make sure every American has access to clean air and water, both basic human rights.
Instead for Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and our members and supporters, this budget is nothing less than a full on assault on the health of one of North America’s most important waterways and the people and communities that depend on it being and staying healthy.
Call the Congressional switchboard, (202) 224-3121, to connect with your Senators & Representative with the simple message “I support clean water programs – GLRI, revolving loan funds, & EPA”. Then call White House with same message (202) 456-1414 or (202) 456-1111.
Please also consider becoming a member of Save The River to strengthen our ability to fight for a healthy St. Lawrence River, now and for generations to come. Add your voice to thousands of others working to preserve, protect and restore one of the great rivers in North America.
Robert Howard, Rhys Jenis, Rebecca Leonard, team members of The Heritage Hi-Techs, a rookie First Lego League team of 5th graders from Clayton, NY, wanted to call attention to an iconic, but threatened River species – the Muskellunge – as part of their solution to this year’s robotic competition.
So they asked Save The River for input and came up with “Animal Allies” as a theme for their entry. Based on knowledge gained from Save The River and others about the need for responsible stewardship of the River’s threatened Muskellunge population, they will present their solution, which earned them tremendous first-year success, at our conference.
The team’s name, Heritage Hi-Techs, is based on the neighborhood which they all live in. Robert, Rhys and Rebecca all share an interest in robots and have been friends since they were in strollers. Since their elementary school does not have a robotics class or club currently, they decided work together to learn robotics as a team.
Registration for this year’s Conference closes Friday, February 3rd. To secure a place, it is best call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.
Check out the trailer for “What Lies Below” & you will definitely want to meet Lawrence Gunther, a great advocate for sustainable fishing. We are honored to have Lawrence share his experience, knowledge & wit at our Winter Conference.
Lawrence is North America’s only blind professional angler & champion of fish conservation. Drawing on his experience as a commercial fisher for Cod on Canada’s east coast, & as a competitive angler in over 125 fishing tournaments, he now focuses his energy on empowering others to become stewards of their waters & fish resources.
Prior to founding “Blue Fish Canada”, a charity dedicated to the future of fish & fishing, Lawrence earned a Masters in Environmental Studies that included conducting research throughout Canada’s Arctic & Scandinavia. His articles on sustainable fishing can be found in numerous outdoor publications, & his “Blue Fish Radio” podcasts (where he interviewed our Riverkeeper) are heard by over 100,000 listeners each week.
The documentary “What Lies Below” follows Lawrence & his guide dog as they explore ten fish habitat and sustainability stories throughout Canada. As host, Lawrence travels throughout Canada to speak with people who live by & from the water. What he learns is that there are a lot of people who feel strongly about the long term sustainability of their fishing resources.
So join us, your friends – old & new at Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel to celebrate and learn about the River we love.
Schedule: Saturday, February 4, 2017
9:30am – Registration and morning coffee
10:00 am – 4:00pm Presentations
4:00 pm – Cocktail Reception with cash bar
Conference fee: $50 (includes coffee, lunch, & cocktail reception with light hors d’oeuvres)
RSVP no later than Friday, January 27, 2017 to Save The River using the form found here or by calling us at (315) 686-2010.
We’ll see you there!
“The anglers knew it, and the biologists had the charts to confirm it: last season’s fishing on Lake Ontario was officially lousy.
With few answers about the cause of the dip, beyond colder-than-average water, there was little hope the state Department of Environmental Conservation could offer for fishing this year.”
Originally published in the Watertown Daily Times on March 9, 2016.
Save The River encourages every angler – from novice to experienced – to take advantage of this opportunity to fish for free this weekend in New York State. Take caution fishing on ice or from shore as any ice may be thin and unstable. It is also important to dress for weather conditions.
Governor Cuomo has designated February 13-14, 2016 as the state’s first free fishing weekend where the requirements for a fishing license has been suspended. Residents and visitors age 16 and older will be able to fish the fresh or marine waters of New York State without a license, providing a great opportunity for people to learn about this popular sport.
Governor Cuomo’s I FISH NY program aims to increase participation and awareness of the outstanding fishing opportunities in New York.
For more information visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/89362.html
Photo Credit: Will Nalley
From the Watertown Daily Times. Published on Sunday, September 27th, 2015
For Robert W. Dick, captain of Moby Dick Charters in Henderson since 1987 and an angler since he was “old enough to hold a pole,” this year’s bass fishing season has been the worst he’s ever seen.
Smallmouth bass still can be found, and some of the bass have been bigger than usual, but Mr. Dick and other anglers on Lake Ontario said they have had to search much longer than in years past to pull in the coveted fish.
“Guys are spending lots and lots of money going place to place trying to find them, and not finding any results at all,” Mr. Dick said.
Charter captains on the St. Lawrence River also have found their catches lacking.
“Usually it’s an easy target — you get over them and you put them in the boat,” said Paul J. Corbett, a captain in Clayton. “This year it’s been a grind. If you can get a couple, you’ve had a good day.”
A combination of invasive species, predators and uneven water temperatures that lingered well into August might be part of the problem, according to state officials and anglers. However, they said, there is little in the way of direct links to the decreased count this bass season, which started June 20 and ends Nov. 30.
Data for the full season will be released in March.
“A lot of people are wondering what is causing it,” Mr. Dick said of the drop. “They don’t know.”
Fishing is big business in New York. Statewide, the most recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service census of sporting activity, in 2011, found that fishing-related expenditures totaled $2 billion that year, a part of $41.8 billion in angling expenditures nationwide.
And the north country is home to several large fishing tournaments that draw people from inside and outside of the region. The biggest of those: the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite, held July 30 through Aug. 2 on the St. Lawrence River in Waddington.
At the beginning of this year, Bassmaster ranked the Thousand Islands region as the eighth-best in the United States in its top 100 lakes list.
But despite the high rating, variability has marked the species’ existence in the region.
Statistics from the state Department of Environmental Conservation show the numbers of smallmouth bass in the St. Lawrence River have ranged widely from the mid-1970s until now. The fish’s levels peaked in 1988, fell from 1996 to 2004, and generally rose after 2005, peaking in 2012.
“Every year you have to adjust,” said Myrle R. Bauer, a captain in Clayton for 24 years. “This year it’s a little harder.”
In the eastern basin of Lake Ontario, the DEC said, the 2014 smallmouth catch rate was at its worst since 2004. The department said cooler water temperatures, which can negatively affect fish distribution, might have played a role.
Observers said a large influx of round gobies, an invasive species that eats fish eggs, might be affecting the bass population. However, they note, the gobies are eaten by the bass, helping to increase the latter fish’s size.
The number of cormorants — ubiquitous waterfowl that prey on bass — also has created problems, though the birds’ impact has been lessened in recent years due to DEC egg addling and nest destruction, plus a switch by the birds to eating gobies, according to DEC officials.
Theodore R. “Rusty” Hinckley, a fourth-generation charter captain in Cape Vincent, said bass fishing has been touch-and-go through the years.
“We hope it cycles,” he said. “Everything comes back.”
Frank M. Flack, the DEC’s Region 6 fisheries manager, said anglers have complained about a drop in smallmouth bass and northern pike in the river, but he has heard fewer specific issues about Lake Ontario.
Though quantities have dropped, he said the fish that have been found are bigger than anticipated.
“What we have out there is a lot of bigger fish, but less of them,” Mr. Flack said.
One part-time captain in Henderson, James H. McGowan, said the bass have been getting bigger and bigger in the past few years.
“For trophy fishing, it was an outstanding year,” he said. “The bass, when they were found, they were huge.”
Regardless of water body, the shortage of bass has caused charter fishing captains to adjust expectations to keep customers.
Mr. Corbett said he at times has pushed customers to other targets.
“The goal is to get fish,” he said. “If it’s not bass, it’s pike. If it’s not pike, it’s perch.”
He said he was trying to focus on what he could control.
“We can’t control Mother Nature,” he said. “If the fish are there, we’ll make it work.”
Mr. Dick said he hasn’t seen any dip in his customers, because many who travel are flexible with what they catch. He said Henderson Harbor’s walleye and lake trout populations have been very good this season.
“They want to catch something, and they know the action is excellent,” he said.
Steven R. LaPan, who leads the DEC’s Great Lakes fisheries section in Cape Vincent, said that despite the reduced bass catch-load this season, patience is the key.
“Next year it could be completely different,” he said.
Mr. LaPan said the problem would become more pressing if the trend continues for three or four more years.
“Then we’re all concerned,” he said. “The stars would be aligning, and not in a good way.”
That patience could be tested, as concerns are rising among anglers that next summer might have a similar outcome as this year.
With the Farmers’ Almanac predicting bitterly cold temperatures for the eastern side of the Great Lakes for another winter, Patrick J. Clarke, a second-generation charter captain in Clayton, said “all of us guides are kind of cringing,” due to the effects of cooler waters on bass movements and feeding levels.
Though he and fellow charter operators have weathered poor bass hauls in summers past thanks to the quality of other fish, he said it eventually could have an impact on people considering where to travel.
“That person — that first-timer who doesn’t do as well as they thought — they may not come back,” Mr. Clarke said.