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Tuesday
Jun172014

EPA Levies Record Fine for Water Pollution

Alpha Natural Resources will pay $27.5 million in fines as part of a settlement that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is “the largest penalty in history” under the water-pollution portion of the federal Clean Water Act. The civil penalty is for nearly 6,300 violations of pollution limits at company sites.

Under the agreement, Alpha also will improve its water treatment practices for 79 active mines and 25 coal processing plants in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. According to EPA, that means $200 million will be used “to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and to implement comprehensive, system-wide upgrades to reduce discharges of pollution from coal mines.”

The Justice Department’s Robert Dreher added, “The unprecedented size of the civil penalty in this settlement sends a strong message to others in his industry that such egregious violations of the nation’s Clean Water Act will not be tolerated.”

Alpha spokesman Gene Kitts, meanwhile, said the consent decree “provides a framework for our efforts to become fully compliant with our environmental permits.”

He also pointed out that the company’s compliance rate for 2013 was 99.8 percent.

“That’s a strong record of compliance, particularly considering it’s based on more than 665,000 chances to miss a daily or monthly average limit,” he added. “But our goal is to do even better.”

Monday
Jun162014

More Money Wasted by Humane Society of United States

The growing animal rights movement threatens not only recreational fishing, but hunting, farming, and medical research.

The problem is that they use concern for animal welfare, which all of us share, as a Trojan horse to raise funds and increase their political clout.

In other words, most of the money donated to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other such groups does not go to benefit abused dogs and cats in local animal shelters.  In a clever parody of how the money really is used, HumaneWatch created a video parody entitled Lawyers in Cages.

Now, HumaneWatch has discovered something else: HSUS also is using donations to buy body armor, as well as official-looking badges.

“Here’s why this is silly: HSUS does occasionally assist law enforcement in conducting raids on dogfighters. But there’s no way that any law enforcement agency would ever put volunteers in a situation where they might be in the line of fire. The police will make arrests, and HSUS will assist in collecting evidence/seizing dogs afterward.”

HumaneWatch adds that money used for these expensive, but needless, vests could be going to feed animals in shelters.

Yes, please, donate to help feed and care for abused dogs and cats and to help them find homes. But donate locally!

Friday
Jun132014

Oklahoma Stocks 1.8 Million Florida Bass

From the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation:

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Florida Largemouth Bass Program had another great year of production for 2014. The program produced more than 1.8 million Florida bass, which allowed 31 lakes to be stocked. This year's production ranks as the second-best behind the record 2.2 million fish stocked just last year.

The goal of the Florida bass program is to produce trophy bass for Oklahoma anglers. To do so, genetically pure Florida bass are stocked into the state's lakes to influence the genetics of the native bass populations. Bass with Florida genes are able to grow larger more quickly than the native Northern largemouth bass. Except for one fish, every state-record bass since 1979 has been a Florida bass or a Florida hybrid bass.

Oklahoma's current state record largemouth bass was caught in Cedar Lake in March 2013 and weighed 14 pounds, 13.7 ounces. "Oklahoma is really right on the line of where you can expect Florida bass to be successful," said Cliff Sager, south central region senior biologist. Sager continues to say, "Lakes in the southern half of Oklahoma have shown much greater success in sustaining Florida-strain bass. There's a reason Cedar Lake (in southeastern Oklahoma) has broken the state record two years in a row."

Stocking sites are chosen by a committee of biologists based on many criteria. The committee considers the documented success in trophy bass production, as well as angler pressure. Also, lakes with better habitat for bass are more likely to be stocked than lakes where good bass habitat doesn't exist. Sager said growing trophy bass in a particular lake "is an eight- to 10-year investment." Therefore, the Wildlife Department concentrates on the waters that hold the most promise for producing trophy bass.

All of the Florida bass that the Department stocks are spawned at the Durant hatchery. Most of the fish are raised there, but some of the fry are distributed to state hatcheries in Byron and Holdenville for raising. The state's fourth hatchery at Medicine Park gets involved by helping to deliver FLMB fry and fingerlings to the various lakes for stocking.

This year's above-average production of FLMB can be credited to better spawning and improved handling techniques being used by hatchery technicians. Improved techniques have allowed record fish production the past two years, and Ike McKay, project leader at the Durant State Fish Hatchery, credits "the commitment and cooperation of everyone involved."

Sager said, "it truly is a coordinated effort to raise and stock that many fish over a short period of time and speaks to the dedication of the Wildlife Department to improve our fisheries resources."

To see a list of the 31 lakes stocked with FLMB this year go to 2014 Largemouth Bass Stocking Report.

Thursday
Jun122014

Pollution Reduced, But Goals Not Reached for Cleaning Up Chesapeake Bay

Progress is being made in reducing the pollution flowing into Chesapeake Bay, according to a report. But the news is not all good, as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) announced, “Many jurisdictions fell short in implementing practices that reduce pollution from agricultural sources and urban and suburban polluted runoff.”

In 2010, the Bay states--- Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia --- and the Environmental Protect Agency set pollution limits that would restore water quality in the Bay, as well as the rivers that feed it. Additionally, the states made two-year milestone commitments to take specific actions to ensure progress was being made to achieve the agreed-upon pollution reductions.

Reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants exceeded 2013 goals, but “our analysis shows that implementation of some important practices like forested buffers and urban stream restoration lag behind what is necessary to achieve long-term goals,” CBF said.

What’s at risk if those long-term goals aren’t achieved? The list is long. For starters, there are the multi-million-dollar bass fisheries in the Bay’s many tributaries, with the Potomac being the most notable.

And how about this? Five-hundred million pounds of seafood are harvested each year from the Bay. Also, it’s one of the few places left in the world where an industry exists harvesting oysters from the wild.

Additionally, this unique ecosystem supplies as much as 1/3 of the nation’s blue crabs annually, and striper fishing carries an economic value to the area of about $500 million per year.

“We are not on pace anywhere to meet our 2017 and 2025 goals,” said Jill Witkowski, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition. “If we’re planning to run a race, so far we’ve done a good job on our couch to 5k. But if we want to run a marathon, we have a long way to go.”

Runoff from farms is one of the biggest threats to the continued health of the Bay, as close to one-quarter of the land in its watershed is devoted to agriculture. Thus, it is the single largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution entering the Bay.

“While conventional tillage, fertilizers and pesticides can be beneficial to crops, their excessive use can pollute rivers and streams, pushing nutrients and sediment into waterways,” CBF said.

Key Findings:

• Maryland met or exceeded five of seven selected goals, including animal waste management systems, forest buffers, grass buffers, upgrading stormwater systems and septic regulations. It failed to meet tree-planting goals and didn't set a goal for urban forest buffers.

• Delaware reached or surpassed four of its seven selected goals, wetland restoration, cover crops, bioretention and urban tree planting. It fell short on animal waste management, grass buffers and septic system connections.

• Virginia met two of eight milestones evaluated: stream access control with fencing and urban stream restoration. It fell short on forest buffers, conservation tillage, composite agricultural practices, modern stormwater practices, urban nutrient management and composite urban practices.

Tuesday
Jun102014

Secrets for Growing Big Bass in Small Waters

Bruce Holt of G.Loomis with a 13-5 largemouth.

Owners of ponds and small lakes who want to grow bigger bass should step outside the box.

 “If you stock bluegill and bass at the traditional 10 to 1 ratio, in two years you will have an overcrowded pond,” said Barry Smith, in explaining how to grow double-digit bass. “You’ll have too many bass and not enough bluegill.”

Smith is owner of American Sport Fish Hatchery in Montgomery, Ala., and one of the nation’s foremost experts on growing big bass in small waters.

The 10 to 1 ratio for stocking, he explained, was developing during the 1940s, when the primary objective was to grow harvestable size bass (10 inches) and bluegill (6 inches).

“If you go from 10 to 1 to 100 to 1 or even 30 to 1, you will grow trophy bass,” Smith continued. “A bass that is 2 inches in June can be 2 pounds by November.

“People don’t realize the growth potential of bass. They are eating machines.”

And once a bass reaches a pound, he added, it can grow as much as 4 pounds a year.

“We have ponds where average growth is 2 pounds and in five years, a bass can weigh 10 to 12 pounds.”

No other variables, including genetics, are as important as having abundant forage. “You can’t express genetics if you don’t have enough food.”

Smith added that once a fishery managed for trophy bass is established, he recommends supplemental stockings of threadfin shad to boost growth even more.