Monday, February 28, 2011

Ozarks Fly Sales

Starting April 1, Family-Outdoors will offer a limited number of fly designed for fishing Ozark streams.

There will be 2 sets available.  There will be a 25 fly streamer/nymph set and a 20 piece dry fly set.

Get more information at Ozark Fly Sales.

Foundation awards MDC $35,000 grant for elk restoration

Seal of Missouri.Image via Wikipedia
JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (Foundation) recently approved a grant request from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) for $35,000 towards the Department’s elk restoration plan.The grant was approved at the Foundation’s Feb. 25 board meeting and will help fund costs related to elk trapping, holding, disease testing, research, monitoring and transportation.

MDC has been working with the Kentucky Division of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) to trap and hold elk from eastern Kentucky. The agencies are currently conducting extensive disease testing on the several dozen elk that will form the core of Missouri’s restored elk herd. Following a 90-day quarantine period in Kentucky, the elk will be transported in late April or early May to a 346-square-mile restoration zone in Southeast Missouri covering parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties. The zone has extensive public lands, minimal agricultural activity and low road density. The elk-restoration plan includes provisions for protecting Missouri wildlife and livestock from elk-borne disease and for dealing with elk that wander outside the zone onto land where they are not welcome.
We are very grateful to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation for its support of our elk restoration efforts, and for its long-standing support of numerous conservation efforts in Missouri,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “Partnerships between government and citizen conservation groups, such as the Foundation, make it possible to achieve things beyond our separate means. It is a model that has proven successful time and again and is responsible for Missouri’s -- and America’s -- greatest conservation success stories.”

The Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization created in 1997 to meet financial demands placed on Missouri’s natural resources. Its mission is to advance the conservation and appreciation of Missouri’s forest, fish and wildlife resources by matching financial resources with the priorities of donors, the Foundation and the MDC. The Foundation receives funding from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund along with funding from Conservation Heritage license plate sales, grants and individual donations.

Board Chairman Chris Nattinger explained that MDC staff apply for Foundation funding for projects they initiate or that they endorse on behalf of partner groups. These projects address priority conservation and outdoor recreation needs. The Foundation board of directors oversees funding decisions and is comprised of conservation, community and business leaders.

“The Foundation is pleased to be able to help MDC restore elk to Missouri,” said Nattinger.
“This magnificent animal is part of our natural heritage, and we think that the public as well as the ecosystem will benefit by bringing elk back to Missouri.”

Since 1997, the Foundation has provided more than $11 million for conservation and outdoor recreation. In 2010 alone, it funded 33 projects through more than $1.35 million in grants.

In addition to the Foundation grant, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged $300,000 for Missouri’s elk-restoration program and the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation has pledged $50,000.

For more information on the Foundation, visit www.mochf.org.

For more information on MDC’s elk restoration efforts, visitwww.missouriconservation.org.



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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interior Department appointments to NGAC include Missourian

Official portrait of Secretary of the Interior...Image via Wikipedia
Secretary Salazar appoints 15 members to National Geospatial Advisory Committee – including Missourian Tony Spicci of the MDC


JEFFERSON CITY Mo – Tony Spicci of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is among 15 individuals and the only Missourian (Columbia) recently appointed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to serve three-year terms as members of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC). NGAC provides recommendations on federal geospatial policy and management issues and advice on development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The NSDI promotes sharing of geospatial data throughout all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and the academic community.

Spicci has been with MDC for more than 18 years and is the Geographic Information System (GIS) coordinator for the Department and a supervisor in the MDC’s Resource Science division.  His responsibilities include the coordination and administration of geographic information technologies, ecological classification systems, human dimensions and Resource Science information support programs.  He also serves as the liaison between the MDC and other organizations and represents the Department on various committees including the Missouri GIS Advisory Committee, the Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership (MoRAP) Technical Committee and other local, state and federal organizations. 

Geospatial data and products, including maps, simulations and databases, are invaluable tools in the effective management of utility infrastructures, transportation, energy, emergency management and response, natural resource management, climate analysis, disaster recovery, homeland defense, law enforcement, protection planning and other civilian or military strategic issues. The newly appointed members of the NGAC represent the varied interests associated with geospatial programs and technology.

Additional information about the NGAC, including a complete list of the 28 committee members, is available at www.fgdc.gov/ngacc

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Economic Benefits of Elk Restoration

Friday, February 18, 2011

Trout Park Fever

100_0345Image by Dr.Nomad via FlickrOh boy!  Here they come.  The annual ritual for many of Missouri's trout fishermen is upon us.  It signals that Spring is around the corner, and that has me feeling pretty happy.  It also signals that for about the next month, for some fishermen the trout parks will be off limits.

The trout parks close for a couple of weeks before the March 1 trout "opener" and then there is my self-imposed restraining order keeping me away for a couple of weeks thereafter.  After all, I just posted the annual MDC press release about the big day.  They are forecasting 8,000+ anglers to descend on the Missouri Trout Parks this year.  That to me is a blessing and a curse.

I reckon that all that craziness will have most of Missouri's trout nuts kind of penned up in one central location.  I probably sound bitter, but I assure you I am not.  I cannot begin to convey how pleased it makes me to roll through Montauk and to see the party atmosphere, and then to leave it all behind as I move downstream on the Current to the wild beauty of what I enjoy about trout fishing.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not a trout park snob.  I will even wet a line in the social hole if I have someone with me that insists on baitfishing.  And, I enjoy it!  When I go to the parks, I expect a bit of social interaction, mostly pleasant, and some not so much.  I find the parks beautiful in their own way.  And, I get why some people love opening day.  There are some B-I-G fish in there then and besides, for some families and groups of friends, it's tradition.

So have a great time in the parks, and let a few sneak out the bottom of Montauk into the Current for me.  Maybe even one of those hawgs!


Current River Trout
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Up to 8,000 anglers expected at trout park opener

Rainbow troutImage via Wikipedia
Missouri’s trout parks will be well-stocked on opening day.

JEFFERSON CITY – You can’t see it now, but a trout-fishing tide is rising. Missourians are rummaging around in basements and garages, patching waders, tying flies and checking fishing reels and lines. The wave will continue to swell throughout the remainder of February. When it breaks on March 1, Missouri’s four trout parks will be awash in anglers, and the anglers will be up to their bellybuttons in rainbow trout.
For more than 70 years, Missourians have made the late-winter pilgrimage to trout parks, where the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) stocks rainbow trout. Today, MDC stocks spring branches at Bennett Spring State Park (SP) near Lebanon, Montauk SP near Licking, Roaring River SP near Cassville and Maramec Spring Park near St. James.

The number of anglers present on opening day depends partly on weather, but it takes a major winter storm to make much of a dent in the throng at any of these destinations. The most important factor is what day of the week March 1 falls on in a particular year. Total attendance at all four parks has topped 14,000 in years past when the weather was good and the season opener fell on Saturday or Sunday.

MDC hatchery managers have 50 years of data on which to base predictions of angler turnout on any day throughout the catch-and-keep season March 1 through Oct. 31. This year, with a Tuesday opener, hatchery managers expect throngs of approximately 2,200 anglers at Bennett Spring, 2,000 at Montauk, 1,800 at Roaring River and 1,600 at Maramec Spring. If the March 1 weather forecast is unusually good, total attendance could top 8,400.

Hatchery managers use these estimates to determine how many trout to stock each day. Throughout most of the season, they stock 2.25 fish per expected angler. On opening day, however, they put three fish in the water for every angler they expect to attend. These fish average around 12 inches long. However, MDC also stocks dozens of “lunkers,” hatchery brood fish weighing upwards of 3 pounds. A few tip the scales at more than 10 pounds.
Three of Missouri’s trout parks–Bennett Spring, Montauk, and Roaring River–are owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Maramec Spring Park is owned by the James Foundation. The Conservation Department operates trout hatcheries at all four. For more information about trout-park fishing, call:
• Bennett Spring - 417-532-4418.
• Maramec - 573-265-7801.
• Montauk - 573-548-2585.
• Roaring River - 417-847-2430.


Anglers need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks. Missouri residents 16 through 64 need a fishing permit in addition to the daily tag. Nonresidents 16 and older also need a fishing permit.
One new feature at all four parks this year is the availability of wader-wash stations. These are baths with a 5-percent salt solution for boots and fishing gear. They are designed to kill the aquatic invasive species, Didymosphenia geminata. commonly known as Didymo. It’s less appetizing nickname, “rock snot,” captures its slimy experience and general undesirability.


Didymo is an invasive alga that forms dense mats on stream bottoms. It can become so thick that it disrupts natural food chains, making fishing impossible. Its arrival in trout streams around the globe probably is the result of its ability to cling to the porous surface of felt-soled fishing waders. Didymo is known to infest streams in 19 states. The infested stream nearest to Missouri is in northern Arkansas.



“We strongly encourage anglers to make use of the wader-wash stations to clean not only waders, but any fishing equipment that has been used in other states,” said MDC Hatchery Systems Manager James Civiello. “Anglers can unknowingly spread the microscopic alga on fishing gear, waders, and especially in any porous materials on wader soles.”


Civiello said anglers can help prevent the spread of rock snot by cleaning fishing gear and waders and drying them in the sun for 48 hours when moving between waters. They also can help by replacing felt-soled waders with rubber-soled ones.


Trout parks are only one option for Show-Me State anglers. For more about the state’s extensive system of trout streams and winter trout fishing, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/7248.


MDC also maintains rainbow and brown trout populations in 120 miles of 17 streams designated as blue-, red- or white-ribbon trout waters. Lake Taneycomo has world-class trophy trout fishing, and MDC stocks trout in selected lakes and ponds in several communities around the state during the winter months. You can find details about all these trout-fishing opportunities in the Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, which is available wherever fishing permits are sold or at http://bit.ly/g8carJ. Information about winter trout fishing in urban areas is available at http://bit.ly/gSLEyx.


A Trout Permit ($7 for adults, $3.50 for anglers under age 16) is required to possess trout on waters outside trout parks. A fishing permit also is required, unless the angler is exempt.


A survey conducted in 2001 showed that trout anglers spent more per day on their sport than anglers pursuing any other species. Trout anglers’ expenditures that year totaled $115,561,474.


These expenditures generated more than $240 million of business activity, supporting 2,078 jobs and creating nearly $52 million dollars in wages. This produced more than $5.5 million in state sales taxes, $2 million in state income taxes and more than $8 million in federal income taxes.


Thirty percent of Missouri’s trout anglers come from other states, so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is “new money” for the state’s economy.


-Jim Low-


Missouri Trout Parks



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E-Permits available March 1

A Lexmark printerImage via Wikipedia
No more standing in line or waiting for permits to arrive in the mail.
JEFFERSON CITY – Starting March 1, Missourians will be able to buy most hunting and fishing permits at home, using the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) new e-Permits system. The system will allow hunters, anglers and trappers to print permits on regular computer printers and have them in hand them immediately.
All sport-fishing and -hunting permits will be available through e-Permits. So will trapping permits and the Apprentice Hunter Authorization. E-permits will look like the old permits and will be about the same size as in the past. Commercial permits and lifetime permits will continue to be sold through MDC’s Central Office by calling 573-751-4115.

The change to e-Permits is part of MDC’s continuing effort to improve services and keep permit costs low in spite of declining revenues. Hunters and anglers will be able to buy permits online 24/7 anywhere they have access to a computer and printer. If they prefer to buy permits from vendors, as they always have, that option will remain open to them. They also can buy permits by calling toll-free 1-800-392-4115. Phone purchases are subject to a $2 convenience fee, while the fee for online permit purchases is $1.
Vendors will continue to print permits on the existing material until July 2012. The old, Point-of-Sale permit system will stay in use until July 2012, when vendors will be able to switch to the new all-online system. The old type of permits will be phased out between July 2012 and July 2013. After that, permits purchased from vendors will be on regular printer paper.

Missourians have been able to buy permits online since 2002. However, under the old online system, buyers received only confirmation at the time of purchase. They used this confirmation while waiting to receive the actual permits through the mail, which could take up to two weeks. This was no help to turkey and deer hunters, who need actual permits to tag game. With e-Permits, turkey and deer hunters will be able to buy permits, print them and have valid permits immediately.

Deer and turkey tagging procedures will change with the change to e-Permits. The main difference is that permits no longer will include a removable transportation tag. Instead, the permit itself will be the transportation tag. Deer and turkey permits will have months printed along one edge and dates on another edge. Hunters will notch the month and day as part of recording their harvested game and attach the permit to the animal. They will continue to check harvested animals through the Telecheck system.
E-Permits will not be printed on adhesive-backed material, so hunters will need to provide a means of attaching them to harvested game. Hunters are encouraged to put e-Permits inside zipper-type sandwich bags and attach them to deer or turkeys with string, twist-ties, wire, plastic cable ties or tape. Protecting paper permits in this way will keep them readable and make it easier to write confirmation numbers on them when Telechecking deer and turkeys. You also can save e-Permits on your computer and print extra copies of permits in case one is lost or ruined. As always, permits may not be shared and additional copies of a permit do not provide additional valid permits for the buyer or others to use.


The change to e-Permits will reduce costs as MDC phases out software, hardware and special permit material used in the old, Point-of-Sale permit system. When fully implemented, e-Permits will reduce the cost of issuing permits by approximately $500,000 annually.


Missouri residents pay $12 for an annual fishing permit, while residents in the eight neighboring states pay an average of $20.80 for the same privileges. Missouri’s $17 Resident Firearms Any-Deer Permit is a fantastic bargain compared to the average of $46.63 for equivalent privileges in surrounding states.




Almost 1,000 students to compete in MoNASP state tournament Feb 25-26 in Linn



JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- The Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) will hold its 2011 state tournament Feb 25-26 at Linn State Technical College Student Activity Center, One Technology Drive in Linn. Almost 1,000 students from around the state will participate.

MoNASP is coordinated through the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) in partnership with schools and supporting organizations throughout the state. MoNASP is an affiliate of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and promotes education, self-esteem and physical activity for students in grades 4-12 through participation in the sport of archery.

More than 25,000 Missouri students from 148 schools participate in MoNASP. Since NASP's beginnings in 2002, more than seven million students have participated in the program through 7,350 schools in 47 states and five countries. 

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Missouri-bound elk pass first of several health tests

Testing will ensure Missouri’s wildlife and livestock remain healthy.

PINEVILLE, Ky.–Elk earmarked to form the nucleus of a restored herd in southeastern Missouri have passed one of several health tests necessary before coming to their new home.

A veterinary health workup of elk Jan. 25 marked the start of a 90-day quarantine period to ensure the animals’ health. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) worked with the Missouri State Veterinarian and the Missouri Department of Agriculture to develop the elk health protocols, which are more stringent than any that apply to livestock brought into Missouri.

MDC worked with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFW) to trap the elk. The two agencies are conducting veterinary tests at a holding pen on the Cumberland Plateau in eastern Kentucky.

In order to draw blood and administer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests, the elk are run though a squeeze chute like those used when working cattle. All the elk passed the first round of TB testing.

“That is a good first step,” said MDC Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “We will retest in late April to be double sure they are TB-free. In the meantime, we have several other tests to perform to be sure the elk we bring to Missouri are healthy.”

Sumners said the next test veterinarians will perform on Missouri’s elk is for chronic wasting disease (CWD). He expects that work, which uses tiny tissue samples from lymph nodes on the animals’ hindquarters, to be done in March.

“This test is not yet certified by veterinary health officials,” said Sumners. “In fact, there is no approved live test for CWD. However, this is the best tool we have to detect CWD in live animals, and we feel it is a prudent measure to protect Missouri’s wild and captive deer.”

Testing for other diseases currently is underway on blood samples. These tests will check for anaplasmosis, brucellosis, bovine viral diarrhea, vesicular stomatitis, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and blue tongue.

Sumners said the handling necessary for these tests is extremely stressful for the elk.

“These are truly wild animals,” said Sumners. “They do their best to avoid people, and they can injure themselves or others as they try to avoid being herded into confined spaces. We try to minimize this danger, but a few injuries are inevitable.”

Sumners said MDC has had to euthanize several elk because of injuries and from capture myopathy, a condition that affects elk and white-tailed deer when they are trapped and handled. Forty-one elk remain in the holding pen in Kentucky.

All elk that die at the holding pen are examined to determine the cause of death. They also are tested for CWD.

Sumners said that approximately 10 percent of wild elk cows in Kentucky die each year from natural causes. Most of this annual mortality occurs during the winter. While losses among the captured elk have been higher than natural winter mortality, Sumners said this was expected.

“Any time you trap elk or deer you lose some,” he said. “I expect the losses to decrease as the remaining animals settle down.”

Sumners said wild elk’s sensitivity to human disturbance is one of the reasons MDC restricts access to the holding pen in Kentucky and will continue to do so while the animals are in a holding pen at Peck Ranch Conservation Area this spring. Elk viewing will be unrestricted once the elk are released into the elk-restoration zone.

“We would like to allow public viewing,” said Sumners, “However, other states’ experience has shown the importance of limiting as much as possible. Even a few people around a holding pen make elk skittish. We have to keep that kind of disturbance to a minimum for the animals’ safety.”

Missouri’s elk have been fitted with ear tags and with tiny, implanted identification tags like those on pets. Each elk brought to Missouri also will receive a radio collar before being released into the 346-square mile elk-restoration zone covering parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties. This will enable MDC to track their movements.

-Jim Low-

Ozark Trout Fishing
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Missouri-bound elk pass first of several health tests

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation
PINEVILLE, Ky.–Elk earmarked to form the nucleus of a restored herd in southeastern Missouri have passed one of several health tests necessary before coming to their new home.

A veterinary health workup of elk Jan. 25 marked the start of a 90-day quarantine period to ensure the animals’ health. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) worked with the Missouri State Veterinarian and the Missouri Department of Agriculture to develop the elk health protocols, which are more stringent than any that apply to livestock brought into Missouri.

MDC worked with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFW) to trap the elk. The two agencies are conducting veterinary tests at a holding pen on the Cumberland Plateau in eastern Kentucky.

In order to draw blood and administer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests, the elk are run though a squeeze chute like those used when working cattle. All the elk passed the first round of TB testing.

“That is a good first step,” said MDC Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “We will retest in late April to be double sure they are TB-free. In the meantime, we have several other tests to perform to be sure the elk we bring to Missouri are healthy.”

Sumners said the next test veterinarians will perform on Missouri’s elk is for chronic wasting disease (CWD). He expects that work, which uses tiny tissue samples from lymph nodes on the animals’ hindquarters, to be done in March.

“This test is not yet certified by veterinary health officials,” said Sumners. “In fact, there is no approved live test for CWD. However, this is the best tool we have to detect CWD in live animals, and we feel it is a prudent measure to protect Missouri’s wild and captive deer.”

Testing for other diseases currently is underway on blood samples. These tests will check for anaplasmosis, brucellosis, bovine viral diarrhea, vesicular stomatitis, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and blue tongue.

Sumners said the handling necessary for these tests is extremely stressful for the elk.

“These are truly wild animals,” said Sumners. “They do their best to avoid people, and they can injure themselves or others as they try to avoid being herded into confined spaces. We try to minimize this danger, but a few injuries are inevitable.”

Sumners said MDC has had to euthanize several elk because of injuries and from capture myopathy, a condition that affects elk and white-tailed deer when they are trapped and handled. Forty-one elk remain in the holding pen in Kentucky.

All elk that die at the holding pen are examined to determine the cause of death. They also are tested for CWD.

Sumners said that approximately 10 percent of wild elk cows in Kentucky die each year from natural causes. Most of this annual mortality occurs during the winter. While losses among the captured elk have been higher than natural winter mortality, Sumners said this was expected.

“Any time you trap elk or deer you lose some,” he said. “I expect the losses to decrease as the remaining animals settle down.”

Sumners said wild elk’s sensitivity to human disturbance is one of the reasons MDC restricts access to the holding pen in Kentucky and will continue to do so while the animals are in a holding pen at Peck Ranch Conservation Area this spring. Elk viewing will be unrestricted once the elk are released into the elk-restoration zone.

“We would like to allow public viewing,” said Sumners, “However, other states’ experience has shown the importance of limiting as much as possible. Even a few people around a holding pen make elk skittish. We have to keep that kind of disturbance to a minimum for the animals’ safety.”

Missouri’s elk have been fitted with ear tags and with tiny, implanted identification tags like those on pets. Each elk brought to Missouri also will receive a radio collar before being released into the 346-square mile elk-restoration zone covering parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties. This will enable MDC to track their movements.

-Jim Low-

Missouri Wilderness Area Camping
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PRESIDENT REQUESTS $1.7 BILLION FOR U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE IN FISCAL YEAR (FY) 2012

Logo of the United States Fish and Wildlife Se...Image via WikipediaThe President’s FY 2012 budget request of $1.7 billion for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (Service) will focus funding on the agency’s highest
priority conservation initiatives, such as the America’s Great Outdoors
initiative, while containing costs through management efficiencies and
other savings.  The requested $1.7 billion is a net increase of $47.9
million compared to the FY 2010 enacted budget.  The budget also includes
approximately $1 billion available under permanent appropriations, most of
which will be provided directly to States for fish and wildlife
restoration and conservation.

“In these hard economic times the Service recognizes budget requests are
very challenging as difficult choices have to be made,” said Acting Fish
and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould. “The investments considered for
this budget will support the Service’s mission to conserve, protect and
enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing
benefit of the American people and the great outdoors they love.”

Administrative Savings ($26.5 million decrease)
In support of the President’s commitment to fiscal discipline and spending
restraint, the Service is participating in an aggressive Department-wide
effort to curb non-essential administrative spending.  In accordance with
this initiative, the Service’s FY 2012 budget  assumes $26.5 million in
savings, built upon management efficiencies the Service began implementing
in FY 2011.  Savings will be realized in several areas, including travel,
employee relocation, and supplies.

National Fish Hatchery Operations – Mitigation ($6.3 million decrease)
The FY 2012 request contains a reduction of funding for National Fish
Hatchery Operations of nearly $6.3 million and 65 FTE.  At several of its
hatcheries, the Service produces fish to mitigate the adverse effects of
Federal water development projects constructed by other Federal agencies.
States depend on these activities to stock fisheries which provide
economic benefit to local communities. The Service has been working to
recover costs from the Federal agencies that built and operate these water
infrastructure projects, and will continue ongoing reimbursement
discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Tennessee
Valley Authority, Central Utah Project Completion Act, and the Bonneville
Power Administration.


National Wildlife Refuge Fund ($14.5 million decrease)
The Service proposes the elimination of the entire appropriated portion
($14.5 million) of this program.  Over time National Wildlife Refuges
(Refuges) have been found to generate tax revenue for communities far in
excess of tax losses from Federal land ownership.  Refuge lands provide
many public services, such as watershed protection, and place few demands
on local infrastructure when compared to development that is more
intensive.  Refuges bring a multitude of visitors to nearby communities,
providing substantial economic benefits. Recreational spending on refuges
generates millions of dollars in tax revenue at the local, county, State
and Federal level.  The mandatory receipts collected and allocated to
States under the program would remain.

The budget supports the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative
with $140 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for Federal
land acquisitions the Service has identified as having the greatest
conservation benefits, and $15.7 million, an increase of $2.5 million to
support Youth in the Great Outdoors by providing a platform and programs
to orient children and young adults to the importance of fish and wildlife
conservation and encourage careers in natural science.

The budget proposes an increase of $4 million for activities associated
with renewable energy development, including $2 million for the Endangered
Species Consultation program to support development of renewable energy
projects and $2 million for Conservation Planning Assistance (CPA).  The
increase for the CPA program will enable the Service to participate more
fully in priority landscape level planning to assist industry and State
fish and wildlife agencies’ siting of renewable energy projects and
transmission corridor infrastructure.

The budget will also support large-scale ecosystem restoration projects as
examples of the Service’s commitment to a landscape-scale, science-driven,
partner-engaged approach to conservation.

Additional highlights of the Service’s FY 2012 budget request include:

Cooperative Landscape Conservation ($10.2 million increase)
The requested funding increase of $10.2 million will enable the Service to
continue working with partners to conduct collaborative landscape-scale
biological planning and conservation design by completing the network of
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) initiated in FY 2010.

LCCs will continue to act as a focal point for collaborative work with
partners, especially the U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Science Centers
to disseminate applied science products and tools for resource management
decisions across landscapes.  This collaboration allows partners to target
resources on activities that will produce the greatest benefits for fish
and wildlife for the American people.  Within the Service, LCCs help
support and augment many ongoing programs, including Endangered Species
Recovery Plans, Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans, fish passage
programs and habitat restoration.



Adaptive Science ($7.2 million increase)
With this additional funding the Service will be able to acquire the
necessary science to make better conservation decisions.  The funding will
be used to acquire risk and vulnerability assessments, conduct inventory
and monitoring, develop population and habitat assessments and models,
design conservation measures, evaluate management options for LCC
partners, and increase our understanding of conservation genetics.

Refuge Inventory and Monitoring Program ($8 million increase)
In support of LCC development and adaptive science management, the
requested increase of $8 million within the Refuge program will be used to
continue building the landscape scale, long-term inventory and monitoring
network that the Service began in FY 2010.

Endangered Species Act Petitions ($3.9 million increase)
The Service also is requesting an increase in funding for the Endangered
Species Listing Program, to reflect the increasingly large number of
Endangered Species Act (ESA) petitions being received. Between 1994 and
2006, the Service received an average of 17 petitions annually, covering
an average of 20 species per year.  In contrast, since 2007 the Service
has been petitioned to add more than 1,230 species to the list of
threatened and endangered species, more species than the Service listed
during the previous 30 years of administering the Act. With additional
funding, the Service projects to complete 39 additional 90-day and
12-month petition findings, while also initiating proposed listing
determinations for 93 species.

Coastal Impact Assistance Program
Under the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP), the Secretary of the
Interior is authorized to distribute $250 million to offshore oil
producing States and their coastal political subdivisions (CPS) for each
of the fiscal years 2007 through 2010.  This money is shared among
Alabama, Alaska, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas and is
allocated to each producing State and eligible CPS based upon legislated
allocation formulas.
This program has been implemented from its inception by the Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), formally the
Minerals Management Service (MMS). However, in FY 2012, the Coastal Impact
Assistance Program will be transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service as
the purpose of the CIAP aligns more directly with the mission of the
Service.  The transfer will allow BOEMRE to focus on programs more
directly aligned with its regulatory and enforcement mission.
Details on the President’s FY 2012 budget request are available online at
http://www.doi.gov/budget/ .


Fishing Missouri Trout Parks
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MDC to hold public forums on preventing invasive “rock snot”

Didymosphenia geminataImage via Wikipedia
This invasive alga smothers aquatic life vital to the food chain that supports fish such as trout.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will hold public open-house forums in March and April to help educate anglers and boaters about the dangers of “didymo” or “rock snot.” This invasive alga forms large, thick mats on the bottom of lakes and streams, smothering aquatic life vital to the food chain that supports many fish species, including trout. Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) has been found just south of the Missouri-Arkansas border in the White River.

According to MDC Fisheries Biologist Mark VanPatten, preventing the spread of this invasive species is critical to the health of Missouri’s lakes and streams. He added that recreational equipment such as boats, lifejackets, and fishing gear -- particularly waders -- are the most likely ways for Didymo to spread into Missouri. 

“In addition to educating anglers and boaters about the threats of Didymo, we are considering potential regulation changes to prevent the spread of this invasive alga,” said VanPatten. “Public input in this process is very important.” 

Public meetings will be held at or near the following fish hatcheries:

·        Montauk State Park:  Searcy Building, Tuesday, March 15, 6 p.m.

·        Bennett Spring State Park:  Hatchery Building, Monday, March 21, 6 p.m.

·        Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery – Lake Tanyecomo:  U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dewey Short Visitor Center at Table Rock Dam, Saturday, March 26, 1 p.m.

·        Roaring River State Park:  Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center, Thursday, April 7, 6 p.m.

·        Maramec Spring Park:  James Memorial Library Meeting Room, 300 W. Scioto St. in St. James, Monday, April 11, 6 p.m.

To help reduce the spread of Didymo, remember, “Check. Clean. Dry.”

·        Check all gear and equipment and remove any visible algae. Do not dispose of algae by putting it down a drain or into bodies of water.

·        Clean all gear and equipment with a solution of 2-percent bleach, 5-percent saltwater, or dishwashing detergent. Allow all equipment to stay in contact with the solution for at least one minute. Soak all soft items, such as felt-soled waders and life jackets, in the solution for at least 20 minutes.

·        Dry all gear and equipment for at least 48 hours by exposing it to sunlight. 

VanPatten added that replacing felt-soled waders with waders that have rubber or synthetic soles can also minimize the risk of spreading rock snot and other invasive species.

For more information about the meetings, contact VanPatten at 573-751-4115 ext. 3892 or mark.vanpatten@mdc.mo.gov.Fishing Missouri Trout
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President Obama Announces Plan for Community-Based Conservation through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Logo of the United States White House, especia...Image via WikipediaWASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama today announced the
Administration’s action plan, under the America’s Great Outdoors
initiative, to achieve lasting conservation of the outdoor spaces that
power our nation’s economy, shape our culture, and build our outdoor
traditions. By making the Federal Government a better partner with
American communities, this initiative seeks to reinvigorate our approach
to conservation and reconnect Americans, especially young people, with the
lands and waters that are used for farming and ranching, hunting and
fishing, and for families to spend quality time together.  Recognizing
that many of these places and resources are disappearing and under intense
pressure, the President established the America’s Great Outdoors
Initiative last April to work with the American people in developing a
conservation and recreation agenda that makes sense for the 21st century.

Recognizing that the best ideas come from outside Washington, the report
released today outlines ways in which the Federal Government will help
empower local communities to accomplish their conservation and recreation
priorities. Last summer, senior Administration officials held 51 listening
sessions across the country to gather input from Americans about the
outdoor places and activities that they value most.  These sessions drew
more than 10,000 participants and more than 105,000 written comments,
shaping an action plan that, based on local initiatives and support, when
implemented will result in:

Accessible parks or green spaces for our children.
A new generation of great urban parks and community green spaces.
Newly-restored river restorations and recreational “blueways” that power
economic revitalization in communities.
Stronger support for farmers, ranchers, and private landowners that help
protect rural landscapes and provide access for recreation.
The reinvestment of revenues from oil and gas extraction into the
permanent protection of parks, open spaces, wildlife habitat, and access
for recreational activities.
A 21st century conservation ethic that builds on local ideas and solutions
for environmental stewardship and connecting to our historic, cultural,
and natural heritage.

“With children spending half as much time outside as their parents did,
and with many Americans living in urban areas without safe access to green
space, connecting to the outdoors is more important than ever for the
economic and physical health of our communities,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair
of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  “Through the
America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, this Administration will work
together with communities to ensure clean and accessible lands and waters,
thriving outdoor cultures and economies, and healthy and active youth.”

“The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is born out of a conversation
with the American people about what matters most to them about the places
where they live, work, and play,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
said. “It’s about practical, common-sense ideas from the American people
on how our natural, cultural, and historic resources can help us be a more
competitive, stronger, and healthier nation. Together, we are adapting our
conservation strategies to meet the challenges of today and empowering
communities to protect and preserve our working lands and natural
landscapes for generations to come.”

“America’s farmlands and woodlands help fuel our economy and create jobs
across the rural areas of our country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack. “This plan seeks to work in partnership with landowners,
conservation groups, states and others to conserve our working lands and
our public lands and to reconnect Americans – especially our nation’s
youth – with opportunities to stay active.  This blueprint was developed
with input from the over 100,000 Americans in all corners of our country
who joined our national listening sessions and who contributed their ideas
online.”

“This initiative is an effort to reconnect Americans with the valuable
resources all around them and shape a 21st century plan for protecting our
great outdoors,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “It is important
that our waters, lands and greenspaces are brought back into our daily
lives. President Obama’s initiative will help make these critical
resources a national focus once again, and involve people of every
background in conservation of the places that we hold dear.”

Specific recommendations and actions in the report include:

Calling for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which
directs Federal revenue from oil and gas extraction for national, state
and local conservation and recreation projects.
Establishing a 21st century Conservation Service Corps to engage young
Americans in public lands and water restoration.
Extending the deduction for conservation easement donations on private
lands beyond 2011.
Establishing an America’s Great Outdoors National Recreational Blueways
Trails initiative to designate community-scale portions of rivers as
recreational destinations that receive special attention for restoration
and access.
Supporting collaborative efforts to conserve large landscapes across
working lands by targeting resources from incentive-based programs.
Increasing outdoor recreational opportunities and access.
Establishing an interagency America’s Great Outdoors Council to ensure
Federal agencies collaborate efficiently on conservation and recreation
strategies.
Launching the Partnership for Americas Great Outdoors, a non-governmental
body that will focus on forming strategic conservation partnerships across
communities, businesses and governments.
Partnering with communities throughout the country to establish and expand
urban parks and green spaces and to build on large landscape conservation
projects.

The full report and additional information is available at:
www.doi.gov/AmericasGreatOutdoors.

Places to Hunt
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Linn County sighting confirmed to be a mountain lion

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has just confirmed a mountain lion sighting in southern Linn County along the border of Chariton County. A landowner in the area contacted the MDC on Feb. 15 with two photos of a mountain lion taken Dec. 29 by a trail camera on his property.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

“The photo is clearly of a mountain lion and we have confirmed the location,” said Jeff Beringer, resource scientist with the MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team. “It may be wearing a radio collar based on what appears to be an antenna extending from the cat’s neck.”

The Linn County location is about 25 miles from where a mountain was shot and killed in Macon County on Jan. 22.  This latest confirmed sighting makes five confirmed reports of a mountain lion in Missouri since November and 15 confirmed reports over the past 16 years.

Beringer said that it appears these mountain lions are young males roaming from other states in search of territory.

“It is very difficult to determine exactly where these individual cats are coming from, but we do know that young male mountain lions go in search of new territories at about 18 months of age and during this time of year,” he explained. “And it makes sense that these big cats could roam into Missouri from the west and use the Missouri river and other river corridors to move throughout the state without being easily detected.”

He added that mountain-lion populations in other states such as Texas, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska are growing and that young males are dispersing eastward. Recent confirmed sightings in Nebraska have increased from five in 2004 to more than 30 in 2010.

Beringer said that MDC has no evidence to suggest that a breeding population of mountain lions exists in Missouri, and that MDC has never stocked or released mountain lions in Missouri and has no plans to do so. 

Mountain lions are nocturnal, secretive and generally avoid contact with humans.

We have no documented cases in Missouri of mountain lions attacking livestock, people or pets,” he said. “There is a much greater risk of harm from automobiles, stray dogs and lightning strikes than from mountain lions.”

Beringer explained that the MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team gets hundreds of calls and emails each year from people who believe they have seen mountain lions. When there is some type of physical evidence, the team investigates.

“More than 90 percent of these investigations turn out to be bobcats, house cats, or dogs,” he said. “Our investigations involving claims of pets or livestock being attacked by mountain lions typically turn out to be the work of dogs. And most of the photos we get of mountain lions turn out to be doctored photographs circulating on the Internet.”

Mountain lions (Puma concolor), also called cougars, panthers and pumas, were present in Missouri before pioneer settlement. The last documented Missouri mountain lion was killed in the Bootheel in 1927. The closest populations of mountain lions to Missouri are in South Dakota and a small population in northwest Nebraska.

Mountain lions are a protected species in the state under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The Code does allow the killing of any mountain lion attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals or threatening human safety. The incident must be reported to the MDC immediately and the intact carcass, including the pelt, must be surrendered to the MDC within 24 hours. 
Two recent mountain lion shootings in Macon and Ray counties did not result in charges against the individuals involved because of threats to human safety. A 1994 case involving the shooting of a mountain lion in Carter County for no justifiable reason resulted in the individuals being prosecuted and fined.

“Each situation must be investigated and reviewed on a case-by-case basis and evaluated on its own merit,” explained Beringer. “The Department does not condone the indiscriminate shooting of mountain lions. We acknowledge that people have the right to protect themselves and their property, but simply seeing a mountain lion does not automatically mean there is a threat. We expect people to exercise good judgment and try to avoid confrontations with all wildlife, including mountain lions. Given a chance, mountain lions almost always withdraw from human contact.
To report a sighting, physical evidence or other mountain-lion incident, contact a local MDC office or conservation agent, or email the Mountain Lion Response Team at mountain.lion@mdc.mo.gov.
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Salazar Announces Funding to States for Fish and Wildlife Projects

Official portrait of Secretary of the Interior...Image via WikipediaHunting and fishing industry, as well as recreational shooters, hunters,
boaters, and anglers, continue to fund conservation in the nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today
the distribution of more than -$749 million in excise tax revenues
generated by sportsmen and women to state and territorial fish and
wildlife agencies through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration and
Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Programs.

“Hunters and anglers have provided the foundation for wildlife
conservation in America for more than 75 years. They continue to provide
dedicated, critical funding for fish and wildlife agencies across the
nation, especially at a time when many state budgets are under pressure,”
said Secretary Salazar. “These funds will support important fish and
wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and
hunter and aquatic education programs.”

Program funds come from excise taxes paid by manufacturers, producers, and
importers on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing
equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters
also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small
engines.

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2011
totals more than $384 million, of which more than $79 million is for
hunter education and safety programs. The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish
Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals nearly $365 million, of
which nearly $55 million is for recreational boating access facilities.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration
Program reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project
while State fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent,
generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required
non-Federal match.

“Our partnership with America’s hunting, fishing and boating community
through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs is the
cornerstone for funding fish and wildlife conservation,” said Curtis
Taylor, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and
Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife
Resources Section. “Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and
restored through science-based management and this year’s apportionment is
critical in order for state fish and wildlife agencies to continue their
work on behalf of everyone who values our nation’s natural resources.”

Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife and Sport Fish
Restoration Program Web site at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/ for more
information on the goals and accomplishments of these programs and for
individual State, Commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations. Some
examples of activities planned by State fish and wildlife agencies in 2011
include:

Florida – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will
construct a restroom facility and a pavilion at the Escambia County
Archery Park. They will also construct a trap and skeet range and a .22
plinking range at Tenoroc Shooting Range. This will provide more
recreational shooting opportunities for the public.
Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife will acquire
approximately 85 acres adjoining Carr Pond near North Kingstown, Rhode
Island. This property is a former Girl Scout property. The pond is the
site of an extremely productive herring and alewife run. The property will
provide protection of fish and wildlife habitat in the area and
recreational opportunities for the public.

Texas – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will construct a new
two-lane boat ramp, parking lot, courtesy dock, and lighting in Muenster,
Texas. The new facility will provide the only public access to the lake
for fishing and other recreational boating pursuits. This will be the
first public boat ramp in Cooke County.

Oregon – The agency will identify sturgeon population limiting factors,
develop responsive management strategies, and define pertinent monitoring
and evaluation activities as part of management plan development. They
will also measure juvenile recruitment through young-of-the-year sampling
in the lower Columbia River and carry out a pilot study of set line
sampling for adult and sub-adult white sturgeon. Sampling for
young-of-year white sturgeon will increase the effects of environmental
stressors on the population. A supplementary benefit of this task is the
opportunity to collect DNA tissue samples that represent fish in a single
year’s recruitment. DNA samples will be available for future
characterization of effective spawning population size and for genetic
stock comparisons with fish collected outside the Columbia River.

Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program funding is available to all
50 states, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana
Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin
Islands. One-half of the 11 percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and
archery equipment and 10 percent excise tax on handguns, pistols, and
revolvers make up the funding for hunter education programs. The other
one-half of the excise tax are for wildlife restoration purposes,
including the 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

Each state or territory receives a Wildlife Restoration Program
apportionment derived from a formula that incorporates its total land area
and number of paid hunting license holders. Each state or territory may
not receive more than 5 percent or less than one-half of 1 percent of the
total apportionment. Fish and wildlife agencies use these funds to manage
wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife habitat,
enhance wildlife habitat, and public hunting access, carry out surveys and
inventories, administer hunter education programs, and construct and
maintain shooting and archery ranges.

The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program funding is available to
all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico
and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa,
Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. States receive funds through a formula
based on the land and water area of the state or territory and its total
number of paid fishing license holders. Sport Fish Restoration funds come
from excise taxes and import duties on sport fishing equipment, motorboat
and small engine fuels, and pleasure boats. No State may receive more than
5 percent or less than one-third of 1 percent of the total apportionment.

Fish and Wildlife agencies use the funds to pay for stocking sport fish;
acquiring and improving sport fish habitat; providing aquatic resource
education opportunities; conducting fisheries research; maintaining public
fishing access, administering the aquatic resource education program, and
constructing boat ramps, fishing piers, and other facilities for
recreational boating access.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated a total of
more than $13.7 billion since their inception – in 1937 in the case of the
Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, and 1950 for the
Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program. to conserve fish and
wildlife resources. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched
these program funds with more than $3.4 billion. This funding is critical
to continue sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and provide
opportunities for all to connect with nature.
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