Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Happening on Williams Run - 10 "Waters to Watch"

The Williams Run stream restoration project, under the guidance of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, is underway in Venango County, Pennsylvania. Thanks to the combined actions of concerned community groups, non-profit organizations, local watershed groups and state and federal agencies, these waters are being improved by planting stream-side vegetation, removing impediments blocking fish habitat and protecting waterways from the effects of industrial processes, specifically AMD or Acid Mine Drainage. Williams Run was selected as one of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan’s “10 Waters to Watch” for 2008.

Williams Run represents waterways across the country that are improving through the conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

Aquatic habitat in Williams Run has been severely damaged since coal mining activities produced acid mine drainage in the stream. Water conditions were degraded with a very low pH, no alkalinity, and both iron and aluminum present. This point-source pollution left the stream uninhabitable for brook trout and other aquatic life. Williams Run is currently listed on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s 303d list of impaired streams. With funding provided through the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the South Sandy Creek Watershed Association is working with a host of other public and private partners to bring Williams Run back to life. For more details on the Williams Run restoration project, view the summary below

Williams Run Project Summary (PDF)

SOURCE: National Fish Habitat Action Plan

Take Pride in America Strengthens Public Lands Stewardship

Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, signed an order yesterday extending the authorization of Take Pride in America within the Department of the Interior through the year 2010. The program, designed to encourage volunteerism on public lands, had been set to expire on November 1, 2008.

The secretarial order further solidifies three strategic Take Pride in America priorities: engaging youth in service, promoting voluntourism and supporting beautification as an economic development strategy.

Secretary Kempthorne signed the order at a ceremony recognizing the volunteer efforts of students from Hyattsville Elementary in Hyattsville, Md., and others from across the country.

“These young people know what it’s like to feel pride in a job well done and just as important, they were outdoors the whole time,” said Secretary Kempthorne of the students from Hyattsville Elementary, a Take Pride in America school. The students recently participated in “Gorgeous Prince George’s Day,” beautifying their school grounds.

Scott Wilson of Big Sky, Mont., who also attended the signing ceremony, recently voluntoured along the Appalachian Trail. While hiking a distance of 2,175 miles, Wilson collected nearly 3,000 scraps of litter, and at times, carried the garbage up to 50 miles before finding a trash receptacle where he could dispose of it properly. Voluntourism is a concept that combines volunteer service into a vacation.

“Scott’s ‘Leave No Trace’ efforts improved more than 2,000 miles of trail, and enriched the experience for those hikers who followed. I am proud to recognize Scott’s meaningful voluntourism,” Kempthorne said.

Two volunteers from Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park were also recognized at the ceremony for calling attention to a pending breach in the canal’s towpath while on bike patrol. Thanks to Barbara Brown and Jane Collins, the area was properly cordoned off just a day before flood waters caused a 100-foot section to crumble, sending water 60 feet below into the Potomac River.

“Here’s an example where volunteers were the eyes and ears of park staff. It just shows how vital volunteers are to our public lands,” Kempthorne said.

Take Pride in America® is a national partnership program authorized by Congress and administered within the Department of the Interior to promote the appreciation and stewardship of public lands, including parks, forests, historic sites, and schools. Take Pride is active in all fifty states, has partnerships with public, private, and nonprofit organizations, and features Clint Eastwood as national spokesman. Citizen stewards know and count on Take Pride for the most comprehensive online portal of public lands volunteer opportunities ( and for showcasing the most outstanding public lands stewardship activities through the annual national award ceremony.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Go Fishington

Today, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) announced an exciting new online community that complements the national Take Me Fishing™ campaign and connects boaters and anglers like never before. It’s Fishington – The Fishing & Boating Capital of the Internet.

Fishington is similar to your favorite social networking platforms on MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, but specifically tailored for boating and fishing enthusiasts. Being part of this community allows members to:

• Create a profile
• Find and add friends
• Create and join groups
• Create and post comments on message boards
• Add and organize photos and videos
• Save favorite hotspots from Fishington's interactive map tool
• Control privacy settings

Agencies, organizations and businesses maintaining a profile have the ability to:
• Connect with other local businesses, clubs and individuals
• Map their location and related bodies of water
• Gather feedback, photos and videos
• Build fans of their facility
• Understand and recruit new members or customers
• Generate increased traffic to their Web sites
• Spark interest in their programs and products
• Invite discussion about their programs or products

Fishington is directly linked to all of the great content that’s on, including the 12,000 places to boat and fish. Businesses and facilities that currently exist in the database will already have a profile on Fishington. Stakeholders can request ownership of these profiles if they’re interested in moderating the content. RBFF will review all requests and grant permission to the appropriate contacts.

Fishington can be found in the “Community” section on or at Anyone who is 18 years or older can join. RBFF encourages everyone to help spread the word by including information in their newsletters and on their web sites. Web banners are currently in development and will be announced in the next few weeks when they’re available. The very latest news and information about Fishington can be found on

Create a profile today. Add friends. Add your business or organization and help populate Fishington with boating and fishing information for everyone. Please e-mail with thoughts or comments. RBFF's goal is to grow the boating and fishing community and you can play a huge part by participating.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Joins Federal and Nonprofit Conservation Leaders to Urge Children to “Get Outdoors, It’s Yours!”

BALTIMORE, MD -– Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, and Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley yesterday announced a “Get Outdoors, It’s Yours!” campaign to reconnect children with nature. The event, held at the start of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Congress and Exposition at the Hilton Baltimore.

The new campaign, described at the website, encourages children and their educators and families to experience nature firsthand. Federal leaders from eight agencies and bureaus said that “Get Outdoors, It’s Yours!” will provide more information for America’s young people about opportunities to get outdoors on our national parks, forests, refuges, other public lands and waterways.

“We greatly appreciate this forum provided by NRPA because there is a crisis in America in which our kids are increasingly disconnected from nature,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “We must get children off the couch and outdoors. We must get them to turn off the computers and televisions and turn on to the power of wild places and wild creatures to lift them up – to rejuvenate body, soul and spirit.”

“We want every child in America to experience the great outdoors, whether it is in a remote mountain wilderness or a city park,” said Secretary Schafer. “Children react positively to nature. Working together, the federal agencies can help families foster their curiosity about nature and develop a deeper appreciation of precious natural resources.”

The “Get Outdoors, It’s Yours!” initiative, supported by an interagency Pledge of Cooperation, will unite federal land opportunities under one comprehensive platform and encourage the participation of non-profit land partners to develop a seamless portal for information on destinations, programs, special events and opportunities for educational adventures throughout the year.

The group will promote, and in some cases expand upon, the vast resources and programs that already exist within the Federal land management agencies including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

NRPA and other national nonprofit groups pledged to support the campaign today. The groups include American Forests, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the City Park Alliance, the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation, the National Association of State Park Directors, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Wildlife Federation.

"Through the spirit of partnerships, collectively we are poised to greatly impact the lives of children and teens. By re-engaging youth in nature, recreation and play, we've helped the next generation discover the rewards of more fulfilling, healthy lifestyles," said NRPA CEO Tulipane.

“The greatest benefit of this initiative is to foster a love of America’s lands and waters in today’s youth because they will be tomorrow’s caretakers of this nation’s cultural and natural resources,” said Maj. Gen. Riley. “That love will grow into awareness of the health and environmental benefits associated with those personal connections with nature.”

For more information on the new program, go to The website provides lists of places for all sorts of outdoor activities from biking to wildlife viewing, links to agency websites for youth, games and other useful materials.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior

Friday, October 10, 2008

National Conservation Leadership Institute Cohort #3 Begins 11-day Residency

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV -- Thirty-three “rising stars” in conservation began their 11-day, highly interactive residency at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) on Monday, October 6 as the third cohort of National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI) Fellows. During their stay, the Fellows will explore adaptive leadership concepts such as distinguishing leadership and authority; the power and purpose of working together; conflict; Emotional Intelligence (EQ); leading in chaos; courage; trust; understanding externals and more.

After returning home, Fellows will work for five months on individual leadership projects focused on a challenge facing their organizations, and the program culminates in the Spring with a long-weekend session at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri.

NCLI Fellows have become widely regarded as future senior leaders who will help to build a conservation legacy for the next generation. Since 2006, more than 100 individuals have participated in the Institute, selected from state agencies, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and companies working in the natural resources industry.

For information, visit

Photos from the Cohort's first days at NCTC

Michigan Natural Resources Commission Approves Deer Baiting and Feeding Ban for Lower Peninsula

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission on Thursday, Oct. 9 voted unanimously to approve a permanent ban on deer and elk baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director, Rebecca Humphries, issued an interim order placing an immediate ban on baiting and feeding on Aug. 26, after a captive deer from a privately owned facility tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Humphries’ order, as prescribed by the state’s CWD emergency response plan adopted in 2002, would have expired Feb. 26, 2009, but the NRC action removes the expiration date and makes the ban permanent.

Additionally, the NRC approved orders that require hunters who take a deer in the nine townships that comprise the CWD Surveillance Zone in northern Kent County to come to a DNR deer check station. The orders also regulate the movement of carcasses from the Surveillance Zone and give replacement kill tags to any hunter who presents a deer at a check station that shows signs of CWD.

The NRC action is just the latest effort in a campaign designed to prevent the spread of CWD, an always fatal neurological disease of deer, elk and moose.

Since Sept. 1, DNR conservation officers have issued 102 tickets for illegal deer and elk baiting in the Lower Peninsula.

“There has been talk that we weren’t going to be able to enforce this baiting ban in the Lower Peninsula, but the number of tickets we have issued so far shows that we are very serious about enforcement of the ban,” said Humphries. “Our primary goal is to protect the health of our wild white-tailed deer and elk populations. Stopping CWD from becoming established in our wild deer and elk is our top priority.”

“We appreciate the hunters who have abided by the ban and are no longer baiting,” Humphries added. “Protecting the resource -- white-tailed deer and elk -- should be everyone’s priority.”

The DNR’s Law Enforcement Division reported that in a period from Sept. 22 to Oct. 5, 34.6 percent of the calls to the Report All Poaching(RAP) hotline concerned illegal baiting. Last year during a similar time frame, baiting complaints made up only 11.3 percent of the RAP hotline calls. While there was no baiting and feeding ban in 2007, the complaints last year would have related to over-baiting or baiting in the Bovine Tuberculosis zone in northeast Lower Michigan.

“We are encouraged that sportsmen and women are taking part in this initiative,” Humphries said. “We appreciate them taking the health of our deer herd as seriously as we do.”

Since the CWD-positive deer was discovered, the DNR has tested 1,095 deer statewide; of those, 964 tested negative with the remaining 131 tests are pending.

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.

SOURCE: Michigan DNR

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dam Removed with a Bang

On October 1, the NOAA Restoration Center, the California Department of Fish and Game and other partners removed the Whites Gulch Dam using powerful explosives, and the removal was captured on video. The video is now available online.

The Whites Gulch River was once home to such a large population of salmon that citizens claimed they could walk across the river on their backs. But in the late 1800s, a dam was built on the river that blocked salmon from reaching their upstream spawning habitat, and populations are dwindling.

The removal of this and another nearby dam, in combination with the removal of a barrier downstream later this year, will open up 1.5 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for spring Chinook salmon and threatened coho salmon and steelhead trout. The project will provide benefits to native riverine fish and wildlife, and improve safety for nearby communities.

To view the video of the removal, click here.

SOURCE: NOAA Restoration Center

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2008 White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy Underway

RENO, Nev. -- Today, marked the first full day of the 2008 White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy in Reno, Nevada. Prompted by Presidential Executive Order #13443, the Conference is bringing together leaders in the wildlife community, including more than 30 representatives from state fish and wildlife agencies, to develop a national direction and strategy for hunting and conservation.

The Conference is a culmination of a year’s work drafting a 10-year Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan aimed at perpetuating and strengthening the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Within this framework, working groups made up of a broad group of interests are discussing wildlife management and coordination at the state, tribal and federal levels; habitat conservation issues including energy development and climate change; funding for wildlife conservation; and perpetuating hunter traditions. The end result of the Conference will be an action plan to drive wildlife conservation forward over the next decade, the first national wildlife policy plan in more than 30 years.

The conference ends on Friday, October 3. For more information, visit or