Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Commissioner of the Kentucky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Resources Testifies before House Subcommittee on White-Nose Syndrome and Bats

Dr. Jon Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, testified on June 24, 2011 before a House Natural Resources Subcommittee concerning the incidence and spread of White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) in hibernating bat species, and the development and implementation of a federal-state national response plan.

WNS has devastated populations of several species of hibernating bats since it was first identified in the United States in 2006. State and federal agencies are mobilizing efforts to monitor the disease and hopefully bring it under control.

"During the last several years, my personal involvement with WNS has grown from watching its advance--moving southward and westward--to bearing responsibility in my own state upon confirming WNS in Kentucky this spring," said Gassett. "I am encouraged at the the amount of dedication and commitment by a community of individuals who care deeply about our bat resources. At the same time, I am concerned at the rate of spread, the high suspect ability of certain species and the lack of available treatment options."

Dr. Gassett is the Vice President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Chair of AFWA's WNS Working Group.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Senator Lieberman Introduces the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act to Protect Fish Habitats, Improve Health of Waterways

Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) today announced the introduction of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act to significantly advance ongoing efforts to restore and protect fish habitats by establishing the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to treat the causes of fish habitat decline. This legislation would improve the health of America’s waterways and ensure that the United States has robust fish populations well into the future.

“Healthy waterways and robust fish populations are vital to the well-being of our society and are essential in many communities throughout the United States,” said Lieberman. “This bill will help provide clean water and sustainable fisheries in this country and provide recreational value to those who fish, whether it is in wild waters or canoeing through peaceful streams. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important legislation and reverse the decline of our ailing waterways and fisheries.”

The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act authorizes assistance grants for fish habitat projects that are supported by pre-existing regional Fish Habitat Partnerships. Based on the highly successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act model, the bill establishes a multi-stakeholder National Fish Habitat Board to recommend science-based conservation projects to the Secretary of Interior for assistance. Regional partners will then work to implement those conservation projects to protect, restore and enhance fish habitats and fish populations. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Udall (D-CO).
The Bill number is S.1201 and should be available soon at

For more information about fish habitat conservation, go to