Monthly Archives: August 2012

Spongier Surfaces Reducing Stormwater Runoff

By Trey Cody

Think about the sponge on your kitchen sink.  When you hold it under the running faucet, it absorbs a surprising amount of water.  But what if the sponge was covered in plastic wrap?  The water would hit the surface and flow right off.  We can see this same concept at work in our urbanized watersheds where, in many areas, green space that once absorbed rainfall has been replaced by hard surfaces that water can’t penetrate.

There are lots of ways that cities and towns are trying to get closer to their original, spongy state.  Having a surface that is porous and permeable reduces the effects of stormwater runoff on receiving streams, like stream bank erosion and negative effects on aquatic plant and animal life.

That’s why porous paving projects are popping up all over the place.  Permeable paving refers to a different way of mixing or constructing concrete or asphalt that allows water to flow through the pavement and into the ground instead of over it.

            One project can be found in our neighboring EPA Region 2’s Laboratory in Edison, New Jersey (above), where three permeable surfaces are being tested on the site of a former concrete parking lot. The performance and capabilities of these systems are being documented as part of a long term project to study the effects of paving materials such as porous asphalt, porous concrete, and interlocking concrete paver blocks. The parking lot will be monitored for its ability to accept, store, and infiltrate stormwater, water quality performance, urban heat island mitigation, maintenance effects, and parking behavior.

Closer to our regional office home, the first porous street in Philadelphia was recently unveiled.   AndWashington D.C. has done a number of Green Alley Projects using permeable pavement for the street surfaces.  Have you seen other examples of pervious pavement near you?

To learn more about permeable pavement and other green infrastructure techniques, and how it benefits water quality, check out EPA’s Green Infrastructure Page.

Sportsmen and Climate Change: A Long, Hard Look at Reality

By Bill Geer

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

As the United States writhes in one of the driest and hottest summers in history, with nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states experiencing some form of drought, millions of Americans (including farmers and ranchers) are struggling from the resulting loss of income and higher prices for food and fuel.  Other recent disturbing news illustrates the practical implications this weather event can have on fish and wildlife. Millions of fish – sturgeon, large- and smallmouth bass, channel catfish and other species – are dying in the Midwest as water temperatures skyrocket to as high as 100 degrees.

What is clear:  both the human toll and the impacts to fish and wildlife caused by a changing climate and warmer temperatures have real consequences and cannot be ignored.

A new NASA report states that climate change is responsible for recent extreme weather events and that the probability of unusually warm summers has greatly increased. Now, Dr. Richard A. Muller, a physicist known for his staunch denial of global warming, has concluded that global warming is in fact real, with human production of carbon dioxide causing the world to slowly warm.

“I’m personally very worried,” says Dr. Muller. “I personally suspect that it will be bad.”

Of course, many continue to refute the science underlying climate change and indict the majority of scientists who accept its existence for promulgating a political agenda. In my opinion, as the TRCP’s climate change initiative manager, these individuals are simply resistant to accepting the reality of what science has made abundantly clear: climate change is real, and it already is affecting our natural resources, fish and wildlife and outdoor opportunities.

I recently wrote a guest article in The Seattle Times arguing that to develop an effective approach to addressing climate change, we cannot rely solely on public opinion polls. We must pay attention to those who are “voting with their feet” – the fish and wildlife that cannot debate habitability in the public square and must adapt to or migrate from changing habitat or die.

At the TRCP, we accept the growing evidence that climate change is real and that changes go well beyond disturbances driven by entirely natural forces. We regularly consult with fish and wildlife biologists in state and federal agencies throughout the United States on the habits, distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife.

The facts leave no doubt that climate change is undeniable. Here are a few examples:

♦ Even before this year’s Midwestern fish kills from hot water, smallmouth bass have been migrating upstream nearly 40 miles in the warming Yellowstone River, displacing Yellowstone cutthroat that require colder water.

♦ Warming winters and summers have led to an explosion in mountain pine beetle infestations over millions of acres in many Western pine forests, causing a dramatic conversion of forest cover to grass and shrub meadows in elk habitat. This leads to changes in elk populations and distribution during hunting seasons.

♦ In a direct response to warmer springs and summers and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, invasive cheatgrass has out-competed sagebrush and native grasses and shrubs throughout 100 million acres of the sagebrush steppe in the West, leading to decreased mule deer and greater sage-grouse habitat and populations, as well as diminished hunting opportunities.

What is the TRCP doing now? We are actively working to inform, educate and mobilize sportsmen by reporting timely data from state fish and wildlife agencies and federal land management agencies. Our state-specific presentations highlight the implications of a changing environment on fish and wildlife and the consequences for sustainable hunting and fishing. We’ve developed presentations for MontanaWashington and Colorado – withOregon and New Mexico in the works.

Rather than debating specific points of air temperature or carbon dioxide data, the TRCP focuses on the cascading effects of a changing climate in the biological world, including impacts to species of fish and game most important to sportsmen. We highlight on-the-ground projects that help fish and wildlife adapt to a changing environment.

We are taking these state-specific presentations directly to sportsmen-based clubs throughout the West with the goal of providing factual evidence on climate change. Take five minutes to watch the video below and draw your own conclusions.

Take Me Fishing Reminds You To Keep Calm and Hit The Water

With proof that being near water can naturally help lower anxiety, leading to a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle, Take Me Fishing urges everyone to take advantage of local outdoor spaces and bodies of water by engaging in activities like boating, fishing, biking and hiking (3).

Getting outdoors is healthy for people both young and old. In fact, 90 percent of kids who spend time outside say that being in nature helps relieve stress (4). And while 75 percent of teachers feel that students who regularly spend time outdoors are more creative and better problem solvers, only one-third of high school students get their recommended levels of physical activity (5).

If you’re one of the many Americans who desperately needs to unwind outside and decrease your stress level, boating and fishing are fun, easy and affordable ways to do it. With 3.5 million miles of rivers in the United States, 90 percent of Americans live within an hour of navigable water (6). As for the cost, a family of four can get a fishing license for approximately $115 annually, under half the cost for a family season pass to the average commercial waterpark (7).

“Boating and fishing are not only easy ways to naturally relieve the stress of daily life,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “They are enjoyable activities that allow you to spend time with your family while on a budget.”

More and more Americans are jumping in and taking advantage of these fun stress-busting activities. In fact, boating is ranked as one of the top three of all stress-relieving activities (8). Additionally, more Americans partake in fishing than play basketball and football combined (9).

If stress relief wasn’t enough, you can now help the environment while you relax. Funds from fishing license sales and boat registrations go toward the conservation of our natural aquatic areas.

“RBFF is committed to conserving our natural resources so that future generations can enjoy fishing and boating in our nation’s rivers for years to come. So, when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, grab your life jacket or your fishing rod, keep calm and enjoy the water,” said Peterson.

2012 Quail Nesting Habitat Conditions Report

Quail hunters and biologists’ hopes were high for quail nesting conditions coming into the spring of 2012. A combination of increased population carryover from a mild 2011 winter and productive nesting conditions in early spring across the country gave quail managers hope of a more productive year. But as temperatures increased, rains decreased and now most of quail country is locked in drought. This will inevitably lead to a decrease in quality habitat due to lack of forb activity, abnormally high temperature pressures, and with emergency grazing on Wildlife Management Areas and Waterfowl Production Areas in many states, reductions of critical habitat.

Most of the quail biologists are still optimistic that the early 2012 nesting start may have given the birds a few extra weeks to gain a wing up on the summer heat. Should the heat break and rains increase through the rest of the summer, populations could even see late breeding season growth in some places.

Quail are resourceful and will make use of what they can, so the full story remains to be written for this year. Quail Forever’s complete quail hunting forecast will be released in September.

Kansas had a relatively mild winter, and it seems to have improved production last year in many areas of the northern-central and eastern regions, according to David Dahlgren, PhD, Small Game Specialist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The exception to this would be southwest Kansas, where last year’s drought hurt populations, and the below average production in south-central Kansas.

Early nesting conditions in the Sunflower State were favorable to quail throughout much of its quail range; however, drier conditions have dominated summer which could put the quail population at a loss if there is not an increase in precipitation.

Habitat acreage has stayed the same or slightly decreased. Kansas had a “relatively good sign up for general CRP,” Dahlgren said, though it did lose acres. Of the 500,000 acres expiring in Kansas, 375,000 acres were reenrolled.

“We currently have the Bobwhite Quail Initiative that started this year in Kansas,” added Dahlgren, “We have two focus areas in eastern Kansas where we will be focusing quail habitat ‘tools’ and monitoring population response over the next few years. We look forward to seeing positive results and being able to expand the success to other areas of the state.

Anglers Tackle Fall Fishing

Lull between hunting seasons a great time to be on the water

Before long, the Kansas hunting seasons will be in full swing, but there’s still time to enjoy some excellent fishing. There’s a lull after the fast action of the opening dove, early teal, and youth deer and duck seasons, but avid outdoorsman are still itching to get out. This is a time of year when many take advantage of hungry fish, feeding continually in preparation for a long winter. Fall is a great time to be outdoors.

In the state’s larger lakes and reservoirs, gizzard shad are the preferred prey of most sport fish. In the fall, young-of-the-year shad are about 2-3 inches long, and a white or chrome, fat-bodied crankbait is the perfect imitation of a gizzard shad. Cast a deep- or medium-diving crankbait along rocky points and rip-rapped shorelines, and retrieve it quickly, so it gets near the bottom and bounces off the rocks. A deep-diving crankbait may be the best choice even when fishing relatively shallow water. The lure’s long lip deflects off rocks and other snags, and this action can trigger strikes. If the lure does hang up, give it some slack, and it will often float free. Using light monofilament or a small-diameter braided line will allow a crankbait to dive deeper.

Later in fall, when water temperatures cool to the low 50s or high 40s, it’s time to catch Kansascrappie. Reservoir crappie congregate in large schools over deep brushpiles and creek channel dropoffs at this time. Jigs or jigging spoons fished vertically in 12-25 feet of water are most effective. If too many small crappie are biting, try a larger jig with a 2- or 2 1/2-inch shad-type plastic body. The larger bait will more closely resemble shad and may discourage smaller fish. When concentrations of crappie and white bass are found, use landmarks or GPS to mark their location. If the state experiences a frigid winter and safe ice forms, you can return to the spots that held fish before freeze-up and catch them through the ice.

Even though autumn weather may be mild, always wear more layers of clothing than you think necessary when fall fishing. No matter how warm it feels on land, it will be much cooler on the water, especially if the wind blows. And don’t forget to wear a life jacket; it will keep you warm and may save your life.

Hunters Donate 11 Million Venison Meals

Food banks and individuals are thankful for such generosity

When you’re passing the turkey and stuffing around the Thanksgiving dinner table, here’s a story to tell–one that would not be possible without the thoughtfulness and generosity of hunters.

A new study commission by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and conducted by Mile Creek Communications reveals that last year 11 million meals were provided to the less fortunate through donations of venison by hunters. Nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made its way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens and onto the plates of those in need.

“Given our challenging economic times, hunters’ donations of venison have never been more important to so many people,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. “These contributions are just one way hunting and hunters are important to our way of life in America. Learning about these impressive figures makes me proud to be a hunter. I have donated game meat during the past year, and I urge my fellow hunters to strongly consider sharing their harvest.”

The study revealed that donations were largest in the Midwest and the South. The Midwest provided 1.3 million pounds of game meat, amounting to 46.1 percent of total donations, with the South close behind at 1.25 million pounds and 45.7 percent. The Northeast contributed 7.2 percent of total donations and the West 1 percent. Though lower than other regions, the West’s contribution still accounted for 108,520 meals.

“Certainly the Midwest, South and Northeast benefit from having large populations of white-tailed deer,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of statistics and research. “These figures are from confirmed sources, but annual donations could easily be double this amount if ‘direct’ donations from hunters to friends and family are included.”

Curcuruto added that NSSF commissioned the study to better understand the size and scope of these venison donations.

Groups often cooperate to ensure a successful donation program. In Georgia, according to the Athens Banner Herald, the Georgia Wildlife Federation pays for the meat to be butchered and packaged at state-licensed processors, the state Department of Natural Resources oversees the program and the Georgia Food Bank Association coordinates distributions. Additionally, the game meat satisfies shelters’ need for nutritious food items. Dave Williams, who manages food resources for a northeast Georgia food bank, said in the Banner Herald that he is focused on acquiring more nutritious items and noted, “Deer venison is such a low-fat, high-protein item, agencies greatly appreciate getting it.”

Another recent news report out of the Indiana-Kentucky-Illinois area pointed out that one deer can feed up to 200 people. Ground venison is a versatile food, with cooks using it in pasta sauces, chili, tacos, meatloaf, burgers and other dishes.

Individual hunters donate game meat and even pay for processing, though many hunters choose to work with organizations dedicated to the cause of helping the hungry. Many of these groups were sources for the NSSF study and include Hunters for the Hungry, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Hunt to Feed and Buckmasters, among others. Visit this website for more information about groups active in various states.

Moonlighting for Crappie during August

If you use a floating light or lantern, the crappie will concentrate around that light. The main concentration of crappie fishermen at night is around bridge pilings, vertical structures that allow the crappie to move up and down in the water, on the edges of old river or creek channels.

However, you may catch more crappie by looking for spots where underwater creek channels run into the main river channels. These natural highways for crappie easily will concentrate the baitfish under lights and lanterns, just as effectively (if not more effectively) than fishing under bridge pilings where all the other anglers are fishing. The real secret is not to go home early. You may need 2 or 3 hours after dark to concentrate enough baitfish and crappie around your lantern or light along these crappie highways. Generally, you’ll catch the crappie close to the bottom when you first start fishing, and as more and more baitfish move to the surface, the crappie will come away from their deep-water haunts and move-up higher in the water column to feed on the bait. Often just before daylight, you may catch crappie as shallow as 1-1/2- to 2-feet deep. The crappie aren’t the only fish that travel the edges of the channels. You also can catch white bass, catfish, largemouths and even hybrid white bass and stripers using this strategy.

The angler who introduced me to this hot-weather crappie tactic explained, “If you don’t stay all night, you won’t catch many crappie, because the bite often comes an hour or two before daylight.” I’ve found this advice to be absolutely true. From 9:00 pm until 3:00 am, you only may take 8 or 10 crappie. But often from 3:00 am until 5:30 am, the fishing and catching will be nonstop. You may be able to catch a limit and even release the smaller crappie. Sometimes if the fishing and catching are fast and furious, you may have to put a dead minnow right back on the hook and in the water. Before I have caught as many as 5 crappie on one minnow.

To learn more tactics about how to catch crappie when the weather sizzles, check-out John E. Phillips’ book “Crappie: How to Catch them Spring and Summer” at Too, you can go to and type-in the name of the book to find it. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Poll Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for National Parks

According to a new public opinion poll commissioned by the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), national parks are cherished by an overwhelming 95 percent of likely voters who want the federal government to ensure the parks are both protected and available for enjoyment.

The new poll finds that more than 80 percent of those likely to vote in 2012 have visited a national park at some point in their lives, and nearly nine in 10 say they are interested in visiting a park in the future, and 60% want to stay overnight in a park lodge. National parks are viewed as embodying the American experience, and voters want to see them enjoyed, honored, cherished, and cared for, not left to crumble into disrepair.

Young Birders get a Boost

  In late July, a group of enthusiastic young birders gathered at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in IthacaNew York, to participate in the Lab’s special Young Birder Event. This year, the event was sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics.

This series of events began in the summer of 2009, and it has since become an ideal way to connect and inspire promising teenage birders. Ten high-school-aged young people are chosen to participate, and for a weekend packed with activities they are exposed to a variety of creative and diverse ways to hone their birding skills. They learn from professional ornithologists as well as Cornell University graduate and undergraduate students about careers that center on birds. They try making sound and video recordings of birds, along with learning something about Neotropical birds, taxonomy, nocturnal flight calls of migrants, field sketching, taking field notes, and much more.

“These young birders will be the next generation of leaders in ornithology and conservation,” says the Cornell Lab’s Jessie Barry, one of the hosts of the event.

Already, plans are underway for the 2013 session, including a search for promising young birders in grades 9 through 12. For more on this year’s Young Birder Event at Cornell see

QDMA’s Rack Pack Website Goes Live

The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is pleased to announced that the website for its youth education and outreach program, the Rack Pack, is now live at

QDMA will officially launch the Rack Pack at its 12th annual National Convention in NashvilleTenn., August 9-11. The QDMA National Convention will be held in conjunction with the Bass Pro Shops Land & Wildlife Expo at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The goal of the Rack Pack website is to promote interaction and engagement with QDMA and youth from around North America. The Rack Pack program strives to recruit individuals 17 years of age and under and to provide them learning opportunities to enrich their hunting and outdoor experience.

“I am very excited that we have launched the Rack Pack website,” said QDMA’s Youth Education and Outreach Director Daniel Bartley. “The launch of the website marks the beginning of the Rack Pack program and QDMA’s ability to accept memberships to the Rack Pack team. The website is designed to promote interaction among youth from around North America and provide learning and hunting experiences that will build the next generation of whitetail hunters. I hope this program will recruit and enrich future hunters and leaders in conservation for many, many years to come!”

The website features some great interactive and informational components. One such component is the Track the Pack section. This section includes blogs and stories from youth 7- to 18-years-old. From articles and blogs to photos and videos, the group that is sharing their experiences is dedicated to providing this content on a regular basis. To check out this section and the many other features of the new website, including membership,