Daily Archives: August 17, 2013

Women and Youth Angler Numbers Increased Most

Showing a resurgence in one of America‘s favorite pastimes, the number of Americans who go fishing is up, with more than 47 million people participating in 2012. Adding to the 42.5 million who are current or occasional anglers, more than 4.5 million first-timers tried fishing last year, a significant increase from 2011 and the highest number of new participants ever recorded. The 2013 Special Report on Fishing and Boating just released by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and The Outdoor Foundation also shows significant increases in fishing participation among women and children.

“We’re extremely pleased to see the number of first-time anglers and overall anglers, continue to rise,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “Working closely with our industry and state agency partners, our collective effort is yielding well deserved results. Increased participation, in both fishing and boating, leads to increased license sales, and boat registrations, key sources for funding state fish and wildlife conservation programs.”

“Fishing and boating are among the most important ‘gateway’ activities that often lead people, especially youth, to pursue other recreation experiences,” said Christine Fanning, Executive Director of the Outdoor Foundation. “We’re thrilled to partner, once again, with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation on this important research project.”

The fifth annual report details fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography.

KEY FINDINGS                     

Fishing Participation

·         In 2012, 47 million Americans went fishing (an increase from 46.2 million in 2011).

·         While 9.4 million people stopped fishing, 10.2 million new or returning anglers participated in the sport, netting a gain of more than 870,000.

·         Americans made one billion fishing outings in 2012, averaging 21.3 fishing days per person.

·         Forty-one percent of first-time fishing participants were female, bringing the total of female anglers to 34.4 percent.

·         Adults 18 and older with children in their households participate in fishing at higher levels than adults without children.

·         Fly fishing had the highest rate of first-time participants with 20.5 percent.

Hispanic American Fishing Participation

·         In 2012, 2.8 million Hispanic Americans went fishing – a slight decrease from 3.1 million in 2011.

·         Freshwater fishing is the most popular type of fishing among Hispanic Americans.

·         Hispanic Americans fish the most often of all ethnicities, averaging 21.6 fishing days per year.

Youth Fishing Participation

·         Fishing participation for children peaked between the ages of six and 12, then decreased during the adolescent years of 13 to 17.

·         In 2012, 81.8 percent of youth anglers ages six to 12 were introduced to outdoor activities by their parents.

·         Participation declined among females ages 13 to 17 more sharply than among males of the same age.

·         More than 45 percent of youth fishing participants ages six to 17 also participated in boating.

      The full study is available online at TakeMeFishing.org/Corporate

Western Governors urge USFWS to approve state conservation mechanism for Lesser Prairie-chicken

Governors of five western states have urged the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to approve the Range-wide Conservation Plan for the Lesser Prairie-chicken (RWP) as the key conservation mechanism for the species.
The Lesser Prairie-chicken is found in ColoradoKansasOklahomaNew Mexico and Texas. In December of 2012, the USFWS proposed to list the species as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
The Western Governors who signed on to the Aug. 2 letter to USFWS – John Hickenlooper (CO), Sam Brownback (KS), Mary Fallin (OK), Susana Martinez (N.M.), and Rick Perry (TX) – are instead urging Dan Ashe, the Director of USFWS, to make use of existing public-private partnerships to conserve the species rather than listing the species as threatened. Such a listing can unduly restrict land use and state land management.
Specifically, the Governors point to the RWP, which is the work of wildlife experts who comprised the Lesser Prairie-chicken Interstate Working Group. The Governors want the USFWS to approve the RWP as a conservation enrollment program for the Lesser Prairie-chicken, a step that could preclude the need to list the species as threatened. Recently, the USFWS extended the timeline for final determination of the species’ proposed listing to March of 2014.
The Governors’ letter echoes themes in existing Western Governors’ Association (WGA) policy resolutions, including:
Policy Resolution 11-10, Lesser Prairie-chicken Conservation, which urged a policy of cooperative management among the states to maintain and restore LPC populations while encouraging responsible development;
Policy Resolution 13-08, The Endangered Species Act, which stated that USFWS should enhance the role of state governments in recovering species, such as through the development of conservation plans;
Policy Resolution 13-04, Conserving Wildlife and Crucial Habitat in the West, in which the Governors urged federal agencies to use state fish and wildlife data and analyses as principal sources to inform natural resource decisions.
The RWP uses state fish and wildlife data for its conservation strategy, including the Southern Great Plains Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (SGP CHAT), which depicts crucial habitat areas for the Lesser Prairie-chicken. Part of the RWP conservation strategy is to use the CHAT to identify areas where habitat improvements should be concentrated.
The SGP CHAT is one of many GIS-tools being developed by Western states that will depict crucial wildlife habitat areas in a single map layer that energy, transmission and land-use planners can use in the beginning stages of project planning. WGA also is supporting development of a Western Governors’ CHAT, which will depict crucial wildlife habitat across the West when it launches this December.

Why Do We Need Healthy Rivers?

By Laura Craig

American Rivers

Clean, healthy rivers are the lifeblood of our communities and are vital to our health, safety, and quality of life. Most Americans live within a mile of a river or stream, and all of our drinking water comes directly or indirectly from rivers and streams.

By protecting and restoring rivers, we are protecting clean drinking water, creating jobs and recreation opportunities that benefit our economy, and revitalizing our natural heritage for future generations.

Healthy Rivers Give Us Clean Drinking Water

More than 60 percent of Americans’ drinking water comes from rivers and streamsA healthy river and surrounding forests can act as a natural water filter, reducing the need to treat the water with chemicals or expensive filtration systems.

Healthy Rivers are Good for the Economy

Going fishing may feel like taking the day off, but its overall economic impact in the U.S. is estimated at $116 billionAnd consider the fact that more people fish in the United States than go to Disneyworld. When Americans participate in outdoor activities, they aren’t just having fun and staying fit, they’re also pumping billions of dollars into the economy – in industries including manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade.

Healthy Rivers Are Home to Fish and Wildlife

America’s rivers support a wide variety of wildlife and fish, and are especially important during times of breeding and migration. In dry areas, particularly in the western U.S., rivers and streams are crucial to the well-being of wildlife. From kingfishers to crawdads, otters to black bears, eagles to trout, whatever creature you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it along the river.

Healthy Rivers Are Fun!

Beyond all the other services and benefits healthy rivers can provide, they are just plain fun. Rivers and streams offer endless recreation opportunities, including swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, and wildlife-watching. Whether you need exhilaration, solitude, a much-needed break from the daily grind or just a pleasant place for a family float or picnic, there’s a river out there, beckoning you to come out and play.

Rivers Are Our Heritage

From the homelands of Native Americans to our earliest settlements, explorer routes, and battlefields, to the evolution of music, literature, and art – our nation’s culture and heritage is written in the currents of our rivers. Think of Mark Twain on the Mississippi, or Lewis and Clark following the Missouri and Columbia rivers as they traveled west. Our rivers connect us to the past, and the future.

Balancing conservation and energy development

By Jeremy Vesbach

from The Hill’s Congress Blog

Writer Aldo Leopold’s most famous work, Sand County Almanac, includes the inspiration: “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”

As an avid hunter, forester, scientist and conservationist, Leopold had on-the-ground knowledge of that concept. While we may not all be as eloquent as Leopold, it is my experience that most of my fellow hunters develop a passion for habitat conservation. Today one of our biggest hurdles to achieving that harmony is maintaining access to our outdoor heritage amid the energy development taking place on public lands across the West.

In light of the industrialization happening around him in the early 1900s, Leopold inspired the collaboration that protected the world’s first Wilderness area. The Gila Wilderness in New Mexico was – and is today — a refuge for wildlife and the preservation of wilderness hunting skills.
            Instead of trying to control wildlife as if it were livestock, he wrote the first textbook on wildlife management. He pioneered the notion that we could see ourselves and nature as part of the same system – a system that needed to be in balance. This notion of a “biotic community” as he called it, was a radical idea at the time. You might say it still is.

But Leopold’s vision of balance is not.

According to a May 2013 survey of voters in nine Western states, a majority of Americans (55 percent) say the government should put conservation on equal ground with drilling for oil and gas on our public lands. This is the case among independents (59 percent), Republicans (64 percent), hunters and anglers (57 percent), and even among people who rate oil and gas as very important to them personally (57 percent).

Across party lines, voters are most concerned with permanently protecting wilderness, parks and open space for future generations (65 percent) and preserving access to outdoor recreation (63 percent).

It matters a lot what people in the West think about these issues, because our way of life is at stake. Oil and gas development is important, but we have to strike the right balance. As the poll respondents said: some places are just too special to drill – which echoes a concept I’ve often heard from other hunters and anglers: “responsible drilling means there are some places you don’t drill.”

Leopold asked, “Do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love?”

I’d say we love the Rio Grande and the Gila River where we fish with our families. We love the Valle Vidal, or “Valley of Life,” which hunters led the charge to successfully protect from coal-bed methane drilling; legislation preserving the area was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Clearly, protecting the most prized of our public lands here in New Mexico and across the West can be done alongside oil and gas development.

A new report offers some commonsense suggestions: conserving valuable hunting grounds like the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks where an outdoor way of life can continue; protecting backcountry areas for wildlife and sportsmen, and mandating that conservation and recreation be part of any planning process around oil and gas development on public lands.

I encourage the White House, Interior Secretary Jewell, Congress, and all of our policymakers to continue to work to balance energy development and conservation. By doing so, we can leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren that would make Leopold proud and achieve the conservation legacy of harmony that he championed.

Vesbach is executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.

Specially Managed Fields Attract Doves and Hunters

Designated dove fields on public lands require non-toxic shot

On many Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) public wildlife areas, managers have been working all summer to attract doves. Specific crops have been planted and managed, and if Mother Nature cooperates the dove hunting on these fields can be fantastic.

On many areas, these practices have been followed for several years; however, there are some changes for the 2013 season. The biggest change is that on designated dove fields, hunters will be restricted to non-toxic shot. Dove harvest has been high on many fields, and they draw large number of hunters for the first few days of the dove season. This kind of hunting pressure on small fields results in a large amount of lead shot being concentrated in a small area. Lead is toxic, especially to birds, so the non-toxic regulation has been implemented.

The fields requiring non-toxic shot will be designated with signs, and non-toxic shot is required for all shotgun hunting on these fields as long as the signs are in place. The following wildlife areas may have designated non-toxic shot fields: NORTHWEST – Jamestown WA, Glen Elder WA, Ottawa WA,Smoky Hill WA, and Wilson WA. NORTHEAST – Kansas River WA, Tuttle Creek WA, Clinton WA, Perry WA, Milford WA, Noe WA, and Hillsdale WA. SOUTHCENTRAL – Cheney WAEl DoradoWA, and Marion WA. SOUTHEAST – Dove Flats WA, Elk City WA, Fall River WA, La Cygne WA, Mined Land WA, Spring River WA, Toronto WA, and Woodson WA.

Hunters can see which wildlife areas have managed dove fields by going towww.ksoutdoors.com, clicking on “Hunting,” then “Migratory Birds” and “Doves.” Narratives for each area under the “Managed Dove Hunting Areas On KDWPT Public Lands” heading provide field locations, crop types and any special restrictions in place.

Dove hunting on these specially managed fields can be so good they will attract many hunters. Common courtesy and strict safety procedures must be followed to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable hunt. Always keep plenty of space between hunting parties, be conscious of where you are shooting and where your shot will drop, and never take shots at low flying birds.

The 2013 season for mourning, white-winged, Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves is open Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Nov. 2-10. The daily bag limit for mourning and white-winged doves, single species or in combination is 15. The possession limit is 45. There is no limit on Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves, but any taken in addition to a daily bag limit of mourning and white-winged doves must have a fully-feathered wing attached while being transported.

A Kansas Harvest Information Program permit is required to hunt doves. An extended exotic dove season for Eurasian and ringed turtle doves will open Nov. 20-Feb. 28, 2014. There is no daily bag limit, but a fully-feathered wing must remain attached while the birds are transported.