Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Stream Studies Confirm Lake Groups’ Warnings

New studies by the U.S. Geological Survey confirm arguments that Lake George conservation organizations and agencies have made for years: development threatens the aquatic life of streams.

“We learned that there is no ‘safe zone,’ meaning that even minimal or early stages of development can negatively affect aquatic life in urban streams,” said Tom Cuffney, a USGS biologist.

“When the area of driveways, parking lots, streets and other impervious cover reaches 10 percent of a watershed area, many types of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects decline by as much as one third, compared to streams in undeveloped forested watersheds,” said Cuffney.

Native fish also decline in streams even at low levels of development, levels historically considered safe for stream life, the studies found.

“The studies validate the findings of our Lake George Stream Assessment Project, initiated three years ago by Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, namely, that land uses impact the health of our streams,” said Peter Bauer, the executive director of the Fund for Lake George.

“We know from the sites we sampled that streams decline in water quality as they pass through areas that are more heavily developed,” said Bauer.

“These studies show that we need to be careful,” said Emily DeBolt of the Lake George Association, which operates a stream biology monitoring program for volunteers.

While even the most developed watersheds within the Lake George basin are not yet urbanized, protection of existing stream corridors should be a priority, said Bauer and DeBolt.

According to the USGS, the studies examined the effects of urbanization on algae, aquatic insects, fish, habitat and chemistry in urban streams in nine areas across the country.

“As a watershed becomes developed, the amount of pavement, sidewalks and other types of urban land cover increases. During storms, water is rapidly transported over these urban surfaces to streams. The rapid rise and fall of stream flow and changes in temperature can be detrimental to fish and aquatic insects. Stormwater from urban development can also contain fertilizers and insecticides used along roads and on lawns, parks and golf courses,” the USGS said.

The Lake George Park Commission is authorized by New York State law to protect stream corridors within the Lake George watershed, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.

The Commission has drafted regulations that will limit construction and the cutting of trees and vegetation within 35 feet of a tributary of Lake George.

The regulations are currently under review by the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform. Once that office approves the draft, a series of public hearings will be held, said White.

“Stream buffers are the most efficient way to protect the water quality and ecology of streams, and regulations are the only effective way of preserving those buffers,” said Peter Bauer.

“Once a buffer is disturbed, it’s very difficult to restore it to its original function,” Bauer said.

Investing in stream corridor protection is also an investment in the water quality of Lake George, he said.

“One half of all the water entering Lake George comes from streams,” said Bauer. “The fate of Lake George is tied inextricably to the health of its streams.”

Photo: Lake George Stream Assessment monitors, 2008.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DEC Names New Wildlife Biology, Fisheries Chiefs

It’s been a good year for DEC wildlife biologist Gordon Batcheller. In October, weeks after he received a top honor from the National Trappers Association, Batcheller was appointed DEC’s chief wildlife biologist. Batcheller succeeds John Major, who retired earlier this year. Batcheller had been serving as acting wildlife chief since Major’s departure.

Batcheller, an avid deer and turkey hunter, said one of his priorities will be getting more people, particularly young people, outdoors hunting, trapping and bird-watching. “We want to eliminate barriers, and that could be complicated by regulations or an inability to find places to go hunting or (finding) parking areas,” Batcheller said. “We need to try to work to unify our stakeholders so that we’re all pulling together for the same purpose.”

He said he would like to see the age for big-game and small-game hunting lowered to 12. He said he also wants to take advantage of the “citizen scientists” who are outdoors and can help the DEC in this time of limited resources, getting them working together for common goals.

Batcheller has been with the DEC since 1981, starting as a wildlife biologist in Region 9 and working his way up the ladder. He’s led a number of major studies in recent years and been an active participant on several DEC teams responsible for managing furbearers, big game, and game birds.

DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said Batcheller has helped develop policies to reform DEC’s response to nuisance wildlife problems, including coyote, deer and bear conflicts. And as a regional biologist, he led a study to assess the status and management needs of threatened common terns; monitored contaminants in waterfowl and mink; and mapped and regulated freshwater wetlands, she said.

DEC has also announced the appointment of a new Bureau Chief of Fisheries, Phil Hulbert. Hulbert received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maine at Orono in 1971 and 1973, respectively. His initial professional employment was as a Research Associate with the Migratory Fish Research Institute in the Maine Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit.

Hulbert started with DEC in 1977, working with the Coldwater Special Studies Unit in the Stamford sub-office. In 1986, he was appointed Coldwater Fisheries Unit Leader at DEC’s Central Office. Since 1996, he has served as Superintendent of Fish Culture, overseeing DEC’s 12 fish hatcheries and the Rome Fish Disease Control Unit (Rome Lab). He has worked on projects including evaluations of stream improvement structures, statewide creel and minimum length limits in trout streams, sea lamprey control, the statewide trout stream stocking system and manual, and the development and use of ultra-low phosphorus fish feed in DEC’s fish hatchery system.

A white paper Hulbert prepared on hatchery infrastructure needs in 2003 was instrumental in efforts to obtain Capital Budget appropriations for projects such as the reconstruction of broodstock ponds at Rome Lab and the construction of a new office/early rearing/visitor center building at Rome Hatchery.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spiny Water Flea Confirmed in Sacandaga Lake

Spiny water fleas, an aquatic invasive species, have been found in Sacandaga Lake in the southern region of the Adirondack Park near Speculator, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. It was previously confirmed in the Great Sacandaga in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009 and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir earlier this year.

Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton that are foods for fish and other native aquatic organisms, putting them in direct competition for this important food source. The tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Local Rivers: Pesticide Will Kill Lamprey Larvae

The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (Cooperative) will be applying lampricide to portions of five tributaries to Lake Champlain during the month of September. Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating the Salmon River, Little Ausable River, Ausable River, and Putnam Creek in New York, and Lewis Creek in Vermont.

Treatments are scheduled to begin in New York on September 14th and finish in Vermont by the end of the month. These treatments are part of the Cooperative’s long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. The trout and salmon populations of the lake are the primary beneficiaries of these efforts, yet lake sturgeon, walleye, and many other species are affected too. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Hunting, Fishing, Trapping Licenses on Sale

The 2010-2011 hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and Deer Management Permits (DMPs) are now being sold by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

New Regulations for 2010-2011

Hunters and trappers should be aware of several new regulations in effect for 2010-2011. Air guns may now be used for hunting small game. Pheasant hunting areas and seasons have been modified. The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) containment area has been decommissioned, and hunters in that area are no longer required to have their deer checked for CWD. Several trapping regulation changes have been made, including elimination of the requirement of furbearer possession tags and pelt sealing for beaver. More details for each of these changes are available in the 2010-2011 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.

Licenses and permits can be purchased at one of DEC’s 1,500 license sales outlets statewide. Sporting licenses can also be ordered by mail or by telephone and via the internet. Sporting licenses are valid beginning Oct. 1 – Sept. 30, 2011.

The Automated Licensing System (DECALS) is the State’s program for issuing sporting licenses and tracking license sales and revenues. For questions regarding license purchases, call the DECALS Call Center at (1-866-933-2257). Hours of operation for the Call Center are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday from Aug. 16 – Oct. 16, 2010. Regular weekday hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. will resume on Oct. 18, 2010.

License buyers should have the following items ready when applying: complete name and address information, customer ID number if you have it, proof of residency information (driver’s license number or non-driver’s ID number to qualify for a resident license), and, if purchasing by phone or internet, credit card and card expiration date. Hunting license purchases require individuals to provide proof of hunting education certification or a copy of a previous license, or this information must already be contained in their DECALS file.

Sales of all sporting licenses are deposited into the Conservation Fund (the fund’s Advisory Board meets today in Lowville) which is used for the management of New York’s fish and wildlife populations and for protection and management of wildlife habitat.

Deer Management Permits

DEC issues Deer Management Permits (DMPs), often called “doe tags,” to move the population closer toward objective levels in each Wildlife Management Unit. The target DMP allocation for 2010 varies by unit, but outside of the Adirondack Park and the Tug Hill Plateau, only WMUs 3A, 4L, 4U, 4Z and 5T will be closed for DMPs in 2010. Applicants are reminded that DMPs are only valid for antlerless deer in the WMU specified on the permit.

DMPs will be available at all license issuing outlets and by phone, internet or mail, from Aug.16, 2010 through close of business Oct. 1, 2010. DMPs are issued through a random selection process at the point of sale, and customers who are selected for DMPs will receive their permits immediately. Chances of selection in each WMU are available at License Issuing Agent locations, or you may call the DMP Hotline at 1-866-472-4332. Chances of getting a DMP remain the same throughout the application period, so hunters do not need to rush to apply for a DMP on the first day of sale.

If a significant number of DMPs are still available in a WMU after Oct. 1, leftover DMP sales will commence on Nov. 1 and will continue on a first-come/first-serve basis until the end of the hunting season or until all DMPs have been issued in the WMU. Additionally, bonus DMPs will be available in the bowhunting-only WMUs 3S, 4J, and 8C and in Suffolk County (WMU 1C).

Fish and Wildlife Supporters

DEC encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp and/or a Trail Supporter Patch. These stamps and patches help support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation and maintain non-motorized trails. Buying a $5 stamp or patch or donating directly to the Conservation Fund is a way to help conserve New York’s wildlife heritage and enhance outdoor recreation in New York State.

Venison Donation Program

Additionally, anyone – not just hunters and anglers – can help feed the hungry by contributing to the Venison Donation Program at all license issuing outlets. Individuals should inform the license sales agent that they want to make a donation of $1 or more to support the program.

Participate in Citizen Science to Benefit Wildlife Management

Each year, thousands of hunters, trappers, and anglers help DEC monitor wildlife populations by recording their wildlife observations while afield. To learn about how you can participate in the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log, Bowhunter Sighting Log, Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey and other citizen science programs.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Conservation Fund Advisory Board to Meet Locally

The public is invited to attend the day-long summer field meeting of the Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB), which begins at 9 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010, at Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Lowville Field Office on State Route 812 in Lewis County.

The Conservation Fund Advisory Board was created by New York State law to make recommendations to appropriate state agencies on plans, policies and programs affecting fish and wildlife. The board submits an annual report to the DEC Commissioner and a fiscal report to sportsmen and women and the public.

“This year’s CFAB summer field meeting will highlight many of the significant natural resource projects that DEC regional staff is involved in,” DEC Region 5 Regional Director Judy Drabicki said. “We invite hunters, anglers and all who enjoy outdoor recreation to attend the meeting and learn about the efforts of the board and how sporting license fee money is being used throughout New York.”

The field meeting provides an opportunity for the board to hear from people who are unable to travel to Albany to attend the regular monthly meetings. This year’s CFAB field meeting will feature the opportunity to attend the meeting via video conference at many of the DEC regional offices. In addition to an abbreviated board meeting there will be several presentations by region 6 professional staff about the significant projects that have been undertaken locally. Topics currently planned include:

* CFAB Business by CFAB chairman Jason Kemper

* Status of the Lake Ontario Fisheries Current Research/Potential for Deep Water Cisco Reintroduction by Steve LaPan Manager, Cape Vincent Fisheries Station Manager

* Lake Sturgeon Restoration on the St. Lawrence River – Rodger Klindt, Senior Aquatic Biologist

* Fish and Wildlife Management and Sportsman Access Programs on Fort Drum – Raymond Rainbolt, Fish and Wildlife Manager CIV USA IMCOM US Army

* Lands and Forests- Public Outreach – Scott Healy, Senior Forester

* CWD Update and Deer Management Issues in Region 6 – James Farquhar, Sr. Wildlife Biologist

* Region 6 Wind Power Projects – The Land Where the Wind Always Blows – Bill Gordon

The meeting will also be available via video conference at many DEC regional offices. Those who plan to attend at the DEC offices in Ray Brook or Warrensburg should contact David Winchell at 897-1211 or r5info@gw.dec.state.ny.us

All CFAB members are volunteers who have a longstanding interest, knowledge and experience in fish and wildlife management, including hunting, fishing, trapping and related conservation activities. Additional information about the CFAB and the Conservation Fund can be found on DEC’s website. For more information on the summer field meeting, call DEC’s Fish and Wildlife office at (315) 785-2263.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free Fishing Event at South Bay of Lake Champlain

A “free fishing” event will be held on Saturday, July 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Bay Fishing Pier on Lake Champlain, hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) I FISH NY program.

No fishing license will be required for this event, which is free to all participants. DEC fisheries staff and Washington County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs members will provide instruction on the use of gear, fishing techniques, and information on aquatic biology and fish identification.

Fishing rods, bait and other necessary tackle will be provided free of charge. Adaptive fishing equipment will be available to participants who require it. Quantities are limited, however, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own gear if possible.

South Bay Pier is a 300-foot long universally designed, wheelchair accessible fishing pier providing the community with barrier-free access from the parking area to the fishing rail. The pier is designed to provide a variety of places to fish from shallow water, to the deepest channel of the bay. Benches are provided along the pier, and the covered pavilion area over the end of the pier provides shelter from the sun and inclement weather.

South Bay of Lake Champlain has traditionally offered anglers outstanding opportunities for catching popular sportfish species such as northern pike, largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Yellow perch, white perch, crappies, sunfish, brown bullhead and catfish are also common.

The pier is located near an existing DEC boat launch facility, which has additional parking and an accessible privy. Constructed in 2008, South Bay Pier is one of many universally accessible recreation projects DEC has completed statewide over recent years. The pier is just west of the State Route 22 Bridge over South Bay near Whitehall in Washington County.

The free fishing event is one of four DEC sponsored free fishing clinics permitted by law in each DEC Region annually. The Free Fishing Days program began in 1991 to allow all people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer.

Everyone is invited to participate in this event, whether they have a fishing license or not. Ordinarily, anyone age 16 or older is required to obtain a license when fishing or helping another person to fish. Participants should note that all applicable fishing laws and regulations are still in effect during the event.

For additional information regarding this event contact Joelle Ernst with DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries at (518) 402-8891 or visit the DEC website for further information on a number of “Free Fishing Events” held in various locations throughout the state: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27123.html


Saturday, July 3, 2010

DEC Seeks Public’s Input on Baitfish Transport Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking public input on the current ban on transporting uncertified baitfish. The ban was established in 2007 after an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) in the Great Lakes system in 2005. VHS is a disease that causes internal bleeding and sometimes death in certain fish when they are stressed in cooler temperatures. While VHS was the primary concern, eight other pathogens also were addressed when the rules were established.

The current regulations ban “the overland (motorized) transport of personally collected baitfish (baitfish that are uncertified as far as not tested for fish diseases).” This is the only part of the state’s fish-health regulations that DEC is seeking comment on at this time.

DEC has slated a series of public meetings across the state (schedule attached). For two of the meeting dates, there will be live video feed at multiple locations. In addition, members of the public may participate by web conference. To learn how to use a home computer to participate, visit this website. Additional background information about the overland transport regulation and about the upcoming meetings is also available on DEC’s website.

In addition to public meetings, written and online comments will be accepted until Sept. 10, 2010. Written comments should be submitted to Shaun Keeler, NYSDEC, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233 or e-mailed to fishregs@gw.dec.state.ny.us

Locally, the public meetings will be held at NYSDEC Region 5 Headquarters (the meeting will include a live video feed) at 1115 NYS Rte. 86, in Ray Brook.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Paddle on Osgood Pond

My husband and I are alone. My daughter is worried as she goes off to a play date that we will be lonely. We are soon in the middle of a pond, completely alone. There are no young voices yelling to see a cobweb, bug, rock, or floating stick. There are never long moments of silence. The dynamic children bring to any activity can fill the air and allow one to see things differently. The enthusiasm for the simplest of things is refreshing.

That said, they also have the ability to vacuum the positive energy right out of a given situation with life altering decisions like they no longer like bread while dramatically claiming starvation at the same time they wave a sandwich overhead. Another way is when they have to go to the bathroom only after being life-jacketed and paddling in the middle of a lake no matter how many times they are asked beforehand to take care of business. It happens and we survive but during all the drama I am not always tuned into the hermit thrush’s call.

One easy place to relax is a leisure paddle on Osgood Pond though be warned if fishing is on your agenda that the pond is still under advisory for mercury. The Department of Environmental Conservation publishes a fish advisory regarding the consumption of fish caught in the Adirondacks.

There are three different advisories: The statewide advisory, advisories for children less than 15 years old and for women that are pregnant or might become pregnant and specific advisories for the Adirondack Park. For children and those expecting mothers please heed the warning and do not consume any fish from the list of lakes and ponds under advisory for mercury. According to a 2005 PBS report one in six children born each year are exposed to mercury which, when exposed in high doses, may cause learning disabilities, short-term memory loss and impaired motor skills. So if the warnings apply to you please practice “catch and release” or just enjoy the quiet.

An easy entry to Osgood Pond is the Osgood Pond Waterway Access on White Pines Rd. on Route 86. This pond does not allow personal watercrafts which only adds to our quest for quiet. We put in the canoe and hit an easy pace that is unmatched with children. We glide through the shallow weedy water startling a mother merganser. She attempts to lure us away from the shore. We are happy to oblige.

I don’t want to get philosophical on the joys of parenting. It is a pleasure and a joy. Still, there is a part of me that wistfully listens to the wanderings of my childfree friends. So for today I enjoy a few hours of quiet while my children are invited elsewhere. Today the only constant stream of chatter is that going on is inside my head.

It is a unique situation for us to be surrounded by still. Even the wind is taking a reprieve. Later we will describe the snapping turtles, calm water and gentle call of the hermit thrush to the kids. It will be some time before my daughter understands the difference between being lonely and being alone.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hudson River Trustees Support Continued PCB Dredging

Trustees for the Hudson River dredging project have announced their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans to continue to remove PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the Hudson River. The overall environmental benefits of the dredging greatly outweigh any short-term PCB impacts of the work, they said.

The announcement came in the wake of several days of presentations in Glens Falls by EPA and General Electric before a panel of dredging experts reviewing Phase I of the project, completed last year. The panel will offer recommendations and propose changes that could be incorporated into the second phase of the project, set to begin in 2011.

The natural resources trustees for the Hudson River dredging project are the:

* New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
* U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
* U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The trustees’ role is to perform an assessment of injuries to natural resources resulting from the release of PCBs into the river by GE. DEC also supports EPA with technical advice and oversight for the project.

Although the Phase I dredging stirred up PCBs in the river and raised the PCB level in fish near the work, the trustees have said that they had expected these short-term effects from the dredging. Similar short-term effects have occurred during past dredging in the river.

PCB levels in the river and in fish decreased downstream from the dredging work, with no significant increase found farther downstream in the lower Hudson River, the trustees said in a recent press release.

PCB levels in the water and the fish adjacent to the Phase I work will decrease within a few years, they said. The trustees expect a similar result after the entire dredging project is completed. Overall levels will be lower because a large amount of PCBs will have been permanently removed from the river.

“Over the next several years, we have a unique opportunity to permanently remove significant amounts of PCB contamination from the Hudson River for the benefit of future generations of New Yorkers,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “A comprehensive remedial dredging project is an integral step in the restoration of this iconic river, and we fully support EPA in its efforts to get the job done right.”

“We disagree with many of the conclusions presented by GE in the peer review process,” said Northeast Regional Director Marvin Moriarty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We agree with EPA that the overall environmental benefits of the dredging greatly outweigh any short-term impacts associated with the work.”

“Restoration of the Hudson River begins with a robust cleanup” said Dr. Robert Haddad, Chief of NOAA’s Assessment and Restoration Division. “GE’s proposal will further delay the recovery and restoration of this nationally historic river, which has been contaminated since the 1940s.”

Highlights: The trustees also expressed their position on the following issues:

Productivity standard

The trustees believe it is important to focus on project quality, even if this means the project takes longer.

Depth of contamination

PCBs extend deeper into the riverbed than originally believed. The trustees believe that capping sediment is not an acceptable solution. Capping has potential long-term consequences, including risk of cap failure.

Containing PCB oil

The trustees believe that PCB oil on the river surface during Phase I was a major contributor to PCB release into the river. They recommend containing and collecting PCB oil to reduce the short-term effects from dredging.

Navigation/access dredging

The trustees support dredging in shallow areas, allowing barges better access to dredge areas. Increasing the amount of sediment on barges will improve productivity and reduce re-suspending contaminated sediments.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fishing Season Gets into Full Swing May 1

The New York State Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding anglers that fishing season in New York gets into full swing on May 1, the opening day for Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel and Tiger Muskellunge. Also, the catch-and-release bass season is now underway on most state water bodies.

Of the warm-water species, walleye are the traditional primary target this time of year; walleye fishing opportunities exist in more than 100 water bodies throughout the state. Over the last five years and in almost all regions of the state, DEC has stocked 60 waters with walleye fry or fingerlings. Through these and other DEC management actions, new walleye populations are being established and others are being maintained or restored. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

DEC Adopts New Fishing Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that changes to the state’s freshwater fishing regulations will become effective on October 1, 2010.

Among the most important changes to local anglers is the elimination of the special allowance for five extra brook trout less than eight inches. With the exception of certain water body-specific regulations, the daily limit is now five trout of any size.

Changes locally also include the elimination of special regulations for pickerel in several local waters, for northern pike in Adirondack Lake (Hamilton County), and for yellow perch and sunfish in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties (including Schroon Lake); statewide regulations will now apply. The open season for trout in Glen Lake (Warren County) has been extended for ice fishing, and the minimum size limit for lake trout in Lake Bonaparte (Lewis County) has been reduced to 18 inches.

The changes to the freshwater regulations are the result of a two-year process during which DEC solicited public feedback during the development of the proposals, and also provided a comment period for public input on the draft rules.

The full text of the new 2010-2012 regulations can be viewed on the DEC website.

The DEC is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. Buying the $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York’s wildlife heritage. More information about purchasing a Habitat Stamp is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/329.html


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Adirondack Fish Hatchery

After being closed for the coldest months, the Adirondack Fish Hatchery is once again open for tours. Though fishing with children is a wonderful activity, having the ability to see the rearing of landlocked Atlantic salmon is well worth the trip. Most children, and adults, don’t realize that a good portion of the fish they catch in the Adirondacks have been raised in one of New York State’s 12 fish hatcheries. Each hatchery specializes in producing a select few species of fish.

The Adirondack Fish Hatchery facility in Lake Clear, located about 12 miles from Saranac Lake, produces 30,000 pounds of salmon yearly for release into regional lakes and rivers.

“There are two sources for eggs,” say Adirondack Fish Hatchery Manager Ed Grant. “The wild fish we catch from the pond and those we harvest from captive fish. That is about 500,000 eggs from wild fish and another 700,000 eggs from captive fish for 1.2 million eggs a year. That is the goal and we usually make it.”

The facility is open for free guided tours. The indoor visitor center contains a self-guided tour with a pool containing salmon, a monitor showing brood fish in a pond, and other exhibits on fish propagation. There is also a video in the Visitor’s Center showcasing the method necessary to produce all that yearly landlocked salmon. Inside the hatchery are 16 tanks holding approximately 275,000 fish; each tank is about 31’ in diameter and holds 8,000 gallons of water. Three of the tanks house the brood stock, the fish used to produce the eggs and milt for the next year’s stock, while the other 13 tanks hold the fingerlings that will be released into the wild now that it’s spring.

According to Grant tours are given throughout the summer and fall as well as certain times during the spring. He recommends that individuals call first during the spring if a tour of the whole facility is requested. Otherwise drop by the Visitor’s Center and Hatchery starting April 1 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The springtime is a busy time as the staff is preparing to release the yearlings and fry into lakes and rivers.

“We have different ways of stocking fish,” says Grant. “The yearlings smolts go right into Lake Champlain. They are able to find a healthy habitat but they are not able to imprint. We also stock about 300,000 non-feeding fry in the Boquet, Ausable, and Saranac Rivers each year. A fry is a fish that first hatches from the egg and has lived off its yolk sac for a while and then it will start looking for natural food. Fry are placed and will stay in the river’s water stream until reaching the smolt stage. The fry then leave the stream environment for lakes but it has imprinted on a section of the river by its keen sense of smell. By requiring a certain number to imprint, we hope to recreate that natural process.”

For children it may be an opportunity to view a salmon for the first time. The next occasion that child and fish may meet could be in a match of wits over a hook and line.

The Adirondack Fish Hatchery is located off Route 30, approximately one mile south of Lake Clear. Call 891-3358 for more information.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Adirondack Bracket 2010: Selection Day

In limited areas of the Adirondack Park, an understated excitement built gradually throughout the day yesterday as selections were made for the 2010 Adirondack Bracket.

Bracket pairings were made by combining the top 28 randomly selected entrants from two lists (a longer list of general Adirondackiana, and a shorter list of 2009’s Adirondack headliners). Four more slots were reserved for last year’s final four, including 2009 Bracket champion Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops. The remaining slots will be filled later this week by a play-in round which sets four randomly selected entrants from a list suggested by our readers, against the Bracket judges’ “Hand o’ God” choices (our favorites that somehow missed the first cut). A preview of the play-in round follows the jump. . .

So here is how things stack up for this week’s play-in round:

Game one pits late 19th/early 20th Century painter Winslow Homer (who spent time throughout his career at the North Woods Club in Minerva—his last visit to the Adirondacks occurring one hundred years ago this summer, shortly before his death), against the frankenpine: that towering synthesis of artifice and nature, and itself a subject of contemporary Adirondack painting (not to mention inspiration for an excellent band).

Saranac Lake’s doyens of drill. . . the Idas of March. . . those angels of aluminum and mesh—the incomparable Lawnchair Ladies—sashay into the Bracket against an equally formidable lineup of local adirondack ski hills. This squad of impressive topography (talking about the ski hills, now), once thought to be heading downhill, fast, has made a strong comeback this winter led by Big Tupper and Hickory. The list also includes a couple cross country ski mountains, one of which boasts the only ski mountain palindrome in the Adirondacks: “O! Dewey. Aye, we do!” This match up could go either way, but one thing you can count on: Chairs will certainly be lifted, and might be thrown.

Game three features perhaps the most interesting play-in pairing, with Olmstedville’s Pete Hornbeck and his fleet of featherweight canoes taking on Lake George’s Winter Carnival, the village’s annual string of wintertime events held every weekend throughout the month of February. Any other year this would have been no contest as canoes are not much use on a solid lake surface, especially with a lot of cars and snow machines and dog sleds racing around. This year, however, warm weather forced cancellation of some carnival events, premature demolition of the ice palace and relocation of the dog sled races from the slushy lake top to safer ground inland. The Fund for Lake George reports that the lake failed to fully freeze over this winter (the first time since 2002). Though this might be an advantageous climate for a naval assault, Hornbeck will have his work cut out for him if he is to make it to a much anticipated confrontation with Senator Betty Little in the “Upstate Great Eight” round next week.

The final play-in contest throws New York State’s official fish, the brook trout, into the mix with back yard sugarin’. Not a whole lot to say about this one except: that is some mighty fine eating.

Join us later this week for play-in results and a preview of the first round.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Adirondack Brook Trout: Our Vanishing Heritage

Nobody knows how many varieties of brook trout once lived in the Adirondacks. Probably dozens. Trout colonized the Adirondacks after the last ice age, when melting glaciers created watery pathways into the highlands. After water levels receded, trout populations were isolated from each other, and so they evolved separately, developing slightly different traits.

Sadly, only seven strains of heritage trout remain in the Adirondacks. The rest were done in by habitat destruction (often from logging), overfishing, acid rain, and/or shortsighted stocking policies.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is taking steps to protect only three of the seven heritage strains—by breeding and releasing fingerlings. The other four populations are so small that the department won’t risk removing fish from the wild for breeding. One DEC scientist says three of these populations are on the verge of extinction.

Think of it: a trout that has been around these parts for thousands of years—and is found nowhere else in the world—may soon be gone forever.

Perhaps you’re betting this won’t happen in your lifetime. Wrong. It already has. The Stink Lake strain in the West Canada Lake Wilderness apparently vanished just a few years ago, thanks to acid rain. And the Tamarack Pond strain in the Five Ponds Wilderness was lost in the 1990s. That pond became so acidified the trout couldn’t spawn. Because of the lack of competition, however, the adult trout grew fat. After word got out about the big brookies, anglers fished out the pond before DEC could act.

And then there’s the yahoo who released bass into Little Tupper Lake after the state bought it in 1998, thereby jeopardizing the heritage trout it had harbored for centuries. Fortunately, Little Tupper trout breed elsewhere, and so the population is not at risk, at least not now.

All of the above comes from an article by George Earl in the latest issue of the Adirondack Explorer, titled “Tragedy of the Trout.” Click here to read the full story.

Photo by George Earl: Angler with a Little Tupper trout.



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