Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Colorado River Basin Water Use Study

An April 2011 report from the National Parks Conservation Association analyzes the impacts of water management in the Colorado River Basin and five national parks that lie along the Colorado River and its tributaries.

According to the report, water management has altered the natural state of the river, including the long-term presence of major dams and non-native species, and changes in water flow in the system.

National parks examined in the study include Grand Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Canyonlands National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

The report cites several factors which affect the rivers in these parks:

  • Dams along the Colorado River have fundamentally changed ecological and environmental processes in these parks by  destroying natural habitats in some areas, creating highly unnatural flow regimes, trapping sediments that are critical for building and maintaining aquatic and riparian habitats and altering natural water temperatures that foster native fish communities.
  • Reintroducing more natural water flows in the rivers can protect park resources. In addition, any further alterations to the natural flow of the river must not compromise these treasured parks, which receive a total of more than 8.5 visitors annually. . Recent proposals to divert water from the River for municipal and agricultural uses would likely be detrimental to the parks. 
  • Climate change scenarios predict the western United States will become drier and warmer, which increases the likelihood that the volume of water in the river annually will decrease and releases from reservoirs like Lake Powell will be reduced.
  • Non-native fish have been introduced; causing issues for native species through predatory and competitive behavior and the non-native tamarisk has altered the river channel, further restricting river flows.

The report outlines steps that can be taken to reverse or mitigate some of the challenges facing the river, including:

  • Changes to dam operations to reduce impacts on endangered species and other resources, which would have relatively minor effects on hydropower revenues.
  • Climate change research to clearly understand and ensure that its effects on the River are taken into account for all future policies and decisions impacting water flow in the river.
  • Additional research on costs and benefits of restoring more natural flows so that the value of the parks along the River can be properly assessed.

To view a full copy of the report, please visit:

source: National Parks Conservation Association

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Ghost Pot Removal Program

In the Chesapeake Bay, commercial watermen have hauled up more than 10,000 derelict so-called “ghost pots,” lost fishing nets, and assorted metal junk from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the third year of Virginia’s one-of-a-kind Marine Debris Removal Program.

The program, funded by NOAA through the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and administered by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, paid the watermen to use side-imaging sonar units to detect and retrieve lost or abandoned crab pots and other marine debris that litter the Bay floor.

Many of the recovered pots had been derelict for several years, and continue to inadvertently trap and kill crabs and a variety of fish and wildlife.

The recovered crab pots were found to have captured over the winter more than 11,000 animals, including thousands of crabs, as well as turtles, fish, eels, and whelks. Scientists have determined that each functional lost crab pot can capture about 50 crabs a year.
The program costs roughly $1 million a year. It is funded by NOAA through blue crab disaster funds made available to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Recovered marine debris are disposed of or recycled.

Since the Marine Debris Removal Program began in December 2008, more than 28,000 lost or abandoned crab pots have been removed from the water, as well as 150 lost fishing nets and 1,300 pieces of assorted metal junk. More than 27,000 animals, many already dead, were found in crab pots retrieved since 2008.

More information on the program’s results can be found on the program’s website

source: VMRC

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Best Places for Spring Birdwatching - Creeks and Streams

Springtime is an excellent time to look for songbirds around local waterways. Lakes, ponds, creeks and woodland streams are all good places to spot warblers, sparrows, chickadees and other songbirds.

As with most birdwatching, the best time to visit these areas is usually early morning or late afternoon, when birds are more active.

Although many birds are shy, some are quite curious and will actually approach humans that remain quiet and resist the urge to make sudden movements.

A camera is always worthwhile to carry on spring birdwatching trips as something new can appear at any moment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wildlife Watching Boat Tours

Wildlife boat tours are a great way to see nature from the water. Wildlife tours are available seasonally on lakes, reservoirs, rivers, coastal bays and other waterways. Tour boats often travel to national wildlife refuges, state parks or other preserves where wildlife is abundant.

The types of wildlife that can be expected will vary widely by location, season, weather conditions, and time of day. A reputable tour guide will be up front about what to expect.

When choosing a wildlife or nature tour boat provider, a good starting point is always an online search. Another good source of information may be the local tourism information center. Hotels and inns are another possible source of  tourism information. State and local chambers of commerce may also be able to recommend a boat tour. In most areas, local outdoor guides or outfitters offer wildlife watching trips by boat.

Types of Wildlife Tour Boats:

Flat bottomed skiffs are extremely popular as touring boats. These are simple, sturdy craft that are designed to carry heavy payloads through shallow areas. Skiffs offer a comfortable platform at low speeds, although they are known for their harsh, wet ride in windy situations. Most skiffs are totally open, which allow for unobstructed views of wildlife. The down side to an open boat is that occupants have no shelter from the elements.

In some areas, pontoon boats are the predominant choice for wildlife tours. These craft offer several advantages over other styles of boats. They typically have tops, which shade occupants from the sun and provide some amount of shelter during rain showers.

Some wildlife tours utilize canoes or kayaks. These are among the most rugged of trips, with tour members needing a higher level of physical skills. Although canoeing and kayaking tours demand more effort, they offer advantages that no other tours can match. Among the most alluring aspects of these tours are the up-close encounters and individual experiences that only a small, self powered craft can produce.

For longer range tours such as whale watching trips, much larger craft are preferred. These specialized boats offer enclosed cabins, bathrooms and may even serve drinks and meals on board. These full featured boats are usually more expensive, but are suitable for a wider range of ages and skill levels. Depending on the area, length of trip and local water conditions, motion sickness remedies may be necessary when travelling on these vessels.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Wildlife Tour Boat:

When are tour boats available?
Do I need to make reservations in advance?
Do any additional costs apply such as tips or other fees?
What are the capabilities of the boat?
What is the length of the trip?
How many occupants can the boat carry?
What do I need to bring on the boat?

Wildlife Tour Information

USA Nature Tours

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Fishing Novel: Brook Trout and the Writing Life

Author Craig Nova intermingles tales of fishing, family and writing in Brook Trout and the Writing Life. This exceptional book will appeal to anglers, fathers, daughters, writers, and readers of outdoor adventures.

Described in the book are the rivers and streams of  New England, with fishing for brook trout being the central theme. The author began Brook Trout and the Writing Life as a letter to his children, but it soon became an essay on American family life in the modern age.

Craig Nova is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including The Good Son, Cruisers, The Congressman’s Daughter, Trombone, and most recently, The Informer, published by Shaye Areheart Books. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men’s Journal, among other publications.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Themed Gifts

With Spring in full swing, almost every wildlife enthusiast is getting outside and enjoying nature. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our time inside, working or dealing with daily chores.

For many people, nature-related collectibles are a way of expressing themselves and reminding us that weekends are never far away. For spring enthusiasts, these are just a few examples of artwork that celebrates springtime and nature:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Summer Jobs

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to hire more than 2,000 young people this year, as it did in 2010. The agency is encouraging students to apply now for a job this summer on a national wildlife refuge or other public land. The summer jobs program is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

To find summer jobs, applicants can visit the Refuge System web site to find 2011 youth job opportunities in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Scroll down and click on “Student Employment Opportunities” to learn about jobs through program partners such as the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and AmeriCorps.

Youth can apply directly for some openings on partner web sites. For other opportunities on refuges, such as those through the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), job seekers can contact local refuges (use the “Find Your Refuge” feature on the Refuge System homepage).

Students can learn about other 2011 conservation job opportunities with the Department of the Interior (DOI) at a new web site, and explore the Department of the Interior's Youth in the Great Outdoors program. Listings are for both permanent and temporary jobs. DOI manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and several other technical bureaus.  

Youth job candidates are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Most internships include a stipend, and others are volunteer positions.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

USFWS National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will soon be conducting the 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

The survey is conducted every five years, polling American hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts. The survey provides important statistics about hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in all 50 states.

The information is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October in 2011, and January to March in 2012.

As part of the survey, outdoor stakeholders will be asked about their participation and expenditures in several categories of wildlife-associated recreation. The results will be available in a national report and in 50 individual state reports.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, participation is voluntary and all responses are strictly confidential. Data collected is used for statistical purposes only and no participant can be identified from information contained in the database and follow-up reports.

Sampling is to include 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers (wildlife photographers, feeders, and observers).

Preliminary survey findings will be available in the spring of 2012. Final reports will be issued beginning in the fall of 2012. The reports, when completed, will be available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service