Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bill would transfer scenic rivers

The Blade - April 05

Deep in the obscure, arcane labyrinth known as the state budget bill, which is subject of much political wrangling now in Columbus, are provisions that would transfer management of the state scenic rivers program among divisions within the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Specifically, the plan would move scenic rivers from the ODNR's division of natural areas and preserves (DNAP) to its division of watercraft. In the process it would create a so-called Waterways Conservation Fee (read user fee) for canoes, kayaks, and other such hand-powered craft as rowboats and paddleboats to help offset scenic rivers costs.

The plan is not without a few naysayers, though a groundswell of opposition has not emerged. That likely is because the general public is far more concerned about funding of education, welfare and other social services, health care, highway main-
tenance, law enforcement and a host of other big-ticket items that dwarf such minor programs as scenic rivers into political insignificance - other than for users and proponents of streams.

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Exploring the depths

TRIBUNE - April 7

A wooden, three-masted ship lies at the bottom of Lake Ontario, near Kingston. It lies in the same location where it came to rest in 1858 -- a year after the ship was launched.

The ship, owned by the Hamilton-based Rae Brothers shipping, well preserved by the fresh water that surrounds it, is a legend amongst divers, said diver David Mekker, who discussed the history of the wreck during the Shipwreck Symposium, held Saturday at Centennial Secondary School's auditorium.

That legend lured the famous sea explorer Jacques Cousteau to Lake Ontario in 1980, he added.

Last summer, during the sesquicentennial of its sinking, Mekker and other divers visited the ship.

And a presentation about that ship was one of several discussions on local shipwrecks that lured a record number of people to the 15th annual Shipwrecks symposium, organized by the Niagara Divers' Association.

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Most anglers complied with regulations

DAILY NEWS - April 7

Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officers conducted numerous patrols on the ice-covered waters of Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, Rondeau Bay and the Detroit River this winter to check for compliance with ice fishing and safety regulations.

In total, 760 resident anglers and 200 nonresident anglers were checked by conservation officers from early January until the last week in February. Compliance with Ontario's sport fishing and public safety related legislation was found to be 75 per cent, the MNR reports.

Officers laid 76 charges and 168 warnings were issued for the following offences: fishing without a licence; fishing with too many lines; being more than 60 metres away from fishing lines; fishing without a licence on your person; failing to produce a fishing licence; failing to wear a helmet on an off-road vehicle and snowmobile; and having liquor in an open container.

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Support for weather buoy in Little Traverse Bay growing

News-Review - April 7

Current cost estimates to maintain the buoy are considerably lower than the initial estimates, and it is not only boating enthusiasts who are interested.

City officials in Charlevoix, Harbor Springs and Petoskey all showed an initial interest in the prospect of having real-time weather data available to boaters.

Charlevoix city manager Rob Straebel said he understood the buoy’s safety benefits, but added an official proposal was still needed.

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Lower St. Croix River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers - April 7

The Wild and Scenic Lower St. Croix River, a hotspot for anglers and boaters and a rare natural retreat from urban life, could have its character destroyed if poorly planned development along the river continues. This threat landed the Lower St. Croix in the number 10 spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers: 2009 edition.

American Rivers and its partners called on the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources (DNRs) to, respectively, reestablish and expand their oversight of local zoning decisions that affect the unique qualities of the state managed section of the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

“This river is a national treasure but it is in danger of dying a death from a thousand cuts. Poorly planned development is slowly killing the very qualities that make the Lower St. Croix so special,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “Not only is this National Scenic Riverway at risk, but the integrity of the entire Wild and Scenic River System is being harmed.”

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Jim and Jamie Wallace join Fraser Yachts

Superyacht times - April 7

Jim spent his childhood playing and club racing in various small motor and sailboats on Harleston (SC) harbor and thus began his love affair with the sea. Since that time, he has never lived far from the ocean and has been fortunate to have been in superb boating locations: Key West, Mt. Desert Island, Captiva Island, Annapolis and Palm Beach.

His university studies were in architecture but subsequent to his Navy service he reverted to the sea, working in various maritime pursuits: heavy marine construction; commercial fishing; sport fishing; small boat charters; marine service; sail and power deliveries - basically anything to do with the ocean. In any spare time he enjoyed all sports and especially any to do with water - either liquid or crystal (snow).

He started yacht brokering in 1980 with McMichael in Annapolis; initially this was for sales of sailing boats in the 30'-80' size range. However, the bulk of business then and now is in motor yachts. Since he was spending all of his time on planes to Florida or to Europe, to show and sell yachts, Jim moved to Palm Beach in 1993. In 1995 he started working with Camper & Nicholsons in their Palm Beach office.

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Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ships bring economic gain, ecological pain

Apr 06 - The Blade

Hailed as one of North America's greatest engineering feats, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway has drawn both praise and scorn in commemoration of its 50th anniversary this month.

Praise for the obvious: It connects America's heartland and some of Canada's most populous cities to the rest of the world while making it possible for regional goods to be transported more efficiently among the eight states and two provinces. Both have been a plus for North America's economy, though oceangoing vessels -- even in today's era of global trade -- make up only 10 percent of the ship traffic.

Scorn for the not-so obvious: It has opened a Pandora's box of costly ecological problems, some of which are summarized in a new book published by Michigan State University Press titled Pandora's Locks: The Opening of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway.

In it, author Jeff Alexander, a longtime Great Lakes newspaper writer, tells how officials were determined to build the $1 billion project during former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration at almost any cost and without comprehending the risks.

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Port officials oppose change to ballast water rules • April 7

Port of Green Bay officials disagree with the hard line on ballast water permits proposed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for ocean ships entering state ports.

"Our international ship business would go elsewhere," Port Director Dean Haen said Monday following the annual Port Symposium at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Green Bay. "There's no scientific basis for what they're proposing."

The DNR has recommended a ballast water permit that would be 100 times more stringent than the permit required by the International Maritime Organization, a system already adopted by five other Great Lake states. The permit is aimed at preventing more invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes.

Russ Rasmussen of the DNR's Bureau of Watershed Management, said the current permit system that requires ships to flush ballast water tanks before entering the Great Lakes hasn't been effective enough in preventing invasive species from making their way into the lakes.

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Local backers in Michigan launch Lake St. Clair tourism promotion

The Canadian Press - Apr 7

Lake St. Clair would be a big deal anywhere else but it gets dwarfed by the massive bodies of water that make up the Great Lakes water system.

Now, tourism officials are launching a PR campaign to draw attention to the fun Lake St. Clair has to offer.

"Arguably, in southeast Michigan, Lake St. Clair is the biggest economic asset. And none of us - no one in the business community is doing a very good job of promoting it," said Eric Foster, general partner of Belle Maer Harbor in Harrison Township.

The 42-kilometre by 39-kilometre lake northeast of Detroit has about 1,114 square kilometres of surface area and is connected by rivers to lakes Huron and Erie.

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Obey Seeks Millions for Agricultural Earmarks in Federal Budget

Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/07

Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey has published his list of proposed spending items for the 2010 federal budget, including earmarks for 89 projects within the state. As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Obey holds the purse strings of nearly all of the government's spending projects.

The Wausau Democrat says he is seeking $333 million for various programs ranging from helping local villages implement better sewage treatment plans to controlling fish diseases in the Great Lakes.

The number of requests submitted by localities to Obey's office grew significantly over the previous year's total because of the recession, according to a statement accompanying the list of projects.

"However, recognizing the budget realities, only a small percentage of projects being laid on the table for consideration will actually receive funding," the statement said.

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Climate change in Lake Superior ice

Star Tribune - April 6

What started as a high school science fair project is the latest piece of evidence that global warming is affecting Lake Superior.

Forrest Howk, now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, studied 150 years of data in his hometown of Bayfield, Wis., and found that the harbor's frozen season has shrunk from about 120 days to 80 days.

The findings, published in the latest issue of Journal of Great Lakes Research, are consistent with recent studies showing that maximum ice cover in the Great Lakes has decreased slowly but steadily over the years.

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