Pennsylvania Sea Grant Helps Lake Erie and the Nation
If you visited the Pennsylvania shoreline of Lake Erie in the early 1970s or read about it, you may recall a series of large, toxic algae blooms covering the Lake. This event was so severe, Time Magazine reported that the Lake was all but completely dead.
If you’ve been around a lake fully engulfed in a toxic algae bloom, you know how devastating and unhealthy such events can be. Certain types of algae are dangerous to both humans and animals. Algae blooms can occur naturally, and many are relatively harmless. Other more severe infestations are fueled by agricultural runoff of fertilizers, harming the environment, local economies, people, and pets.
Fortunately, dedicated people from regional science institutions, federal agencies, university student groups, and volunteer organizations worked together in the 1970s to save Lake Erie from toxic algae blooms. Today, this Great Lake region has regained its ecological, economic, and recreational vibrancy.
Beginning in 1998, The Pennsylvania Sea Grant became part of the team funding the needed research, remediation, and outreach to address ecological problems on the Pennsylvania coast of Lake Erie. Finding solutions to toxic algae blooms which still occasionally happen is only one of the Pennsylvania Sea Grant activities. Another of their current programs is helping to monitor and control exotic pet turtles let loose in state waterways.
Pennsylvania's Sea Grant Program
Pennsylvania is a landlocked state excepting for a 51 mile stretch of shoreline along the southern edge of Lake Erie. Pennsylvania also includes another 112 miles of tidal estuary along the Delaware River, and the watershed of the Susquehanna River drains rainwater and snowmelt from most of the state. The Susquehanna drainage is also a significant contributor of water to the Chesapeake Bay.
However, Pennsylvania's total miles of coastal and shoreline area is small compared to other nearby states, such as New York, Ohio, and New Jersey. The shorter coastline in Pennsylvania may be the reason this state was the last to receive funding from the National Sea Grant Program.
Similar to land-grant colleges, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) created a National Sea Grant Program in 1966. The purpose of sea-grants is to fund marine research and then share that knowledge with the public, industry, schools, and colleges. Sea-grants are given to existing educational institutions located in coastal and Great Lake areas, and by 1998, all states had a sea-grant program except Pennsylvania.
In that same year, NOAA finally included Pennsylvania State University in the National Sea Grant Program. The program's mission is promoting the informed stewardship of Pennsylvania's coastline and watersheds through programs centered on scientific research, public education, and communication of research findings with the broader public.
The Pennsylvania Sea Grant Program is run in partnership by Penn State University, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and NOAA.
Enjoying Pennsylvania's Recreational Waterways
The Lake Erie and river shorelines and estuaries of Pennsylvania provide numerous valuable recreational opportunities to state residents and visitors. Pennsylvania's waterways offer excellent boating, fishing, windsurfing, winter ice fishing, kayaking, camping, hunting, nature walks, and more.
The sandy beaches of Pennsylvania's Great Lake coast are another popular outdoor attraction, unavailable in other nearby states. Many of the best waterway recreational opportunities in the state are located in the Presque Isle State Park. This Park is also one of the locations where the Pennsylvania Sea Grant is researching control of exotic turtles.
Pennsylvania's Sea Grant programs enhance our understanding and protection of the valuable natural and economic waterway resources in Pennsylvania.
Reasons for Choosing Organic Cotton
At first blush, the idea of organic cotton might sound a bit over-the-top. Organic food is one thing. We eat food, and it’s easy to see why people don’t want to eat food sprayed with pesticides. We usually don’t think about eating cotton, although a surprising number of foods contain ingredients made with this plant. But there are many reasons for considering buying organic cotton clothing and other products.
Cotton is a popular, versatile, and comfortable fabric used to make everything from denim to velvet to tee-shirts. And as much cotton as the world uses, this crop only takes up 2.5 percent of all cultivated cropland, but it uses as much as 25 percent of all agriculturally applied pesticides.
Organic Cotton Reduces Pollution and Environmental Damage
The average tee-shirt weighs about five ounces, but it takes as much as one-third of a pound of pesticides to grow that small amount of cotton with conventional agricultural methods. Also, the pesticides used on cotton crops are especially toxic and include several chemicals banned in other countries.
Organic cotton growers control pests in several ways: by planting pest-resistant cotton varieties; by introducing beneficial insects that are predators of the pest species; by seasonally rotating crops to new fields to avoid a build-up of pests in the soil. They also make limited use of organically acceptable natural pesticides, which are less harmful to the environment than their synthetic counterparts.
Cotton also needs plenty of fertilizer, and the synthetic fertilizers used on most farms are highly concentrated, creating problems of run-off leading to algae blooms in waterways. Organic cotton growers add nutrients to the soil using less concentrated source materials than synthetic fertilizers, including composted manures, cover crops residues, and slow release forms of organic fertilizer made from feathers, cottonseed meal, and bone meal.
Growing cotton organically helps reduce pollution from pesticide and fertilizer run-off and protects other species in the environment – including humans.
Organic Cotton is Healthier for Farmers and Consumers
When you purchase organic cotton clothing and other cotton products, you are also supporting healthier work and living places for farmers, farm workers, farm families, and people living in farming communities. These benefits extend to retail workers in stores selling cotton fabric and even to the health of the consumer.
While pesticide residues do not usually make it into a finished cotton product, the dyes and finishing chemicals used in the manufacture of non-organic and synthetic fabrics can be toxic to the user, especially children. Synthetic materials also shed long-lasting microscopic fibers which can irritate the skin or wash out into the environment. These chemicals are prohibited in organic production, so choosing organic cotton clothing eliminates these health concerns.
Organic Cotton Conserves Water
Because organic farmers spend a lot of time improving the soil by adding compost and other organic material, the soil is then better at retaining moisture. This is one reason organic cotton farmers use an average of 20 percent less water to grow their crops than conventional cotton farms.
Another way organic cotton saves water is during manufacturing. The amount of cotton in a pair of jeans requires as much as 1,800 gallons of water when its processed. Much of this water is needed for the toxic dyes and finishes used on non-organic cotton clothing. Organic cotton clothing is made without the use of these harsh chemicals, resulting in less water use during the manufacturing process.
Organic Cotton in Our Food
While you can’t eat cotton balls, many cotton byproducts are used in food production. For example, cottonseed oil is used in shortenings and is a source for vitamin E. Cottonseed meal is used as feed for livestock, and cotton cellulose is widely used as a thickener and stabilizer in many processed foods.
When you purchase organic cotton clothing and other organic cotton products, you are also helping to boost the supply of organic cottonseed oil, cottonseed meal, and cellulose as a byproduct for use in organic foods.
Next time you consider buying a cotton tee-shirt or other garment, keep in mind the many benefits of choosing organic cotton, and remember, you are what you wear!
Walleye 101: Tips for Catching Old Marble Eyes
Where ever walleye are found you can count on them being near the top of the list when it comes to most popular game fish. Not only are they found in a variety of habitat, they are known for their fighting ability and taste great too. But they are also challenging to catch, known to be finicky, so it important you come prepared.
One of the reasons walleye are so popular is their ability to adapt to a variety of waters, making them accessible to a wide number of anglers. But it is important to remember that they will not be found in the same conditions on each water.
- Lakes – due to their size it can be difficult to locate walleye in a new lake. Focus on shallow weed beds, flat, humps and drop offs. Basically, any change in contour is a likely hide. In the spring start with those areas in shallow water, the places that the sun will warm first. As the season progresses follow the walleye as they move deeper and deeper. Reverse the process as fall, and cooler water temperatures, arrive.
- Rivers – when searching a river for walleye start deep. Remember that deep is a relative term and depends on the overall depth of the surrounding waters, it may be 15ft or it may be an 8ft pocket. Cover, whether natural or manmade, will make a specific pool even more attractive. There are any dams near by these should always be the first spot checked as they restrict upstream movement, causing fish to gather on the
Walleye can be caught from shore or by boat, casting lures or live bait and even when trolling. Here are some tips for each method
- Gear – most situations require a similar set up; 6 ½ to 7’ rod with a medium / medium heavy action, baitcaster or spinning reel and 8-12 lb. line (depending on conditions and size of fish you expect to catch.) If trolling I suggest going heavier, with a 7-9 ft. rod in medium heavy action and baitcaster spooled with 12 lb. line.
- Live bait – live bait is always the preference as it allows you to give the walleye exactly what they are searching for. For this to be most successful you need bait that is found locally, either caught yourself or from a local source. You also need a means of keeping this bait alive, otherwise you a really defeating the purpose.
- Artificial lures -walleye can be caught on a wide range of artificials including jigs, blade baits, crankbaits and stickbaits. Again, it is important to match the local baitfish when you select an artificial although you can add a little bit of color of flash.
Although your specific tactics will change depending on exactly where you are fishing, here are some general tips to get you started:
- Walleye are most active during periods of low light. Dusk, dawn, overcast days and even moon lite nights are your best bet.
- Walleye tend to hand near or just off the bottom, usually within a foot or two. Start with baits that target this depth and then adjust as needed.
Good luck, good fishing!
Natural resources are naturally occurring parts of the environment that do not exist because of human intervention. They are part of the earth, seas and skies. For example, there are minerals, trees, fish, animals and fossil fuels. All of these exist in nature in and of itself, and cannot be synthetically created by humans.
Humans exploit these natural resources to live. We need air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. We use timber to build shelter, we use plants and animals to eat, and we use fossil fuels to power machinery that we make out of ores we dig out of the ground and smelt into metals.
Natural resources can be divided into 2 main categories: renewable and non-renewable. We harvest timber, but trees can be replanted to grow into new timber resources. We catch fish to eat, but with proper management, we can give new fish the proper environmental conditions to grow and breed to renew the fish population that was harvested.
Non-renewable natural resources are ones that exist in a finite amount, that is, they cannot be replaced once they have been taken for our use. We mine coal from under the ground to burn. Once it has been burned, that amount of coal can never be re-created. We pump oil with wells from under the surface of the earth to use for petroleum products such as gasoline. Once an oil field has run dry, we cannot replenish that oil. Minerals such as copper, gold and silver also fall into this category.
Because we use many of these natural resources to survive, it is very important that we take the time and effort to conserve them. If we don’t, we will lose them. We have lost several species of animals over the last 200+ years because of overharvesting (the great auk, passenger pigeons, and the western black rhinoceros). At times in our history we have also overharvested timber and fish.
Conservationists are always working to save environments and species from overuse and pollution. It is a challenging job. Many natural resources are worth a lot of money, and that causes a strain on their continued viability. Some people only see natural resources as potential profit, and don’t see the long view of saving them for future generations to enjoy.
It’s important that we care for our natural resources and use them wisely, not only for our benefit but also for the benefit of those who will need them for their own survival in years to come.
Presque Isle is located on Lake Erie, off the shore of the state of Pennsylvania. Although it is a state park, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources didn’t have adequate funding to maintain and develop the park. Since they are tasked with maintaining and preserving the state's 121 state parks and 20 state forests, their resources are stretched a bit thin.
So, in 1994, several like-minded citizens got together to create a non-profit organization called The Presque Isle Partnership. The mission they had in mind was to fund and complete projects that were needed, but that the DCNR and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were not able to work on.
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre peninsula which arches into Lake Erie. It has a wide variety of activities available to the visitor, such as hiking, swimming, bicycling, fishing and boating. It is also home to many of the state’s rare and endangered species.
Over the years, the Presque Isle Partnership’s projects have ranged from lighthouse restoration to ADA accessible piers to providing 60 recycled aluminum picnic tables. They’ve also created a Nature Play Space at beach 11, and a new pavilion at Perry Monument. The partnership is dedicated to helping to preserve and improve this wonderful and scenic state park for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.
Severe Weather Warning: Safety Tips for When Weather Turns Bad
Most people dismiss the ideal of weather being dangerous, thinking of it as more of an inconvenience. But it is important to remember that severe weather can be deadly AND it can strike without warning. If you have an outdoor get away planned, you need to ensure you have one eye on the sky and a plan for if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
Flash flood, tornados, severe thunderstorm and even dangerous hail are environmental issues that strike without warning and cause death or injuries every season. Sadly, many weather-related injuries could be avoided if only those involved had obtained a little training. Hopefully, the following tips will get you started in the right direction and help ensure your next adventure does not become a weather disaster.
Preparation is Key
Prior to heading out on your next adventure it is important you take a few simple steps to prepare for a possible weather emergency. Although the odds of being struck by lighting or caught in a tornado are slime if it does happen you will have little time to react, never mind develop a plan on how to do so.
- Identify the weather-related issues you are most likely to encounter during your adventure.
- Check the weather prior to leaving, once you arrive at your destination and frequently during extended trips.
- Have a plan for how you and your party will react – when you will leave, how you will do so and where you will go are essential. You should also have a communication plan and preferred meeting place should you become separated.
Thunderstorms and Lightning
Spring and summer are prime time for thunderstorms and the lightning that accompanies them. While thunderstorms are more likely to occurring during late afternoon or early evening, they could occur any time the conditions are right. If you see signs of a possible thunderstorm – dark skies, lightning flashes or increased winds – assume a storm is about to strike and prepare for the worst.
- Take shelter in building or vehicle. Close all windows & doors while positioning yourself low and away from glass.
- Avoid taking shelter under single trees as they will likely attract lightning.
- If caught in the open avoid being the tallest object in the area- seek depressions or low laying areas as opposed to hills or open fields.
- Stay out of the water. Lightning can use the water to travel great distances.
Flash floods are the result of heavy, rapid rain fall in a localized area. It is important to remember that a distant rain storm can cause flooding anywhere downstream.
- Move to higher ground as soon as possible.
- Stay out of the water as it may be contaminated.
- Avoid crossing flooded areas. Turn around don’t drown. Remember, it only takes 6” of water to knock you off your feet and 2’ to float an automobile.
Due to most hail be small and unlikely to cause and damage or injury it is often discounted when it comes to weather emergencies. However, the largest hail on record was larger than a softball and feel at speeds close to 100 mph.
- Seek shelter in a sturdy building avoid windows.
- If no shelter is available lay flat and cover your head for protection from injury.
- If in a vehicle seek protection as hail may break windows.
Although tornados generally occur in spring it is possible to encounter one any time of year or time of day. If in tornado prone areas monitor weather reports and be aware of how the watch or warning system works.
- Identify possible tornado. In addition to the classic funnel cloud look for dark, greenish clouds or clouds of debris already collected.
- Leave vehicle, campers, tents etc. You must take shelter in a sturdy building, staying clear of windows.
- Be prepared for flooding to occur in conjunction with the tornado.
- If outdoors find a depression, backside of hill or another natural break wall.
Good luck and safe adventuring!
What is Conservation and Why Does it Matter?
The 26th president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country,” and most people probably agree when they understand what Roosevelt meant by conservation.
The dictionary definition of conservation is preventing the waste of resources, and in the meaning spoken by President Roosevelt, conservation refers explicitly to the protection of wild lands and the wildlife living there.
Conservation in the modern sense also refers to a plan of managing natural resources to protect them from wanton destruction and over-use. Most people would agree that protecting our natural resources benefits human beings in multiple ways, from the material to the spiritual.
Conservation’s Long History in America
During the taming of the American frontier, free-market interests had been at the forefront of people’s priorities. Many populations of elk, bison, deer, and other game were reduced to dangerously low levels because it was legal to hunt these animals and sell their products on the open market. Habitat was lost due to the development of farmland and towns, further reducing native animal populations.
By the mid-1800s, many people had moved from rural areas to cities, and this change prompted an increasing public interest in the spectacular landscapes, wildlands, and wildlife across the U.S. As people took up city life, they also took up a greater interest in retreating to the wilderness for relaxation and renewal. Hunting, fishing, and camping became widely enjoyed recreational activities.
Soon after this, hunters and anglers began seeing the importance of protecting game populations and their natural habitats to preserve these sports for future generations. This was the era of Teddy Roosevelt and his campaign for the creation of our National Parks, National Forests, and the extensive network of game and bird reserves, furthering his goal of nature conservation and the continuation of the sport of hunting which he loved so much.
An American Vision of Conservation
Roosevelt’s vision for protecting the wildlands of America combined with the desires of sportsmen and women around the country to preserve the traditions and pleasures of hunting and fishing. A movement began for developing a national system of managing and monitoring wildlife populations and the natural environments they need for survival.
The result was the creation of The North American Wildlife Conservation Model, a uniquely American vision for sustaining wildlife populations and habitat while also preserving American traditions of hunting, fishing, and trapping.
Seven important principles form the backbone of this conservation model:
- Wildlife is viewed as a public trust, owned by all Americans and managed by state and federal governments for the benefit of all citizens.
- Native animals and their products cannot be sold, which ensures that market forces cannot create an incentive for depleting wildlife and fish populations.
- Laws have been established for the government taking the lead in protecting and managing wild animal populations, rather than allowing private industry or private property owners to take on this role.
- Other laws establish the right to hunt and fish for all Americans and help keep fees low for hunting and fishing licenses so everyone who wants to can participate.
- Hunters and anglers are expected to use animal products for reasonable purposes and not to kill wantonly or for trophies.
- International treaties for wildlife conservation further protect native animal populations, since many species migrate across national borders.
- Science is used to study wildlife populations so that all decisions on management have a sound foundation in field observation and research.
Conservation Protects American Traditions and Wildlife
The concepts of conservation set out by President Roosevelt in 1906 have resulted in a uniquely American system for protecting wildlands and fisheries, while also protecting the rights of all Americans to hunt game and catch fish while enjoying the great outdoors.
Turkey Hunts, Conservation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation
Do you enjoy hunting wild turkeys? Or, are you thinking about taking up the sport of turkey hunting? If so, you should know about The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
Even if you are familiar with the NWTF, you may not know about all of their accomplishments, projects, and public outreach with the mission of improving wild turkey populations, wildlife habitat, and hunting opportunities.
The Beginnings of the National Wild Turkey Federation
The NWTF began operation in 1973, founded as a non-profit conservation and education organization with the mission of increasing wild turkey populations from their low levels at that time while also preserving the tradition and heritage of turkey hunting.
Since its inception, the NWTF has gathered more than 250,000 volunteers and members in 14 countries and worked with wildlife organizations, government agencies, and private businesses to restore wild turkey habitats on public and private land, resulting in current populations of about 7 million birds, up from an estimated low of 1.5 million in 1973.
NWTF and their partners have protected and improved over 17,000,000 acres of turkey habitat, spending $372 million to do it.
The NWTF is dedicated to using sound, scientific methods for managing and protecting the wild turkey. A technical committee of biologists specializing in this species regularly meet and recommend management strategies and conduct field research.
The NWTF has always included as a part of its mission educating the public about conservation, responsible hunting, and protecting this native bird and its habitat.
NWTF Public Outreach and Conservation Education Programs
The NWTF makes a special effort to help women, children, and people with disabilities acquire skills and experience in the outdoors.
JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) is an NWTF program for young people up to age 12, teaching about stewardship of natural resources, animal habitat management concepts, and providing young people with an opportunity for fishing and hiking adventures.
JAKES Xtreme is NWTF group for teens between the ages of 13 and 18 with an added emphasis on challenging outdoor experience during camping and fishing excursions where tom calls and plant identification are part of the curriculum.
JAKES Take Aim is designed for teens age 17 and under who want to learn the basics of target shooting and shotgun safety using clay targets in a fun learning atmosphere with skilled instructors.
JAKES Country Magazine is a quarterly print publication for children available for $10 per year.
Wheelin’ Sportsmen is a fishing, hunting, and target practice program for disabled people, organized through local NWTF chapters.
Women in the Outdoors provides outdoor recreational experiences and education for women.
More Places to Hunt is a hunting land acquisition program working with public and private landowners to increase places for hunting.
NWTF Interagency Conservation Programs
Making Tracks is a cooperative effort between NWTF and state and federal wildlife agencies to regenerate wild turkey habitat and populations by trapping and relocating birds to suitable new areas.
The Hunting Heritage Super Fund is another joint project which helps with planning new hunting areas, planting wildlife forage crops, developing wildlife water sources, and clearing brush for fire prevention.
The North American Wild Turkey Management Plan identifies suitable wild turkey habitat in North America and has helped introduce these birds to over 2,000,000 acres of land.
Go for the Gould’s is a collaboration between the NWTF and the Arizona Game and Fish Department for moving the Gould species of wild turkey to mountain regions of southern Arizona where this bird once thrived.
Project HELP is a program designed by NWTF to assist landowners in managing and improving their property for the benefit of wildlife by offering discounts on seedlings and seeds for wildlife-beneficial plants.
Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt is a ten-year plan developed by the NWTF to conserve four million additional acres of wildlife habitat, recruit 1.5 million new hunters, and open access to an additional half million acres of hunting land.
NWTF also promotes family hunting trips through its Families Afield Program and offers academic scholarships to youth each year in partnership with Future Farmers of America (FFA).
As you can see, the National Wild Turkey Federation is a busy organization dedicated to preserving the wild turkey, wildlife habitat, and hunting opportunities for the public. To find out about their programs, membership, volunteer opportunities, and more, contact one of the many local NWTF chapters across the United States.
Turkey Hunting Tips for Beginners
Turkeys are one of the most popular game species in North America, rivaling whitetails in some sections of the country. There is good reason for the popularity as turkeys are cunning, have excellent eye sight and harder to outsmart than most beginners think. In truth, the turkey is often under estimated as an adversary. If you are preparing for your first turkey hunt you will need all the help you can get if you are to fill your tag. Let us give you some useful pointers to get you started.
Rely on those who know
There is no reason to go it alone when enjoying a new outdoor adventure. Regardless of what you might think hunters are more than willing to share their knowledge with newbies. They may not take you to their secret spot, but most are more than willing to help you get started. All you need to do is ask. Do not forget the professionals who protect your state’s natural resources either. The fish & game professionals are all sportsmen as well and enjoy sharing their knowledge and insider tips with fellow sportsmen.
Turkeys can be taken with a wide variety of weapons include bow & arrow, crossbow, muzzleloader & in some jurisdictions rifles, although the shotgun is most commonly used. Be sure to check local regulations before selecting a firearm to ensure it is legal where you will be hunting. If using a shotgun, the standard is the 12-gauge fitted with full choke and loaded with either #4, #5 or #6 shot. You should pattern your personal shotgun with various loads to determine which works best with that firearm.
Turkeys can not detect sound or scent as well as other game species, such as the whitetail, but their eye sight is as keen as any. For this reason, camouflage is not an option, it is a necessity. You need to cover everything head to toe including face masks, gloves and paint on any exposed skin. Most hunters also camouflage their guns as well. Increase your concealment by taking a position against a tree, shrub or other natural material as it will make you blend even better.
Calling has a tendency to get new hunters into trouble. Poorly done calls and calling too much does more harm than good, driving birds away before you ever see them. Practice calling long before hitting the woods and select a call that is easier to learn, such as the box call. Once it is time to hunt keep calling to a minimum. Call to let birds know where you are and just enough to keep them moving in your direction.
It is possible to hunt without decoys, but there is no doubt they increase the odds in your favor. As with calling I recommend you keep your decoys to a minimum – a hen & jake early in the season and 1 or 2 hens later. Male decoys tend to frighten off younger toms and can cause dominate toms to tend hen rather than strutting into range.
Taking the shot
Once a bird has entered your effective range, usually inside 45 yards, it is time to take the shot. If you plan on harvesting and eating your bird head shots are a must, otherwise you will be picking shot from your teeth. Pick out a bird, focus, breath and squeeze the trigger.
Once final piece of advice – HAVE FUN! Hunting is about more than harvesting a trophy, it is about enjoying your time in the field and connecting with friends or family in the process. Make every day count by making every hunt enjoyable.
The Hunter’s Role in Conservation
Teddy Roosevelt, U.S. President from 1901 to 1909, was an avid hunter and a champion of nature conservation, initiating the National Park system and the establishment of hundreds of wildlife preserves around the country.
He once said, “The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as the enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality, the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”
From Roosevelt’s time onward, hunters and anglers have played an important role in the conservation of natural resources in the U.S., and too often, this fact is overlooked or ignored.
How a Hunter Began the U.S. Conservation Movement
Roosevelt’s work creating the modern U.S. conservation movement came on the heels of a time when hunting contributed significantly to the destruction of land and animal populations.
In the century before Roosevelt, hunting was not a recreation or sport, it was a way of life and a means to livelihood. Meat, pelts, and other animal products were sold for profit, creating a financial incentive for over-hunting. Many animal species, such as the carrier pigeon, were hunted to extinction, and others, such as the bison, to near extinction.
As a sports hunter, Roosevelt saw the need for laws and conservation policies to make the pleasures of hunting available to all Americans in the future. Along with Roosevelt, other Americans joined forces to develop the principles of the modern conservation movement, including zoologist George Bird Grinnell, forester Gifford Pinchot, and naturalist and writer John Muir.
These pioneers of conservation were helped by hunters, anglers, and other citizens who simply enjoyed the outdoors for camping, hiking, and wildlife watching. Ultimately, the vision of all of these people resulted in the creation of The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, a unique set of guiding principles underlying the modern American conservation movement and protecting American’s right to hunt.
Hunters Continue Aiding Conservation
In 1937, federal legislation was introduced to secure a source of funding for the preservation of wildlands and management of the animals living there. This law, called The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and more commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, requires states to collect fees from hunting licenses to fund wildlife management programs.
The Pittman-Robertson Act also requires an 11 percent tax on guns and ammunition, sending these funds to state wildlife agencies for the protection of habitat. Similar legislation soon broadened these taxes to include angling gear and Duck Stamps. Since its inception, this legislation has raised over 14 billion dollars to fund state agencies managing fish and wildlife and preserved many thousands of acres of land.
Thanks to these taxes on hunters and anglers, over half of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget and more than 60 percent of the funding for state fish and wildlife agencies is secured each year. The once nearly decimated species of wood duck, wild turkey, and white-tailed deer have rebounded dramatically as a result of these funds.
Another way hunters help conservation is by controlling animal populations which otherwise cause harm to the environment by over-grazing. The Nature Conservancy reports that overpopulation of white-tail deer in eastern U.S. is among the worst threats to native plant species and reforestation efforts, and hunting helps keep deer populations in control.
A Decline in Hunting Threatens Wildlife Populations
Hunting as a sport is declining rapidly across the U.S. Fifty years ago, over 10 percent of Americans hunted, but that number is now down to only 5 percent. With fewer hunters, funds for conservation have decreased dramatically, leaving some departments understaffed and unable to adequately monitor and manage wildlife and habitat.
Responsible hunters who follow laws and regulations, pay excise taxes on guns and ammunition, and who pay for hunting licenses play a crucial role in preserving populations of wildlife and their habitat. By passing on your skills and knowledge of hunting to your children and grandchildren, or by taking up the sport of hunting, you help preserve American wildlands and wildlife for the benefit of everyone.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Conservation Collaborators
Teddy Roosevelt began the modern conservation movement by initiating laws protecting wilderness environments and the wildlife living there. But, he didn’t do this alone.
Here are several of the most prominent collaborators in President Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation movement.
John Muir: Naturalist and Writer
John Muir was born in Scotland and loved the outdoors even as a child. His family immigrated to the U.S when he was 11 years old. As a university student, Muir received his first lesson in botany from a fellow student under a black locust tree on campus, inspiring him to study plants and animals in nature.
Muir called nature the ‘University of Wilderness’ and traveled far and wide. He walked from Kentucky to Florida and wrote a book about his adventures called A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. He eventually moved to California where he soon made a trip to Yosemite.
Muir’s experience in Yosemite inspired him to take up the cause of protecting this spectacular landscape through federal legislation. He became acquainted with Teddy Roosevelt during this time and personally showed him Yosemite’s wonders in 1903. This visit strongly influenced Roosevelt’s decision to include Yosemite in the newly created National Park system.
In 1892, Muir and others formed the Sierra Club. Muir also was instrumental in helping to establish the Grand Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. He published sixteen popular books during his long life.
Gifford Pinchot: American Forest Conservationist
Gifford Pinchot was a primary collaborator with Roosevelt in establishing the National Forest system. Pinchot was born in Connecticut, and his father encouraged him to become a forester when the science of forestry was just starting.
Pinchot followed his father’s advice, becoming an avid conservationist focusing on the protection of American forests. He was one of the founders of The Society of American Foresters.
When Roosevelt established the Forest Service in 1905, he appointed Pinchot to be the head of this new agency where Pinchot encouraged the principles of managing the forest for the benefit of both human needs and the forest environment, promoting a philosophy he called “wise use.”
During his tenure at the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot oversaw the increase in federally managed forest land from 56 million acres in 1905 to 172 million acres by 1910.
George Bird Grinnell: Protector of American Bison
George Bird Grinnell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1849 and studied zoology at Yale University. He soon became a leader of the nascent American conservation movement as a writer, naturalist, and anthropologist studying Native American culture. One of his most lasting contributions was protecting the American bison from extinction.
As a writer, Grinnell focused on the history and way of life of Native Americans and the loss of bison, mule deer, and elk in Yellowstone Park. He was also the editor for 35 years at the magazine Field and Stream. An expose´ on game poaching in Yellowstone published there resulted in Congress enacting the Yellowstone Park Protection Act of 1894.
Field and Stream was immensely popular with the American public. The magazine educated readers about conservation and the damage done by hunting for profit while also promoting sports hunting, fishing, and canoeing. The publication helped found the National Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to protecting birds.
Ding Darling: Cartoonist and Hunter
Ding Darling was well-known for creating editorial cartoons highlighting many issues, including conservation. Darling was an avid hunter and angler, and living near the Midwestern prairie he saw how the loss of habitat and market hunting were destroying the environment he loved. He was a friend of Teddy Roosevelt and drew a cartoon in 1901 in support of Roosevelt’s plan to create the National Forest Service.
Darling’s also used his artistic talents to help design the first Duck Stamp. Later, Darling designed the Blue Goose image which indicates national wildlife refuge lands.
In 1934, Darling was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to be Director of the U.S. Biological Survey, now called U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, where he became known as “the best friend a duck ever had.”
Ding Darling’s contribution to conservation is honored by the Ding Darling Wildlife Society and the Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida where he loved going to watch birds.
Sources and Hyperlinks:
Theodore Roosevelt, Conservation Pioneer
We are very lucky in the United States to be able to enjoy our wilderness. We take for granted that we can all have access to the beautiful scenery and nature in our National Parks. We have public lands in every state where people can enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing and camping. If it wasn’t for the foresight of those who came before us, most of that land would be owned by private interests and misused for profit.
It was an uphill battle for early conservationists in the fight to save those wild places for us to use. In the early industrial age it was hard to convince people that it was important to leave some wild places for their children’s children to enjoy.
One of the people who made saving nature a lifelong cause was our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt.
As a boy, Theodore Roosevelt was curious about nature, animals, and the wilderness. Although his body was sickly, his mind was healthy. He read many books and educated himself about wildlife. As he got older, his health improved and he spent many happy hours hunting and fishing.
He worked hard as a young man to log all of the species he encountered in his adventures in the wild. Although he lacked experience, he taught himself taxidermy so he could preserve the birds and animals he collected. He eventually donated his natural collection to the Smithsonian Institution.
In the mid-1800’s, people who were closely connected to nature began to understand that the large number of loggers, and miners were threatening whole ecosystems. One of the first people to draw attention to this growing problem was George Bird Grinnell, the editor of Forest and Stream Magazine. He used his publication as a way to promote the controlled use of our natural resources; to use scientific forest management and encourage the safeguarding of clean water.
Because of their shared desire to save the land, and preserve game animals and their environments, Teddy Roosevelt, and George Bird Grinnell founded the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887. One of the club’s most powerful efforts was to fight for the defense of Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone had already been granted the status of a national park, but there was no provision to save it from misuse by commercial businesses. With their lobbying, editorials and convincing speaking engagements, the Boone and Crockett Club persuaded those in power that Yellowstone must be kept as it was. President Grover Cleveland signed a bill in 1894 that gave the park that defense.
When he became President in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was able to use his determination to save as many of the beautiful, natural places in the United States as he could.
As President, he created the new United States Forest Service. He also established 230 million acres of public lands—150 million of which were chosen as national forests. He created 51 Federal Bird Reserves, which are known today as National Wildlife Refuges. These are managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Roosevelt’s feelings about the importance of conservation can be summed up by this message he gave at the 1908 Conference on the Conservation of Natural Resources, “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources and we have just reason to be proud of our growth. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have been still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields, and obstructing navigation. These questions do not relate only to the next century or to the next generation. It is time for us now as a nation to exercise the same reasonable foresight in dealing with our great natural resources that would be shown by any prudent man in conserving and widely using the property which contains the assurance of well-being for himself and his children.”
Theodore Roosevelt dedicated a great deal of his life to ensure that future generations could enjoy the majesty of nature that we still enjoy to this day.
Spring time is Crappie time: Tips for taking early season slabs
Crappie are almost the perfect game fish. They are abundant, easy to catch and offer a tasty treat for those who wish to harvest them. They can also be caught year-round, but if you want BIG crappie you need to chase the spring time spawn. Let us share some tips on how to fill your creel with frying pan size slabs.
Yes, crappie can be caught year-round. Big crappies can also be caught year-round. So why the focus on spring? Because the spring spawn produces the perfect conditions to catch a lot of big crappie more easily. But to be successful you need to know why that is and how to take advantage of this extraordinary situation.
Moving to the shallows
In early spring crappies move into the shallows in search to pre-spawn areas. For those in the north this will occur just after ice out. Further south look for this to happen after the first few steady, warm says of spring weather. Likely locations include backwaters, marina basins or even windward shorelines where warmer water piles. They will also want cover so focus on those areas with rocky, brush or weed covered bottoms. As temperatures rise, usually when water hits the 50-degree mark, spawning age fish will seek out areas with firmer bottom. They will still want some sort of vertical cover though.
Back to basics
Most of us learned to fish with a hook, bait and a bobber. It is time to return to your youth. Because crappies prefer to hide in vertical cover the best way to target them is dropping your bait right into that cover. Even if you are fishing from shore this rig will allow you to cast over that cover and still present your bait properly. As far as bait is concerned you need to start with a jig. This jig can be tipped with almost any live bait, or even small plastics such as curly tailed grubs, but nothing beats small minnows. Most of your casts will be short so your choice of rod & reel does not need to be too fancy, but your line does need to be up to the task. Not only will you be catching larger crappie, but you will be pulling them from weed cover. Most anglers will select 6 lb. test with some going as high as 8 lbs.
School is in
One of the traits of the crappie, and something you need to take advantage of, is their tendency to gather in large schools. Crappies school in large groups, especially during the spawn, but will not move far to chase a bait. The larger spawning females and their male suitors will be in the primer locations with smaller juveniles on the outer edges of the same habitat.
Once you find likely cover make a few exploratory casts searching for the fish. If you do not get any bites after a few casts move a couple feet in either direction and try again. If throwing plastics you can try changing up the color combination but do not waste too much time on an unproductive spot. Same holds true is you are catching fish, but they are all juveniles. But one you start landing the big adults stay put.
Good luck, good fishing!
Imagine your frustration and sadness if you drove up to your favorite hunting or fishing area to find a “Closed to Public” sign now hanging on the gate. Imagine you had just arrived with your children or grandchildren to give them their first experience in the sport you love so much.
Hunting and fishing are American traditions, and sportsmen and women everywhere want to enjoy these activities themselves and share their skills and pleasure in the natural world with the next generation.
Loss of access to high-quality hunting and fishing areas threatens both the tradition of these sports and the benefits to wildlife populations brought about by responsible hunting and fishing. Fortunately, organizations such as the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) are taking action against this threat, and they need your support.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Gift to Americans
Teddy Roosevelt was himself an avid hunter, and he understood the importance of nature conservation for keeping this sport alive and thriving.
In fact, the existence of our National Parks, National Forests, and federal bird reserves and game preserves is due to the American Antiquities Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1906 at President Roosevelt’s request. The TRCP is named in honor of President Roosevelt’s legacy to conservation.
TRCP Continues President Roosevelt’s Legacy of Natural Conservation
The TRCP is a 501c3 non-profit organization with the mission of assisting in the creation and implementation of federal laws and policies to protect the integrity of wildlands and wildlife and to preserve access to these lands for responsible hunting and fishing for all Americans.
In 2002, the TRCP was created by a coalition of individuals, organizations, and businesses with an interest in nature conservation from the perspective of hunters and anglers. Since then, TRCP has worked to increase federal funding for conservation and protection of wildlands and guarantee Americans continued access to high-quality areas for hunting and fishing.
TRCP also spends considerable effort on educating legislators and policymakers about the science of wildlife management and the benefits of responsible hunting and fishing and its role in maintaining healthy populations of wildlife and fish.
The TRCP has also partnered with Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation in creating Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development. This organization’s mission is conserving forests and other natural resources and amplifying the voices of hunters and anglers, so their concerns are heard by policymakers and legislators.
How You Can Support the TRCP
You can support the TRCP by sending them a donation, by becoming a free member of their organization, and by subscribing to their blog and keeping yourself up-to-date on developments affecting conservation, hunting, and fishing.
By supporting the TRCP, you are making your voice heard as a hunter or angler, and you are helping to ensure continued access to public lands so you can enjoy the sports you love and pass these traditions on to the next generation.
Inspired by the peace and beauty found in nature, we offer clothing for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Whether you like to hike and camp or fish and hunt, each item of clothing we make is created with you in mind--people who enjoy the outdoors as much as we do. We believe in the importance of form and function in our products, so we combine unique designs with mostly organic material to produce clothing for your active lifestyle.
Blending the word "zen”, representing peace, and the Latin word for hunting, “venari,” Zenarii is the ultimate intersection of nature and conservation. Our mission is to sell clothing that represents everything we love about the outdoors, while supporting conservation and preservation efforts. Seventy percent of our products are made with organic cotton and made in the US. Organic cotton means that it is not treated with any pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides. It also does not contain materials from genetically modified plants.
While some of our clothing is made with non-organic materials, each item is clearly marked so you can be in control of your choices. We at Zenarii believe that using organic materials is important for the protection our environment, and our goal is to become one-hundred percent organic and US based.
Zenarii Gives Back
We also want to make everyone aware that the fees paid by hunters and fishermen are in a large part what fuels conservation efforts in our country. We believe that spending time in nature brings out our inner peace and sense of well-being—feelings in short supply in the hustle and bustle of a city. We all get to experience this joy while visiting our public lands for kayaking, hiking, camping, back country skiing and more. So, our ability to experience this harmony with nature is due in part to the money paid for fishing licenses and hunting permits.
We proudly donate 10 percent from each item purchased to organizations dedicated to preserving and conserving nature. See our blog and Facebook page for more information on the organizations that will be receiving these donations.