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June 2013 Conservation Report
Michigan DNR License Change/Governors
In February the Governor submitted a
budget proposal. Last week the budget package cleared both houses
of the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor. The
license package is being addressed in separate legislation and is
still being discussed in the Senate. At this time it appears that
the license package is close to the one that was initially proposed.
When finalized it will provide millions of new dollars of funding for
the DNR and Fisheries division. Among the items that can be
supported with this increased funding are more conservation officers
and funding for conservation grants for stream and lake habitat work.
Phone calls to State Senators are needed at this time to assure the
passage of this measure. As details emerge we will follow up with
Michigan Fisheries Issues Approval
Until recently, the DNR Director
approved all Fisheries Orders and regulations. Recent legislation to
mandate scientific management changed this process and shifted this
responsibility to the Natural Resources Commission. This legislation
also provided for free licenses for active military personnel and
wounded veterans. The NRC has had the authority for wildlife issues
since Proposal G was passed in the 1990’s. The reason fisheries
issues were not handled this way was due to an oversight when
Proposal G was written.
In recent years having the DNR Director
responsible for fisheries issues has worked well for the
stakeholders. We have had DNR Directors who listened to the
Fisheries Staff and the voices of stakeholders when making their
decisions. This was not always the case and it is not known how the
current Director would operate.
We now have the opportunity to develop
a relationship with the seven members of the NRC. In the past we
have not gotten involved with the NRC because they have not been
responsible for the issues that were of concern to us. Now we must
get to know them and attempt to make sure they continue the process
of using the advice of Fisheries Staff and stakeholders in the
decision making process.
IFFF Conservation Grant Update:
The deadline for the 2013 summer grant
cycle has passed and no grants from the GLC have been submitted. The
next cycle will be this fall. If any GLC clubs have projects that
could use up to $1500 of additional funding please let me know.
Boardman River Dams/ MHRC: Jim Schramm
The Brown Bridge Dam removal project on
the Boardman River has been completed. Work on the removal of the
remaining dams is proceeding. We recently received notice that a
group of riverfront property owners has sued over the damage caused
by the flooding after the removal accident and other reasons. The
MHRC (and possibly it’s individual member groups) because of its
membership on the IT Team may become involved in this lawsuit. As
this issue develops we will keep you informed.
Oil and Gas Development in Northern
Mineral extraction development is on
the increase in Northern Michigan. We are working closely wit the
Anglers of the AuSable’s Oil and Gas Committee on this issue. Most
of this committee’s members are also GLC Directors. Our primary
concern (but not only) is the high volumes of water required for this
drilling. New permit applications have been submitted for wells
requiring over 15,000,000 gallons of water. The majority of this
water will be lost for future use forever. It will be heavily
polluted and re-injected into deep wells for disposal. There is
much opposition from the Conservation/Environmental Community. There
is much discussion ongoing about how best to deal with this issue. We
will keep you apprised of how this issue proceeds.
Recently a well being drilled by
Halliburton in the Kalkaska County could not get enough water from
their on site water wells to complete the drilling process. After
drilling several additional water wells both on and off of the well
pad they still could not get the amount of water stipulated in their
drilling permit. An adjacent property owner also reported that their
water well had gone dry. One of the current residents family had
resided on the site for over 80 years. There had never been a
problem with water wells on the site.
The Anglers sent one of their Experts
to assess the situation. He determined that the water appeared safe
to drink but that the water table at the home had recently dropped
over 11 feet. The only likely reason was the amount of water taken
for the fracking process. Halliburton was forced to purchase water
and have it trucked from the village of Kalkaska so the well could be
This situation has provided more
ammunition for those fighting the use of previously unheard of high
volumes of water for the fracking process. It also emphasizes the
problems that have been observed with the Water Withdrawal Assessment
Tool that is used by the DEQ to issue water permits for drilling and
other industrial uses.
Joint Lake Huron and Michigan Advisory
Earlier this year President Schramm and
I attended the annual Joint Lakes Committee Meeting in Clare. Of
special interest were the presentations about the low lake levels and
the recent Atlantic salmon planting in the AuSable River.
Lake levels are expected to slowly
recover to normal. This process could take 4 years. The low water
has caused serious problems for boaters on the great lakes. Many of
the boat launches are inaccessible. There is funding for some of the
larger commercial harbors but the smaller harbors used by the charter
fleet are not under the responsibility of the Corps of Engineers.
The State is trying to come up with ways to get these harbors opened
for safe boating traffic.
The Atlantic Salmon planted this spring
could start showing up in near shore catches this summer and some
will return to the River as early as this fall. The majority of the
Atlantics will return to the AuSable at age 3 in the fall of 2014.
The new criteria for determining how
many Chinook Salmon will be stocked was discussed. Right now the
Chinooks are not doing well and stocking will be cut back. If they
begin to rebound the numbers will be increased. The criteria uses
the average size of a female Chinook captured at the Strawberry Creek
Weir in Wisconsin.
Catch and Release Fishing Proposal
The Michigan Bass Nation has proposed
changing statewide fishing regulations to allow catch and release
fishing in the off season. There are two proposals one is
exclusively for bass in non-trout waters. The other is for all
species in non-trout waters. Exceptions are listed in the documents.
I think this subject should be discussed to develop a policy
statement from the GLC. See attached documents.