Included in U.S. House of Representatives' budget-cutting wish list is a proposal to cut funding for the State Wildlife Grant program.
The 11-year-old plan pays for states to assess the health of their wildlife and habitats, recommend ways to conserve their most vulnerable species, and maintain the overall long-term needs of the state's wildlife. In Pennsylvania, where wildlife agencies are straining to provide basic services, the program has provided millions.
"In the Commonwealth, the [Fish and Boat Commission] has received approximately $8 million since 2002," wrote John Arway, executive director of the PFBC, in a letter to U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey. "This has been leveraged with at least an additional $8 million, more than doubling Congressional investments for over $16 million in timely, meaningful conservation work. We cannot afford to lose that support now."
In the letter, released to the public by Fish and Boat commission, Arway said the State Wildlife Grants provide wide-ranging benefits to Pennsylvania's $3.4 billion fishing and boating industry.
"Even in these difficult financial times when we all must shoulder some of the burden, we still need to ensure that fish and wildlife and their habitats are conserved for the benefits they bring to Americans through cleaner and healthier environments and the legacy we leave for future generations," he said. "Congressional funding for State Wildlife Grants also goes hand-in-hand with job creation and economic sustainability, since more than a half million U.S. jobs center around wildlife conservation and wildlife-related recreation."
Kudos -- make that a cluck and a fly-down cackle -- to Western Pennsylvania winners in the National Wild Turkey Federation's Grand National Turkey Calling Championships, held recently in Nashville, Tenn. Senior division, third place: Matthew Van Cise of Brookville in Jefferson County. Junior division: Hunter Wallis, Greenville Township in Somerset County.
A special "opening day" of March 5 has been declared at Upper and Lower Hereford Manor Lakes in Beaver County. It will be a bittersweet occasion for local anglers, who will go after freshly stocked trout for a final time before the lakes are drawn down and the dams breached in the spring.
Weather permitting, the Fish and Boat Commission will stock the lakes with a final batch of trout March 5. Last year the state Environmental Protection Agencies declared the dams unsafe, and PFBC lifted all seasons, sizes and creel limits on the lakes in preparation of the drawdown and dam removal. Those regulations remain in place with the exception of a minimum size of 7 inches, creel limit of five fish per day for trout.
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