Month: December 2016

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PA Smallmouth Bass Populations Showing Improvement, But Caution Still Advised

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Dec. 8) – Following nearly a decade of poor recruitment due to disease affecting young-of-the-year, the smallmouth bass populations in the Susquehanna and lower Juniata rivers are showing signs of improvement, according to information released today by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC).

Surveys conducted from 2013-2016 reveal increasing numbers of adult smallmouth bass compared to severely reduced numbers collected from 2005-2012. Decreased prevalence of disease in young-of-the-year smallmouth bass, along with the implementation of mandatory catch-and-release regulations enacted in 2011, have resulted in better recruitment of young bass to the adult populations.
However, bacterial infections causing sores and lesions continue to be observed in young-of-the-year smallmouth bass, prompting a renewed call by PFBC Executive Director John Arway to list the river as impaired. Other abnormal effects such as melanistic black spots and intersex conditions in adult bass, along with unprecedented nuisance algae blooms continue to plague the smallmouth fishery.
“Although we are cautiously optimistic about the population numbers we have observed over the last four years, our sampling is still finding young-of-the-year smallmouth bass displaying clinical signs of disease,” Arway said. “We continue to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list the river as impaired in its final review of the 2016 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report submitted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).”
The DEP submits an updated report every two years to EPA Region 3 for approval. Adding the Susquehanna to the list as a “high priority” impaired water would trigger a two-year timeline requiring DEP to develop a comprehensive plan to identify the causes and sources of pollution and put a plan together to clean up the river consistent with the goals of the federal Clean Water Act.
DEP recommended against listing the river as impaired in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 reports. EPA is expected to review the 2016 report and issue a ruling by early next year, either accepting the report or requiring changes. Recently, EPA Region 3 exercised its authority and added 28 stream and river segments to West Virginia’s impaired waters list.
Last year, DEP and the PFBC released findings from a multi-year study (CADDIS) indicating that the most likely causes for the population decline of smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides; and pathogens and parasites.
Arway says the next step should be to focus on identifying the sources of the endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, which would be required with an impairment designation.
“The Susquehanna River’s smallmouth bass fishery once attracted anglers from all over the world,” he said. “I am confident that the results from last year’s study, along with a continued commitment by DEP to identify the causes and reduce the sources of pollution, will provide for the eventual recovery and return of that once world class recreational fishery.”
“The impairment designation is critical to this effort,” he added. “Our concerns continue to be driven by the need to conserve and protect our aquatic resources so they may be enjoyed by present and future generations as guaranteed by our state constitution.”
Click here to see the Susquehanna River survey results.

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ODNR Wraps Up the Year with Family-Friendly December Activities

COLUMBUS, OH – December is the perfect opportunity to enjoy spending time with family and friends at Ohio State Parks and Ohio State Nature Preserves. As we celebrate the holiday season, we want to encourage visitors to attend events at their favorite state park or state nature preserve.

  • Holiday Trail of Lights at Lake Hope State ParkEnjoy a short walk through the woods lit by the twinkle of holiday lights. This is a free event open to the public every night in December, and the hours are from 4-8 p.m. Lake Hope State Park is located at 27331 State Route 278, McArthur 45651. For more information, call 740-596-4938.
  • Fantasy of Lights at Alum Creek State ParkThe popular annual Fantasy of Lights will be held through Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. From Sunday through Thursday, the hours are 5:30-9:30 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays, the hours are 5:30-10:30 p.m. The price is $20 per car, and the address for the tour of lights is 2911 S. Old State Road, Delaware 43015. The Santa House will offer free hot chocolate and cookies. For more information, call 740-369-2900.
  • Candlelight Holiday Tours at Malabar Farm State ParkTour Louis Bromfield’s Big House all decorated for the holidays. Visitors will also enjoy freshly baked cookies and hot cider. The Candlelight Holiday Tours will be held the first two weekends in December (Dec. 2-4 and Dec. 9-11). Visitors will enjoy the tours from 5-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and then from 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. The cost is $5 for an adult and $3 per child (ages 2-12). For more information, call 419-892-2784.
  • Holiday Traditions at Caesar Creek State ParkMake holiday decorations and gifts out of natural material. This event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the nature center, and space and materials are limited. The cost is $15 to participate. Preregistration and prepayment are required for a spot in this workshop. To register, call 513-897-2437. The two time slots available for people to participate are either 10 a.m.-noon or 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 513-897-3055.
  • Christmas in Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State ParkStep away from the hectic holiday season and come bundled for the weather while enjoying a lighted stroll back to Ash Cave. Once visitors arrive at the cave, they can warm up with refreshments by an open fire. Listen to or join with our carolers, have the kids visit with an old fashioned Santa or help to decorate our Christmas tree for wildlife. This event will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. For more information, call 740-385-6842.
  • Winter Bird Hike at Stage’s Pond State Nature PreserveWant to know more about our resident birds during the winter? Participate in a warmup hike prior to the Christmas Bird Count. The public is invited to join preserve staff for a winter birding hike from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. Dominated by glacial geology, the 3.5-mile trail system is mostly flat for easy hiking. Hikers should dress appropriately for winter weather. The trail system may have wet areas based on rain or snow melt. Waterproof or water resistant footwear will be more comfortable. Stage’s Pond is located in Pickaway County 5 miles north of Circleville on U.S. Route 23; proceed 1.5 miles east on Hagerty Road to the preserve parking lot and trail system. Meet at the large parking lot in front of the park office. We will feature refreshments after the hike, and hikers are encouraged to bring their favorite hot chocolate cup and spoon to help prevent waste. For more information, call 740-380-8918.
  • Winter Wonderings at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve Ever wondered how the hundreds of Ohio creatures survive the long winter? Beyond hibernation, Ohio critters have sweet and savvy winter survival tricks. Join Naturalist Lauren Metcalf on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 1-3:30 p.m. for a 2-mile hike. We will find signs of life, both active and dormant. Kids of all ages can do a winter scavenger hunt. Afterward, we will warm up with hot chocolate and a craft for the smaller children. The program will start at the Boch Hollow office at 7211 Bremen Road, about 8 miles north of Logan. There is a limit of 25 participants, and RSVPs are required. People should RSVP to or by calling 740-380-8918.
  • Ohio Frontier Holiday at Lake Hope State Park Enjoy a day of history on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Hope Furnace for Frontier Days from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Then visit the Lake Hope Dining Lodge from 4-7 p.m. for horse-drawn wagon rides and for children to meet Santa. For more information, call 740-596-4938.
  • New Year’s Eve Night Hike at Maumee Bay State Park Join us for our second annual New Year’s Eve Night Hike at Maumee Bay State Park Nature Center. Meet at the nature center at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and the night hike will go until 9 p.m. We will test our night vision on the boardwalk and bring in the New Year naturally. All ages are welcome, make sure to dress for the weather. The address for Maumee Bay State Park is 1400 State Park Road, Oregon 43616. For more information, call 419-836-7758.
  • First Day Hike at Caesar Creek State ParkMeet the park naturalist at the nature center on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, for a 3-mile guided hike to the park’s new swinging bridge and scenic Horseshoe Falls. Discover wildlife and park history along the way. This event will be held from 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 513-897-3055.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

Photo by Mark Spearman

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