- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My March 18 column dealt with the rather arbitrary decision by the National Park Service to ban the use of lead components in fishing tackle and ammunition in all national parks by 2010. For now, that apparently has been put on the back burner.

Regarding the lead ban, the agency now says there was some confusion over its decision to get the heavy metal out of the parks. There was some confusion all right because the park service never figured it would be slammed like it was by every fishing/hunting group and sports equipment business association in the land.

To calm raw nerves, the park service said in an announcement, “Nothing has changed for the public.” But the agency still wants to eliminate lead; only for now, it will mean the elimination of lead used by the agency’s personnel during park service activities.

“We will work to clean our own house by altering NPS resource management activities,” the federal agency said in a special message. “In 2009, we will transition to nonlead ammunition in culling operations and dispatching sick or wounded animals.”

The agency said that in the future, it will look at the potential for transitioning to nonlead ammunition and fishing tackle for recreational use. But it also said it would work with its policy office and appropriate stakeholder groups.

“This will require public involvement, comment and review,” the park service said.

Now you’re talking!

That was the complaint to begin with: the park service’s decision to change a long-standing policy without letting anybody know about it ahead of time. Not that anybody wants a lead ban now, but it was the agency’s imperial attitude, the feeling that it didn’t need permission from the owners of the national parks - the American taxpayers - to change policy.

Fisheries addressed at meeting - Did you know it is illegal to capture, use and possess any crayfish species in the middle Potomac River and lower Susquehanna River basins? Now the Maryland Department of Natural Resources wants to expand this crayfish ban. All this and much more will be addressed at a series of public meetings during which a number of inland fisheries changes might be in the works. The nearest meeting for the District’s Maryland suburbanites will be held at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at the Cedarville Natural Resource Area visitor center in southern Prince George’s County.

Among the changes considered will be an increased yellow perch creel limit for Deep Creek Lake. The fisheries officials also will talk about and hear suggestions regarding the taking of northern snakeheads on the Potomac River and its tributaries. The officials want you to use any legal fishing tackle except spear guns, and any harvested snakehead would have to be destroyed immediately by removing its head. There also will be discussions to rewrite terminal tackle restrictions for special trout management areas to clarify regulations and remove confusing language and fishing regulation changes to address the management of invasive species, such as the Potomac’s blue catfish and the flathead catfish in the Susquehanna.

Get set for turkey hunting - Virginia’s spring turkey hunting season begins April 11 (in most counties running through May 16), and the Old Dominion is one of the best East Coast states when it comes to bringing home a gobbler. Maryland’s statewide spring turkey season for adults doesn’t begin until April 18 (through May 23), but there will be a one-day junior turkey hunt April 11.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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