- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, angry Dorchester County watermen are upset that the Navy intends to resume bombing and strafing runs and execute life-fire military exercises on several Chesapeake Bay islands.

The Associated Press reported last week that, after a nine-year interruption, the Navy would resume year-round, daylight and nighttime exercises on Bloodsworth Island and three tiny adjacent islands — Adam, Northeast and Pone — south of the Honga River and Lower Hooper Island.

Navy personnel also will fire machine guns and other small weapons with steel projectiles as they conduct simulated combat with amphibious assault craft. The Navy says such exercises are needed because of the war in Iraq.

A number of nearby Dorchester County residents say the noise from these operations will be deafening. Plus, there’s also local watermen complaining that the Navy’s plans for increased activity will shut them out of a 26-square-mile “danger zone” for at least two months every year. The waters around the islands are fine crabbing and fishing grounds. Some 7,000 crab pots usually are placed there by dozens of watermen.

The Dorchester County Seafood Harvesters Association says the Navy exercises will force it to lose the best crabbing time, and residents are wondering why the Navy couldn’t do its war exercises somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, some place not nearly as crucial to a local seafood economy as the Bloodsworth area.

The Navy plans to hold public hearings, all starting at 3:30 p.m., Monday at Deal Island School in the town of Deal Island, Tuesday at the Holiday Inn Express in Cambridge and Wednesday at Lakes & Straits Volunteer Fire Company in Wingate.

Animal rightists’ new tack — The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a hunter advocacy group, says New York Assembly Bill 4306, introduced by Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, Brooklyn Democrat, will create an Office of Advocacy for Wildlife. It appears to be innocuous, but the alliance urges caution. Such an office would advise and assist almost every entity in the state, including the governor, legislature, local governments and state agencies, on issues that pertain to wildlife conservation.

One of the office’s objectives will be to study, develop, encourage and provide assistance for nonlethal management of wildlife.

Folks, those are buzzwords of the animal-rights movement. Pure and simple, it’s a covert move to introduce anti-hunting measures into the scientific management of New York’s wildlife.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance says, “Assembly Bill 4306 is merely a vehicle to use tax dollars to advocate the political agenda of the anti-hunting movement.”

Need more information? Get in touch with the Legislative Action Center at ussportsmen.org.

CCA fishing seminars — The Coastal Conservation Association’s Northern Virginia chapter offers two fine fishing seminars for the public. The first will be held tonight at 6:30 when Tom Hughes gives a striper fishing presentation for the Susquehanna Flats, where the catch-and-release season is under way. Hughes will have a slide show and answer questions about light tackle and fly-fishing techniques.

On April 13, the CCA/Northern Virginia will have a public Striper Super Seminar with captains Charlie Sisson and Bruno Vasta. The two fishing pros promise to share their rockfish trolling techniques as they apply during the middle Chesapeake’s trophy season.

Both seminars will be held at Old Town Hall in Fairfax City at the corner of Main Street and University Drive. Call Rob Allen, 703/626-2668, for details.

Virginia trout events — Don’t forget the March 19 Robinson River Kids Fishing Day in Madison County, Va. The Robinson River will be the site of a children’s trout fishing event under the watchful eyes of its sponsors, the Rapidan chapter of Trout Unlimited, Graves Mountain Lodge and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The fishing will start at 9 a.m. For details, call Greg Safford, 540/341-4170.

On April 2, Virginia will celebrate Trout Heritage Day, conducted by the Game and Inland Fisheries department. Sixteen waters will be stocked with trout to allow anglers and communities to plan activities. The department has worked with the U.S. Forest Service, local communities and private landowners to provide this opportunity. For a list of waters to be stocked and more Trout Heritage Day information, go to the Web, dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/TroutGuide/trout_heritage_waters.html

EVENTS

National Capital Boat Show — Thursday-Sunday, at Dulles Expo Center. Show features 40 dealers with ski boats, saltwater boats, pontoons, bass boats, motor yachts, jet boats, deck boats, PWCs and runabouts. Information: royalshows.com.

Maryland Bowhunters Society fete — March 19, 7p.m., at Snyder’s at Willow Grove in Linthicum. Banquet auctions and raffles run from 8 until 11 p.m. Questions? Send e-mail to [email protected] or for tickets call 410/643-6966.

Bay Bridge Boat Show — April 21-24, at Bay Bridge Marina, Stevensville (Kent Island), Md. Opens daily at 10 a.m. Hundreds of new and brokerage boats, yachts, runabouts, inflatables. Boat accessories, services and equipment. Information: 410/268-8828.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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