- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and a national volunteer organization, BASS Federation Nation, have started the More Fish Partnership Fund, a nationwide effort to raise awareness of critical fish and habitat conservation needs and to support local conservation action across the country.

Through the partnership, the foundation and the BASS Federation Nation will award grants between $10,000 and $100,000 to community groups, including BASS Federation Nation clubs and other local conservation organizations to support fish conservation projects, including habitat restoration, water quality improvement and watershed planning and management.

“According to recent studies, the nation has lost 20 percent of fish and aquatic populations, and 40 percent of the nation’s fish populations are in rapid decline,” said Jeff Trandahl, the executive director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Because of that, the partnership fund was designed to mobilize volunteers, anglers and conservationists who want to do something about declining fisheries and habitat losses.

During a five-year campaign, the foundation intends to raise funds to support the goals of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, developed to coordinate efforts by state and federal agencies to conserve fish on a national level. The foundation will leverage private-sector funds with public agency monies to improve and restore aquatic habitats in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries and coastal waters.

“BASS Federation Nation conservation programs view this partnership as an opportunity to identify and implement grassroots fish habitat programs on a variety of levels. As avid anglers, BASS Federation Nation club members are acutely aware of the need for restoration and conservation of declining reservoirs and other aquatic habitats,” said Noreen Clough, BASS conservation director.

Under the current partnership program, grants will be awarded competitively for stewardship, planning and restoration activities. Preference will be given for projects involving youth, education, training or community outreach components.

The first grants will be awarded at the Bassmaster Classic at Lay Lake in Birmingham, Ala., in February 2007.

For more information on the More Fish campaign, visit morefish.org. For grant application, deadline dates and other information, check out nfwf.org or bassmaster.com.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984. Its mission is to sustain, restore and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats.

Rocky Gorge low but fishable — Dawn Forsythe, the community outreach manager for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which runs Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs along the Howard/Montgomery/Prince George’s counties corridor, reminds us to tell readers that fishing at Rocky Gorge is open “but the water level is down, so all boat ramps are closed. People can use boats that don’t require trailers.” I don’t know how much effect recent rains had on raising the water.

Friend of anglers dies — John P. “Jack” Randolph, the former chairman of the board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, died Oct. 2 at the age of 77 after a long bout with cancer. He had a distinguished career in the Army, which included a tour in Vietnam, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1970. In 1972, Randolph was appointed by the governor to be on the board of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries from 1972 through 1978, serving as chairman from 1977 to 1978. He then was named deputy assistant director and served in this capacity until his retirement in 1991.

Randolph was an avid conservationist, outdoorsman and prolific writer who published many articles in both local and national periodicals and newspapers. In recent years, he made available a state-wide freshwater and saltwater fishing e-mail report that many newspapers and serious anglers subscribed to.

Hunt memberships available — National Sportsman Association hunting memberships are available for the 2006-2007 season. The group has land in Virginia’s Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Fauquier, Caroline, Prince William, Shenandoah, Highland, Warren, Rappahannock, Frederick and Orange counties, as well as some properties in St. Mary’s County in Maryland. Information: 703/670-9783 or check the Web at nsa-inc.com.

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.

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