- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Potomac Conservancy, with support from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), recently assessed the status of the Potomac Basin and the river didn’t come off so well. It received a “D+” grade, with the blame going mostly to population growth and unchecked, continuing development that is seriously impacting the quality of the water, not to mention its scenic beauty.

The Potomac Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group, pointed out that things looked promising after the Clean Water Act was passed during the Johnson Administration, but the river increasingly has suffered since.

In case you’re wondering, the group doesn’t consist of a few wacky dandelion pickers. No, its assessment of the river is shared by the highly respected ICPRB, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Potomac Riverkeeper and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Development along and adjacent to the river’s shores has doubled since 1970, resulting in more impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots. That results in storm water runoff but not enough freshwater percolation through the soil when it rains, which lowers critical groundwater supply.

Now add increased requests for sewer hookups, lowered air quality and thermal pollution. On top of that, nutrient pollution and sediment loads are much higher than previously estimated.

What’s needed to help the river? Increased forest buffers, updating the federal Clean Water Act to include toxic and endocrine compounds and mandating low impact construction techniques.

Learn about peacock bass — At the Feb. 14 meeting of the New Horizon Bass Anglers at the Fairfax County Government Center, Ron Greenwell will present a program about peacock bass fishing in the Amazon River Basin.

The public is invited to attend as Greenwell discusses outfitters, lures, fishing locations and costs. For additional information, call Charlie Taylor, 703/887-8399.

Is this the best fishing town? — I don’t know how Field & Stream magazine came up with the numbers, but it has chosen Glenwood Springs, Colo., as the top fishing town (with a population of 100,000 or less) in the country.

The magazine says it polled the nation’s “top angling professionals” to determine the list, and Glenwood Springs was it.

Here’s my problem with that: If you actually polled the nation’s top angling professionals — if you really did that — would you come up with a town where the sole game is fly-fishing?

Fly-fishing, after all, commands the loyalty of less than 5 percent of the nation’s 50 million to 60 million sport anglers. Why would all those experts choose a fly-fishing location as the best fishing town in a country where bass fishing has 30 million fanatics, with 99 percent of them using baitcasting and spinning gear, or a saltwater town in Gulf of Mexico land where hardly anybody uses a fly-rod?

Hhmmm. The Glenwood Springs choice seems to be very odd, indeed.

Maryland snow geese targeted — Maryland’s wildlife managers say if the federal Fish & Wildlife Service goes along, it plans to reduce the state’s population of more than 1 million “light geese,” a term applying to snow geese, blue geese and Ross geese, to a more manageable number of 500,000 to 750,000.

It wants a 2008-09 season to run from Oct. 10 through Nov. 28 and Dec. 1 through Feb. 12, 2009. The bag limit would be 15 a day, and there will be no possession limit. The only thing the state didn’t say was how they would provide hunters with a place to shoot an oversupply of snow geese without going broke paying for guides or field leases.

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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