- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2008

There are people who’d like to blame President Bush for every problem facing us. Heck, I’ll wager some would say it’s his fault that the Chinese don’t know how to make safe baby formula and that there’s a poor crab harvest in the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s time our president received a bit of good news.

I propose we give him a hearty pat on the back for signing an amendment to a 1995 Executive Order concerning recreational fishing. Sound ho-hum? It isn’t. This historic signing guarantees that federal agencies must maintain and make available recreational fishing on federal lands and waters, including controversial marine protected areas (MPAs) that could have turned huge ocean segments into “No Fishing” zones.

Bush stood up for recreational anglers and as the American Sportfishing Association said, “This policy will provide access to places where men, women and children can enjoy fishing now and in the future. The Executive Order revises Executive Order 12962 signed in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.”

In a hectic two-year battle to ensure sportfishermen’s rights, the ASA, the Center for Coastal Conservation, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Shimano American Corporation joined hands to secure recreational fishing and boating access.

What it all boils down to is that the president realized how responsible and conservation-minded the American recreational angling community is.

ASA president Mike Nussman said, “Every time American anglers buy fishing licenses or sportfishing equipment, an investment is made in fishing’s future. This highly successful user-pay system for fishery management depends on access to the resource.”

Along with ensuring fishing access, we’re happy to report that after the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy, which marked the 100th anniversary of President Theodore Roosevelt’s visionary meeting regarding public hunting and fishing access to federal lands, and following Bush’s signing of Executive Order 13443 that now reaffirms these rights, federal agencies and fish and wildlife agencies are directed to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitat.”

The nation’s conservation organizations and the public are asked to join in this effort and one, the National Wild Turkey Federation, hopes to play a pivotal role in this renewed commitment. The NWTF’s Peggy Anne Vallery said, “Our North American Wild Turkey Management Plan, which addresses critical issues for wild turkeys and a multitude of other game and nongame species, is a model for the nation on 21st century wildlife management.”

Brook trout decline - A new study by Maryland DNR biologists points out the detrimental impact that development, loss of forest, and temperature changes have on brook trout, the state’s only native trout species. A serious decline of “brookies” was noted in six Baltimore-area streams - Baisman, Goodwin, Timber and Red runs, as well as Sawmill Branch and Stillwater Creek. The scientists found that for every 1 percent increase in impervious land cover in a stream’s watershed, the odds of brook trout survival decreases by nearly 60 percent.

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