MAKING A DIFFERENCE-2000 CLASSIC UPDATE
This year's Classic SCNRD Program was great! Norm Stucky, Director of the Fisheries for the Department of Conservation joined George Thomlinson and I in Chicago for the meetings and the Classic. Norm is interested in bringing the Classic to Missouri! I, for one am high on our Conservation Department for letting Norm come to Chicago and for Norm wanting to investigate the possibilities of bringing the classic to Missouri. We all should be proud of our Conservation Department and the relationship we have. Norm was one of only a hand full of Directors that were attending.
This year U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) Director, Jamie Clark agreed to spend some time with us. B.A.S.S. is viewed as VIPs to get over a full hour of any Director of a government agency, much less one that has been under fire by the press and Congress. While Director Clark has been under fire in the press, we had only heard one side of the story and now we have both sides. Director Clark made no effort to hid the fact her organization had made errors in reporting their expenses of the administration portion of the Dingell-Johnson and Wallop-Breaux monies. She assured the group that the only incorrectly charged amounts were for about $12,000.00 and that expense had been re-allocated to the correct expense account. The independent Council document showed no wrong doings by anyone in the USFWS, and only made accounting recommendations including updating some computer processes out of the control of the USFWS. Clark said most of the recommendations had or were in the process of being implemented. Not bad for a $38M budget.
Director Clark came up through the ranks of the USFWS and started as a Biologist. After the budget issues came information on how she really felt about the world and America. While bass were never directly referred to in her speech, she stressed the need for habitat (land and water) to be restored. She said we had done much to provide clean water, but without habitat we still have no fish! She stressed habitat many times through the rest of her speech. Habitat is her main concern for our waters. From the reaction of the crowd, you would think we don't have one piece of cover in the waters.
Federal hatcheries are in a great state of disrepair with about $300,000.00 in backlogged maintenance. One in four positions are not filled due to the lack of funds. No private business could survive on this type of budgeting. The budget has been cut by 15% over the last 3 years. Even President Clinton has not provided support! After the elections we all will have to work on getting some funding for our USFWS hatcheries. These hatcheries provide fish for many purposes and many states do not have the ability to produce the stock they need. Again Missouri is among the very few states that have modern hatcheries.
Director Clark, as were many of the presenters, are concerned about the many exotic species of water creators being introduced into America waters. Most are coming in without government approval and many times against the law. We have recently learned that several catfish farmers here in Missouri have illegally imported the exotic Asian Black Carp to eat snails that are a carrier of trematode which can destroy a "crop" of catfish.
Yes, the catfish farmers have a problem, but using an exotic Asian carp is not an acceptable solution. Yes they are losing profits by taking the ponds out of production to drain and kill the snails as they have in the past. They view the Black Carp as a quick cheap way to eliminate the snail problem without regard to the potential huge environmental hazard. The Black Carp present if released into Missouri's waters will eat our native mollusks (their preferred diet) and can drive the already threatened species of mollusks into extinction. Mollusks serve as a stream and lake cleaning agent that many Ozark streams need to support bass. Mollusks and snails also provide a food source for Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, and Redear Sunfish. Mussels are important indicators of the overall health or well being of a stream; a keystone or pillar of our diverse aquatic resources. Loss of our mussels will almost certainly lead to other problems, including the possible collapse of an aquatic ecosystem. Yes, Black Carp can have a drastic effect on our waters and bass. For complete details on Carp please refer to Robert Montgomery's article in the June 2000 issue of Bassmasters on page 10.
Please contact the Missouri Conservation Department Directors list below and let them know you are concerned about the damage the Black Carp can do to our streams and fishing. The future of stream fishing in Missouri could depend on your efforts.
Howard L. Wood, 1100 Wood Ln, Bonne Terre, MO 63628 phone 573-358-5680
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