Some things we don't need in '92

Outdoor Journal

December 31, 1991|By Bill Burton

On this, the eve of the big day, some New Year's resolutions in reverse -- things outdoorsmen don't want in 1992:

* Heaven forbid that the politically influential, and the upper echelon of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the squeeze on the budding -- but long overdue -- enforcement crackdown on the use, intentional or not, of barnyard mallards to attract truly wild ducks and geese. Live decoys are live decoys whether meant to be or not.

* Certainly out of line is the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's plans to raise net quotas for king and Spanish mackerel. This could trigger an end to the blossoming Spanish mackerel fishery in Chesapeake Bay.

* Frightening is the increasing interest in promoting golf courses in state and federal parks. Outdoorsmen know how their low-key priorities and natural resources will stack up against commercialization keyed to raise revenues in tight budget times -- a repeat of the timber and grazing interests give-aways.

* One of the biggest disasters on the conservation front could be legislation, as rumored, to combine the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources. It's acceptable only if fish and wildlife are combined -- as they once were -- in a totally separate entity.

* Contrary to the thinking of Western Maryland legislators, unwarranted at this time is consideration of a bear season for Garrett County. Bear damage, and maybe bear numbers, appear to slacking off out there.

* We don't need any more procrastination in the on-again, off-again effort to impose a reciprocal fishing license standard between Virginia and Maryland anglers on the Potomac and its tributaries. We own the river, but Virginia rules.

* We don't need continued exemptions from tidewater fishing licenses for those who fish at Ocean City and Assateague Island and are not paying their share for fisheries management as flounder and sea trout woes increase dramatically.

* Nor do we want continuation of the special low-cost $35 non-resident, three-day hunting license for visiting goose hunters. We don't get like consideration when we shoot in Delaware and elsewhere -- and enough is enough.

Outdoors '91 in review ...

* Maryland's first post-moratorium spring rockfish season in May was a success though it turned up fewer than 150 fish of the 36-inch minimum.

* Cobia rebounded in the lower Chesapeake off the mouth of the Potomac River. They could be in fishable numbers in '92 -- as they were last year in Virginia.

* When the bow season closed in January, Maryland bowmen set their seventh consecutive deer record with 8,605 -- enough to push the state to another record of combined gun/bow season kills of 46,317.

* Volunteer help keep some state parks open as the budget was squeezed -- though more money was spent completing Oriole Park at Camden Yards than would have run the state park system.

* Hunters bounced back and prevailed in demonstrations with anti-hunter picketers in what has become an annual confrontation at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area.

* The first-ever Maryland bluefish creel limit (10 a day) was implemented without much fuss.

* The sea trout decline accelerated rapidly in Chesapeake and Delaware bays. Look for strict restrictions in 92.

* Conowingo Dam's fish lift was completed as the Susquehanna's white shad recovery continued enough to speculate about a return of fishing in the mid-'90s.

* Congress' highly controversial -- and expensive -- user fee for pleasure boats was enforced by the Coast Guard, but few complied by year's end.

* Legislative efforts were rebuffed to raid dedicated conservation funds -- including Chicadee Check-off to offset general budget woes.

* Many hundreds of sports fishermen failed in their march on the State House to win a ban on netting of rockfish -- but they're gaining.

* The boating industry's slide became an avalanche. Look for great bargains in '92 -- if you can afford to buy.

* Hopes that a Canada goose turnabout appear --ed as picking house reports indicate a low ratio of juveniles to adults, which suggests another disappointing hatch.

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