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West Virginia Fish Hatcher Gets Federal Funds For Repairs

The Free Press WV

The White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery set to receive $213,000 in federal funds to repair damage from last year’s flooding.

West Virginia’s U.S. senators say the money from the Department of Transportation will be used to repair damage done to trails and other infrastructure by the June 2016 floods.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito says the hatchery had significant damage and she worked on securing funding so it could reopen.

Senator Joe Manchin, like Capito a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says the White Sulphur Springs hatchery has helped keep rivers stocked with fish for more than 100 years.

Hatcher officials say it sustained more than $1.5 million in damages from the floodwaters of Wade’s Creek.

Outdoors

The Free Press WV

►  DNR looks to enhance native brook trout waters

The native brook trout in West Virginia has long been a prized fish in the Mountain State, but it has also been one that has always teetered on the brink of collapse. The destruction of the native brook trout habitat has severely curbed its numbers in West Virginia waters.

Although it seems to be a fragile fish, Biologist Dave Thorne who heads the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Trout Program would argue the species is anything but fragile. Throne will tell you any fish which has managed to survive the kind of abuse man has dished out to the brook trout in the last 100 years deserves to be saved.

“They are some tough critters,” he laughed in a recent interview about the matter on West Virginia Outdoors.

The brook trout however is about to be afforded a level of respect and protection in West Virginia is has never been afforded. Thorne recently detailed plans for an overall Trout Management Plan for West Virginia to the Natural Resources Commission during their meeting at Chief Logan Conference Center in Logan County. A part of the plan will be the Native Brook Trout Plan which will designate various brook trout streams in the state for specific management activities.

“We’ve been doing to some physical habitat work for the last several years and for decades we’ve been doing the liming program,” said Thorne. “We now have many of those restored to high quality waters which can support good, fishable populations of native brook trout.”

The next step will be to enhance the numbers and size of the fish. Regulations are one way. Already this year, the fines for overharvesting brook trout have increased substantially….up to $100 per fish in a violation. Thorne acknowledged excessive harvest isn’t the threat it once was to native brookies.

“A lot more fishermen voluntarily catch and release native brook trout any more. We’ve got quite a constituency,” said Thorne. “I don’t’ think the days are completely gone of those who might go to a brook trout stream with a sack and fill it up, but the anglers that have traditionally done that, the number is dwindling.”

The proposed plan includes designation of watersheds which are native brook trout waters, are not stocked with hatchery raised fish, have had some level of management or restoration work, and seem to have good support from anglers.

“They need to be a large, contiguous and well connected native brook trout watershed,” said Thorne. “This is a watershed idea based on a lot of the research I and other people have conducted. Connectivity between the tributaries and main stems is how we see increased growth in fish. They have larger habitat, more food available, and can move to different habitats during different parts of their life cycle.”

The watersheds being proposed initially by Thorne include the entire Middle Fork of Williams River. The watershed has benefited greatly from improved water quality in the annual “bucket brigade” by interested volunteers who carry buckets of limestone sand into the remote are to treat the acidic water of the stream. The other watersheds include Red Creek upstream of the county bridge at Laneville, Tea Creek upstream from the campground, and the entire Otter Creek watershed. The entire area proposed would be 150 to 200 miles of contiguous native brook trout water.

“With increased productivity, we’ve increased the scope of our brook trout to grow bigger,” said Thorne. “We’re seeing a lot more 10, 11, and even 12 inch plus fish out there, particularly in our more productive fisheries.”

The concept includes a second plan of action, the possibly to spawn, rear, and distribute some of those native brook trout in a hatchery environment to bolster populations.

“We’ve had some success translocating fish, shocking from one stream and transferring to another,” Thorne said. “If we put them back into the appropriate habitat, the wild fish will reproduce.”

The plan however, suggests taking it a step further and trying to do some artificial work within the hatchery–but limiting the genetic makeup to individual watersheds.

“We have some stock and we’re going to hold them until they are ready to spawn,” Thorne explained. “We’ll spawn them in the hatchery and raise some native brook trout from a particular stream. Those raised from a particular stream will go back into that watershed.”

The work will be done as part of an agreement with a West Virginia University aquaculture researcher center in Hardy County, near the community of Wardensville. Thorne said although it’s not easy, Tennessee and a few other states have had some limited success with hatchery spawn of native brook trout..

For now, the project is all just a concept and yet to be fully implemented into a management plan. Thorne said it needs support to move forward.

“It needs to have a vocal constituency,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a majority, but it needs to have a vocal group to go out there and help us sell this idea.”


►  Town weighing effects of taller buildings near Grand Canyon

Seconds after rounding the highway curve on the final stretch to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim entrance, the first sign appears: Yes on 400. Housing. Jobs. Independence.

The ballot measure being decided Tuesday is the latest push in a decadeslong effort to build new hotels, boutique shops and commercial centers in Tusayan, a tiny town that millions of people pass through on the way to the Grand Canyon each year.

A simple majority of 262 registered voters will decide the all mail-in election that could have huge consequences for the landscape and skyline surrounding one of the most-visited national parks in the country. An Italian real estate developer is a major landowner in town and wants to change the law to raise the maximum building height to 65 feet, clearing the way for a hotel development and other businesses.

Supporters say the ordinance is a critical step to bolster tourism and jobs in Tusayan by making it more of a destination than a quick stop on the way to the natural wonder.

“It’s going to allow us to capture the visitor for longer than six hours,” Vice Mayor Becky Wirth said. “We would like them to stay more than a night.”

Opponent Clarinda Vail says she worries about the effect on water, traffic to the Grand Canyon and a skyline whose buildings could approach treetops and be visible from the North Rim.

“Love your Legacy,” one of her campaign signs read, pointing to the area’s history as a promoter — not a detractor — of the canyon, she says.

Vail’s family settled Tusayan in the 1930s as cattle ranchers. Her family made a deal with Arizona in the 1950s to run Highway 64 through their property as more visitors traveled to the Grand Canyon. Their Red Feather Lodge still stands along the roadway, and the family owns other businesses and leases property.

Another major landowner, Elling Halvorson, counts a hotel and restaurant among his business ventures but is more widely known for air tours over the Grand Canyon. Among his business partners is Italy-based Stilo Development Group USA, and they are leading the effort to raise building heights.

They pushed for the vote after the U.S. Forest Service rejected access for development on Stilo’s two large properties in town. No longer able to build out, Halvorson and Stilo made a move to build up at an existing RV park they own.

The two were not always on the same side.

Halvorson opposed a Stilo project in the 1990s called Canyon Forest Village, a partnership with the Grand Canyon that included a land swap with the Forest Service. It would have meant most visitors would travel into the park via light rail, but voters overturned the project.

When the RV park became available in the early 2000s, Stilo and Halvorson partnered to buy the land, Stilo spokesman Andy Jacobs said.

Incorporating the community as a town in 2010 became the way to move development on Stilo’s other properties forward. Tusayan later approved annexation and rezoning agreements, but none of it came without a fight. There were lawsuits, allegations of voter fraud and intimidation, costly campaigns and bitterness among residents.

“Not a lot of developers would have taken the beating they did with Canyon Forest Village and come back 20 years later,” Jacobs said. “They’re committed to figuring this out one way or another.”

In the short time Tusayan has existed as a town, the seats on the Town Council mostly have been held by Halvorson employees.

Some residents declined to talk about the building height increase, for fear of their jobs.

Beltsasar Gomez, breaking down Halloween decorations after a trick-or-treat event last week, quickly summed up his support: “Growth, opportunity. It’s what they say. Homes, more employment, housing. This place has been too small for many years.”

Ann Wren, who was part of the committee that approved current building heights, said anything higher would be detrimental to the Grand Canyon.

“They want the height increase because they want density,” says Wren, a hotel owner. “Why change the rules now for the good of one organization, one party?”

And still, the promise of homeownership remains unfulfilled in a town where land mostly is in private hands and employees live in company housing, except for a few mobile homes in the RV park. The development there would include 100 apartments available for rent, Jacobs said.

Meanwhile, the town is working on an off-grid housing development on property Stilo gave to Tusayan in exchange for rezoning and annexing its properties. Tusayan Mayor Craig Sanderson said he understands the prospect for homeownership is frustrating.

All this was new to Christy and Gary Greenwald, who have been traveling to national parks across the country since August. The Georgia couple snapped a picture in front of the sandstone sign for Grand Canyon National Park.

“I’d hate to see it turned into a mini-metropolis, but 65 feet isn’t so bad,” Christy Greenwald said.

Gary Greenwald drew from his work with architects in pinning the area as a horizontal expanse of land, unlike Yellowstone National Park where geysers and mountains direct the eye up. He said taller buildings would destroy the views here.

“I would say exceptionally unattractive in front of a national park,” he said.

WVDNR Announces New Fishing and Hunting Initiatives To Increase Tourism Opportunities

Three new initiatives designed to increase fishing and hunting opportunities and to attract outdoor recreation tourism have been announced by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel.

The DNR is exploring opportunities to enhance trout fishing in and around state parks beginning in 2018. Hatchery personnel are making plans to stock trout in many state parks lakes on Saturdays. In addition, selected trout streams within a 10-mile drive of these state parks will be stocked on Fridays. The Saturday trout stockings will be announced in advance to give anglers the chance to plan weekend trips, including overnight stays at state parks.

“We believe stocking these lakes and streams on Fridays and Saturdays will provide an excellent opportunity for people, especially new anglers, to improve their chances of catching a trout while visiting our beautiful state parks and forests,” McDaniel said. “This should help attract families looking for additional weekend activities and those who work or attend school on weekdays during the regularly scheduled trout stockings.”

The DNR is also exploring the concept of establishing special catch and release regulations for brook trout on streams located within four major watersheds in the Monongahela National Forest. These include portions of streams within the drainages of the Middle Fork of Williams River, Tea Creek, Red Creek and Otter Creek. These watersheds support more than 130 miles of native brook trout habitat and, if approved, will bring the total miles of catch-and-release and fly-fishing-only waters for brook trout to approximately 200 miles statewide.

The Free Press WV


“The purpose of these proposed catch and release regulations for brook trout is to provide added protection to these fisheries and to make these areas more attractive to both resident and out-of-state anglers. We think this will encourage them to say overnight and enjoy our state’s many outdoor recreation opportunities,” McDaniel said.

The concept for establishing these catch and release regulations for brook trout will be finalized and presented to the Natural Resources Commission during its quarterly meeting scheduled for February 25, 2018. These proposed regulations will also be presented for public comment during the 12 public sectional meetings scheduled March 12-13, 2018, at locations around the state.

The DNR also is planning to expand its successful program of controlled deer hunts at select state parks. The Natural Resources Commission is authorized to conduct controlled deer hunts for white-tailed deer on state parks to protect the ecological integrity of these public lands. These hunts will provide recreational opportunities for those seeking a unique outdoor experience at state parks. They’ll also provide opportunities for participants to enjoy park lodging facilities.

“We are still working out the details, but up to 10 state parks and an either sex tag are being considered for inclusion in this deer hunting program,” McDaniel said.

The concept for these expanded state park hunts also will be finalized and presented to the Natural Resources Commission in February, and proposed regulations will be presented for public comment during the March sectional meetings.

West Virginia fishing and hunting licenses may be purchased at license agents across the state or at www.wvfish.com or www.wvhunt.com. Reservations for state parks lodges and cabins can be made at www.wvstateparks.com.

2017 West Virginia Fall Trout Stockings Completed

The Free Press WV

West Virginia’s annual two-week fall trout stocking is complete.
The following waters were stocked the week of October10-13, 2017:

Anthony Creek
Big Clear Creek
Blackwater River
Brandywine Lake
Buckhannon River
Buffalo Fork Lake
Coopers Rock Lake
Cranberry River
Elk River
Evitts Run
Glade Creek of New River
Knapps Creek
Lost River
New Creek Dam 14
North Fork South Branch
Opequon Creek
Pinnacle Creek (lower section)
Pond Fork
R. D. Bailey Tailwaters
Rock Cliff Lake
Seneca Lake
Shavers Fork (Bemis)
Shavers Fork (lower)
Shavers Fork (upper section)
South Branch (Franklin)
South Branch (Smoke Hole)
Spruce Knob Lake
Summersville Tailwaters
Summit Lake
Sutton Tailwaters
Teter Creek Lake
Tygart Headwaters
Tygart Tailwaters
West Fork Greenbrier River
Williams River


The following waters were stocked the week of October 16-20, 2017:

Anthony Creek
Big Clear Creek
Blackwater River
Brandywine Lake
Buckhannon River
Buffalo Fork Lake
Clear Fork of Guyandotte River (delayed harvest)
Coopers Rock Lake
Cranberry River
Elk River
Evitts Run
Glade Creek of New River
Knapps Creek
Lost River
New Creek Dam No. 14
North Fork South Branch
Opequon Creek
Pinnacle Creek (lower section)
Pond Fork
R. D. Bailey Tailwaters
Rock Cliff Lake
Seneca Lake
Shavers Fork (Bemis)
Shavers Fork (lower)
Shavers Fork (upper section)
South Branch (Franklin)
South Branch (Smoke Hole)
Spruce Knob Lake
Summersville Tailwaters
Summit Lake
Sutton Tailwaters
Teter Creek Lake
Tygart Headwaters
Tygart Tailwaters
West Fork Greenbrier

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