Freeport artist Scot Storm has won the 2015 Minnesota migratory waterfowl stamp contest, painting a harlequin duck, the third time Storm has won the annual competition.
The painting will be featured on the 2015 Minnesota "duck'' stamp. A total of 23 entries were submitted to the contest sponsored by the DNR. Storm previously won the competition in 2004 with a rendering of a common merganser, and in 2009 with a painting of a common goldeneye.
Placing second was Kurt Kegler; Tyler Maddaus was third; and Nicholas Markell, fourth.
DNR and conservation group judges selected the winning designs.
The $7.50 duck stamp is required of all Minnesota waterfowl hunters ages 18 through 64. Stamp sales generate about $700,000 a year for habitat enhancement projects on state wildlife management areas and shallow lakes.
No prize goes to the winner, but the featured artist retains the right to reproduce and sell his or her painting. Entries must be of an assigned species that breeds in or migrates through Minnesota. Next year it will be the widgeon.
President H.W. Bush was honored Wednesday at his summer home in Maine for his lifetime interest in fishing and in particular the policies he initiated and signed as president to conserve the nation's fisheries.
Bush fished regularly during his presidency, often for bonefish in the Florida Keys in winter and off the Maine coast in summer.
The former president had planned to fish the St. Croix River while in the Twin Cities for the 2008 Republican Convention but had to cancel. He planned to fish with fly-fishing expert and St. Croix River specialist Bob Nasby of St. Paul.
Among leaders of the U.S. sportfishing industry who met with Bush at his Maine home Wednesday was Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris.
Bush turned 90 last week, celebrating by sky diving as he has on previous birthdays.
From an American Sportfishing Association (ASA) press release:
On Wednesday, ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman presented the former president with the inaugural KeepAmericaFishing Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of the recreational fishing industry and the nation’s 60 million anglers. The award recognizes Bush’s leadership and lifelong personal commitment to recreational fishing and the conservation of our nation’s fisheries and wetlands. Launched by ASA in 2010, KeepAmericaFishing was established as a way for anglers to get involved in advocating for clean water, abundant fish populations and plenty of places to go fishing. In addition to this award, ASA presented its inaugural Fisherman of the Year award to Bush in 1986.
“During his administration, President Bush, an ardent angler and outdoorsman, was responsible for signing into law some of the most important legislation ever drafted to conserve our nation’s fisheries and their habitat,” said Nussman. “Today, the sportfishing industry and anglers recognized his lifelong commitment to our nation’s natural resources with the first KeepAmericaFishing Lifetime Achievement award for his extraordinary efforts to advocate for fisheries conservation and habitat restoration.”
Nussman added, “What most people don’t know is that when Bush was Vice President, he played a key role in assuring the passage of the 1984 amendments to the Sport Fish Restoration Act – an action second only to the original Act’s passage in 1950. When President, Bush came to the Act’s rescue in 1991 making sure that the Office of Management and Budget did not divert any of the Trust Fund’s monies from their intended purpose of supporting sport fisheries conservation and habitat restoration. He played a key role in ensuring recreational fishing future.”
Currently, Congress is revising the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the law that governs our nation’s marine resources. Morris and Scott Deal, president, Maverick Boats, chair the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management which is composed of anglers, scientists, former agency administrators, conservationists, industry representatives and economists, who are seeking to ensure that saltwater recreational fishing becomes a priority of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
During the meeting, Morris announced that Bass Pro Shops was presenting a $125,000 gift in President Bush’s name to the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) for its Hispanic angling and boating participation campaign called “Vamos a Pescar.” Over the past 18 months, RBFF has been working on developing the campaign website and marketing materials since its Board of Directors approved a five-year plan in 2013 to engage the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population in fishing and boating.
During his time in office, Bush established 56 new wildlife refuges; restored three million acres of wetlands; protected 17.8 million acres of public lands, including national parks, wildlife areas and refuges; and signed the Clean Air Act reauthorization requiring cleaner burning fuels.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust were also in attendance to pay tribute to Bush’s conservation legacy.
The Land Trust Alliance on Tuesday praised support that is gaining in the U.S. House for a bill that renews tax incentives for conserving land through conservation easements.
The Conservation Easement Incentive Act, introduced last year by Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif), would make permanent the enhanced tax incentives created in 2006 to help landowners preserve farms, ranches, forests and historical sites in protected easements, working in partnership with land trusts – nonprofit conservation organizations.
Land trusts have conserved more than 47 million acres, an increase of roughly 10 million acres since 2005.
The bill now has 219 co-sponsors in the House, said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance.
The Land Trust Alliance is the national association representing 1,700 land trusts, which have more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide.
The incentive, which enabled private landowners to conserve a million acres a year, expired Jan 1.
From a Land Trust Alliance press release:
"The enhanced incentive, first passed in 2006, has expired repeatedly since passage including the end of last year. “This on-again, off-again incentive makes it nearly impossible to educate and encourage potential land donors to enter a conservation easement program,” said Wentworth. “It's difficult for landowners to donate what is perhaps their largest monetary asset — the future development rights of their lands — if the threat of the end of the tax incentive is constantly looming.”
"Conservation easements set aside land at a fraction of what it would cost for the federal government to purchase and supervise the land, and the land remains on the tax rolls. Moreover, the cost of working with private landowners to maintain these easements is born by nonprofit land trusts rather than the government.
“Conservation easements are a voluntary, market-based solution to ensure healthy food, clean waters and sustainable communities for all Americans,” Wentworth said. “If conservation is going to be permanent, then the law that provides this important tax incentive should be as well.”
"Although the bill has a solid backing, there are a limited number of legislative days left in the Congress to get the work done. “The enhanced conservation tax credit deserves consideration on the House floor,” Wentworth added.
"Sixty-five national organizations – including The Nature Conservancy, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund and National Audubon Society – also back the idea of making the enhanced conservation tax credit permanent.''
This spring, a federal agency announced that Asian carp eggs had been discovered in Pool 9 of the Mississippi River, about 250 miles farther north than reproducing populations of these carp were thought to have existed.
The finding stunned fisheries researchers and managers, and added urgency to plans already in place to stop the carp from swimming further upstream and establishing footholds in the Mississippi as far north as the Twin Cities, and in the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers.
Federal fisheries managers had concluded by visual inspection that the eggs were those of either silver or bighead carp.
Now the U.S. Geological Survey says the eggs are not those of any of the four species of Asian carp that are plaguing U.S. waters: bighead, silver, black or grass.
The mistaken discovery had prompted University of Minnesota researcher Peter Sorensen — shown with other researchers in the photo above at their U labraotory — to accelerate plans to place speakers (technically, transducers) on the downriver side of the downriver lock doors of Lock and Dam 8 near Genoa, Wis.
The speakers cost about $7,000 apiece, require about $2,000 a year in electricity to operate and would be attached to the lock by divers.
Sorensen said Tuesday that installation of the speakers, which likely will transmit motorboat sounds, is going ahead, regardless of the egg identification mistake, noting that rogue specimens of Asian carp have been found as far north as the St. Croix River since 1997.
Stopping upstream migrations of Asian carp further south on the Mississippi is also the only way to protect the Minnesota River, as well as the St. Croix, from reproducing infestations of these fish, Sorensen has noted.
Sorensen doesn't think the speakers will thwart 100 percent of Asian carp swimming upstream. But he believes the concept will be effective, and if so, additional speakers might be added in the future at Lock and Dam 5 and possibly Lock and Dam 3.
Sorensen and other researchers at the U also plan to use the school's supercomputer beginning this summer to simulate flow adjustments on Mississippi River dams that might further inhibit upstream movement of Asian carp.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers is cooperating in these and other efforts, Sorensen said.
The speaker project is being funded largely by lottery money overseen by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), together with some private funds.