News Columns & Blogs

Notes on something and nothing

Yesterday afternoon I fished a stream in the Flint Hills and was absolutely stunned and what high water had done since I was there in late May. A gravel bar as large as a small house had been moved downstream about 50 yards.

Fishing was decent despite high, murky water. My personal highlight was a 12-inch largemouth that struck a spinnerbait as I fished from a high bank.

When the time was right I lifted the rod and pulled the fish out of the water and over the bank. It fell off immediately and flopped in the leaves. Thinking nothing of it I nudged him back into the stream with my foot.

About two seconds later I noticed there wasn’t a lure on my line. It had come untied and I’d obviously just released a fish with a $4 lure in his mouth.

Oh well, I guess he’ll be the prettiest bass in that stream. Hope the other fish don’t strike at the spinner as it flutters about when the fish swims. That would have to hurt ol’ Pretty Boy after a while.

Here’s an interesting press release from Ducks Unlimited about CRP and the habitat it provides in the prairie pothole region. You’ll need to scroll down a bit to read it.  I’m at a loss for how to get it higher. Sorry.

Loss could result in 100,000 fewer ducks in the fall flight each year BISMARCK, ND, Sept. 16, 2010 – In spite of the good news that USDA is signing up nearly 32 million Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, Ducks Unlimited (DU) is concerned the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) will still be losing more than 250,000 acres of CRP this year.  Those acres are especially important for duck production."Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack tried to keep environmentally sensitive land in CRP, but for a number of reasons, landowners in portions of the PPR were not as interested as we had hoped," said Scott McLeod, DU governmental affairs representative for agricultural policy. "The resulting loss of CRP acres in the PPR will mean fewer acres available for nesting ducks when they arrive on the breeding grounds next year."DU scientists estimate a loss of 250,000 aces of CRP could reduce the fall flight by more than 100,000 ducks per year. Compounding the loss of CRP land is the ongoing conversion of native grassland to cropland, estimated at over 200,000 acres annually. Another 3.5 million, or 35 percent of the current CRP acres in the PPR, will expire in 2011-2012.The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that slightly more than 4.3 million acres were enrolled in CRP in August. More than 4.8 million acres were offered nationwide by landowners during this general sign-up.In the PPR, almost 674,000 acres were enrolled in the sign-up, while 973,000 are expiring at the end of this month. Some of those lost acres are likely to be offset by new enrollments in continuous CRP practices.  McLeod says landowner interest may have been limited in the PPR by factors such as the sign-up coinciding with the peak of small grain harvest in the Dakotas, CRP rental payments still being too low and possible competition with continuous CRP practices, which provide greater financial incentives."Landowners did not receive points for wetlands in the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) during this sign-up like they have in the past, and this undoubtedly was a factor in the lower acceptance rates in portions of the PPR," he said. Only four states had a lower acceptance rate than North Dakota. CRP offers are given an EBI score that reflects the environmental sensitivity of the land and then compete nationally with all other offers. Offers receiving the highest scores are accepted for enrollment.Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.-30-Becky Jones Mahlum Bismarck, ND  701-355-3507 bjonesmahlum@ducks.orgJennifer Kross Bismarck, ND 701-355-3515

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