Monthly Archives: April 2016

OCF Weighs in on S.B. 293

27 April 2016

OCF’s President, Matt Misicka, joined colleagues Luke Houghton and Rob Sexton (Sportsmen’s Alliance), Jack Shaner (Ohio Environmental Council), Tom Butch (Columbiana County Federation of Conservation Clubs), Larry Mitchell (League of Ohio Sportsmen), and three members of the Conneaut Creek Advisory Council, to provide opponent testimony to various aspects of S.B. 293 before the Senate committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

A summary of the testimony is below:

Chairman Coley and Members of the Committee,

I am writing today on behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation (OCF) and its membership, which includes:

Buckeye Big Buck Club, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, and the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society.

OCF is opposed to the creation of Natural Resource Officers in S.B.293.  We are concerned that the bill will result in a natural resource police force under a third party law enforcement section or division, further politicizing ODNR by taking away authority from the chiefs of divisions.  Concurrently, we worry that previously dedicated watercraft license fees and fuel tax, paid by sportsmen and other boaters, may be used for other expenses within ODNR.

Likewise, OCF joins the League of Ohio Sportsmen in its opposition to the consolidation of Ohio’s fourteen Scenic Rivers Advisory Boards into a single board. At its annual meeting in February, the League of Ohio Sportsmen passed a resolution in support of maintaining the current status of the Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Advisory Councils within ODNR. Perhaps now more than ever, Ohio needs more, not less, citizen involvement and oversight of natural resources management. With many of Ohio’s streams and rivers imperiled, the Maumee River and its tributaries a prime example, OCF opposes S.B. 293 in its current form. We view this consolidation as a threat to local oversight; diminishing community support and jeopardizing the health of our most precious waterways.

Thank you for your consideration.

Matt Misicka

OCF Joins the the Call for a HAB Coordinator

OCF Joins the the Call for a HAB Coordinator 

April 13, 2016: OCF joined with colleagues to voice support for the creation of an HAB coordinator to provide leadership to the many efforts directed towards curbing harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes.  Read below the letter below written by Kristy Meyers from the Ohio Environmental Council, signed on to by more than 30 conservation-minded organizations from across the region.

Dear Congressman Ryan:

We write in support of H.R. 1923, your bill requiring the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to appoint a Great Lakes Harmful Algal Bloom Coordinator, which is now part of H.R. 223, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015. Thank you for your leadership and for being a champion for our Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie. Currently there are many efforts underway to reduce the number of harmful algal blooms throughout the Great Lakes, such as in Lake Erie, Saginaw and Green Bays, and Fox River.

These efforts, however, are not always coordinated to leverage resources and share vital information. Appointing a coordinator ensures resources are used effectively and efficiently and that federal, state, and local agencies, tribal governments, universities and nongovernmental organizations are working collaboratively to reduce phosphorus flowing into the Great Lakes.

The first step is a coordinator to ensure everyone is working together to address these complex issues. A coordinator could not come quickly enough. Lake Erie is the canary in the coal mine of what is to come for freshwater bodies if the nation does not solve this problem. In 2015, Lake Erie experienced a HAB that stretched from Michigan to well past Cleveland and was the biggest bloom on record. In 2014 and 2013, residents in the Toledo area and Carroll Township, respectively, went without tap water because of the toxins produced by these blooms.

As you know, over 30 million people rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. We must take action now because the longer we wait, the more serious and expensive this problem becomes.

Please let Kristy Meyer with the Ohio Environmental Council know how we can be helpful in seeing this vital piece of legislation become law by contacting her at (614) 4875842 or KMeyer@theOEC.org .

Sincerely,

Heather Taylor Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council

Molly Flanagan, Vice President, Policy, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Carol A. Stepien, Professor of Ecology, Director, Lake Erie Science Center, University of Toledo

George Meyer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Sandy Bihn, Executive Director, Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Inc

Jim Stouffer, President, Lake Erie Improvement Association

Mike Shriberg, Regional Executive Director, Great Lakes, National Wildlife Federation

Matt Misicka, President, Ohio Conservation Federation

Paul Pacholski, President, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association

Ray Stewart, President, Ohio Wetland Association

Joy Mulinex, Director of Government Relations, Western Reserve Land Conservancy

Robert Stegmier, National Director, Izaak Walton League of America

Josh Knights, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Chapter