Category Archives: Habitat

Portman and Strickland Asked to Commit to Support Public Lands

U.S. Senate Candidates Rob Portman and Ted Strickland
Asked to Commit Support for Public Lands

National parks, forest and wildlife refuges threatened by some in Congress, states

OHIO (Sept. 29, 2016) – As the race for Senate in Ohio reaches the final few weeks, National Wildlife Federation and the Ohio Conservation Federation today announced the submission of a letter of principles to both Senator Portman and Governor Strickland’s campaigns asking them to commit to keeping public lands in public hands for all Americans. The letter to the U.S. Senate candidates from NWF on behalf of their 156,000 Ohio members and supporters follows similar letters to the Clinton and Trump campaigns that were signed by 42 sportsmen organizations asking that they commit to keeping public lands public.

As the letter notes, the majority of Americans in both parties support and cherish public lands. A recent poll of registered voters in Ohio commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation showed that over four in five Ohioans (84 percent) believe that public lands should remain open to the public. These lands include national parks and forests, state parks, and wildlife refuges, among others. In addition, the survey found that 83 percent of registered voters in Ohio are against “the U.S. Congress passing laws that allow national public lands to be sold for private uses such as housing developments, resorts, mining, and oil and gas drilling.” Despite this widespread support however, there is a small yet vocal group of lawmakers at the federal and state level that is seeking to dismantle public lands and open them up to being handed over to private interests and corporations — irrevocably cutting off public access to the land that people have enjoyed for generations.

“America’s public lands are one of our nation’s greatest assets, said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation. “Our members in Ohio treasure access to their public lands to hunt, fish, and simply to enjoy the great outdoors. Ohio’s public lands are especially important to hunters, because many big game species depend upon contiguous wildlife corridors for annual migrations and to raise their young. We hope that both candidates will use their senate campaigns as a platform to express support for protecting public lands in Ohio and all across our nation — and keep them accessible for all Americans in the future.”

“Ohio’s sportsmen and women are public land owners. We firmly believe that we need to keep public lands in public hands,” said Matt Misicka, President, Ohio Conservation Federation. “Without public lands, many Ohioans would not have a place to hunt, fish and trap.”

Please Note: The National Wildlife Federation and The Ohio Conservation Federation do not participate in political campaigns, nor do we endorse, support or oppose any political party or any candidates for elected office.

 

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly-changing world. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Ohio Conservation Federation is the leading voice for sportsmen conservationists promoting the wise use and stewardship of Ohio’s wildlife and natural resources.

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Fair Property Tax Assessment for Conservation Acreage

Following Pheasants Forever’s lead, OCF joins the case for lowering taxes on acreage enrolled in conservation programs.  Read the letter to Tax Commissioner Joe Testa below.

February 29, 2016

Dear Commissioner Testa,

I am writing to you on behalf of the membership of the Ohio Conservation Federation.  We represent tens of thousands of sportsmen and women across Ohio.  Our membership includes Buckeye Big Buck Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Ohio State Trappers Association, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society.

Ohio landowners — including hunters, anglers, trappers, farmers, and ranchers — are concerned about tax evaluation under the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) for lands enrolled in habitat conservation practices.

State, Federal and local conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Agricultural Lands Easement Program, and the Clean Ohio Program benefit all Ohioans through reduced soil erosion, flood control, improved water quality, and increased wildlife habitat.   In return, fixed payments are made to compensate owners for the cost of planting trees and grasses, establishing riparian buffers, and restoring wetlands.  When land is enrolled in these programs, owners forfeit the ability to generate income from crop production on those acres for minimum periods of 10 years, 15 years, or in some cases perpetuity.

Excluding conservation acreage from CAUV while assessing it at anything higher than minimum value, not only burdens current landowners, but also threatens future participation in these vital conservation programs.   We are encouraged that some county auditors recognize that these conservation practices contribute to a healthy environment, populace, and economy and therefor assess them at their current minimum value.

Rather than penalizing landowners for their commitment to conservation;

We ask the Department of Taxation consider new guidelines on evaluating lands enrolled in long term State, Federal and local conservation programs, that provide a fair property tax assessment to those acres that in many cases provide invaluable ecological services to Ohio, but very limited or no income to their owners.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with your staff to discuss these issues in more detail.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Matt

Matt Misicka

President

Ohio Conservation Federation

OCF Encourages Acquisition of AEP ReCreation Lands

For more than 50 years, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and American Electric Power have worked in cooperation to provide Ohio’s hunters, anglers, trappers, campers, hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers access to a vast tract of reclaimed strip mines known as the ReCreation lands in southeastern Ohio.  In this August 25th, 2015 letter to Governor Kasich, OCF weighs in on the prospects of acquiring a large contiguous tract of fields and forests, including 1500 acres of ponds and impoundments…

Re: State of Ohio’s Acquisition of AEP Lands for Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping

Dear Governor Kasich,

The Ohio Conservation Federation is an organization working on behalf of anglers, hunters and trappers in our state.  Our coalition represents some of the most dynamic and effective sportsmen’s groups that includes: Buckeye Big Buck Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Ohio State Trappers Association, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society.

We are writing today to ask for the full-fledged support of you and the State of Ohio in working with American Electric Power to acquire and conserve the lands known as “ReCreation Land” in east central Ohio.  For more than 50 years, American Electric Power has most graciously made this 39,000 acre reclamation region available free as public land for conservation and outdoor recreation.  The Division of Wildlife has worked hand in hand with the company over the 50 years to improve the land and make it a great place to hunt, fish and trap.

American Electric Power is now ready to transition the land out of their ownership.  The company has talked about this transition with ODNR and the Division of Wildlife over the last decade.

The Ohio Conservation Federation enthusiastically supports the Division of Wildlife and ODNR purchasing the “ReCreation Land” from American Electric Power.  We believe this would be great utilization of the license fees and excise tax dollars spent by our membership.  Furthermore, we believe this is a once in a generation opportunity to do something great for the people of Ohio who enjoy nature, the outdoors and outdoor recreation.

One of the 2015 Initiatives of the Ohio Conservation Federation states – “Encourage the Division of Wildlife and other entities to work to increase the amount of land for hunting, trapping and fishing available to the public through purchase, easement or agreement.”  Ohio ranks woefully near the bottom of the states in public land for outdoor recreation. Acquiring the “ReCreation Land” would be a legacy accomplishment.

On behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation, I would welcome the opportunity to personally meet with some of your staff in the near future and plan how we could support this great endeavor.

Sincerely,

Matt Misicka

HB 490 Reaches the Senate Ag Committee.

…and so does OCF’s opponent testimony.  The following opponent testimony was submitted in writing to the Senate Agriculture Committee and circulated to the offices of Senate leadership.

November 28, 2014

Chairman Hite, Vice Chair Balderson, Ranking Member Gentile, and Members of the Committee: My name is Matt Misicka and I am the Vice President of the Ohio Conservation Federation.

On behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation (OCF) and the thousands of Ohio sportsmen and women that its members Buckeye Big Bucks Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, and Pheasants Forever represent, I am writing to you today to express our concerns regarding proposed amendments to HB 490 pertaining to (1) the issuance of free deer and turkey permits to any person assisting a mobility impaired hunter, (2) the creation of “deer sanctuary” permits, and (3) House-added language that is in conflict with the Great Lakes Compact.

HB 490’s proposal of free licenses and permits to mobility-impaired hunters and those assisting with the hunt, should be removed.  As written, there are no standard definitions of what constitutes impaired mobility, the type or number of assistants, or duration of the validity of the free licenses and permits. This overly broad perspective is poised for misuse, and as DOW has already issued a directive regarding non-hunting assistants in the field, inclusion of this amendment is unwarranted.

Ohio’s sportsmen and women are overwhelmingly supportive of the Division of Wildlife’s management of our white-tailed deer herd.  DOW’s biologist’s thoughtful scientific approach has developed a strong, healthy deer population, making Ohio a top 10 destination for deer hunting and creating a vibrant economy wrapped around this important natural resource.

OCF strongly opposes the amendment to create “deer sanctuary” permits.  With an economically successful wild population of more than 700,000 wild white-tailed deer in the state, the risks/benefits of creating such permits do not justify the inclusion of such an amendment.  When mistakenly taken from their natural habitat by the well-meaning, the 9 out of 10 fawns “rescued” that are not actually orphaned or abandoned have little chance of surviving if/when returned to the wild.

In light of the recent discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a captive herd in Holmes County, the risk of introducing or transmitting CWD is magnified whenever and wherever deer are confined or raised in captivity. In 2009 the Division of Wildlife (DOW), with the support of the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, implemented a law prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer and fawns in Ohio.  We feel it is in the long-term interest of Ohio and its wild white-tailed deer that regulatory authority remain with the Division of Wildlife, not the Department of Agriculture.

Lastly, OCF and its members are very concerned with water quality and quantity in Lake Erie and its tributaries.  HB 490’s re-definition of “adverse impacts” is a threat to the entire Lake Erie watershed, its fisheries, and its fisherman.  Alongside deer hunting, Lake Erie’s walleye, perch, and waterfowl provide the foundation of a sustainable multi-billion dollar outdoor industry that employs directly or indirectly tens of thousands of Ohioans. Until a clear definition of “adverse impacts” based upon the best science available that takes into account impacts on habitat, flow rate, and water chemistry, OCF urges that this language be stripped from this bill.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding our concerns with HB 490. The Ohio Conservation Federation stands ready to assist Members of this Committee, the Department of Natural Resources, the Governor, and related stakeholders in finding common ground on these issues.

Conserving our world-class waters and wildlife is essential to the health of our state, economy, and hunting heritage.

Sincerely,

Matt Misicka Vice President Ohio Conservation Federation

More HB 490 Efforts

Also coming to light last week was an amendment to the omnibus legislation HB 490 that is intended to define the meaning of “adverse impact” in such a way that likely threatens both the health of Lake Erie’s waters and the implementation of the Great Lakes Compact.  Time for another letter, the text of which is below:

Ohio House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources

Opponent Testimony

SUB. H.B. 490

November 14, 2014

Chairman Hall, Vice Chair Thompson, Ranking Member Cera, and Members of the Committee: My name is Matt Misicka and I am the Vice President of the Ohio Conservation Federation.

On behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation (OCF) and the thousands of Ohio sportsmen and women that its members Buckeye Big Bucks Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, and Pheasants Forever represent, I am writing to you today to express our concerns regarding proposed amendments to HB 490 that define “significant adverse impact” in such a way that threatens the productivity of Lake Erie, the safety of public drinking water, and the validity of the Great Lakes Compact approved by Ohio and ratified by Congress in 2008.

Maintaining the health of Lake Erie is vital to Ohio’s economy.  Whether it is safe guarding the walleye and perch that so many of us love to pursue and the livelihoods of charter boat captains and crews, or protecting the western basin’s marshes that provide essential habitat for the ducks that waterfowlers and their guides hunt from one end of the state to the other.

The new proposed language is in direct conflict with the compact requirements in that it measures only the physical impact of withdraws without considering impacts to water chemistry (concentration of pollutants such as phosphorus) or wildlife.

OCF is supportive of the changes recommended by a diverse group of conservation-minded organizations including Ducks Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation. These groups have suggested the following language intended to scientifically evaluate the impacts of withdraws: striking lines 4524-4537 and 4557-4576 and replacing lines 4557-4576 with the following language:

(a) Significant impacts to an important function of the ecosystem of the source watershed shall include, but not limited to, the following:


(i) Interruption of a primary spawning area of a threatened or endangered species of fish;

(ii) Significant loss of productivity or habitat of a characteristic sport fish or commercial fish species in a direct tributary;

(iii) Impairment of the chemistry, sediment, temperature, or flow dynamics in the river mouth of a tributary such that one or more of the significant habitat functions of habitats on or near the lake shore are materially impaired;


(iv) Lowering of water levels in a tributary to a point that interferes with commercial navigation in a port.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding our concerns with HB 490 and the future of Lake Erie.  The Ohio Conservation Federation stands ready to assist Members of this Committee, the Department of Natural Resources, the Governor, and related stakeholders in finding common ground on these issues.  Protecting Lake Erie, its tributaries, and surrounding communities is essential to the health of our wildlife, economy, and hunting, angling, and trapping heritage.

Sincerely,

Matt Misicka

Vice President

Ohio Conservation Federation

 

Ohio House Considers HB 490

14 November 2014

This week and next, the Ohio House’s Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources is hearing testimony on HB 490.  HB 490 includes many proposed law changes that would impact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture.  OCF has entered the fray with a letter to Committee Chair David Hall (R – Dist 70).  The text of the letter is below:

Dear Representative Hall,

On behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation (OCF) and the thousands of Ohio sportsmen and women that its members Buckeye Big Buck Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, and Pheasants Forever represent, I am writing to you today to express both our thanks and concerns regarding several items contained in HB 490.

OCF was glad to learn that the language in HB 490 pertaining to the issuance of free deer and turkey permits to any person assisting a “mobility impaired” hunter has been removed.  This overly broad proposal was poised for misuse, and as DOW had previously issued a directive regarding non-hunting assistants in the field, inclusion of this amendment was unwarranted.

We strongly encourage the removal of the amendment to create “deer sanctuary” permits.  With an economically successful wild population of more than 700,000 white-tailed deer in the state, the risks/benefits of creating such permits do not justify the inclusion of such an amendment.  When mistakenly taken from their natural habitat by the well-meaning, the 9 out of 10 fawns “rescued” that are not actually orphaned or abandoned have little chance of surviving if/when returned to the wild.

In light of the recent discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a captive herd in Holmes County, the threat of spreading CWD is magnified when and wherever deer are raised in captivity. In 2009 the Division of Wildlife (DOW), with the support of the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, implemented a law prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer and fawns in Ohio.  We feel it is in the long-term interest of Ohio and its deer that regulatory authority remain with the Division of Wildlife, not the Department of Agriculture.

Lastly, as part of its 2014 Members’ Initiatives, OCF remains a strong proponent of the moderate, non-punitive fee increase for non-residents suggested by DOW and we urge the re-instatement of that language back into HB 490.  This increase, when leveraged with record levels of available Pittman-Robertson funds, can positively impact urgently needed projects beneficial to Ohio’s sportsmen and wildlife.

Moving forward, OCF pledges to assist you however we can in your efforts to make these modifications. We ask that we be able to schedule a meeting with you and a small group of our members between now and December 1st.

Sincerely,

Matt Misicka

OCF’s 2014 Initiatives to Protect Ohio Water Quality and Promote Habitat Conservation Programs are central in response to recent HAB on Lake Erie.

August 2014

In light of the recent Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie’s Western Basin that prompted a drinking water ban for more than 300,000 residents of the Toledo area, OCF submitted letters to our Governor, Senators, several members of Congress, and the Directors of Ohio’s departments of Natural Resources, EPA and Agriculture.

The letters urge the recipients to do all they can to fully initiate the land use changes and conservation practices, many of which are already in place, to help protect the ecosystem and drinking water from further degradation.  Specifically, the letter focuses attention on the value of collaborations between government agencies, conservation organizations, and landowners and more fully funding the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

The full text of the letter sent to Governor Kasich can be viewed by clicking here.

 

OCF Welcomes Buckeye Big Buck Club

24 August 2014

Founded in 1957 to recognize the successful efforts of the Division of Wildlife’s management strategies and the growing quality of Ohio’s trophy-caliber deer hunting,  BBBC’s goals include encouraging trophy whitetail hunting in Ohio, maintaining a permanent record of the hunters and their trophies taken in fair chase hunts, fostering wise use of natural resources, and promoting positive relationships between Ohio’s hunters and landowners.  BBBC’s representative to the OCF board will be the organizations current President, Jerry Weingart.  Welcome Jerry and Welcome Buckeye Big Buck Club!

You can learn more about Buckeye Big Buck Club from their website www.buckeyebigbuckclub.org .

OCF welcomes its newest member: the Ohio State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation!

June 12, 2014

The National Wild Turkey Federation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of wild turkey, conservation of habitat, and preservation of our hunting heritage.  Ohio’s 72 local chapters represent more than 8000 members.  To date, NWTF has invested $21 million dollars in Ohio restoring turkey populations and conserving habitat.

Membership in NWTF comes with lots of benefits, including education, access to quality seed products, and on-site visits to your property by expert NWTF biologists.  Be sure to check out both the national and Ohio websites at: www.nwtf.org and www.ohionwtf.org.