Category Archives: Wildlife

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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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

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 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.

 

Welcome to ODNR Deputy Director Boyles

14 May 2014

In April, Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler tapped ODNR’s Deputy Director Karl Gebhardt to be the new Chief of the Division of Surface Water and Deputy Director of Water Resources.  Shortly thereafter, ODNR Director Jim Zehringer promoted Bob Boyles, a 31 yr veteran of ODNR, to be the Deputy Director over the Divisions of Forestry, Mineral Resources Management, and Wildlife as well as continuing his role as State Forester and Chief of the Division of Forestry.  According to an ODNR announcement, Boyles has his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Forestry from West Virginia University and has served leadership roles in Ohio’s National Wild Turkey Federation and is a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society.  Myself, Steve Gray (OCF Policy Director), Marc Smith (OCF BOD and National Wildlife Federation Senior Policy Manager), and Gildo Tori (OCF BOD and Ducks Unlimited, Director of Public Policy) sat down with Deputy Director Boyles and Deputy Director Andy Ware (ODNR Divisions of Soil & Water and Coastal Management) to open a dialogue about natural resource conservation in Ohio, the Division of Wildlife, and introduce them to OCF’s 2014 Initiatives.  The text of a post-meeting thank you letter is included below:

13 May 2014

Re: Meeting of May 12th

Dear Deputy Director Boyles,

On behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation and its members, thank you for meeting with myself, Steve Gray (OCF), Marc Smith (NWF) and Gildo Tori (DU).  It was great to have the opportunity to sit down with you and Andy Ware to discuss natural resources management in Ohio and the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

OCF and its members look forward to working with you and the Department of Natural Resources on issues important to Ohio’s sportsmen & women today. Moving ahead, our focus will be to work collaboratively wherever possible with ODNR on OCF’s 2014 Initiatives developed by our board earlier this year.

To reiterate from our conversation, OCF is concerned about the burden of direct charge backs to the DOW and the other divisions, we are proud of the Ohio’s Wildlife Officer system and want to make sure it is protected and supported, and we want to support the ODNR as an agency by striving for professionally educated and trained employees and administrators responsible for managing Ohio’s natural resources.

We are pleased with the recent appointments of Eric Hirzel and Tom Vorisek to the Ohio Wildlife Council. OCF will support the time tested wildlife council system and help protect it from undue political influence.

Wildlife diversity and endangered species management is very important to the OCF and we will support efforts to protect and conserve threatened, endangered, and non-game species.

We encourage ODNR’s efforts to control harmful algal blooms in places like Grand Lake Saint Marys and Lake Erie. Likewise, OCF supports and would welcome the opportunity to be involved with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program provisions in the federal Farm Bill developed to improve conservation practices on agricultural lands in Ohio.

Once again, thank you for meeting with us. We look forward to continuing to build our relationship with you as we share in the efforts to help you and others in ODNR accomplish its mission. Please feel free to contact us if we can help you advance our collective conservation goals.

Sincerely,

Matt Misicka

Matt Misicka

Vice President, Ohio Conservation Federation

www.ohioconservationfederation.com

E-mail: mattmisicka@gmail.com

Phone: (614) 581-9283

 

Cc:       James Zehringer, Director

Andy Ware, Deputy Director