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    Conservation News

    Welcome to Conservation News, the District's news journal. Our goal is to highlight the latest news from USDA, K-LSWCD, as well as other farm, food, and conservation news.

    Subscribe to articles via RSS Feed using the link in the sidebar.

    Feel free to add your comments -- and don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter or visit us on Facebook for more farm and food news, videos, events, and announcements.

    Caveat: We do not necessarily endorse the following programs, events, or organizations. We leave it to you to decide if the articles and links are useful.

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    Tuesday
    Mar252014

    USDA Encourages Early Registration for FSA Programs

    Maine State FSA Office
    967 Illinois Ave, Ste2
    Bangor, ME 04401
    207-990-9140
    WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today recommended that farmers and ranchers who plan to participate in FSA programs register in advance. Producers are encouraged to report farm records and business structure changes to their local FSA Service Center before April 15, 2014.
    Enrollment for the disaster programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will begin by April 15, 2014.
     
    "We expect significant interest in these programs,” said Garcia. “Early registration should help improve the sign-up process and allow us to expedite implementation of the programs. I strongly encourage producers to complete their paperwork ahead of time.”
     
    Examples of updates or changes to report include:
    • New producers or producers who have not reported farm records to FSA.
    • Producers who have recently bought, sold or rented land. Those producers need to ensure that changes have been reported and properly recorded by local FSA county office personnel. Reports of purchased or sold property should include a copy of the land deed, and if land has been leased, then documentation should be provided that indicates the producer had/has control of the acreage.
    • Producers that have changed business structures (e.g. formed a partnership or LLC) need to ensure that these relationships and shares are properly recorded with FSA. Even family farms that have records on file may want to ensure that this is recorded accurately as it may impact payment limits.
    Farm records can be updated during business hours at FSA Service Centers that administer the county where the farm or ranch is located. Producers can contact their local FSA Service Center in advance to find out what paperwork they may need. In addition, bank account information should be supplied or updated if necessary to ensure that producers receive payments as quickly as possible through direct deposit.
    While any producer may report farm records and business structure changes, it is especially important for producers who suffered livestock, livestock grazing, honeybee, farm-raised fish, or tree/vine losses for 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, and may be eligible for assistance through one of the four disaster programs.
     
    For further information about our disaster programs and USDA’s Farm Bill implementation plan, visit FSA’s 2014 Farm Bill Web page. FSA Service Center locations can be found on the FSA website.
    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
    Tuesday
    Mar252014

    FSA APRIL Newsletter: Kennebec-Knox-Lincoln

    Contents:

    • LIVESTOCK DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
    • AVERAGE ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME COMPLIANCE REVIEW
    • MICROLOAN PROGRAM
    • NONINSURED CROP DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (NAP)
    • EVALUATIONS ALLOWED FOR LOANS OF $250,000 OR LESS

    NEW FARM BILL PROVIDES PERMANENT LIVESTOCK DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
    The 2014 Farm Bill, formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, makes the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) permanent programs and provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses back to Oct. 1, 2011.

    LFP provides compensation to eligible producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought and fire. LIP provides compensation to livestock producers who suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather and attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government or protected by Federal law, including wolves and avian predators.

    USDA is determined to make implementing the livestock disaster programs a top priority and plans to open program enrollment by April 15, 2014.

    As USDA begins implementing the livestock disaster assistance programs, producers should record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including:

    ·        Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by  photographs or video records of ownership and losses
    ·        Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts
    ·        Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures
    ·        Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed
    ·        Crop records, including seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records
    ·        Pictures of on-farm storage facilities that were destroyed by wind or flood waters
    ·        Evidence of damaged farm land.

    Many producers still have questions. USDA is in the process of interpreting Farm Bill program regulations. Additional information will be provided once the enrollment period is announced. In the meantime, producers can review the LIP and LFP Fact Sheets. Thanks for your patience as USDA works diligently to put Farm Bill programs into action to benefit the farmers and ranchers of rural America.

    2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 AND 2013 AVERAGE ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME COMPLIANCE REVIEW

    The AGI verification and compliance reviews for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 are conducted on producers who the IRS indicates may have exceeded the adjusted gross income limitations described in [7 CFR 1400.500]. Based on this review, producers will receive determinations of eligibility or ineligibility.

    If the producer is determined to have exceeded the AGI limitation of $500,000 of nonfarm income, $750,000 of farm income, $1 million of conservation program benefits or the $1 million total AGI, then receivables will be established for payments earned directly or indirectly by the producer subject to the applicable limitation. The Maine FSA State Office will begin notifying producers selected for review next month. If you have any questions about the review process or determination, please contact the Maine FSA State Office at 207-990-9140. Producers who receive initial debt notification letters may only appeal the amount of the debt to their local FSA office.  Adverse determinations become administratively final if not timely appealed and can only be reopened if exceptional circumstances exist that prevented the producer from timely filing the appeal.

    MICROLOAN PROGRAM
    The Farm Service Agency (FSA) developed the Microloan (ML) program to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and small family farm operations.  

    FSA offers applicants a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.  This loan program will also be useful to specialty crop producers and operators of community supported agriculture (CSA).  

    Eligible applicants can apply for a maximum amount of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses.  As financing needs increase, applicants can apply for a regular operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial lender under FSA’s Guaranteed Loan Program.

    Individuals who are interested in applying for a microloan or would like to discuss other farm loan programs available should contact their local FSA office to set up an appointment with a loan official.

    NONINSURED CROP DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (NAP)

    The noninsured crop disaster assistance program (NAP) is a federally funded program that helps producers reduce their risk when growing food and fiber crops, specialty crops and crops for livestock feed. These benefits are only available for crops for which the catastrophic level of crop insurance is not available. Application for coverage must be filed by the applicable crop’s application closing date.  

    Production records for all crops must be reported to FSA no later than the acreage reporting date for the crop for the following year.  FSA requires that any production reported in a loss year be verifiable according to Agency specifications. NAP Losses must be reported within 15 days of the date the loss became apparent.

    All applications for NAP payment must be signed by the subsequent crop year's acreage reporting date in order to be considered timely. There are no late-file provisions for NAP applications for payment.

    The following crops have a NAP application closing date of September 1, 2014:  Aquaculture, Ornamental Nursery, Christmas Trees and Turf Grass Sod.

    MARKETING ASSISTANCE LOANS (MAL)
    Short-term financing is available by obtaining low interest commodity loans for eligible harvested production. A nine-month Marketing Assistance Loan provides financing that allows producers to store production for later marketing. The crop may be stored on the farm or in the warehouse.

    Loans are available for producers who share in the risk of producing the eligible commodity and maintain beneficial interest in the crop through the duration of the loan.  Beneficial interest means retaining the ability to make decisions about the commodity, responsibility for loss because of damage to the commodity and title to the commodity. Once beneficial interest in a commodity is lost, it is ineligible for a loan, even if you regain beneficial interest.

    FSA ALLOWS LENDERS TO USE EVALUATIONS INSTEAD OF APPRAISALS FOR LOANS OF $250,000 OR LESS
    Lenders that originate Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteed loans may now use internal real estate “collateral evaluations” to support loan requests of $250,000 or less, rather than appraisals.

    This policy change will allow lenders more flexibility and a faster underwriting process, and is consistent with industry standards.

    Lenders must follow their regulator’s “Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines” and apply these same policies to FSA guaranteed loans as non-guaranteed loans.  In addition, lenders should request an appraisal when they would do so for unguaranteed loans even if the loan is under the threshold, such as when the expected loan-to-value is above their established standards.

    A description of the method of establishing the real estate value – whether appraisal or evaluation – needs to be described to FSA in their credit presentation.

    Kennebec-Knox-Lincoln County FSA Office
    21 Enterprise Drive, Suite 1
    Augusta, ME 04330
    Phone: 207-622-7847
    Fax: 207-626-8196

    County Executive Director: Maria T. Granger
    Farm Loan Manager: Brenda Wells
    Program Technicians: Mary Sanstrom, Raena Trojano-Penney

    Next County Committee Meeting:  April 15, 2014 @ 10:00 A.M.
    Neal Caverly, Chairperson
    Donald Burke, Vice Chairperson
    Berndt Graf, Member
    Rodney Bailey, Member
    Jeremiah Smith, Member
    Anne Weston, Voting SDA Member

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay),
    (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

    Monday
    Mar172014

    IFW Ice Fishing Report for March 15, 2014

    Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Fisheries Biologists

    Region A – Sebago Lakes Region

    Anglers on Mousam Lake and the Range Pond chain did well this past weekend, as the weather warmed up if only for a short period of time.
    Notable catches on Mousam included an 11-pound lake trout as well as a four-pound salmon.
    “There still are some nice fish to be caught this season,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Francis Brautigam. “This past weekend, we saw some nice coldwater fish landed.”
    Along with the salmon, trout and togue, anglers are catching bass as well.
    “There’s a much higher incidence of bass this time of year, and many of them are larger bass,” said Brautigam.
    Anglers on Sebago are fishing throughout the lake, as the big bay has set up firmly. Anglers are catching lake trout, but many are finding that the lakers have been somewhat difficult to entice.
    “They are seeing togue and a lot of bait on their fish finders, but most are saying that the lake trout are finicky,” said Brautigam.
    Brautigam also wanted to remind anglers that with the weather we have been experiencing, anglers may very well be ice fishing into April.
    Under the county rules section of the fishing law book, if there is still ice on the waterway and the body of water is open to ice fishing, anglers can continue to ice fish into April.

    Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

    This time of year is a great time to target bass under the ice.
    “Messalonskee Lake has good numbers of smallmouth bass,” says IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders, “There are good numbers of fish, you need to find that rocky habitat that is 20-30 feet deep and you should have success.”
    Last week, a group fishing Messalonskee caught a number of smallmouth bass, averaging about 16” in length, with some up to 19”.
    “They were in great condition as well, feeding heavily on baitfish. They were very fat,” said Seiders, who added that many anglers are still landing splake on Messalonskee as well.
    Anglers are still catching lake trout on Maranacook, as well as smelts.
    “We saw a 15 pound togue caught on Maranacook last week, and they seem to be averaging in the 5-6 pound range,” said Seiders.
    Smelt fishing continues to be good, as anglers are getting them in deeper water using small tackle. Smelts are in the 5-6 inch range.
    “They are catching them throughout the south basin, at depths of around 40 feet. There are good numbers of fish, but it can be tricky,” said Seiders who added that many jigging for smelts will also get an occasional white perch.

    Region C -- Downeast

    Even though fishing appeared to slow down a bit this month, last weekend’s nice weather enticed quite a few anglers.
    “Ice fisherman were out in droves last weekend,” said IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr. “Usually it slows down, but the weather was good and the travel conditions were excellent.”
    According to Burr, they are still getting some salmon and togue on West Grand, but the fishing for bass and perch is really starting to come on
    “Big bass are starting to get active this time of year, and people are catching some really nice fish,” said Burr, who added the recent storm may hamper travel conditions a bit, but there is still 22-28 inches of ice.
    Many anglers who target salmon and trout early in the season, now focus on warmwater fish this time of year.
    “It’s a great time to be out, it’s beautiful and warm. One group I know fishes hard for salmon and trout, but wen March comes around, they shift to bass and are very successful,” said Burr.
    While many anglers will drill holes and set up a number of traps, some anglers are more mobile, out with just a jig rod, searching for open holes, and are having quite a bit of success.

    Region D – Rangeley Lakes

    In the Rangeley Lakes Region, anglers are still catching salmon and lake trout.
    “I was out on Saturday on Clearwater and Porter Lakes, and anglers had caught a bunch of fish which is unusual as salmon fishing usually drops towards the end of March,” said IFW fisheries biologist Dave Howatt.
    “I saw eight nice salmon on Saturday and a smattering of togue, brook trout and even some large bass,” said Howatt.
    While many of the salmon were in the 16 inch range, there was one 20 inch salmon. Howatt did say travel was difficult on the lake with the frozen tracks, ruts and banks in the plowed areas but should smooth out with the recent snow.
    In other parts of the region, there are still close to 50 shacks out on Webb Lake, and just north of Flagstaff Lake, they are still catching some trout on Spring Lake.
    Speaking of Flagstaff, Howatt said he has heard some rumors of large salmon caught on the lake. He added that the lake is fairly underfished, but there are certain spots that some of the locals frequent and the do quite well catching cusk as well.

    Region E – Moosehead Region


    “Bring you auger extension,” are the words of wisdom emanating from IFW regional fisheries biologist Tim Obrey in the Moosehead Region. The recent storm dumped over 20 inches of snow in the region and Obrey added that the snow now reaches the top of his windows in his office.
    Anglers have been busy on Moosehead, and Obrey said it has been a fairly typical winter with good catches of togue, a few salmon and good catches of trout early on in the season.
    Obrey has visited Sebec Lake the last two weekends, surveying anglers. The fishing was very good to start the season, but has since slowed. Obrey said he saw mostly lake trout and a few salmon. The largest lake trout was seven pounds and there were a bunch in the four pound range.
    While Obrey hasn’t been on Chesuncook for two weeks, it still offers some good salmon fishing.
    Obrey did mention that if anyone still had ice shacks on area lakes, it would be prudent to jack them up and put them on blocks, as the recent snow and likely slush might freeze them in deep if they don’t.

    Region F – Penobscot Region

    If you want to fish the Penobscot region, Schoodic Lake is the place to be.
    “I talked with one angler yesterday. He and a friend were on Schoodic and caught 24 togue. Three of them went out the following day and caught 36 togue. Most were in that 18-24” range along with a few larger ones,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer.
    Kramer did add that anglers are also having success handlining smelts on Schoodic as well.
    “You can set a few traps, and jig some smelts while you wait for flags,” suggested Kramer.
    Access onto Schoodic is very good with ample parking at the IFW boat ramp in Lakeview, and another ramp in Brownville. Kramer believes travel on the lake will be good since the winds blew hard during the storm, and much of the snow that fell on the lake drifted into the woods.

    Tuesday
    Mar112014

    Woodland salamanders - "canaries in the forest"

    http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/

    The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

    The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii; above) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

    With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

    Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems.

    Research Wildlife Biologist Hartwell Welsh and Biological Science Technician Garth Hodgson conducted a study that looked at woodland salamanders in Mill Creek, an old-growth redwood forest in Northern California. The forest had been extensively logged for more than 100 years, which dramatically changed the dynamics of the forest ecosystem — altering the way trees grew, and removing much of the original habitat and native wildlife.

    The study considered different parts of the forest, which were compared with reference old-growth stands on adjacent parklands, and found a positive relationship between salamander presence and body condition, and tree growth, development, and structural changes. The scientists discovered that when woodland salamanders are in higher abundances, it indicates a healthy recovering forest.

    This research is important because old-growth forests are quickly diminishing, but they provide critical environmental services. According to the researchers, old-growth forests support the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems and serve as unique carbon sinks which contain the largest land carbon stocks on the planet. This type of forest helps to capture carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

    The Mill Creek forest was recently attained by the California state park system, and is intended to have its logged-over areas restored to old-growth forestland. If successfully restored, it will help to sequester carbon and will provide homes for the rare and currently absent wildlife that once lived there.

    The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh) - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/#sthash.aiuWbRk0.dpuf

    With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

    Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems. 

    Research Wildlife Biologist Hartwell Welsh and Biological Science Technician Garth Hodgson conducted a study that looked at woodland salamanders in Mill Creek, an old-growth redwood forest in Northern California. The forest had been extensively logged for more than 100 years, which dramatically changed the dynamics of the forest ecosystem — altering the way trees grew, and removing much of the original habitat and native wildlife.

    The study considered different parts of the forest, which were compared with reference old-growth stands on adjacent parklands, and found a positive relationship between salamander presence and body condition, and tree growth, development, and structural changes. The scientists discovered that when woodland salamanders are in higher abundances, it indicates a healthy recovering forest.

    This research is important because old-growth forests are quickly diminishing, but they provide critical environmental services. According to the researchers, old-growth forests support the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems and serve as unique carbon sinks which contain the largest land carbon stocks on the planet. This type of forest helps to capture carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

    The Mill Creek forest was recently attained by the California state park system, and is intended to have its logged-over areas restored to old-growth forestland. If successfully restored, it will help to sequester carbon and will provide homes for the rare and currently absent wildlife that once lived there.

    - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/#sthash.aiuWbRk0.dpuf
    - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/#sthash.aiuWbRk0.dpuf

    With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

    Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems. 

    Research Wildlife Biologist Hartwell Welsh and Biological Science Technician Garth Hodgson conducted a study that looked at woodland salamanders in Mill Creek, an old-growth redwood forest in Northern California. The forest had been extensively logged for more than 100 years, which dramatically changed the dynamics of the forest ecosystem — altering the way trees grew, and removing much of the original habitat and native wildlife.

    The study considered different parts of the forest, which were compared with reference old-growth stands on adjacent parklands, and found a positive relationship between salamander presence and body condition, and tree growth, development, and structural changes. The scientists discovered that when woodland salamanders are in higher abundances, it indicates a healthy recovering forest.

    This research is important because old-growth forests are quickly diminishing, but they provide critical environmental services. According to the researchers, old-growth forests support the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems and serve as unique carbon sinks which contain the largest land carbon stocks on the planet. This type of forest helps to capture carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

    The Mill Creek forest was recently attained by the California state park system, and is intended to have its logged-over areas restored to old-growth forestland. If successfully restored, it will help to sequester carbon and will provide homes for the rare and currently absent wildlife that once lived there.

    - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/#sthash.aiuWbRk0.dpuf

    With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

    Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems.

    Research Wildlife Biologist Hartwell Welsh and Biological Science Technician Garth Hodgson conducted a study that looked at woodland salamanders in Mill Creek, an old-growth redwood forest in Northern California. The forest had been extensively logged for more than 100 years, which dramatically changed the dynamics of the forest ecosystem — altering the way trees grew, and removing much of the original habitat and native wildlife.

    The study considered different parts of the forest, which were compared with reference old-growth stands on adjacent parklands, and found a positive relationship between salamander presence and body condition, and tree growth, development, and structural changes. The scientists discovered that when woodland salamanders are in higher abundances, it indicates a healthy recovering forest.

    This research is important because old-growth forests are quickly diminishing, but they provide critical environmental services. According to the researchers, old-growth forests support the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems and serve as unique carbon sinks which contain the largest land carbon stocks on the planet. This type of forest helps to capture carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

    The Mill Creek forest was recently attained by the California state park system, and is intended to have its logged-over areas restored to old-growth forestland. If successfully restored, it will help to sequester carbon and will provide homes for the rare and currently absent wildlife that once lived there.

    - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/#sthash.aiuWbRk0.dpuf

    Woodland Salamanders Prove to be the New Canary in the Forest

    The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

    The Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii) is a good indicator of forest ecosystem health. (U.S. Forest Service/Hartwell Welsh)

    With the Year of the Salamander now in full swing, there’s no wonder why everyone seems to be talking about these little creatures… they are the new canary in the coal mine when it comes to understanding forest health.

    Woodland salamanders, small, ground-dwelling or subterranean, and primarily nocturnal creatures, are a common species in North American forests; and researchers from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station say they are reliable indicators of recovery in damaged forest ecosystems.

    Research Wildlife Biologist Hartwell Welsh and Biological Science Technician Garth Hodgson conducted a study that looked at woodland salamanders in Mill Creek, an old-growth redwood forest in Northern California. The forest had been extensively logged for more than 100 years, which dramatically changed the dynamics of the forest ecosystem — altering the way trees grew, and removing much of the original habitat and native wildlife.

    The study considered different parts of the forest, which were compared with reference old-growth stands on adjacent parklands, and found a positive relationship between salamander presence and body condition, and tree growth, development, and structural changes. The scientists discovered that when woodland salamanders are in higher abundances, it indicates a healthy recovering forest.

    This research is important because old-growth forests are quickly diminishing, but they provide critical environmental services. According to the researchers, old-growth forests support the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems and serve as unique carbon sinks which contain the largest land carbon stocks on the planet. This type of forest helps to capture carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

    The Mill Creek forest was recently attained by the California state park system, and is intended to have its logged-over areas restored to old-growth forestland. If successfully restored, it will help to sequester carbon and will provide homes for the rare and currently absent wildlife that once lived there.

    - See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/woodland-salamanders-prove-to-be-the-new-canary-in-the-forest/#sthash.aiuWbRk0.dpuf
    Monday
    Mar032014

    IFW Ice Fishing Report for March 1, 2014

    Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Fisheries Biologists

    Region A – Sebago Lakes Region

    In the southern part of the state, IFW fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam says he is seeing more families out fishing this time of year.

    “We are seeing an increasing number of families ice fishing, particularly for warmwater species such as bass and perch, which offer more action for anglers,” says Brautigam.

    Brautigam noted that Long Pond in Naples and Harrison is seeing increased use by ice fishing families. While there are salmon in the 13-16 inch range and brown trout as well in Long, families are targeting perch.

    “Long is loaded with white perch, and quite a few anglers are having success targeting and harvesting white perch,” said Brautigam. “They are pretty easy to fish for, you should use small baits suspended 5-10 feet off the bottom. Long Pond is a good one for that type of fishing.”

    Family and kids may also be interested in the March 8 Kid’s Ice Fishing Derby on Lower Range Pond, sponsored by the Kittery Trading Post and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. It’s a good way to introduce children to ice fishing if you have never fished before as there will be experienced anglers helping out the kids. For more information, please visit icefishingderby.com.

    In spite of all the snow, lake travel has been good, as the brief spell of warmer weather packed down much of the snow before the recent cold front. However, there is still some slush in some areas so be aware.

    Also, while the big bay in Sebago has set up, ice conditions are treacherous on the bay. Heavy snow covers a thin layer of ice making fishing and travel on the bay risky. Anglers should fish the areas closer to shore that are safe.

    Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

    This time of year, many anglers in Region B are turning to warm water fish such as bass, perch, pickerel and others.

    “Many of these fish are staging to spawn, and they are more active,” says IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. “You can find them in shallow, weedy areas near inlets, sometimes in 2-5 feet of water.”

    If you are looking to catch bass, what type of bass you want to catch will determine where you should fish.

    “This is the time of year when we see lot of large bass caught through the ice, both smallmouth and largemouth. They are in their prespawn feeding mode, and they are really susceptible to ice fisherman,” said Seiders. Look for smallmouth in rocky, deeper areas, and you will have success for largemouth in those shallower, weedy areas.

    Seiders also mentioned what a valuable resource this bass fishery is.

    “It takes 20 years to grow a bass that is 18-20 inches. While it is a great opportunity to fish for them, if you are not keeping the fish, please catch and release the fish quickly,” said Seiders. “Once those fish are gone, it takes a long time to replace that fish.”

    Seiders said anglers are still jigging for perch everywhere. Many anglers are now using electronics, but if you don’t have a flasher, Seiders said to set up traps with small bait, and once you start to get flags, start jigging in that area.

    “Everyone has their favorite…jigs with cut bait, waxworms. Anything from a Swedish pimple to a marabou jig seems to be working,” said Seiders.

    Region C -- Downeast

    West Grand Lake is still offering some fast fishing.

    “There’s been some good catches of salmon in the 18-21 inch range, lots of togue in great shape in the 18-22 inch range, and a lot of whitefish,” said IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr.

    Anglers who are catching whitefish are using small smelts and small shiners, or jigging with cut bait on small jigs.

    “Whitefish can be very finicky. Cameras show that sometimes they will nose or bump the bait, then all of a sudden, hit the bait,” said Burr, who said a few years back, some winters there would be a whitefish village set up in Junior Bay, with up to 40 shacks in one area.

    “It’s still there, but on a smaller scale. People would spend their whole weekends in the shacks,” said Burr.

    Anglers will find good travelling on West Grand, with 20-24 inches of ice. However, be aware that there are pockets of slush. Traveling on lakes and ponds closer to the coast is even better.

    Burr also added that bass are getting more active and starting to bite, as we get later in the season. The key to success in winter bass fishing is finding their wintering areas.

    “Bass can be pretty dormant. Some lakes are full of smallmouth, but you won’t catch them unless you find the overwintering areas,” said Burr.

    Region D – Rangeley Lakes

    Up in the Western Mountains, anglers are still fishing, just not as much during the week.

    “We see a drop in ice fishing pressure during the weekdays this time of year. Of course, this cold snap that won’t go away is part of it, and these high pressure fronts don’t correlate with angler success,” said IFW fisheries biologist Bobby Van Riper.

    “On the weekends, we still see pretty good crowds on Chain of Ponds, Clearwater and Porter, and anglers are still catching fish there,” said Van Riper. “We are still seeing fish, but anglers are putting in a little more time to catch them. With the extremely cold weather and the bright sunny highs, you don’t get a lot of feeding activity.”

    Van Riper said that’s pretty typical. “Once the cold weather breaks, we will see more activity.”

    Van Riper did say they are getting some good reports from the Chain of Ponds on the quality of fish that anglers are catching.

    The dam on the bottom pond was repaired, and a new fishway placed there four years ago. Fish now can go in and out of the pond into the river to breed and forage, and it has meant bigger, healthier fish in the Chain of Ponds.

    “We have heard from anglers that the quality of the fish they are catching is better. The numbers are about the same, but they are catching nicer fish,” said Van Riper.

    Region E – Moosehead Region

    On Moosehead Lake, anglers are still having success.

    “It’s been pretty steady up here,” said IFW fisheries biologist Tim Obrey, “Catch rates for trout have been pretty typical of what we have seen the last couple of years.”

    Now that March is here, some of the lakes such as Allagash, Lobster and First Roche have closed, but there are still plenty of waters to fish.

    “Anglers out on Sebec have done well for togue, and they are still caching plenty of salmon up on Chesuncook,” said Obrey.

    Catch rates have also been good on Manhanock in Parkman. The pond received a good stocking of brook trout this fall, and anglers have been catching some big bass as well. “It’s a really good fishery,” said Obrey.

    Lake travel is good. Some slush for snowmobilers, and on most lakes, the snow is getting a little too deep for ATVs.

    Region F – Penobscot Region

    In Region F, fishing on East Grand Lake is picking up.

    “Early in the season, we were getting reports of slower fishing, but the last few weeks, anglers are doing well on lake trout and with some good fish in the 3-5 pound range,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer.

    On Junior Lake, anglers are reporting good catches of both whitefish and salmon, and anglers are seeing whitefish in Scraggly as well.

    In some parts of the region, anglers are targeting perch. If you are looking for some perch for a fish fry, Kramer suggests heading to Saponac Pond or Eskutassis Pond.

    “We do see quite a few people heading out for perch, and they’ll get not only perch, but the occasional bass as well,” said Kramer.

    Region G – Aroostook Region

    “Anglers are having good luck out on Madawaska, catching brook trout,” said IFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost, “The trout are biting extremely well.”

    Madawaska offers some fine brook trout fishing and easy access. “It’s close to Caribou, has good access, and it’s a good place to take the kids,” said Frost.

    Snowmobile travel in the area has been good, with easier travel further north, as the latest storms have dumped more snow in the southern part of the region.

    “Traveling is better in the north than in the central and southern part of the region where there is lots of slushy, deep snow on the lakes,” said Frost.

    Fishing pressure always drops off on Long Lake as the season progresses, but there are still big fish to be had there.

    “There’s not as many anglers out there, but there still is the opportunity to catch big salmon,” said Frost, who said over the years, large salmon have been caught throughout the lake.

    Anglers who are eyeing something smaller might want to try smelt fishing in the region. Frost said that smelt fishing has been good on Eagle Lake, St. Froid and Portage. Mornings tend be the best time to smelt fish those lakes.