Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NYSCC
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:17 PM
NEW YORK STATE CONSERVATION COUNCIL, INC.
8 East Main Street, Ilion, New York, 13357-1899; 315-894-3302; nyscc@nyscc.com

SECRETARY: Donald Sage, P.O. Box 123, Paradox, NY 12858; 518-585-7250
donsage2@gmail.com or cpt00089@wildmoo.net

79th Annual Meeting September 14 & 15, 2012
Holiday Inn New Hartford, NY

9-14 General Session:

DEC’s Kathleen Moser, Commissioner of Natural Resources, spoke in place of DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. She was followed by Patty Riexinger, Director of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources; and Peter Fanelli, Director of the Division of Law Enforcement. Gordon Batcheller and others also attended and supported the DEC presentation.


Ms. Moser updated NYSCC members on the Columbus Day Youth Hunt and license sales: Anglers up 11%, Hunters up 9%. She also updated members on the state feral swine (wild pig) problem. Highlights of the report included the announcement that there will be a youth big game hunt this year and concerns with invasive species, including feral swine.
It was stated how Hunting and Fishing create 130,000 jobs in New York. It was also mentioned that there is hope to have a DEC Academy next year. Questions that were presented to the DEC included concerns about the Conservation Fund and Pittman Robertson Funds; DEC not attending out-of-state meetings, the present state of vehicle shortage, ATV legislation and range development grants. It was announced that a bear management plan will soon be coming out.


DEC’s Patricia Riexinger, Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, reminded us that the Pittman Robertson Act is 75 years old this year. She spoke on an upcoming grant program from DEC for shooting ranges and on the ‘Archery in the Schools’ program support, which will be coming through local Soil and Water Conservation District personnel. The Rome Fish Hatchery has another disease. The Hatchery will destroy most (131,000) of its brown and brook trout, which will greatly reduce stocking.
The Division manpower is: CO’s 202; Lieutenants 38; Investigators 21; Investigating Lieutenants 6; Captains 10; Majors 3; Colonel 1; and Director, 1, for 282 total. This is down 38 positions now. A school is hoped for next year. 64 persons are now under the Conservation Fund. The new Deer Management Plan was a highlight achievement this year. There were 221 fishing clinics attended by over 19,000 individuals.
The Conservationist 4 Kids publication was provided for all 4th graders this year with three issues. The general theme of the magazine promotes management. A lot of storm damage repairs as a result of last year’s hurricane did more environmental damage than the hurricane itself. CWD in New York is now in the surveillance mode, noting that there were cases in Maryland and Nebraska (associated with deer farms). Access for Howlands Island continues to be a work in progress. A plan is forthcoming for small grants for shooting ranges with 4-H taking the lead. The DEC Field Notes now has 6,000 subscribers.
John Bartow and Katie Malinowski from the Tug Hill Commission presented a report on how the Commission operates, the Tug Hill region, and the recent private land sales on Tug Hill (9,000 and 26,000 acres). Unlike the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), the Tug Hill Commission has no regulatory authority. Therefore it works very closely with local governments and land owners to achieve results, very grass roots. 83% of the land is privately owned, 13% is public land, 4% is conservation easements. The Commission strives to maintain working forests with lots of public access. The future concerns working with all local officials. Fish Creek has 30,312 acres of easement, 1,350 acres of corridor, and 14,291 acres owned by the Nature Conservancy. Black River consists of 650,000 acres, of which 50% is forested.

The Annual Awards Banquet was held on Friday evening.


The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Walt and Joan Bennett of Oak Hill in Greene County. The Bennett’s have worked many years at stocking fish and cleanups throughout Greene and Albany Counties. Along with Trout Unlimited, they secured grants to enable projects on Ten Mile, Basic and Catskill Creeks, and got the manpower to accomplish the projects. The Bennett’s have also worked tirelessly to provide youth pheasant hunts by securing 400 acres on which 100 pheasants were released for the youths’ enjoyment as dogs flushed birds for them to harvest. From fish stocking, stream reclamation, pheasant distribution, youth programs, to general outdoor education and stewardship, it was always “mission accomplished” if Walt and Joan were involved. The Council wishes them the best and is proud to present them with the Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012.


Professional Conservationist of the Year is Paul V. Rush, Deputy Commissioner for the NY City Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Water Supply. A lifelong Sullivan County resident, Paul is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Paul has overseen the opening of thousands of acres of the city’s watershed lands to sportsmen and women. He was instrumental in eliminating the permit requirement, opening the reservoirs for fishing and boating, and allowing big and small game hunting and trapping on these city-owned lands. Currently Paul is organizing a special hunt for the “Wounded Warriors Program” for this fall. The Council is honored to recognize his hard work and dedication and proud to present him with the Professional Conservationist of the Year Award for 2012.

Guests at the annual awards banquet were Ron and Rita Jardin, parents of Ann Jardin, a young lady striving to be a member of the U.S. Olympic Women’s International Trap Shooting Team in 2016. Ms. Jardin is from Mexico, NY and a student at Paul Smith’s College where she is working toward a degree in fisheries and wildlife management; she will graduate in May 2013. Ms. Jardin has been shooting all of her life and has placed first in women’s trap at the European Grand Prix, and third at the Grand Prix de Cernay in France. She placed at the Bachier and Pellagri USA Masters Cup Junior Champion and Women’s Champion. She trains at Keystone Shooting Park in Pennsylvania, and since travel and training is expensive, Ms. Jardin is hoping for donations to assist in her goal of reaching the Olympics. All donations are tax deductible and should be sent to: Chubb International Shooting Sports, Inc., 302 Tennessee Ave., Elizabethville, PA 17023, designated for Ann Jardin Support Fund.


9-15 Regular Meeting Called to order. Roll call.

Presentations:
Fish and Game Restoration Initiative. President Howard Cushing presented a plan to give sportsmen more of a say on our sportsmen issues, especially on the uses and expenditures of our Conservation Fund, Dingell-Johnson, and Pittman-Robertson federal funds. The past actions of Governor Cuomo’s personnel, whereby we almost lost federal funding and the failure to provide timely reports on the Conservation Fund needs to be addressed by our state legislators and every sportsman. The Conservation Fund has $38 million sitting there and we cannot use it.

The budget took $500,000 of fish hatchery General Fund money and gave it to Parks. Our state fish hatcheries need approximately $20 million for necessary repairs. Gun sales are up by 40% and license sales could bring in an additional $14 million for the Conservation Fund. This gives us approximately $52 million for our hatcheries, game farms, boat launches, more access, and other programs of importance to sportsmen. This money could also be used to fund some of the programs the DEC and Governor reneged on when we supported the license fee increase. Conservation Funds could also be used for grants or loans to clubs for range improvements.

Dingell-Johnson and Pittman-Robertson Funds should also be used for these sportsmen issues. NYS, according to the Fish and Wildlife Apportionment, received $9,127,675.00 from Dingell-Johnson and $11,210,561.00 from Pittman-Robertson. The current Conservation Fund Advisory Board seems to be unable to track and direct these funds to our sportsmen programs. As such, President Cushing will setting up a January meeting to plan how and what we
sportsmen will need to get the legislators and Governor’s attention to these matters, possibly even passage of legislation protecting sportsmen’s rights.

Adirondack Land Purchase. DEC Frank Dunstan gave a lengthy report which triggered many questions, most of which he could not answer. The former Finch-Pruyn/Nature Conservancy property consists of 161,000 acres in conservation easements, 69,000 acres in forest preserve, and small areas of 1,000 acres in Newcomb and Long Lake. There are approximately 300 ponds and lakes and many miles of rivers. There is disagreement over the 69,000 acres that will become part of the forest preserve. These lands include 180 miles of rivers and 175 ponds and lakes.
There is no management on forest preserve lands. Adding these lands to the forest preserve will eliminate 300+ jobs and their economic benefit to local communities. Wildlife habitat will be destroyed. Only the young and physically fit will be allowed access; no roads. Only canoers and kayakers will have access to the waters; no prams, no rowboats, no motors. The Essex Chain of Lakes and Hudson River consists of 11 ponds and lakes.
There will be no stocking or management. There will be no place for anglers to park their vehicles and fish the rivers or to launch their prams/rowboats to fish these lakes. Hunters will have no means to use ATV’s or vehicles to set up camps or remove their game. The Boreas Pond will be destroyed via the dam not being maintained, thus draining the pond and destroying the fishery.
The railroad to the Tahawus mines will be destroyed, eliminating all jobs and further destroying the Adirondack economy. All sportsmen clubs will be kicked off the lands they have maintained for decades, eliminating their economic aid to the local communities. Sportsmen will be denied access as we have seen in every UMP to date. A better solution would be to treat these lands as were the Champion lands. Keep the entire 69,000 acres in Conservation Easement, allow the sportsmen clubs to remain, keep all roads and pond/lake accesses open, allow all vehicle use, keep forest in production, and keep open to all the people – not just the young and physically fit.


Air Guns. Chip Hunnicutt, of Crosman gave a presentation on the high powered air rifles. If given earlier in the year it might have changed the outcome on the resolution vote. He also had different models on display and pamphlets available for the members.


Officers Reports.

1st VP Chuck Parker presented three videos: one from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and two of a Shane Mahoney presentation to the Houston Safari Club. The major themes were the principles behind the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which has been the model for over 100 years on which we base our conservation and environmental issues. These principles and the operation of working under them are truly unique to the U.S. and Canada, and are a model for the rest of the world to follow. The future of conservation, hunting and fishing are under threat and need the active involvement of all sportsmen to protect. We have to ensure that we adhere to the principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.


Jim Edic, Treasurer, reported on our need to raise funds. The Council needs to increase income through memberships, grants, donations, etc. He recommends we cash in one of the CD’s to get us through the end of the year.


Walt Paul, Region 6 Director, spoke on the DEC survey and the overwhelming response. He also noted the Council’s Land Use Policy and encouraged all to work on recreational planning and uses of state lands, especially how it affects the economics of destination.


Howard Cushing, President, spoke on the Fish and Game Restoration Incentive. Sportsmen need to take control of the Conservation Fund and lifetime license fund so they can be invested in bonds or similar investments that pay a higher interest return. This would provide some additional monies without touching the principal for our sportsmen programs.
There is a need to keep pressure on the legislators and Governor about the past promises to us when we agreed to support the license fee increase. It was decided to set January 5, 2013 to meet on formatting a plan to present to the legislators and Governor. The NYSCC Board of Directors would then meet on January 6, 2013. Items to think about include: creating a computer drop box, economic importance of sportsmen, recreational opportunities, conservation first, and wise use of natural resources.

Legislation. Firearms: No gun control, no microstamping.
Conservation Fund Advisory Board. No report.

By-laws. Changes proposed for 2012.
Article III, Section 4. Adopted.
Article VII, Section 5, #3. Adopted.
Article VII, Section 5, #13. Adopted.
Article VII, Section 5, #14. Adopted.
Article IX. Adopted.
Article X. Adopted.
Article XI. Adopted.

Policy/Procedures changes/additions. All of the following were adopted:

- An annual calendar of meetings and events for the next year shall be established no later than the close of the current annual meeting.

- A written agenda for BOD meetings shall be provided at least two weeks in advance of any scheduled meeting.

- The agenda for a BOD meeting should, wherever possible, schedule known topics that will require voting near the beginning of the agenda.

- The roll will be called at the beginning of each Board meeting to identify those qualified to vote and to determine if a quorum is present. All votes taken at a board meeting shall be by roll call and not by show of hands.

- At all Board meetings, accurate minutes are required to be kept. Draft copies of these minutes shall be provided to all members of the Board (whether present or absent) as soon after the close of the meeting as is practical, but no later than thirty days after the meeting has occurred.

Resolutions of 2012.

1-12 Delaware County. Supported.
2-12 Onondaga County. Supported.
3-12 Oswego County. Supported.
4-12 Yates County. Defeated.

Elections.

President: Howard Cushing nominated by the nominating committee. Chuck Parker nominated from the floor by Dale Dunkelberger, 2nd Ron Sineo. Vote results: winner Chuck Parker.

1st VP: Chuck Parker withdrew his nomination. Dan Owen nominated from the floor by Mark Holt, 2nd Zen Olow. Vote results: winner unopposed Dan Owen.
2nd VP: Scott Faulkner. Unopposed.
Legislative VP: Position open, no candidate.

Secretary: Don Sage nominated from the floor by Bob Hodorowski., 2nd Fred Neff. Motion approved, election unanimous.

Treasurer: Jim Edic. Unopposed.
Region 6 Director: Walt Paul nominated by Ray Gawlas, 2nd Chuck Parker. Carried and elected.
Region 7 Director: George Gibbs nominated by Ray Merlotto, 2nd Ray Gawlas. Carried and elected.
Region 9 Director: Dan Tone nominated by Ray Merlotto, 2nd Ray Gawlas. Carried and passed.
Director at Large: Ray Merlotto nominated by Ray Gawlas, 2nd Don Sage. Carried and passed.
Director at Large: Mathew Cogshall nominated by Dan Owen, 2nd Chuck Parker. Carried and passed.


Town Hall.

Promotion of Email memberships.

George Gibbs, Region 7, presented the list of comments from the members for consideration for the Fish and Game Restoration Initiative of 2013.

1. Place all state owned lands into forest management and habitat management.

2. Reopen all roads for dispersed access to all users, including motorized.

3. Reopen all boat launch sites – remove boulders.

4. Use Dingell-Johnson funds for hatcheries, boat launches, and restocking cold water ponds.

5. Use Pittman-Robertson funds for pheasant farm, wildlife habitat, and ranges.

6. Convert all forest preserve lands below 3,000 feet to working forests.

7. Replace retired DEC biologists.

8. Remove DEC travel restrictions.

9. Fix infrastructure.

10. Increase pheasant rearing to 150,000.

11. Adapt polices similar to Missouri, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota for all walk-ins, establish a tax of 1/8th of 1%, etc. for all non-licensed users.

12. Allow Conservation Funds to be allocated.

13. Fill DEC fish and game positions.

14. Promote management of state forests for wildlife, similar to Wildlife Management Units.


Motions:

- To promote the NYSCC Fish and Game Restoration Initiative 2013 (See Annual Report), motion by Bob Brown, 2nd Don Sage. Passed unanimously

- To support the use of cable restraints for trapping; motion by Dan Tone, 2nd ??; carried
Adjourned ~ 4:45

Dinner and Installation of Officers. Howard Cushing was recognized for all his contributions as President. His actions and work on the CFAB was acknowledged and is strongly supported by the membership. Howard will continue to be the Council’s representative to the CFAB and to national groups.

PRESIDENT'S CORNER





The Fish & Game Restoration Act of 2013 - a new direction! The current status of the financial and staffing complications at DEC which manage your license fees, takes in the federal funds generated through excise taxes on fishing equipment and firearms which is supposed to be put into a special dedicated fund (the Conservation Fund - CF) is highly complex, politically sensitive, and emotionally charged.
To fully comprehend all the complexities is a most difficult task; and without doubt I believe (after 40 years of volunteering my time to both my belief in conserving our natural resources and the same of the NYSCC) there are less than a half dozen people who really understand the program. This is not meant as a knock, but rather as a compliment since the varied jobs to manage our fish and game require so much time that just managing the financial picture is a job in itself. Sometimes when you ask an employee or department or division head person a question you come away: not fulfilled with the answer. On the political side there are three distinct categories: those who care, those who do not and those who care but cannot truly comprehend the whole program.

Without going into great detail, I would like to bring ourselves, the conservation community, environmental community, DEC, the Governor and legislators together on a plan and direction bigger and better than all of us combined, of the magnitude of Teddy Roosevelt on his last days in office. But first I must generalize and in some cases point out our challenge because of issues we face.

First, we have the situation of current governing policy to reduce staff which results in some cases in reducing programs. Analysis: Most every taxpayer wants more efficiency; but when the efficiency leads to less product delivery to the stakeholder it becomes undesirable.

Second, when taxpayers, or in this case license buyers or stakeholders, pay into a dedicated fund (CF) they have expectations of what they want as product delivery, not what DEC, the Division of Budget the Governor or the legislature wants. Analysis: We need a more fulfilling agreement as to what product we need delivered.

Some general observations of facts and issues: What we pay for - currently about 65 (which will increase to 75) conservation officers out of approximately 300; the maintenance of fish hatcheries (but not the capital improvements); the biologists, technicians and other staff managing our programs, along with their benefits programs; and a reasonable percentage of vehicles needed just like in any other business to deliver goods and services. We do not pay for the DEC Commissioner as some folks are led to believe.


Here's the rub- the Conservation Fund is flush with money abet because of current Governor and legislatively-controlled policy, DEC is strapped into a mandate of reducing employees thus not delivering the products we want. The Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB), which was created by law over 30 years ago through the efforts of the NYSCC struggles to get the facts and figures, program reviews and DEC's game plan at best. Being a part of CFAB representing the Council, I consider my efforts to bring out the truth both helpful to us and DEC as well as a challenge to the point of me being considered antagonistic to both DEC and other members on CFAB. I wish it was not that way, but it is necessary at times to achieve the feedback needed to make decisions on the sportsmen and women's behalf. In all fairness to CFAB with all the effort put in, they are strapped by the limitations guided by the laws by which they were created. Many of you have asked, and since I must answer, yes, we at CFAB are looking at a license restructuring program; not a fee increase, but perhaps a more consumer friendly license package. I must admit I voted to support looking into this, but I am not necessarily in support of a license reduction regardless of the current status of an "in the black" CF.

This is where the NYSCC serving the conservationists, sportsmen and women for over 80 years must show its strength and leadership. We must lead the activism movement of reform through the Fish & Game Restoration Act of 2013 or a concept thereof. It is time to come together and change this downhill trend laid on us by the Governor through the Division of Budget the legislative budget process and mandated to and managed by DEC.



THE PLAN - Step 1: Accurately provide with the aid and support all proper and necessary documentation the true financial picture of the Conservation Fund.

Step 2: The NYSCC will sponsor a Fish & Game Restoration Act of 2013 forum to be held in early January 2013 to itemize and designate exactly what we the sportsmen and women want; i.e., continued and expansion of the pheasant farms, updates to hatcheries, a better warm water fisheries program, extensive habitat and increased access and repairs to access.

Step 3: Package "OUR Program," not their program and deliver it with a unified, concerted effort as being the most important Legislatively if needed) issue we all as sportsmen/women/conservationists
need instituted.

THE BENEFITS of the Fish & Game Restoration Act of 2013:
# 1: Stop the downhill trend of spending the Conservation Fund in a manner that will cause product dissatisfaction – habitat, access, opportunity.

# 2: With funds currently stockpiled in the CF we, as the sporting community (which has for decades been an economic engine), could generate more jobs through improvements, repairs and expansion of programs.

# 3: With our guidance as activists and technical support from CFAB we could generate a meaner, leaner Division of Fish and Wildlife for future generations.


Please send me your views and how you could help to support a change through the Fish & Game

Restoration Act of 2013.
Howard Cushing, Jr. NYSCC Past President
96 Jones Road
Poestenkill, NY 12140
518-674-2961
ccshng3@aol.com



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