Different strokes for different folks

Steve PollickFunny thing, isn’t it, how sport fishermen in Ohio aren’t allowed to average their catches the way big business and industry will be able to average their water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its vulnerable tributaries. You keep more than six walleyes a day from Lake Erie this summer, or five bass from Ohio Brush Creek and you gonna get a ticket, son. Whether or not you left the skin on the fillets till you got home. You aren’t allowed, say, to catch just one walleye today and 11 tomorrow and average it out to six a day.

But an industrial, business, or agricultural water-user will be able to all but suck dry the Grand River, or other Erie tributaries, on a given day and get away with it scott free as long as they don’t do it every day and their 45- or 90-day withdrawal “average” is within permitted bounds. Such allowances come thanks to Governor Kasich and state lawmakers in the recently crafted law. The political wisdom here thus seems to be that it is not OK fish down a fishery by averaging your catches over say, 45 or 90 days, but it is OK to draw down the water source that fish live in by averaging.

It also says here that the provision in this law that bars fishermen, boaters, swimmers, and other water recreationists from challenging water-withdrawal permit decisions will not stand up in court. Expect a legal challenge at least on this point.

So much for brickbats tossed at Columbus. Now for a bouquet – a manly one, of course – for lawmakers and the Gov for keeping all $42 million in bond funding for the Clean Ohio program in the state’s new biennial budget. My column Open Season treats this subject in this week’s (June 22) issue of Ohio Outdoor News, but it was not clear at deadline time whether that funding would survive intact in the state budget law. It did, providing $36 million for open space for parkland, river corridor protection, and natural area preservation and $6 million for preservation of prime farmland.

Categories: Ohio – Steve Pollick

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