August 22, 2008
Bill Would Give License Hikes To Pgc Is Climate Change Boosting Poison Ivy? Susquehanna Paddler Trail Goes National
By Notes, Pack
Legislators are considering a bill that would give the Pennsylvania Game Commission its first hunting license fee increase since 1999. Senate Bill 1527 was introduced by state Sen. Charles McIhinney of Bucks County. PGC officials testified in support of the legislation and the "desperate" need for revenue last week before the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs also gave comments in support of license increases.
For several years now, the agency's efforts to hike fees for more revenue has been thwarted by controversy over deer-management issues.
Addressing the deer issue in his testimony, PGC executive director Carl Roe said, "While no one would argue that there are fewer deer today than there were 10 years ago, it is also indisputable that the deer herd of today is more in tune with what the habitat can support and is older and healthier. Also, the habitat is responding to the reduced deer populations, and we are now seeing growth of tree and plant species which are necessary for deer, and all wildlife, to survive."
Under the proposal, the resident adult hunting license would increase from its current $20 to $26 in 2009, rise to $31 in 2012 and $36 in 2015. Resident antlerless licenses would increase from $6 to $13 in 2009, and to $16 in 2015.
Nonresident adult licenses would increase from $101 to $151 in 2009. Nonresident junior licenses would decrease from $41 to $6 in 2009. A nonresident junior combination hunting and trapping license would fall from $51 to $9 in 2009.
Is global warming fueling a new generation of more aggressive weeds? According to recent research, the answer may be yes, according to the Weed Science Society of America.
One of the major characteristics of a warming planet is an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Rising carbon dioxide has been shown to help vegetable and grain crops grow more quickly, become more drought-resistant and produce potentially higher yields.
Unfortunately, though, the impact of rising carbon dioxide seems to be far more pronounced in the weeds that compete with crops than in the crops themselves.
"Weeds are survivors," said Lee Van Wychen, director of science policy for the Weed Science Society of America. "They can fill various niches and thrive under a wide range of conditions. While we have about 45 major crops in the U.S., there are more than 400 species of different weeds associated with those crops. There is always another weed species ready to become a major competitor with a crop if growing conditions change, such as an increase in carbon dioxide levels."
The impact of rising carbon dioxide levels on weeds can be striking.
In a study conducted by Lewis Ziska of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, weeds grown under urban conditions of warmer temperatures and more carbon dioxide - conditions anticipated for the rest of the world in 50 years - grew to four times the height of those in a country plot 40 miles outside the city, where carbon dioxide and temperature reflected background conditions.
So what if there are a few more weeds? Ziska's research shows that common ragweed plants exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide dramatically increased the amount of pollen they produced.
A doubling in carbon dioxide led to a quadrupling of pollen. Some people are allergic to ragweed pollen, resulting in the "hay fever" response, including sneezing and watery eyes.
Additional work by Ziska also suggests that even recent increases in carbon dioxide during the last 50 years may have led to bigger poison ivy plants with a more virulent form of the oil that causes people to break out in a rash.
"As the climate and carbon dioxide levels change, we can no longer assume the weed control strategies we used in the past will continue to work," Ziska said. "Not only are some of the nation's most invasive weeds spreading, but they are becoming more difficult and costly to control."
Some 103 miles of the Susquehanna River Water Trail, from Sunbury to the Maryland line, has been designated a National Recreational Trail by the National Park Service.
National status was sought by the Lancaster-York Heritage Region, Susquehanna River Trail Association and the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership.
Being recognized as a national recreation trail will bring greater attention to the river trail, which will now be included in a national registry of trails, online at www.americantrails.org.
The Susquehanna River Water Trail was created in 1996 and the section through Lancaster County was added last year.
A map and guide to the lower section of the river trail with natural features and camping sites is available for $15 from www.co.lancaster.pa.us/planning. For more information on the entire Susquehanna River Trail, go to www.susquehannarivertrail.org.
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