Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fish & Boat Commission Delists Timber Rattlesnake As Candidate Threatened Species

The Fish and Boat Commission Board Tuesday delisted the timber rattlesnake as a candidate threatened species and approved a $121,050 grant to the Cameron County Conservation District to create a mine drainage treatment system for Finley Run.
“The delisting of the Timber Rattlesnake demonstrates how protective measures and regulations can be successfully implemented to conserve a species and improve a population,” said Executive Director Arway. “The Commission first listed it as a candidate species in 1978 over reported population declines from overhunting and habitat loss. As part of a 12-year statewide assessment project, we have assessed more than 1,700 sites, of which 71 percent were occupied. The Timber Rattlesnake is now found in 51 of 67 counties. Current data indicates that the rattlesnake retains an extensive distribution across the Commonwealth, with large populations remaining in many areas, which justifies removing it from the Candidate list.”
“Today’s decision by our Board to remove the Timber Rattlesnake from the Candidate Species list should be viewed as a success story for the conservation and management of a once vulnerable species of rattlesnake,” he added. “However, we must continue our efforts and not let down our guard to insure that the Timber Rattlesnake continues to be secure across its entire range.”
The Commission is also working with East Stroudsburg University to develop a long-term population monitoring program to track changes and further the understanding of the conservation status of the Timber Rattlesnake.
Mine Drainage Cleanup
The Board also approved a grant of $121,050 from the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Program to the Cameron County Conservation District to create a passive water treatment system to remediate acid mine discharge from an abandoned coal mine to Finley Run, a major tributary to Sterling Run.
The project is expected to extend the existing range of naturally reproducing trout at least an additional 1.1 miles downstream from the unpolluted headwaters.
“When combined with several other acid mine drainage remediation projects, these efforts are a major step in restoring water quality and aquatic life to the historic wild trout fisheries within Finley Run, May Hollow Run, Portable Run and Sterling Run,” said Executive Director Arway.
The funding is available through a 2007 settlement agreement with Norfolk Southern as restitution for environmental damages from a June 30, 2006, train derailment in rural Norwich Township, McKean County.
Under the settlement, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay the Commonwealth $7.35 million as restitution for environmental damages. The PFBC received $3.675 million of the settlement.
S.O.S. Save Our Susquehanna
Executive Director Arway provided the public with an update on the S.O.S. – Save Our Susquehanna! Campaign. Through mid-July, concerned citizens have raised more than $50,000 for the campaign, which is entering its second year.
“The ‘Save Our Susquehanna’ message continues to resonate with anglers, sportsmen’s clubs, conservationists and with others who care about the river,” said Arway. “We’ve exceeded our goal of $50,000 and with the Commission’s $50,000 match, we now have $100,000 to start working on the first water and soil conservation project along the river.”
Arway announced that the first project will be in Limestone Run, a tributary to the Susquehanna River that runs through Montour and Northumberland counties. PFBC habitat staff will work with a local farmer to stabilize the stream banks to prevent erosion and reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients that enter the creek and ultimately the Susquehanna River.
He also noted that the new 2016 S.O.S. button is now available for $10 from the Outdoor Shop online and at all fishing license issuing agents.
The funds from button sales and donations to the S.O.S campaign will continue to be used to improve the water quality of the Susquehanna River, which is important for the long-term health of the smallmouth bass fishery.
Click Here for a detailed summary of other actions taken at the meeting, including the election of new officers.

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