Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ohio's community-focused safe boating grants set sail for 10 entities

The Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation is again opening its Waterways Safety Fund wallet to assist local entities in promoting safe boating programs.

This year more than $240,000 from the Fund is being provided to support 10 community boating safety education programs this year, says officials with the Watercraft arm of the division.

Individual grants this year range from $8,875.23 to $30,000. Grant money comes via the fund, which itself is fueled by a share of the state motor fuel tax as it relates to expenditures that boaters use for their vessels.

Other Fund revenue sources include watercraft registration and titling fees, along with additional dollars from the U.S. Coast Guard.

For this year a total of $240,003.36 is being awarded to 10 community boating safety education programs.

The boating safety education grant program was formed in 1982 when the Ohio legislature authorized the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to award funds for boating education.
Grant applications are due on November 1st for the following year. There is also a free grant workshop for interested parties each September. Beginning with the 2017 grant season, grant recipients became eligible for boating safety education grants once every three years.

One of the department’s key ongoing goals is to reduce boating accidents, mishaps and fatalities within the state of Ohio through boater education, also said Mike Bailey, chief of the Division of Parks and Watercraft.

Our natural resources officers and educators regularly help fulfill this mission by conducting safe boating education programs statewide,” Bailey said.

Bailey said that grants are “user-pay” in order to help fund “ “user-benefit programs,” which are specifically funded by Ohio’s recreational boaters.

Grant recipients are great local partners, assisting the Natural Resources Department by teaching safe boating practices to residents all across Ohio,” Bailey said.

The 2018 recipients specialize in teaching safe boating programs in urban areas, to people with special needs, to people from rural areas, to college students and to residents who visit their local metro parks.”

This year’s grant recipients are: The Great Miami Rowing Center in Butler County - $20,425; the Berea Power Squadron in Cuyahoga County - $8,875; the Mayfield Village Parks and Recreation Department in Cuyahoga County - $28,027; the Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition in Delaware County - $29,791; the American Kayaking Association in Franklin County - $22,320; HERO USA in Franklin County - $28,696; Hocking College in Hocking County - $30,000; the U.S. Freshwater Boaters Alliance in Mercer County - $17,889; the Miami Valley Boy Scout Council in Preble County - $24,000; The Barberton Parks and Recreation Department in Summit County - $29,977.

In large measure, much credit to the financial success of the program goes to the Coast Guard.

And the Coast Guard/State cooperative effort in recreational boating safety “is an outstanding example of the ability of government at all levels to work together for the benefit of the public and has directly resulted in safer boating for millions of Americans,” says the service in a highlighted explanation of its grant authorization duties.

This is evidenced by the fact that the number of reported recreational boating fatalities has been reduced from a high of 1,754 in 1973 to about 700 per year. During the same period, the number of boats owned by Americans more than doubled,” the Coast Guard says as well.

In all, during Fiscal 2017, the Coast Guard distributed $105.52 million in various grant monies to the 50 states and various trust territories. Ohio received $3.87 million – the forth largest amount in Fiscal 2017 – and which went to both state use and distribution to approved local entities.

The state which received the greatest amount for in-state use and distribution was Florida with $10.55 million.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Oho's archers are battling both the cold and clock as deer season's end draws near



The on-going nasty cold spell is chilling the remainder of Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season.

However, archers continue to climb into tree stands and take up residence in ground blinds where they are still finding accommodating deer to hunt.

 Thus by the numbers the to-date tally, as of January 16th, the kill stood at 181,688 animals; of which 73,832 were antlered deer. The comparable January 10th, 2017 to-date kill was 177,111 deer, of which 74,396 were antlered deer.

In looking at the numbers from a different angle, for the 2017-2018 combined deer-hunting seasons, hunters have killed 4,577 more animals to-date this year than for the same time frame during the 2016-2017 combined to-date deer-hunting seasons.

And while the 4,577 animal figure sounds impressive, had the muzzle-loading season produced a deer harvest more in line with that experienced in 2017, Ohio likely would have been looking at a to-date kill approaching 184,000 to 185,000 animals.

Buoyed by a slow and steady climb in the to-date deer kill, wildlife biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife at one point several weeks back were talking that the all-seasons’ deer kill might range from 187,000 to 190,000 animals. Let’s see if they’re still on the money.


Historically, from following the conclusion of the statewide muzzle-loading season to the end of the archery-hunting season in early February, Ohio sees only a few thousand to several thousand additional animals being taken.

For example, last year between the-then to-date/post muzzle-loading season deer kill and the final all-seasons’ tally as of February 5th, 2017 only 6,337 additional deer were checked in (182,169 verses 175,832, respectively).


So tack on something along the lines of 6,300 additional deer to the current to-date figure and a rough guess of around 187,000-plus animals may appear as the 2017-2018 all-seasons’ total. Consequently, the total number is going to closely match the biologists’ original estimate.


Certainly if we continue to see snow that makes deer more visible along with the bitterly cold temperatures that helps drive deer to feeders we could see a very good harvest by the end of the archery season,” said Allen Lee, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron.

“Snow almost always helps, and the guy who baits is in a better position during the latter part of the archery season.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

(UPDATED) Ohio's muzzle-loading deer harvest slips but to-date kill figures do not slide

Severe weather during Ohio’s just concluded four-day muzzle-loading season put a dent in the to-date deer kill, causing a slight erosion in where the state’s total harvest was projected as being headed.

But not enough so that the year-end total will fall outside of the biologists’ best guess.

The muzzle-loading season was plagued with numbing sub-freezing and even sub-zero temperatures, biting winds and bitterly deep snows, particularly in much of Northeast Ohio. Not surprisingly the kill was off in counties such as Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull when stacked up against their 2017 muzzle-loading season numbers.

In all, the state’s four-day muzzle-loading season – which ran January 6th through 9th – saw a take of 13,268 animals. The 2017 muzzle-loading season saw a kill of 15,843 animals. Thus, a decline of 2,575 animals was noted.

Still, the 13,268 figure is greater than the 2016 muzzle-loading season take of 12,503 animals. Also, this year’s muzzle-loading season deer kill was almost identical to the 2015 muzzle-loading deer season kill of 13,724 animals.

As for the to-date tally, as of January 9th, the kill stood at 179,943 animals; of which 73,364 were antlered deer. The comparable January 10th, 2017 to-date kill was 175,832 deer, of which 74,063 were antlered deer.

In looking at the numbers from a different angle, for the 2017-2018 combined deer-hunting seasons, hunters have killed 4,111 more animals to-date this year than for the same time frame during the 2016-2017 combined to-date deer-hunting seasons.

And while the 4,111 animal figure sounds impressive, had the muzzle-loading season produced a deer harvest more in line with that experienced in 2017, Ohio likely would have been looking at a to-date kill approaching 183,000 animals.

Buoyed by a slow and steady climb in the to-date deer kill, wildlife biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife at one point a few weeks ago were talking that the all-seasons’ deer kill might range from 187,000 to 190,000 animals. Let’s see if they’re still on the money.

Historically, from following the conclusion of the statewide muzzle-loading season to the end of the archery-hunting season in early February, Ohio sees only a few thousand to several thousand additional animals being taken. For example, last year between the-then to-date/post muzzle-loading season deer kill and the final all-seasons’ tally as of February 5th, 2017 only 6,337 additional deer were checked in (182,169 verses 175,832, respectively).

So tack on something along the lines of 6,300 additional deer to the current to-date figure and a rough guess of around 186,000 animals may appear as the 2017-2018 all-seasons’ total. Consequently, the total number is going to come pretty darn close to the biologists’ original estimate.


Certainly if we continue to see snow that makes deer more visible along with the bitterly cold temperatures that helps drive deer to feeders we could see a very good harvest by the end of the archery season,” said Allen Lee, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron. “Snow almost always helps, and the guy who baits is in a better position during the latter part of the archery season.”

Let’s now examine a few current to-date numbers with a county-by-county run-down of the 2018 statewide muzzle-loading deer hunting season at the conclusion.

Those counties with to-date (as of January 9th, 2018) deer kills totaling at least four thousand deer each (with their respective 2017 to-date numbers in parentheses) in alphabetical are: Ashtabula – 4,922 (4,880); Coshocton – 6,342 (5,729); Guernsey – 4,593 (4,454); Knox – 4,510 (4,370); Licking – 4,796 (4,739); Muskingum – 5,148 (4,982); Tuscarawas – 5,494 (4,865). The state also has 12 counties with to-date deer kills of three thousand-plus animals. In 2017 that figure was also 12.

Only four of Ohio’s 88 counties have to-date deer kills of fewer than 500 animals each (with their respective 2017 to-date numbers in parentheses): Fayette – 349 (306); Madison – 495 (470); Ottawa – 456 (429); and Van Wert – 495 (457). Last year each of these four counties failed to note respective deer kills exceeding 500 animals.

In terms of being ahead in the to-date deer kill totals, fully 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties have documented increases when compared to the respective and comparable 2017 to-date numbers. Some counties – such as Coshocton and Tuscarawas – have measured significant gains while others – such as Ottawa and Licking – the increases are more modest.

Of on-going concern to some is that a large number of urban counties have continued to show throughout the 2017-2018 deer-hunting season declines in their respective to-date deer kills when compared to their 2016-2017 numbers. This detail may be suggesting that efforts to reign in their deer herds via liberal bag limits and locally established controlled urban archery deer hunts are having an impact.

Here is the list of all white-tailed deer checked by hunters during the four-day muzzle-loader deer-hunting season. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for this year’s season, and last year’s numbers are in parentheses.

Adams: 208 (308); Allen: 57 (50); Ashland: 204 (239); Ashtabula: 316 (463); Athens: 351 (442); Auglaize: 57 (48); Belmont: 306 (391); Brown: 159 (230); Butler: 93 (75); Carroll: 348 (427); Champaign: 60 (72); Clark: 47 (42); Clermont: 109 (168); Clinton: 63 (59); Columbiana: 292 (293); Coshocton: 487 (591); Crawford: 51 (52); Cuyahoga: 2 (2); Darke: 28 (37); Defiance: 91 (84); Delaware: 62 (71); Erie: 42 (30); Fairfield: 156 (138); Fayette: 29 (14); Franklin: 34 (27); Fulton: 40 (33); Gallia: 176 (338); Geauga: 102 (132); Greene: 51 (47); Guernsey: 463 (490); Hamilton: 34 (39); Hancock: 59 (51); Hardin: 101 (111); Harrison: 346 (499); Henry: 25 (32); Highland: 203 (216); Hocking: 358 (366); Holmes: 278 (289); Huron: 121 (133); Jackson: 218 (324); Jefferson: 182 (359); Knox: 328 (340); Lake: 31 (48); Lawrence: 83 (194); Licking: 363 (440); Logan: 127 (136); Lorain: 136 (142); Lucas: 28 (14); Madison: 21 (32); Mahoning: 138 (135); Marion: 49 (57); Medina: 104 (126); Meigs: 310 (420); Mercer: 28 (29); Miami: 45 (41); Monroe: 255 (344); Montgomery: 29 (29); Morgan: 366 (429); Morrow: 93 (96); Muskingum: 481 (602); Noble: 265 (310); Ottawa: 27 (25); Paulding: 69 (42); Perry: 240 (301); Pickaway: 55 (60); Pike: 168 (172); Portage: 112 (129); Preble: 69 (63); Putnam: 21 (20); Richland: 247 (230); Ross: 237 (287); Sandusky: 56 (52); Scioto: 168 (229); Seneca: 98 (100); Shelby: 60 (67); Stark: 166 (215); Summit: 38 (36); Trumbull: 216 (256); Tuscarawas: 396 (514); Union: 52 (42); Van Wert: 20 (24); Vinton: 255 (305); Warren: 82 (63); Washington: 344 (472); Wayne: 157 (150); Williams: 89 (85); Wood: 53 (32); Wyandot: 84 (96).Total: 13,268 (15,843).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Friday, January 5, 2018

(Revised) Opposition mounts to Ohio Division of Wildlife's club grant program changes

Changes to an Ohio Division of Wildlife program intended to assist the state’s sporstmen/conservation clubs in developing their respective hunting and angling supportive efforts are not going over well with the latter.


These changes include a reduction in the total dollar amount that will be awarded; this overall program reduction totaling 33 to 50 percent. The money is distributed in grant form, made available through a competitive application process which itself will now see a reduction of up to 50 percent per successful recipient.


Yet the slashes have outraged some conservation clubs as well as their pro-sportsmen organizations such as the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance.


The Alliance calls the cuts “a slap in the face” and represent “a huge blow” to clubs in Ohio who were promised this would never happen, especially since the revisions came without consulting the state’s sportsmen/conservation clubs.


Under the revised program the Wildlife Division will and will not:


* Total of $500,000 in grants will be funded for the State.


* Total requested funds for an application cannot exceed $7,500.


* Non-essential items will not be funded, and among them being: Food/drinks; T-shirts; cooking grills; giveaways/prizes deemed not applicable and any other items deemed non-essential for an event.

A series of meetings at each of the Wildlife Division’s districts is scheduled. For District Three the meeting is set for January 11th; District One is February 1st; District is January 25th; District 4 is January 24th; and District Five is January 29th but at the Green County Fish and Game Club in Xenia. All of them begin at 6:30 p.m.
At each of the Wildlife Division’s five district office to go over the revised program with interested sportsmen/conservation clubs

The background for this program – which began in 2014 – has included funding provided by the federal government under the Pittman-Robertson Fund (supplied via taxes on firearms and ammunition) and the Dingell-Johnson Fund (supported by taxes on many fishing-related items).

Last year 515 clubs and organizations applied for grants, and all applicants received at least partial funding, the Wildlife Division says.

This disbursement protocol again could be the case, depending on the number of applicants that receive the full amount requested (211 in 2017) as well as the strength of the applicants’ request, said Mike Miller, the Wildlife Division chief who also defended the changes.

The Division of Wildlife is pursuing these changes in an effort to more fully implement all three components of the ‘R3 Model’ (recruitment, retention and reactivation),” Miller said.

The changes are expected to be used by the clubs to improve and enhance their efforts, not to hinder their progress in the shared goal of recruiting and retaining people that enjoy shooting sports and fishing.”


Ultimately the changes are expected to be used by the clubs to improve and enhance their efforts, not to hinder their progress in the shared goal of recruiting and retaining “people that enjoy shooting sports and fishing,” says Miller.


Then too, says Miller, the changes are being made so the Wildlife Division can pursue buying properties that will be used to “promote activities associated with R3” and similarly to improve shooting range access of all kinds – both public and private - through expansion of offerings and upgraded amenities.


These added opportunities will be available for the clubs to use as they pursue their mission to engage Ohio’s hunters and anglers,” Miller said.


Miller said as well that the Wildlife Division is developing so-called “R3 Learn To” modules that successful applicant clubs will be able to cooperatively utilize to “help them partner with one another,” and likewise to “host successful events for future and active hunters and anglers.”


The division is also pursuing an aggressive hunter access program that is expected to include agreements that will open up corporate and private properties for Ohio sportsmen and women,” Miller said. “This is in addition to the new opportunities that have already been secured, and continue to be pursued, on state owned lands.”


The flip side is that seeking and implementing such opportunities will require the Wildlife Division to abandon allowing participatory clubs to enfold such things as free food and beverage into their grant request.


However, the Alliance is not buying the Wildlife Division’s arguments, noting that the revisions came without consultation with the affected interested parties themselves: sportsmen/conservation clubs. That point is particularly irksome to the Alliance.


This funding cut breaks an agreement between Ohio’s conservation clubs and the Division of Wildlife that dates back to the elimination of the license writing fee for license agent clubs,” said Alliance associate director of state services, Luke Houghton. 


When electronic licenses became available, the Wildlife Division created the “Conservation Club Competitive Grant Program,” intended to ensure that the conservation partnership between the clubs and the state “continued to flourish,” Houghton said.


Under that system the Wildlife Division guaranteed that the grant program would never fall below $750,000 per year, and in many years it has exceeded that total, even breaking $1 million, Houghton said also, noting that the agency “cannot accomplish its mission without strong partnerships with the conservation community.”


While the cuts to this program are a small fraction of the overall budget of the agency, they are a huge blow to clubs in Ohio which were promised this would never happen,” Houghton said said.


Houghton says that Ohio’s sportsmen’s clubs are "vital to conservation and hunting, fishing and trapping," providing an army of volunteers that conduct youth education and recruitment events, women’s events, veteran’s events, shooting events, hunter education classes and much more, Houghton said.


Ohio’s conservation clubs are vital to the recruitment of new hunters, anglers and trappers; and are the social hub of communication to the sportsmen’s community,” Houghton said.


The use of club grounds are most often donated, along with thousands of volunteer hours that provide the Division of Wildlife with the match to receive Pittman-Robertson dollars,” Houghton said. “All of these things are in addition to the actual vital work the clubs do.”


And not allowing clubs to fund food, beverages, cooking equipment and offering premiums to program participants “is a slap in the face to clubs that provide nearly everything else for free,” Houghton said as well.


Giving kids a hot dog and a soda at a recruitment event is no great burden, and it actually provides a benefit to the clubs that are doing all of the work and ensures an enjoyable event for the participants,” Houghton said.


While Miller says the Wildlife Division “is in good financial standing” and that the agency is “working to re-prioritize our outreach efforts focusing on true recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts,” the Alliance is far from certain the agency is being entirely truthful on the whole cloth of the subject.


First, despite pleas from Ohio’s sportsmen and women that the Division of Wildlife needed additional funds during last year’s budget battle, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Wildlife have insisted that the agency is flush with funds,” Houghton said who then offered the rhetorical question “ If that is so, why cut funding to this important program?”


Houghton said the Alliance strongly encouraged all of Ohio’s sportsmen/conservation clubs to attend the Division’s five district meetings to “make sure your concerns are heard.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net