Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I'd hold off on boasting about the first-ever Inland Fish Ohio Day if I were Gov. DeWine

I certainly would not shout nor brag too much about a day of fishing like this, but then again, I’m not with the Ohio Divisoon of Wildlife where even the most minuscule of successess.
Still, it’s no wonder I didn't get this release from the Ohio Division of Wildlife but had to check out the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ web site.
The agency actually crows that the two largest fish of the day were a pair of 16-inch fish - one of them being a channel catfish?
Oh, well, at least the Wildlife Division waited until the last graph to mark this auspicious achievement. That is, just after the Governor's canned quote about Ohio having world-class fishing.
Hard to make this stuff up. Anyway, here is the official release:

WILMINGTON, OH – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz held the first-ever Inland Fish Ohio Day at Cowan Lake State Park in Wilmington on Saturday (June 8). The Governor fished on a boat with several of his grandchildren.

‘“We had a great day fishing at Cowan Lake,’ said Governor DeWine. ‘In Ohio, we have world-class opportunities for boating and fishing, not only on Lake Erie, but also on our inland lakes, like Cowan Lake. We want to highlight opportunities for families to fish and spend time together at our inland lakes this summer.’

“ ‘Ohio is such a wonderful place to live,”’said Director Mertz. ‘Our state offers families hundreds of lakes where they can spend a day relaxing, fishing, sailing, kayaking, or canoeing. Our inland lakes offer so much, and no matter where you are, there is a lake close to you!’

Attendees of the new Inland Fish Ohio Day enjoyed boating and fishing on the 700-acre Cowan Lake. Muskie, crappie, largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill are plentiful at Cowan Lake.

The two largest fish of the day were 16 inches long. One was a 16 inch channel catfish and the other was a 16 inch largemouth bass. Anglers caught nearly 200 fish over the course of the morning.”

Monday, June 10, 2019

4.0 earhquake srrikes just one-half mile off Lake County underneath Lake Erie (UPDATED)

An earthquake struck at 10:31 a.m., June 10 only about one-half mile off the Lake County shoreline and at a depth of about three miles underneath Lake Erie, a figure geologists consider as being shallow.

The 4.2 magnitude event shook such nearby communities as Euclid, Wickliffe, Mentor and Eastlake though local police departments did not report any damage. Agencies did field numerous telephone inquiries, however.

A series of at least five 2.0 to 2.5 magnitude aftershocks were recorded as well, said Eric Heis, geologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Geological Survery.

Seismic activity of 2.5 and above can generally be felt. This is a known epicenter of earthquakes, due to the geologic history of the area,” Heis said.

This location both beneath and near Lake Erie in the Lake County area is a fairly active fault zone. The last tremor in this region was a 2.0 magnitude event on March 3th in Lake County’s Concord Township. This event was preceded by a 2.1 magnitude incident on December 7th, 2018; also underneath Lake Erie and about four miles north of Fairport Harbor.

To date for 2019, Ohio has recorded six earthquakes. Another 10 were recorded in 2018, 12 events in 2017, and 11 in 2016.

Since 2010, Ohio has experienced nearly 100 earthquakes measuring at least 2.0 magnitude of which only one other event was recorded at 4.0 magnitude or more, reports the Ohio Division of Geological Survey Division.

Ohio is on the periphery of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The origins of Ohio earthquakes, as with earthquakes throughout the eastern United States, are poorly understood. Those in Ohio appear to be associated with ancient zones of weakness in the Earth's crust that formed during rifting and continental collision events about a billion years ago, the Geological Survey says also.

Ohioans who felt this – or any other similar – event in the state are encouraged by Division of Geological Survey’s Ohio Seismic Survey at 855-782-5364.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ohio's oil and gas extraction is hitting pay dirt nationally

Giving OPEC a (sort of) run for its oil profits, Ohio’s horizontal petroleum product wells easily topped their respective 2018 first quarter numbers.

A key related metric for this production, also adds an official with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, is ensuring that the drilling activity follows state law and regulatory protocols as they relate to environmental considerations.
Figures released by the Department’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management indicate that during the first quarter of 2019, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 5,073,536 barrels of oil and 609 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
By comparison, the figures for the first quarter of 2018 were 3,942,329 barrels of oil and 609 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Put another way, oil production rose nearly 29 percent and natural gas production jumped nearly 16 percent between the two quarters.
Also, the Natural Resources Department’s quarterly report lists Ohio as having 2,277 horizontal shale wells of which 2,228 reported oil and natural gas production during 2019’s first quarter.
However, all of the first quarter figures are still smaller than their respective forth quarter 2018 numbers. During the fourth quarter of 2018, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 5,810,484 barrels of oil and 663 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

It must be noted too that wells typically do not run continuously in Ohio. The number of days wells operated during 2018’s forth quarter and 2019’s first quarter were identical: 86.

Yet while Ohio’s petroleum production is easily dwarfed by such states as Texas, North Dakota, California, Oklahoma, and Alaska, it still is enough to have the state ranked 12th in the nation, according to the statistical data collecting and distribution firm, Statista.

In fact, says Adam Schroeder, spokesman for the Oil And Gas Resources Management Division, Ohio is one of the largest producers of natural gas and oil production in the United States, with some data showing that the state has the fifth largest reserve of natural gas in the country.

Schroeder said also the Ohio Oil and Energy Education Program estimates that there are over 200,000 jobs in the state that are tied to the oil and gas industry. And it is estimated that by 2040 the Utica and Marcellus Shale region – of which Ohio is an important component - will provide nearly half of all the United States natural gas production, Schroeder said.

We have really seen a rise in job development in the industry over the past several years. From public sector to private industry jobs, the job growth has really been impressive,” Schroder said.

Data compiled by Cleveland State University indicates that in 2011, the petroleum industry employed around 14,000 Ohioans, a number that has risen to nearly 200,000 today.

Our staff, both in the field and those supporting them, take their statutorily defined responsibilities seriously and work every day on behalf of Ohioans to achieve a balance between protecting public health, safety, and the environment and ensuring the wise use of natural resources for the benefit of all,” Schroder said as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Headlands Beach State Park: Old problems still exist under new administration

All politicians make promises with caveats and conditions large enough to drive a trash removal truck through.

I’m betting the Mike DeWine Administration’s Ohio Department of Natural Resources director can tell whoppers with the best of them. Maybe some proof of that came just an hour or so ago when I took a bit of time to visit nearby (for me) Headlands Beach State Park.

I do that from time to time, just to satisfy my pessimism that nothing really changes in government, even when the baton is handed off from one administrative ship to the next.

Truth is, I pretty much saw what I was expecting, given the low status that Headlands Beach has accumulated over the years. The same could be said about the (former) Cleveland State Park which was punted to Cleveland Metroparks when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources failed in its duties to maintain that jewel.

And Headlands is no less a valuable resource, though my hour-ago visit indicated otherwise.

Granted, the place is wet and that has complicated matters at Headlands and other state parks along Lake Erie. We have near historic high Lake Erie water levels which have impacted low-lying Headlands. Ditto with above average precipitation for March, April and thus far in May: plus-0.16 inches for March, plus-0.52 inches for April, and plus-.021 inches thus far for May.

Any number of Headlands’ parking lots and interior roads have standing water in them while the park’s eastern section is cordoned off due to the high water.

I get all of that, though there are other issues which cannot be ignored, and which have long been a sore point with more than a few Headland visitors. Myself included.

Many of the park’s picnic tables are in horrendously poor shape and perhaps even dangerous to use, though they remain available. Covered in unappealing moss-like growth, these picnic tables’ rotting wood typically sag and buckle.

Then too the parking lots have long-standing piles of wood chips, branches and other debris; everything being pretty unsightly, honestly.

Far, far worse are the condition of several park metal trash dumpsters. In fact, one trash dumpster was anchored in ankle-deep water; thus unusable unless one wanted to wade wet in order to lob in a bag of trash. Yes, some substantial portions of the parking lots are inundated but I seriously doubt it would take much for some piece of machinery to drag this particular dumpster several feet back onto dry ground again.

More disheartening – and an unhealthy one at that – was observing how several of the dumpsters were full or nearly full of trash; bags of discarded food stuffs, junk, and even broken pieces of what looked like boards from a couple of those picnic tables we mentioned a bit earlier.

Things is, having dumpsters still full of trash two and three days after a major holiday is inexcusable. It is beyond unsightly because it is unhealthy. They are breeding grounds for disease, insects and vermin., the latter two of which Headland has in abundance.

And so, the promise to do better by Natural Resources director Mary Mertz and Parks and Watercraft chief Glen Cobb to Ohio’s outdoor writers less than one month ago must be viewed with a certain degree of questioning faith.

After all, I’d much rather see a politician accomplish a little thing like removing disease-carrying trash than for a politician to promise that with the arrival of a new administration happy days are here again.

I will believe it when I see it, and right now my eyes are smarting from seeing my hometown state park in such a sad state of affairs.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Ohio's 2019 spring turkey kill drops 16 percent; figure likely becomes new normal

Ohio’s 2019 spring wild turkey hunting statistic saw a 16-percent decline from its 2018 counterpart, which itself had experienced an increase from the 2017 combined spring seasons total.

In all, preliminary data shows that a combined 19,088 bearded wild turkeys were taken during Ohio’s youth season, and the Southern and Northeast Ohio zones. This figure is very close to the state’s 10-year average spring kill of 19,244 birds.

For comparison, in 2018 combined spring turkey kill figure was 22,635, or the third highest spring wild turkey kill on record for the state. Further comparison shows the combined spring wild turkey kill (or harvest) for 2017 was 21,042 birds; for 2016 the figure was 17,793 birds; and for 2015 the figure was 16,049 birds.

Mark Wiley – the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s lead forest game biologist – believes the decline from 2018 to this year really is more of a leveling off. In effect, the new normal.

The reason is because the 2018 figure represented a huge swelling in the state’s wild turkey population the year before due to the cyclic 17-year emergence of cicadas.

Cicada’s provide a high-protein diet for wild turkey adults and – especially - their young, called poults. Such factors often lead to a much greater survival rate and overall better conditioning of turkeys.

In 2018 we saw turkey harvest in some counties jump 20 to 40 percent, and then decline this year by similar numbers,” Wiley said. “Such a large cicada emergence represents a significant event.”

Other statistical examination shows that of Ohio’s 88 counties, 28 of them saw gains. These increases were in a seemingly checkerboard, random pattern though a concentration of some of the highest gainers were in southwest Ohio and near the Indiana line.

The counties which saw the most marked decline were largely in southeast Ohio, or those that saw the biggest jump in their respective kills in 2018.

This region had an extremely high reproductive index (as measured by poults-per-hen) in 2016. This cohort contributed to a regional spike in spring harvest in 2018,” Wiley said. “Fewer birds from the 2016 cohort were available during the 2019 season and harvest in southeast counties fell to more typical levels.”

Wiley did say an emergence of cicadas is expected this year but for a much smaller section of Ohio; and this being confined largely to a sliver in Northeast Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line.

It should be enough to be seen in next year’s totals but very locally some hunters may see more birds,” Wiley said.

Of concern is whether this wet and cool spring has thus far impacted turkey poult production and whether any continuation of this weather pattern will hamper egg-laying and hatching along with survival of young birds, Wiley said.

The Wildlife Division won’t have an answer to that question until September and after brood counts are conducted in June, July and August, including those by citizens who voluntarily report their sightings.

As for next year, the spring season dates will appear abnormal. This will come about because the spring season opener for the South Zone is established as being the Monday closest to April 20th while for the five-county Northeast Zone the opening date is the Monday closest to May 1st.

Thus, the opener will be April 21st for the South Zone but not until May 4th for the Northeast Zone; or two weeks later.

It’s strictly a function of the calendar,” Wiley said.

Here are the county-by-county 2019 spring wild turkey kill numbers with their respective 2018 numbers in paranthesis. Note that kill – or harvest - numbers are raw data and subject to change.
Adams: 417 (398); Allen: 73 (71); Ashland: 216 (294); Ashtabula: 558 (574); Athens: 462 (575); Auglaize: 42 (42); Belmont: 565 (738); Brown: 411 (384); Butler: 190 (209); Carroll: 386 (509); Champaign: 97 (89); Clark: 17 (21); Clermont: 334 (347); Clinton: 74 (63); Columbiana: 327 (351); Coshocton: 548 (805); Crawford: 67 (63); Cuyahoga: 8 (11); Darke: 61 (49); Defiance: 197 (223); Delaware: 114 (105); Erie: 51 (48); Fairfield: 118 (128); Fayette: 13 (14); Franklin: 21 (20); Fulton: 116 (109); Gallia: 400 (455); Geauga: 259 (261); Greene: 26 (16); Guernsey: 527 (805); Hamilton: 108 (93); Hancock: 34 (38); Hardin: 95 (86); Harrison: 476 (699); Henry: 62 (69); Highland: 388 (378); Hocking: 280 (444); Holmes: 282 (401); Huron: 118 (163); Jackson: 392 (495); Jefferson: 415 (498); Knox: 349 (461); Lake: 73 (65); Lawrence: 234 (256); Licking: 364 (459); Logan: 113 (120); Lorain: 141 (146); Lucas: 69 (75); Madison: 10 (13); Mahoning: 186 (218); Marion: 30 (31); Medina: 148 (169); Meigs: 554 (674); Mercer: 17 (19); Miami: 24 (14); Monroe: 648 (809); Montgomery: 27 (21); Morgan: 399 (548); Morrow: 142 (160); Muskingum: 585 (796); Noble: 484 (585); Ottawa: 5 (0); Paulding: 69 (71); Perry: 309 (441); Pickaway: 23 (25); Pike: 241 (262); Portage: 259 (275); Preble: 136 (112); Putnam: 64 (58); Richland: 318 (340); Ross: 295 (365); Sandusky: 19 (18); Scioto: 284 (289); Seneca: 154 (151); Shelby: 38 (38); Stark: 298 (329); Summit: 80 (76); Trumbull: 430 (375); Tuscarawas: 569 (815); Union: 58 (49); Van Wert: 20 (23); Vinton: 329 (468); Warren: 102 (115); Washington: 591 (699); Wayne: 124 (123); Williams: 226 (232); Wood: 21 (19); Wyandot: 84 (87). Total: 19,088 (22,635).

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 13, 2019

Weather-associated meteotsunami roughs up Geneva State Park marina

An April 14 rouge meteorological event called a “meteotsunami” sent a wall of water estimated at 10 to 12 feet high crashing into the Lake Erie shoreline from Madison Township in Lake County and east to Conneaut along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

Roughed up a bit in the event was the 400-boat slip marina at the 698-acre Geneva State Park in Ashtabula County. However, the marina had yet to tether any vessel to its assigned berth so no boats were damaged.

Meteotsunamis are driven by air-pressure disturbances often associated with fast-moving weather events, such as severe thunderstorms, squalls, and other storm fronts,” says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service.

The storm generates a wave that moves towards the shore, and is amplified by a shallow continental shelf and inlet, bay, or other coastal feature,” NOAA says. “They occur in many places around the world, including the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Coast, and the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.”

It is believed that another such weather-associated event struck Cleveland Metroparks’ Wildwood Park in Cleveland last October, striking the party fishing boat “Linda Mae,” and partially submerging the vessel.

For the popular Geneva State Park marina, the event was even recorded on the facility’s security camera system.

All of the Geneva State Park marina’s docks are floating types that ride up and down on metal pilings. When the meteotsunami’s impact struck the marina’s protected interior harbor, the wave action caused any number of the floating docks to ride on top of the water’s crest with several of the structures then slipping off their piling supports.

And some of the floats that are attached to the docks became loose and we had to remount them first before we could let the docks back down,” said Bob Munson, the marina’s dock master.

Munson said the event also caused a swell of debris to wash up and over the cement sidewalk that edges much of the marina harbor’s dock area perimeter.

It took marina personnel about three days to get the facility’s affairs back in order and cleaned up, Munson also said.

This same situation of debris piling up was seen all along the Lake Erie shoreline from Madison Township to Conneaut with reports of two-ton concrete breakwater devices easily being relocated several feet away by the force of the wave action, the National Weather Service’s Cleveland office saying as well.

The marina’s security camera system did record the event at around 7:17 p.m. when no one was around. This filming provided a visual testimony that saw the water rise for about 10 minutes, Munson said.

It was pretty impressive footage,” Munson said, adding that he had heard stories regarding a similar event about 20 years ago.

But I wasn’t around back then,” he said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cool, wet spring not drowning out Ohio fishing license sales

Sales of many – but not all – of Ohio’s various fishing licenses do not appear to have been dampened by this spring’s generally cool, excessively wet weather.

However, these conditions do seem to have shot holes in the to-date sales of one-day and seasonal shooting range permits, resident hunting license sales, along with both non-resident and youth spring turkey-hunting permits.

To-date figures from February 22nd through May 7th - and supplied by the Ohio Division of Wildlife via its computerized license-issuing system - point to the issuance of 246,513 resident fishing licenses. That figure is actually up from its corresponding 2018 time frame of 235,316 resident fishing license being issued, or an increase of 4.8 percent.

Noteworthy also is that the additional resident fishing license sales added another $201,546 to the agency’s Wildlife Fund.

An 8.7 percent jump was seen also in the to-date sale of three-day fishing licenses along with a 9.3 percent rise in the number of one-day non-resident fishing licenses.

On the downturn were sales of one-day resident, one-day resident Lake Erie charter fishing, and one-day non-resident Lake Erie charter licenses. The latter two categories each saw sales drops of more than 24 percent. The drops in these categories could be attributed to the numerous storms that buffeted Lake Erie from late March through press time.

Hit too, were sales of seasonal non-resident fishing licenses, dropping by 7.8 percent. Meanwhile, sales of the reduced cost (senior citizen) annual fishing licenses were down only 1.2 percent.

The net result is that Ohio actually issued more fishing licenses of all kinds – 22 in number to be exact – from February 22nd to May 7th than it did for the same period in 2018. The figure totaled 38,107 more fishing licenses and permits being issued for an additional $626,143 going into the Wildlife Fund.

The fact that fishing license sales are up compared to last year’s is promising and certainly better than being down,” said Andy Burt, the Wildlife Division’s license coordinator for the Division of Wildlife.

 “Sales are also strong for our multiyear licenses, and the automatic renewal of hunting and fishing licenses is now an option for those who purchase at ”  
However, Burt also says “as we have seen in the last few weeks, spring weather is highly variable.”

So sales typically do fluctuate widely until we get into mid-June when weather and sales typically settle in,” Burt said.

Hunting license and permit sales were good too, though not with the dramatic flare seen for their fishing license and tag counterparts. Here, resident hunting license sales were down 6.5 percent and reduced cost (senior citizen) hunting license sales were off 8.2 percent.

Also dropping were sales of youth spring turkey permits – down 5.7 percent – and non-resident spring turkey permits – down 1.4 percent.

Taking the biggest dive off the cliff were sales of shooting range permits, the tags being required at several shooting ranges operated by the Wildlife Division. To-date as noted during the measured period the agency had sold 3,708 one-day range permits for a decline of 32 percent, and 2,967 annual range permits for a drop of 28.6 percent.

Lumping the sales of range permits and “Wild Ohio” magazine subscriptions, waterfowl habitat stamps, the Wildlife Division’s hunting permit/license extensive stockpile numbers 70 items.

In all, to date as of May 7th, the Wildlife Division had issued 516,215 hunting associated documents. That figure is up from the 482,533 documents the agency issued during the corresponding period in 2018.

For accounting purposes, this increase has thus far added another $659,787 to the Wildlife Fund.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn