Monday, April 24, 2017

UPDATED: Ohio's youth-only hunt and general spring season turkey opener; Awesome

If the rest of Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting goes as well as it did during the just-concluded two-day/youth-only hunt, a lot of Thanksgiving Day roaster pans will be preparing dinner.

And it appears that adults will be pitching in to help save the lives of Butterball-brand, store-bought turkeys. These hunters enjoyed tremendous success during the general spring turkey-hunting season on Monday, April 24th.

Ohio’s two-day youth-only season ran April 22nd and 23rd. Young guns age 17 and younger shot and killed 1,895 bearded birds. That figure is up 331 birds from the 1,564 turkeys shot during the 2016 two-day/youth-only hunt.

Other youth hunt  statistics point to the notation that of Ohio’s 88 counties, only five failed to record any birds taken: Cuyahoga, Ottawa, Fayette, Madison, and Pickaway counties.

Also, of Ohio’s 88 counties, 48 of them posted increases, 27 recorded declines and the remainder posted identical – though still preliminary - 2016 season and 2017 youth-only season tallies.

The  counties which reported turkey kills of at least 50 birds each – and with their respective 2016 two-day/youth-only numbers in parentheses - were: Muskingum – 82 (33); Monroe – 71 (51); Coshocton – 63 (34); Washington – 58 (52); Harrison also 58 (39); Tuscarawas – 56 (44); Noble – 55 (also 55); and Ashtabula – 50 (44).

Today – April 24th - marks the start of Ohio’s general spring wild turkey hunting season for 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties. It concludes in these counties May 21st.

The general spring wild turkey hunting season for the extreme Northeast Ohio counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula and Trumbull will run May 1st through May 28th.

In all cases of the general spring wild turkey-hunting seasons the season bag limit is two bearded birds, but only one per day. Besides a general Ohio hunting license a special spring-only turkey permit is required for each bird.

In the case of the spring general season opener on Monday, hunters killed 3,123 bearded wild turkeys. Even without the five extreme Northeast Ohio counties that figure is still 612 more birds than were shot during the 2016 spring season opener when 2,511 turkeys were killed.

Here is the list of county-by-county turkeys killed during the 2017 spring season opener April 24th. Remember that the season is still closed in Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula and Trumbull counties until May 1st.
The counties’ 2016 opening day results are in parentheses: Adams: 92 (56); Allen: 8 (11); Ashland: 41 (24); Ashtabula: * (85); Athens: 61 (42); Auglaize: 8 (8); Belmont: 81 (73); Brown: 66 (47); Butler: 36 (27); Carroll: 91 (53); Champaign: 19 (12); Clark: 4 (2); Clermont: 75 (56); Clinton: 9 (9); Columbiana: 54 (50); Coshocton: 123 (72); Crawford: 8 (15); Cuyahoga: * (2); Darke: 5 (4); Defiance: 47 (50); Delaware: 17 (11); Erie: 4 (8); Fairfield: 16 (14); Fayette: 4 (0); Franklin: 4 (3); Fulton: 19 (15); Gallia: 69 (47); Geauga: * (36); Greene: 2 (4); Guernsey: 108 (67); Hamilton: 18 (18); Hancock: 6 (5); Hardin: 14 (13); Harrison: 92 (67); Henry: 8 (8); Highland: 86 (49); Hocking: 66 (46); Holmes: 58 (40); Huron: 31 (17); Jackson: 57 (48); Jefferson: 54 (60); Knox: 85 (52); Lake: * (6); Lawrence: 45 (38); Licking: 81 (46); Logan: 27 (13); Lorain: 22 (20); Lucas: 8 (13); Madison: 1 (3); Mahoning: 32 (30); Marion: 4 (8); Medina: 19 (18); Meigs: 84 (63); Mercer: 7 (2); Miami: 4 (1); Monroe: 83 (57); Montgomery: 5 (4); Morgan: 66 (32); Morrow: 37 (30); Muskingum: 89 (67); Noble: 72 (42); Ottawa: 0 (0); Paulding: 19 (17); Perry: 48 (48); Pickaway: 4 (2); Pike: 37 (38); Portage: 38 (30); Preble: 14 (22); Putnam: 9 (8); Richland: 39 (43); Ross: 70 (53); Sandusky: 4 (4); Scioto: 53 (32); Seneca: 27 (21); Shelby: 5 (12); Stark: 43 (31); Summit: 7 (9); Trumbull: * (72); Tuscarawas: 115 (69); Union: 6 (9); Van Wert: 7 (4); Vinton: 70 (33); Warren: 16 (12); Washington: 78 (58); Wayne: 21 (18); Williams: 41 (39); Wood: 2 (0); Wyandot: 18 (8). Total: 3,123 (2,511).

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, April 22, 2017

EXTENSIVE UPDATES/ODNR nixes resident license jumps-Ohio House hits non-residents

Reader, please note - This is a fast-breaking news story and further additions and changes are expected. Please return periodically for any updates, including a lengthy statement made today (April 25th) by Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer. The latest update was performed at 7:10 p.m., April 25th.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has pulled the plug on any increases to hunting and fishing license fees for residents.

Non-residents are a different matter as the Natural Resources Department is now seeking to clarify its clarification.

And the Ohio General Assembly's House side of things has inserted language in HB 49 that would increase the cost of a non-resident deer permit from the present $24 (same as for Ohio residents) to $250.

Meanwhile, the same proposal would boast the cost of a non-resident turkey tag - either spring or fall - from the existing $24 to $75.

 Last year the Wildlife Division issued 51,268 either-sex deer tags to non-residents and 3,205 antlerless-only deer tags to non-residents.

 Also, the Wildlife Division issued 3,975 spring turkey tags to non-residents and another 1,118 fall turkey tags to non-residents.

The budget bill license fee amendment proposal's chief sponsor is Representative Johnathan Dever, R-Madeira.

For now Deaver’s proposal meets with the Natural Resources Department’s approval.

“(The) ODNR has supported adjusted fees on non-resident participants in the past and supports the effort once again, as this change would align Ohio’s fees more closely with the non-resident fee structures of other states,” said Matt Eiselstein, the agency’s designated spokesman on the subject of any potential license fee increase to either residents or non-residents.

The Columbus-based Sportsman’s Alliance says while it appreciates the fee increase proposal for non-resident hunters it doesn’t go far enough to plugging the Wildlife Division’s emerging fiscal leaks.

(At the tag of this blog is the official position on the subject by Natural Resources Director James Zehringer.)

Even so, some critics are arguing that the Department pulled the rug out from under the Wildlife Division in general and Ray Petering in particular. That belief is focused on the chief being on the record as stating that his agency is “…doing 2017 programs on 2004 money.”

And putting the brakes on the Wildlife Division and its employees officially backing any license fee increase was what the Natural Resources Department said in a short, terse e-mail note to this writer and one other reporter. That short missive reads:


“At this time, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife does not support a license fee increase on Ohio’s hunters and anglers. While we appreciate the support of our sportsmen, we are seeking efficiencies and savings within the Department that will result in a higher level of service, without raising license fees.”


The Departmental communiqué bears the sender as being Petering but includes the notation that any further contact be directed to Natural Resources agency spokesman Matt Eiselstein.


For his part Eiselstein notes that his agency is “always seeking opportunities to better utilize our resources, and that does include understanding the value of our landholdings.”


That exploration of knowing the value of Department-owned lands and structures includes the Wildlife Division’s District One Headquarters complex in Columbus.


In a further statement to the “Ohio Outdoor News,” Eiselstein says the Natural Resources Department has had an appraisal of D-1 performed but does mention any actual goal of channeling the work of the 24-person staff there to Fountain Square.


 “(The) ODNR conducts between 30 to 50 official appraisals annually, and these figures do not include the dozens of property valuations conducted by staff each year,” Eiselstein said.


 “The position of the department is that we need to look at fiscally responsible ways to achieve our goals before we ask Ohio’s sportsmen and women to pay more for hunting and fishing opportunities,” Eiselstein said.


Those efforts have included fact-finding in regard to office space and property values, including D-1, says Eiselstein said in a second electronically sent memo on the subject.


“The appraisal is an initial step in determining the value of an asset. Any discussion at this point regarding plans for the property beyond determining and examining its value would be premature, as no course of action has been determined,” Eiselstein said.


Still, reports are suggesting that the Wildlife Division will move D-1 to Fountain Square with the expectation that it will pay the Department an annual rental fee of up to $500,000.


However, in a third round of notations the Natural Resources Department is now pulling back from its back-stepping in regards to whether to increase non-resident fishing and hunting license fees.

Eislstein noted to this writer in an April 25th electronic exchange that his statement of no fee increases was a reference to "Ohio's sportsmen and women..."

"Non-resident fees are being considered separately, and this does not have to be a both or neither scenario," Eislstein said in his latest electronic posting.

All of this twisting and turning on the increasingly complex matter follows on the heels of the April 14th “Ohio Outdoor News” story “Ohio groups push on for license hike.”

 In that article its author and publication editor Mike Moore pointed out how the Columbus-based Sportsmen’s Alliance had teamed with approximately two dozen other Ohio-related or -based sportsmen and conservation groups in backing license fee increases for hunters and anglers.

This fee jump was especially aimed at non-resident deer hunters. The ad hoc assembly pointed out that Ohio charges the least expensive non-resident deer-hunting fee package of “…any quality white-tailed deer hunting state in the country…” citing a figure of $149 while the average for such states is $393.

 In the “Ohio Outdoor News” article, Petering is quoted as illustrating the importance of periodic license fee augmentation when he referenced the 2017 and 2004 comparison with “…that’s easy for the average person to wrap their head around.”

“You’re not keeping pace with inflation let alone everything else,” Petering is quoted as saying.

 Petering further said that such fee increases are of the kind typically and often supported by those who pay the bills: Ohio’s hunters and anglers.

 “They basically said ‘we want these types of agencies to exist and we’ll pay money for it,’” Petering also said in the article, continuing, “This is in keeping with a long-term tradition and legacy here.”

 Yet - in effect - those comments by Petering need to be taken more broadly since the chief never actually said the Wildlife Division has ever pushed “for more money,” Eiselstein says too.

Consequently, Eiselstein says he doesn’t believe that Petering’s comments “or any subsequent statements indicate a reversal of our position.”

Even so, backing the idea of license fee increases – and thus supporting Petering’s former-proposal endorsement – were all six of the current members comprising the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council.

 The two other Wildlife Council members saw their terms expire at the end of March, and at the time of this writing neither person had either been reappointed nor replacements named.

 The six document signees penned a letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich, Natural Resources Director James Zehringer and members of the Ohio General Assembly that buttresses their collective appeal for license fee increases.

 “We have grown increasingly concerned about the ability of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources / Division of Wildlife to fulfill its mission to the satisfaction of the citizens of Ohio,” the memorandum reads. 

“While other government agencies are able to absorb cost increases by seeking additional revenue from  the general tax payer coffers, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources / Ohio Division of Wildlife is  funded by user fees that have not been adjusted since 2003, the longest stretch in the agency’s history.”

As such, the signers said the state’s hunters and anglers are taking note of the several counties “where wildlife officers are no longer present because the agency lacks the funds to hold a cadet class to replace retiring officers.”

 Similarly, the document’s six signing members state, “Wildlife production areas are more often unmanaged prior to key hunting seasons” while “fish stocking programs have decreased over this same period.”

In concluding their declaration of support for license fee increases the six Wildlife Council members stated “For these reasons, the Ohio Wildlife Council is calling on you Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to support these very modest increases that would be paid entirely by those who use these Resources.”

 Neither are others buying into what they believe is an attempt by the Natural Resources Department to reign in Petering’s once strong support for license fee increases of all kinds.

Sportsman’s Alliance CEO and President Evan Heisinkveld said his – and 29 other outdoors and conservation organizations “appreciate the House Finance Committee's decision to include Representative Dever's non-resident fee increase in the budget bill.”

“It is a major step in the right direction,” said Evan Heusinkveld. “However, we believe that a modest increase in resident fees is also necessary to address the funding crisis of the Division of Wildlife. Ohio's sportsmen and women are asking for this increase in their own user fees because they understand the nexus between conservation programs and hunting license fees.”

Since the need for additional funding is “abundantly clear,” Hesusinkveld also says, the turn-about only “makes the Department’s position not only confusing, given its past support, but unsatisfactory as well.”

Thus, while fiscal responsibility and efficiency are vital, “serving the paying public and quality is even more important,” Heusinkveld said as well.

 “Governor Kasich spoke of his support for a fee increase on non-residents in 2014 at a sportsmen’s reception at the Governor’s mansion while Natural Resources Department Director Zehringer testified in support of a non-resident fee increase before the legislature in 2015,” Heusinkveld said.

And efforts at being fiscally responsible and equally fiscally fair are what helped motivate Ohio Wildlife Council member/secretary Thomas A. Vorisek of Gahanna to back the fee increase concept and plant his name to the group’s declaration of support.

“Yes, I am disappointed and confused,” Vorisek said in a telephone interview about the Department-ordered 180-degree turn-about. “Is it really too much to ask that we have a wildlife officer in every county?”

 Vorisek then highlighted how one of the main thrusts of the fee increase idea was directed at the 40,000 or so non-resident deer hunters, who are enjoying a sweet bargain and who also have in many instances leased land that shuts out Ohio resident hunters.

 Asked then if he were concerned that his “disappointment” over the Natural Resources Department’s inverted stance regarding a unified license fee proposal will cost him reappointment to the Wildlife Council, Vorisek quickly responded “no.”

His appointment to the Council expires January 2018.

“I’m never concerned about the consequences of doing the right thing,” Vorisek said.

The following is the April 25th unedited statement made by Ohio Natural Resources Director James Zehringer regarding proposed license fee increases:

“Ohioans who enjoy hunting, fishing and trapping face a difficult challenge: how to manage our resources and preserve our heritage in a period of declining participation. We share a commitment to conserve and improve the state’s fish and wildlife resources in a sustainable way, even as fewer Ohioans choose to hunt, fish and trap every year.  Ohio sportsmen and women share a common goal and common values.  The challenge is how best to achieve our shared goals.

“As Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and as a lifelong conservationist, I share these commitments and concerns.  I fully support the statutory role given to ODNR’s Division of Wildlife, but we must also balance competing demands and priorities to set a course that succeeds long term.

“When discussing hunting and fishing license fees, it would be easy to maximize revenue and raise rates based on what the market will bear in the short term.  But declining participation rates, and the sustainability of the model, must be part of the conversation.

“Raising fees on Ohioans should be the last option not the first.  At ODNR we remain committed to finding more effective and efficient ways to manage the state’s resources. We need to make tough choices to keep costs down and responsibly manage the funds Ohioans have entrusted to us. 

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Some improvements seen in Ohio's new 2017 fish consumption advisories

Improvement to the water quality of the Ottawa River in northwest Ohio has led the state to remove the previous “do not eat” advisories for the stream.

In its place the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has stamped consumption guidelines of lesser concern for fish caught from the Toledo area river.

The action came as part of Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler’s announcement April 3rd for the state’s latest – and annual - guidelines for eating fish caught from Ohio’s lakes, rivers and streams. It is vital to note that the postings are advisories only and are not prohibitions.

“The types of fish you find in a river are great indicators of the health of the water and the Ottawa River in Toledo represents one of Ohio’s great ongoing success stories,” Butler said.

In part, Butler also says, the lowering of the advisories for the Ottawa River came through a team approach that embraced clean-water activities conducted by state and local entities along with initiatives led by the federal government via the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

 “As we know, however, there is still more work to do to improve water quality throughout Lake Erie and Ohio River watersheds,” Butler said.

However, Butler did not address the threat to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Under the present federal budget proposal as advanced by the Trump Administration funding for the GLRI has been line itemed into oblivion, though Great Lakes legislators promise that money will be restored.

Besides the news about the Ottawa River, the Ohio EPA says that several other waterways also saw easing of fish consumption advisories. Among them were Atwood, Belmont and Loramie lakes, as well as the Huron and Walhonding rivers.

Besides fish the advisories include meal consumption advisories for snapping turtles. In all, four bodies of waters are encompassed in this recommended strategy include the Ashtabula Black and Maumee rivers (each no more than one meal per week and all for mercury); the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (also no more than one meal per week and for lead); and the Ottawa River (a blanket do not eat advisory).

Snapping turtles taken from Lake Rockwell in Portage County were found to have low levels of contamination but no advisory was installed.

Similarly the Ohio EPA’s documentation features potential danger associated for certain classes of at-risk populations when eating several salt-water fish species even though such aquati fishes are not found in Ohio.

Besides the consumption advisories posted in the document its protocols likewise incorporate cautions against swimming in certain bodies of water around the state. Included in this portion of the document are sections of Dicks Creek in Butler County; the Little Scioto River in Marion County; the Mahoning River in Mahoning and Trumbull counties; and the Ottawa River in Lucas County.

The Ohio EPA partners with Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop the Sport Fish Consumption Advisory.

Additional information about fish consumption safety for women of child-bearing age, pregnant and nursing mothers, and children under 15 can be found at Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Centers, local health departments, Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources regional offices.
The 2017 fish consumption advisory information is available online. Printed copies can be requested by calling (614) 644-2160.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, April 14, 2017

Coast Guard's iconic slash emblem has storied, half-century old, history

After one-half century of use the color and design scheme used to identify U.S. Coast Guard vessels is now considered an iconic emblem for the service.

This branding is instantly recognized by both commercial mariners as well as owners of pleasure boats. Not to mention drug smugglers and other nefarious types wishing to use the nation’s high seas and Great Lakes to transport their illegal bootie.

Envisioned by then-president John F. Kennedy, the now-familiar half chevron of blue and red stripes alongside a Coast Guard vessel’s usual white hull (they are painted Navy gray during wartime), evolved following a rescue in October 1956 of a crashed trans-oceanic passenger aircraft.

After being picked up by a Coast Guard vessel, one of the survivors was heard to mistakenly exclaim “Thank goodness for the Navy!”

And I well recall a high school teacher who served aboard a Coast Guard vessel during World War II in the Pacific and had experienced a bitterly similar incident. In that case my teacher explained that his vessel had successfully participated in a battle with the Japanese but in which a newspaper credited his ship as being with the Navy, not the Coast Guard.

Leave it to a Navy man to find a solution.

Aware of the confusion, it is said by the Coast Guard that President Kennedy looked to French-born industrial designer Raymond Loewy-Snaith for help. It is this same Loewy-Snaith who also cooked up the design pattern for Air Force One earlier in the Kennedy Administration in an effort to showcase the United States, the Coast Guard reports.

By 1965, says the Coast Guard, Loewy-Snaith representatives presented their findings to the  service.

During the development process, Loewy-Snaith selected a wide red bar to the upper right of a narrow blue bar canted at 64 degrees and running from right to lower left. The Loewy-Snaith team used its own stylized version of the traditional Coast Guard emblem for placement on the center of the red bar.

The overall design came to be known as the “Racing Stripe” or “Slash” emblem with the officialdom moniker being called the “Visual Identification System.

On May 4, 1966, the service’s ad hoc committee for testing the Visual Identification System sent to the commandant a favorable report regarding service-wide use of the Racing Stripe.

Obviously when dealing with a military service-type mindset, not every Coastie liked the new logo.

However, on April 6, 1967, the Coast Guard’s Commandant Edwin Roland issued a general order in which the four years worth of study and experimentation ended with implementation of the service-wide (love this term) “Integrated Visual Identification System.”

In fact, so recognizable as an emblem of sea-faring assistance, patrol duty and the like, that various other governments around the world employ a similar vessel branding protocol. Among them is the People’s Republic of China’s Coast Guard as well as that of Japan and Great Britain.

“Thanks to a visionary president, talented industrial designers and Coast Guard leaders who saw the importance of a service brand identity; the assets of the Coast Guard are now easily identified by millions of individuals world-wide who share a connection to the sea,” said Coast Guard historian William H. Thiesen.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ohio approves 2017-2018 hunting regulations

From The Ohio Division of Wildlife:

The 2017-2018 hunting and trapping seasons were among the regulations approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council at its scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 12, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
White-tailed deer hunting changes include modifications to bag limits for several counties throughout the state.
Overview of deer hunting seasons for 2017-2018:
  • Deer archery: Sept. 30, 2017-Feb. 4, 2018 
  • Youth deer gun: Nov. 18-19, 2017 
  • Deer gun: Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2017; Dec. 16-17, 2017 
  • Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 6-9, 2018 
An increase in the bag limit, from two deer per county to three deer per county, was approved for Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington counties. These changes are designed to slow the rate of herd growth, while still allowing herds to increase.
A reduction in the bag limit, from three deer per county to two deer per county, was approved for Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties. These changes are designed to encourage herd growth in these counties.
All other county bag limits remain the same. The statewide bag limit remains at six deer. Only one deer may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.
In other rule changes, any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 is now allowed for hunting deer in Ohio. There have been three seasons of hunting deer with straight-walled cartridge rifles in Ohio with no biological impacts to the herd or additional hunter incidents. Defining the allowable rifles makes the rule easily understood and easily enforced, while also being inclusive of a great number of rifle options.
Waterfowl Hunting
he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) oversees all migratory bird regulations, including Ohio’s hunting seasons. A recent change in the USFWS process now allows Ohio to propose fall waterfowl regulations in January and vote on them in April, more than six months earlier than in previous years. Changes to the migratory bird regulations include increasing the canvasback bag limit to two per day and decreasing the pintail bag limit to one per day. The waterfowl bag limit for ducks and geese is consistent statewide and does not change by zone.
The youth waterfowl age limit has been lowered to include more young hunters. Anyone who is 17 or younger may now participate in the youth waterfowl hunts. The previous age limit was 15 or younger. The youth waterfowl weekend is Oct. 7-8.
Wild Turkey Hunting
Fall turkey hunting will be expanded to 11 additional counties for the first time: Allen, Champaign, Crawford, Fulton, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Paulding, Preble, Putnam and Wyandot. Harvest records and research indicates wild turkey populations have increased in these areas to a point where a fall harvest will not impact the overall numbers. Fall wild turkey hunting is Oct. 14–Nov. 26. The season will now be open in 67 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Download a complete list of season dates and bag limits at
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Near tragic Grand River kayaking mishap illustrates importance of preparation

When four Northeast Ohio young men decided to float the Grand River in kayaks they soon discovered how potentially fool-hardy such an undertaking can be on the second day of spring.

The four men each saw their respective kayak capsize, plunging them all into the Grand River’s still-frigid waters on the cusp of sunset. And one of the four went unaccounted for more than three hours. That turn of events set off a search that involved five local first-response agencies along with a request for two helicopters to conduct night-time illuminated searches of the Grand River’s deep ravine maw.

And the experience helps highlight the dangers of trying to capture a river with a paddle when the stream has a nasty temperament brought about flooding from snow melt or rainfall, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Watercraft.

Engorged by snow-melt run-off from the numerous small tributaries that claw their way into the Grand River, the stream’s flow on March 21st was around 2,500 cubic feet per second; well above the day’s average of around 1,400 cubic feet per second.

Madison (Lake County) Fire District interim chief Terry Sapko said the victims set off at Ashtabula County Metro Parks’ Harpersfield Dam Park in Harpersfield Township. Their goal was to use the Grand River’s now-swift waters to carry them the roughly 8.5 miles to the intended take-out point at Lake Metroparks’ Hidden Valley Park in Madison Township.

The quartet only made approximately half-way to around County Line Road, Sopko said, before all of the kayakers ran into serious trouble. All of the kayaks flipped, spilling the paddlers into the stream. While three of them successfully made it to shore, their unnamed 23-year-old companion from Geneva Township was feared not so fortunate, Sopko said.

Complicating matters in terms of exposure to the elements, Sopko said also that the kayakers were minimally dressed for protection against the sub-freezing air temperature and near-freezing water temperature.

But at least all four young men were wearing PFDs, Sopko did say.

“The three paddlers called us to say that one of their members was unaccounted for,” Soko said.

The fire chief added that dispatch was informed of the incident around 7:30 p.m., which is within minutes of official sunset and made all the more dark by the steep narrowness of the Grand River’s gorge.

Soko said once the missing kayaker had made it to shore he climbed the river’s gorge and walked through the woods, all the time dripping wet and wearing very little in the way of clothing.

“He didn’t know where he was,” Sopko said.

Fortunately, Sopko said, the young man located a home from where he managed to contact his father via cell phone and who was at the first responders’ operation base at Hidden Valley Park.

Once the rescue party learned that the missing kayaker was safe the family insisted that he be taken to a local hospital for a thorough examination, Soko said.

As for the kayaks, the vessel that had held the once-missing paddler was seen scooting past Hidden Valley Park, rapidly being shuttled downstream by the Grand River’s fast current. It and the other three kayaks have not been recovered at press time, either, Sopko said.

All of which illustrates the risks associated with paddling any stream that is bloated from rain run-off or snow melt, says officials with the state’s Parks and Watercraft Division.

The agency says that between 2012 and 2016, 15 people have drowned in paddle-sports-related mishaps: nine fatalities associated with kayaks and six linked with canoes. That’s a goodly number too given that of the 505,524 pleasure craft vessels registered in Ohio last year fully 190,752 of them – or nearly 38 percent – were canoes and kayaks, including those owned by canoe liveries.

Compounding the tragedy, said also Mike, Miller, the boating law administrator for the Parks and Watercraft Division, was the fact of the 15 persons who died only one was wearing a personal floatation device.

Along with that statistic Miller noted too that seven were associated with operator inexperience or else operator inattention, three to passenger behavior, two associated with alcohol impairment, one filed under “dam/lock,” one with no PFD and the victim unable to swim, and one associated with reckless operation.

“Always remember to wear a life jacket, have a float plan and dress for falling into the water,” Miller said. “And make sure you do not paddle in water above your skills.”
Miller said that beginning this year his division will be teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the paddle-sports industry to include the 10-page, full-color “Be Safe, Be Smart, Have Fun – A Beginner’s Guide To Safer Paddling” brochure with each new kayak and canoe sold.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, March 17, 2017

Remington lays off 122; agrees to Model 700 lawsuit settlement

This is taken from the March 16th 2017 issue of “GunsAmerica,” an exceptionally well done, in-depth and on-line media regarding all things firearms and the firearms industry.

“Remington Settles ‘Faulty Trigger’ Lawsuit, Lays Off 122 Employees

“by S.H. Blannelberry on March 16, 2017

“It’s been a good news/bad news sorta week for Big Green.

"Bad News

“First, the bad news. Remington announced that it has laid off more than 120 workers at its factory in Ilion, New York.

“The small arms industry is facing significant near-term challenges related to slowing order velocity and high channel inventories; a dynamic from which Remington is not immune,’ said Jessica Kallam, Remington’s manager of media relations and public affairs, in a statement.

“After exploring all the options available to us, we are compelled to reduce our work force by releasing 122 team members today at our Ilion, N.Y. site,’ the statement continued. ‘As we move forward, we will continue to monitor all segments of the business for growth opportunities.’

“Remington has had a facility in Ilion since the 19th century which has become part of the lifeblood of that small upstate community home to around 8,000 residents. Even with the layoffs, Remington still employs 960 people, according to Ilion Mayor Terry Leonard.

“Mayor Leonard expressed concern about the fate of the plant’s future, given that Remington opened a new facility down in Huntsville, Alabama in 2014. As part of consolidation efforts, 231 Ilion workers were let go in August and November of 2014.

“Should they ever just close down totally, it would be a total catastrophe for the entire area here,’ the mayor told Reuters.

“While Remington insists that the changes in personnel are due to market conditions, at least one state lawmaker sees this as a result of the draconian NY SAFE Act of 2013 that ratcheted up regulations on firearms in the Empire State.

“It’s very troubling that 122 of our neighbors have lost their jobs due to poor economic policies pushed by Gov. Cuomo and Assembly Democrats as well as the SAFE Act,’ said New York State Assemblyman Brian Miller of the 101st District in an interview with WKTV.

“’ Make no mistake, there is a direct correlation,’ he added. ‘My staff and I remain fully committed to helping those affected by layoffs and will assist them and their families in any way we can.’

“The Cuomo regime and the SAFE Act may share in some of the blame but there is little doubt that gun sales have waned since Obama left office. FBI Background checks (a bellwether for gun sales) are down 17 percent in January and February this year when compared to the same period in 2016.

“Many predict that with Trump in the White House, the decline in sales will continue for the foreseeable future.

“ ‘We do believe that having a Republican in the White House…negatively impacts gun sales in that it effectively eliminates any threat of new gun regulation for the foreseeable future,’ said James Hardiman, managing director of equities research for Wedbush Securities Inc.

“Hardiman told Reuters that he forecasts a 10% to 15% decline in FBI background checks for 2017.

The move by Big Green follows a number of other belt tightenings around the industry; including reported layoffs at SilencerCo and the announcement this week that outdoor retailer Gander Mountain would file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and close 32 locations.

"Good News

“Now, for the good news. A federal judge approved a settlement that arose from the notorious ‘faulty trigger’ class action lawsuit against Remington.

“Why is it good news for Big Green?

“Well, it puts to bed the longstanding claim that throughout the years Remington was making rifles with defective trigger mechanisms that would fire a round without the trigger being pulled.

“Moreover, the payout is minimal. Only $12.5 million, with each class representative receiving $2,500 after attorney fees and expenses for the plaintiffs have been subtracted.

“That’s chump change compared to estimates that suggested that Remington would be on the hook for almost half a billion dollars considering that there are upwards of 7.5 million rifles in circulation that would allegedly need fixing.

“The reason the payout was so small is that the claims rate was only .29 percent. In other words, a relatively small number of individuals — about 22,000 — filed claims after Remington announced the recall on their rifles at the start of settlement negotiations a few years back.

“In the opinion, the court noted the dissatisfaction with the low turnout but indicated that doesn’t mean that the settlement reached was unfair.

“ ‘While the Court remains disappointed with the claims rate, the claims rate does not dictate whether the notice provided was the best notice practicable under the circumstances. The claims rate does not govern whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, or adequate,’ states the opinion.

“The court also noted that Remington did do enough to satisfy the court in its publicity of the recall effort, which will continue for an additional 18 months and possibly increase the number of claims.

“The question has to be asked to what extent there was a defect with the trigger mechanisms in these rifles? With 7.5 million in circulation, wouldn’t there be hundreds of thousands of people filing claims? Wouldn’t there be videos all over Youtube of rifles firing randomly?

“Paul Helinski, the owner and founder of GunsAmerica, addressed these questions in a recent article, entitled, ‘Remington Fights Back Against Fake News 60 Minutes Attack.

“ ‘In it the article, Paul argues that the claims of accidental discharges are either widely overblown or completely fabricated, concluding that “there is nothing wrong with the Remington 700, and there never was.’

“To that end, Remington has consistently denied any wrongdoing. And, finally, they can move on.

“Below, you’ll find information along with links pulled from the Remington website that pertains to the settlement.


“A proposed nationwide Settlement has been preliminarily approved in a class action lawsuit involving certain Remington firearms. The class action lawsuit claims that trigger mechanisms with a component part known as a trigger connector are defectively designed and can result in accidental discharges without the trigger being pulled. The lawsuit further claims that from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014, the X-Mark Pro® trigger mechanism assembly process created the potential for the application of an excess amount of bonding agent, which could cause Model 700 or Seven bolt-action rifles containing such trigger mechanisms to discharge without a trigger pull under certain limited conditions. The lawsuit contends that the value and utility of these firearms have been diminished as a result of these alleged defects. Defendants deny any wrongdoing.


“The Settlement provides benefits to:
Current owners of Remington Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725 firearms containing a Remington trigger mechanism that utilizes a trigger connector;
  1. Current owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles containing an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014 who did not participate in the voluntary X-Mark Pro product recall prior to April 14, 2015; and
  2. Current and former owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles who replaced their rifle’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.

“Settlement Class Members may be entitled to: (1) have their trigger mechanism retrofitted with a new X-Mark Pro or other connectorless trigger mechanism at no cost to the class members; (2) receive a voucher code for Remington products redeemable at Remington’s online store; and/or (3) be refunded the money they spent to replace their Model 700 or Seven’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.

“Submit a Claim Form. You can submit a claim form electronically.”
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn