U.S. Forest Service Southern Region Honors Georgians for Work to Restore Brook Trout

IMG_0052Native Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. They may be small in size but are big on color, long on legacy and downright fun to catch. Living jewels in cold mountain streams, brookies, or ‘specs’ as they are called in the Georgia mountains, are a clear indication of how well our headwater streams are fairing.  Georgia Trout Unlimited as well the U.S. Forest Service – Chattahoochee National Forest and Georgia DNR – Fisheries, have been partnering for years to protect, enhance and restore Georgia’s native coldwater game fish in a partnership named Back-the-Brookie.

Recently, Back-the-Brookie was named the recipient of the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Regional Forester Award for Partners/Community Engagement. Continue reading

Georgia DNR Ignores Sporstmen

Take ActionAnglers’ and hunters’ license fees directly support Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) law enforcement. Yet sportsmen where not invited to participate in DNR’s stakeholder process considering a major reorganization of DNR law enforcement. The DNR, DNR Board, Governor’s Office, legislators, law enforcement and the media were all participants in a stakeholder process to determine how anglers’ and hunters’ license fees would be spent.

This reorganization will unequivocally be the single greatest change in how DNR delivers conservation services since the department was created in 1972. A total of eighty six commissioned law enforcement officials will be removed from patrolling trout streams, game areas and lakes.  Many DNR wildlife technicians as well as state park supervisors have a dual responsibility that includes law enforcement. They can issue citations and make arrests enforcing Georgia’s conservation laws and keeping the peace. Under the reorganization, they will lose their commissions and have to call for assistance when infractions are observed or reported instead of taking immediate action. Continue reading

Capitol Castings | Break on through to the other side…

Georgia General Assembly Crossover DayYou know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side, yeah
We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
But can you still recall
The time we cried
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side…
- The Doors

We’re now on the other side of Crossover Day under the Gold Dome at the Georgia Assembly. It was a hatch of activity and a long day last Thursday, Day 30 – Crossover Day. The lyrics from the Doors classic may ring familiar for many Senators and Representatives. In order for legislation to move forward this year, bills must have passed a floor vote in at least one chamber. Bills not voted upon are recommitted to their committees. Those failing a floor vote fall like spinners at the end of a hatch. Continue reading

Capitol Castings | Tight Lines

Georgia Capitol HouseTight lines. That’s what Speaker David Ralston (R) 7th – Blue Ridge seeks to provide with his ethics bill – HB 142. The bill would require members of organizations, like Trout Unlimited, actively representing its mission for more than five days per year to register as lobbyists. The current registration fee is proposed to be reduced from $325 per year to $25 to cover the cost of providing a lobbyist badge. Registered lobbyists would be required to wear their badge and submit periodic reports of their activities. The registration and reporting requirements seem reasonable to Georgia Trout Unlimited. Other aspects of the bill trouble some Georgia Water Coalition partners by not imposing tighter restrictions on gifts and spending. House Bill 142 was modified by House Rules and set for a floor vote on Monday, February 25th. Continue reading

Capitol Castings | Gear Check

Georgia Capitol at Night

When you have down time from fishing, it’s a good idea to check your gear and tie a few replacement flies. Last week was such a time under the Gold Dome. No new legislation affecting cold, clean fishable water was introduced and none advanced from committee. Legislative Day 18 of 40 passed last week. Crossover Day, Legislative Day 30 will not be scheduled until after March 5th. Tighten your wading belt and sharpen your hooks as March 5th draws nearer. Legislative hatches are common in the days just before Crossover Day. Crossover Day is when bills must have received a favorable floor vote in one chamber to proceed in the other chamber. Continue reading

Capitol Castings | How Short is Your Leash?

Georgia Capitol Gordon StatueGA EPD would be on a short leash if HB 255 is enacted. Rep. Tom Kirby (R) 114th-Loganville has suggested that no GA EPD rules should be put into effect until after being approved by the General Assembly. The current process is that the General Assembly sets policy by passing the laws and the agencies administer the laws by implementing rules. Lawmakers have complained in the past that agencies sometimes enact policy by writing rules and then come back to the legislature to codify the rules. This is not a perfect system but the process outlined in HB 255 could bring rulemaking to a standstill. Certainly, lawmakers would need to be much more specific in drafting legislation. Continue reading