August 30, 2009
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Are Anglers Being Mislead By Eliminating Felt?
A well researched and written post titled Where’s the Beef – In the absence of hard science are we being railroaded into a felt sole ban that may be a negligible factor? was posted on the site singlebarbed.com earlier in August. This excellent post is very thought provoking and should be read by anyone interested in this issue. It is important to note that the author emphatically states that anglers are a proven vector in spreading invasives and in no way does he advocate for not trying to reduce spread. However, he goes on to offer his opinion that eliminating felt is not an effective method of reducing spread. The post is well researched and I am not going to try to condense it here. However, I will offer a few observations.
First, he is right on the money that eliminating felt will not stop the problem of anglers spreading invasives that are attached to wading gear. He, very correctly, points out that boot laces, padded cuffs, Velcro straps, insoles, and a host of other boot features are places where invasives can easily be hidden. We must push boot companies to take the next steps and provide us with high quality boot foot waders that eliminate the use of a separate boot and wader. Only by returning to the "old fashioned" smooth boot foot, seamlessly integrated into the wader, will we ever have boots that can be easily and effectively cleaned of invasive hitchhikers. So far, boot companies have focused on getting rid of felt and reducing the places where invasives might cling in their products. We must demand that boot foot waders be offered so that anglers have a choice of a truly effective product.
One place where I do have a problem with the original posting is in the definitive conclusions the author draws based on the research he reviewed. Before I offer my complaint, I first want to acknowledge that the research cited is much better than any other article I have seen. The author has carefully read and understood a number of technical papers and has drawn his own conclusions based on the study of the papers - not on some opinion or by repeating something "he has heard". This is excellent and I want to encourage others to research what they write about and back it up with verifiable data.
Now the problem, most of the information provided was based on the papers presented at the International Didymo Symposium held in 2007. The author cites the often stated lack of scientific data that existed at the time as the basis for his conclusions. However, since that conference, there has been a lot of new scientific data gathered around the world. If the author had studied this new information he might well have changed some of his conclusions. Unfortunately, the process of publishing scientific data is slow and, in many cases, scientific discoveries are never published. Rather, results are disseminated from scientist to scientist through professional networks. Much scientific data is only published in agency reports and other places that are difficult for the public to access. This is true of much of the Didymo research that is taking place today.
The premise of the author is that felt soles have never been scientifically identified as being bad but were being singled out for elimination. In fact, the author states, other boot parts were specifically mentioned as being worse. While this was true of the data presented in the Symposium, subsequent research has shown that Felt Soles Present a Major Risk (beginning on page 52). This scientific study shows that felt soles are the worst material for use in wading boots and that there are few effective methods of easily disinfecting felt. Thus, the current effort to eliminate felt is actually based on the best available science.
However, the same research shows that smooth rubber is by far the best material for waders. It dries quickly and was easily cleaned free of Didymo cells. It's great that boot companies are replacing felt with rubber, but we need to demand more. We need new waders that eliminate separate boots and have a smooth molded rubber boot foot built into the waders. This is the only product that will be effective at reducing the spread of all types of invasives.
Of course, I don't have the responsibility of running a commercial business. That gives me a lot of freedom to look at what is best and what is right, without worrying about profit. From my vantage it is clear. It is time to eliminate wading shoes and return to boot foot waders.
If Mussels Invade the Northwest
A recent Northwest Power and Conservation Council memo outlines the impacts that can be expected if zebra and/or quagga mussels expand into the Pacific Northwest states. As you might expect, the economic costs to the region's hydro power industry will be huge and the ecological impacts could be disastrous. To date, the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana are free of the invaders but there is serious concern that the region will not remain mussel free forever.
Although society often focuses on the economic impacts of mussel introductions, the memo warns that "A quagga or zebra mussel presence in Columbia basin would complicate recovery and preservation efforts for aquatic species listed under the ESA (e.g., salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and Kootenai River sturgeon) and may even increase number of listed species in basin,". This is disturbing news for all of us and once again emphasizes the importance of doing everything we can to keep these invaders from our waters. Read the memo and for additional info see the article titled 'Just like rust,' invasive mussels ready to invade Northwest
Are Invasive Species A Problem?
Yes, of course they are. Anyone who has ever experienced a lake choked with milfoil or a stream blanketed with Didymo considers this to be a silly question. We know first hand of the problems that invaders cause us all. However, there are always some who try to excuse the damage caused by humans by hiding behind off-base theories and bad science. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that there is now an author who espouses a belief that invasive species cause us no harm.
Alien Invasion? An Ecologist Doubts the Impact of Exotic Species gives an excellent overview of the book and its author and is sobering reading for anyone concerned about the impacts of invasives. This Scientific American story tells of Mark Davis, a plant ecologist at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. who seems to delight in the role of providing intelligent sounding rebuttals to what most scientists know as fact. Although Davis does offer some well reasoned advice on establishing priorities for conservation, there is little doubt that his basic premise is not only flawed but potentially dangerous as it provides a scientific justification to those who believe that they should tinker with nature as they see fit.
California Kicks Off Advertising Campaign
“We found the public has a consciousness for endangered species, but the polling showed most people don’t have a very good sense of how vulnerable the U.S. as a whole and California in particular are to invasive species.” reported Larry Hawkins, a Sacramento, Calif.-based spokesman for the Department of Agriculture in a press release announcing the beginning of a new public outreach campaign. This campaign is the first project of the Hungry Pests Coalition, a new statewide partnership formed to help protect California from the impacts of invasive species.
The paid advertising campaign will cost $2 million and will run through October in several markets: San Francisco, Monterey-Salinas, Sacramento, Fresno-Visalia and Bakersfield but budget limitations prevent expanding the campaign to Southern California. The advertising is not targeted at specific invasive pests or a particular strategy to deal with the pests. According to Hawkins, “The goal is to educate and raise the general public’s awareness of the risks from invasive species”.
The campaign, funded by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, includes radio and television commercials and newspaper advertisements. Read the full story of the California Advertising Campaign
Quick Hits - A brief roundup of stories of interest
Alligators in Oregon? Alligator Killed by Oregon State Police is the title of a report in the Grant's Pass Daily Courier. The story tells of the removal of a 3 1/2 foot long reptile from the local river.
About 50 people were working along New York's Oneida River recently, pulling out an invasive species of water chestnut. For the third year, the Salt City Bassmasters and other volunteers have come out to pull the water chestnut from the banks of the Oneida River.
Water chestnuts are not just a problem in New York. In Pennsylvania they are also fighting against introductions of these harmful invaders. Learn more about the Water Chestnut Invasion
Last month we reported on the closing of the Quabbin Reservoir boat ramp in hopes of preventing the spread of zebra mussels. In mid August, the decision was made to reopen Quabbin Reservoir to recreational boats provided they are inspected prior to launch.
New Zealand Mud snails are tiny snails that are aggressively spreading across the US. However, they are not the only snail invader that concerns us as anglers. This month we learned that Chinese mystery snail found in sixth Missouri spot and that Apple Snails reproducing in Alabama
It was long hoped that the higher water temperatures found in Texas would limit the ability of zebra mussels to colonize the state's waters. However, following a discovery of the species in Lake Texoma, further study has shown that Zebra mussels are expanding in Texas.
The Environmental Health News has an interesting article titled Herbicide may not cure weeds in Lake Lily in which they argue that chemical control of Eurasian milfoil is not only ineffective, but is also potentially a human health problem.
Cry Babies is what the author is calling those anglers who put their own convenience above the need to protect our waters from invasive species. Specifically citing boaters who don't like having to clean their boats, the author makes a strong case that we all need to sacrifice a little to protect our sport.
The New York Times has noticed the move to felt free waders and has given us their Review of Felt Free Wader. The author offers his views on five different offerings from major companies.
Killer Milfoil? After two drownings in Washington's Franklin County, officials decided that it was important to investigate to see if the infestation of Eurasian water milfoil had any role in the tragic deaths. Read the story of what they learned.
The Great Lakes Electric Carp Barrier is once again in the news as it is quickly becoming obvious that there are many threats that were not adequately anticipated prior to the installation of the barrier. Almost everyone agrees that the barrier is the best hope for protecting the lakes from invasive carp but the story highlights some of the serious issues that confront the long term operation of the barrier.
Visit the Clean Angling Store
Be sure to visit the Clean Angling Store and see the products we have that let you show your support. When you buy something from the store you show others that you have committed to doing your best to protect our waters from invaders and we will make a small profit that will help us to continue to do our work.