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Published: Tuesday, 9/19/2006

Inventory of wetlands could aid restoration

As recently as 1987 it was thought that Ohio still had about 706,000 acres of wetlands remaining, but that was just a guess.

The guesstimate included shallow marshes, wet woods, shrub/scrub wetlands, and wet meadows - and in the last 20 years the losses have continued.

Now a move is afoot to inventory the current state of the state's wetlands by a consortium of state, federal and private agencies and organizations to help natural resources professionals to better plan protection and restoration programs.

"Ohio is second only to California in its loss of wetlands," notes Steve Gray, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "An accurate inventory of existing wetlands is critical to strategic wetland restoration efforts."

Indeed. Some sources note that Ohio's wetlands losses since the beginning of European settlement have exceeded 90 percent.

For example, the once vast western Lake Erie shoreline marshlands, the heart of the state's wetlands resource, once stretched some 300,000 acres from around Monroe, Mich., nearly to Cleveland. Only remnants remain.

Nationwide, Ducks Unlimited, the waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization, estimates that more than 80,000 acres of wetlands still are being lost annually.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service used aerial photographs to conduct Ohio's portion of a national wetlands inventory from 1985 to 1989. But that document is in hard-copy format only, and cannot be used with up-to-date electronic analyses using geographic information systems, or GIS. So a digital computer map is the goal.

Using a similar process to update national wetlands inventory maps for lower Michigan, Ducks Unlimited has estimated that a decrease of 18,000 mallard breeding pairs has occurred over 20 years because of habitat losses.

"Updating the national wetlands inventory in Ohio will assist us in our strategic efforts to protect and restore critical wetlands needed to increase waterfowl populations and wildlife habitat throughout the Great Lakes," summed Bob Hoffman, director of the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office of DU, one of the inventory's lead participants.

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The 24th annual Lake Erie Waterfowlers Festival is set for Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area and Crane Creek State Park, 13229 West State Rt. 2 in Ottawa County.

The festival is sponsored by the Lake Erie Waterfowlers and Gander Mountain, in cooperation with the Ohio divisions of wildlife and parks and recreation.

It features dog/retriever trials by the Lake Erie Hunting/Retrieving Club, a BB-gun shoot and a trapshoot by the Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, a fishing pond by the Friends of Magee Marsh, decoy contest by Maumee Bay Carvers, regional and state duck and goose calling events by the Waterfowlers and Zink Calls.

A hayride through back areas of Magee and the adjoining Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge also is planned hourly.

A trading post and food service will be open throughout the festival. Other details can be seen online at www.lakeeriewaterfowlers.org.

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Reeling and Healing, an organization dedicated to fly-fishing retreats for women facing or recovering from breast cancer, has scheduled a program for Sunday through Tuesday at Rockwell Trout Club at Castalia in Erie County.

The retreat will be conducted by professional counselors and fly fishing instructors and is aimed at physical, emotional and spiritual healing, using fly fishing as a vehicle and venue.

To enroll or for other details, contact Dick and Judy Walle, 419-944-4809, or e-mail to rwalle@aol.com.

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The Toledo area's Pamela Peters, recently crowned women's U.S. casting champion, has added a world gold and two silvers to her growing tally of competitive accomplishments.

Competing in the recent Emerald World Masters championships in Dublin, Peters took the gold medal in trout-fly casting accuracy in a closely contested castoff with a Polish competitor. The medal was decided on time, both casters hitting the same number of targets but Peters finishing a second sooner.

Peters finished second for a silver medal, being edged out by just three inches by the same Pole caster in trout-fly distance. She also took a silver in the combined all-around event, which included scoring from both the Emerald Masters, cast on water, and the International Casting Sport Federation events, which are cast on grass fields.

Peters finished fifth in spey fly two-handed casting in an event that has its roots in Scotland's famed salmon fishing traditions. She also took a fifth place in the two-hand baitcasting distance event.

About a month ago, Peters was named the country's top woman in casting in the recent national championships, held at the Long Beach Casting Club in California. She set four U.S. records along the way.

A member of the Toledo Casting Club and American Casting Association, she entered serious competition in 1992 and has endeavored to renew interest in her sport.

She has set several records and netted a creelful of awards along the way.

"My goal is to go to Poland and do even better," Peters said, referring to the next world championships, which are held biennially.

Her immediate plans, after getting some rest?

"I'm going to go out and do some plain old fishing, probably this weekend."

To her, that would mean steelheading in Ohio and Michigan streams.



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