Brad Harvey: News and notes from the woods

December 17, 2013 

Ever given any real thought to things like global warming?

Often folks look to our own South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for answers to some pretty tough questions. According to DNR director Alvin Taylor, such queries regularly include things like how climate change affects our natural resources and what, if anything, we can do to combat it.

Recently, the state agency has been putting a lot of thought into that, too.

S.C. DNR has joined other states’ departments in discussing climate change and all that comes along with it, resulting in a new report entitled “Climate change impacts to natural resources in S.C.” And it offers some pretty interesting reading.

According to Taylor in the report, “Over the past few decades scientists have documented melting glaciers, diminishing polar sea ice, shifting of growing seasons, changes in migratory patterns of birds and fish, rising sea levels and many other climate-related phenomena. These changes and countless more like them may have substantial consequences for both the environment and the economy.”

The report says that nationally, hunting, fishing and wildlife-related recreation alone add $122 billion to the economy each year.

In South Carolina, natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state’s economy.

“Access to abundant recreational opportunities and natural assets play an important role in economic growth and quality of life at the local, regional and state levels, so protection and enhancement of our natural resources can and should be part of our overall economic development stratregy,” according to the report.

Although the idea of global warming has been a hot-button issue in the political arena for quite some time, there’s really no point in arguing it.

The truth of the matter is that, despite the way in which it tends to get “overplayed” by the media and many with an agenda, this process has been occurring naturally throughout the history of the planet.

The current problem lies in the fact that, for whatever reason, this process of cyclical change has been coming on more rapidly over the past few decades and it only makes sense for those in charge of our state’s most precious resources to be on top of it.

Consider: since 1979, land temperatures have increased nearly twice as fast as that of the ocean. If it continues on its current path, the average temps on the planet could jump as much as 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit during the next 90 years.

If you’d like to have a look at the report and educate yourself a bit on how this all is changing things in our state, jump to www.dnr.sc.gov to have a look for yourself. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

New saltwater fishing license

DNR is making a radical change to the structure of one of our state’s most popular recreational sporting licenses.

The saltwater fishing license will now become a 365-day license, meaning it will expire one year from date of issue instead of expiring on June of each year, as all of our state’s wildlife licenses have done historically.

Three-year licenses will also be available, which will expire on the third anniversary from the date of purchase.

Although they didn’t give any specifics at this time, DNR also mentioned that some other license types will be moving in this direction in the near future.

Reds on the rise

While we’re on the subject of fishing in the brine, I was thrilled to see that S.C. DNR recently stocked around 100,000 red drum, commonly called “spottails” or “redfish” along our coast, into a tributary of Port Royal Sound near Beaufort earlier this month.

This is part of an ongoing effort to supplement the natural production of what is probably our state’s most popular inshore species.

“Stocking is a powerful scientific tool helping us to understand and offset poor natural production,” stated Dr. Mike Denson, director of saltwater research programs for DNR in a press release.

“Insights gained through stocking advance our understanding of the condition and habits of S.C.’s red drum. This foundation of knowledge is essential for wise management of the fishery,” he said.

One of the neatest aspects of the stocking process is that all of the released fish are offspring of wild-caught SC fish that have been genetically “fingerprinted” before release, allowing our state’s biologists to gather much information from them when they are caught again.

Past data indicates that these stockings have contributed significantly to the population with 7 percent of those caught in the area around Charleston Harbor having been released by the state.

Quack, quack

With the popularity of television’s “Duck Dynasty,” interest in duck hunting among youngsters is at an all-time high, and our state’s “Take One Make One” program is joining Chester County’s Ducks Unlimited chapter to help further their curiosity in the sport.

These two have joined efforts to put on a youth duck-hunting clinic near Richburg on Jan. 2 on care and preparation and the use of retrievers via dog demonstrations.

The clinic is open to those ages 10 to 17 and space is limited. If you have a young hunter that would like to attend, contact Jessica Gibson via email at gibsonj@dnr.sc.gov.

Losing an icon

It has been widely reported during the last week that Peachtree Rock, one of our state’s most popular natural monuments, has been toppled by vandals.

I’ll never understand how anyone can be so careless and selfish as to commit such senseless acts, and I sincerely hope that these deviants are found and suffer the full consequences of the law.

Maybe public stoning should be brought back? Seems appropriate.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors

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