PFBC relies on data, science

I know Walt Young has always been strongly opinionated, and I have no problem with that.

However, his column on July 23 references two issues of the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) that I, as District 4 Commissioner, am very much involved in.

As a state appointed (unpaid volunteer) official, I serve the anglers and boaters of the state, and instead of letting my opinions and perceptions guide me, I use science, data, facts and, yes, common sense to make important and often challenging decisions.

In regard to potentially eliminating the display of fishing licenses, the motivation was not driven by some bureaucratic desire for money.

Personally, I never really understood why so many anglers seem to disdain the display requirement.

As an angler all my life, I never had a problem displaying my fishing or hunting license since it is a very simple thing to do.

It also makes the job of law enforcement easier and more efficient by simply visually checking to see if a valid license is in hand, and it makes it easy on the angler who does not need to get stopped or otherwise bothered.

Is there something impractical about all that?

In regard to the bass regulations on the Susquehanna, I was the commissioner who made the case and motion to table consideration of the change to July 2018.

In reality, the proposed change would have changed virtually nothing reg wise. It is currently illegal to target bass on spawning beds and this proposed regulation would have kept that in place.

The only real difference would have been that a bass could have been caught and maybe held up for a photo and then still immediately released as it would have to be in both the current and proposed regulation.

However, according to the majority of anglers and guides I inquired with, and was also confirmed by the public comments we received, this minor change would have encouraged many more anglers and guides with clients to “unintentionally” target bass during the spawn.

Minimal fishing pressure on spawning bass has been documented to have little impact on the spawn success rate.

However, there are no studies as to just what level of pressure will reach a tipping point where it does.

No matter how well writers such as Young explain the change, rest assured the misinterpreted word on the street or the river would be open season and increased fishing pressure on spring spawning bass, and we have no studies or data as to its impact.

Also the regulation as it stands was not put in place to punish anglers. It was done to sustain a resource that was and still is in peril. The PA DEP will not declare the river impaired despite overwhelming data to do so.

Nitrogen and phosphorus levels entering the river are not close to the targeted reduction levels that PA has committed to, and the current proposed federal budget proposal, if enacted, would slash funding that would otherwise reduce that pollution.

With all that in play, now is the wrong time to send the wrong message about the health of the river.

The PFBC and anglers should be proud that they are part of the solution by saving and protecting as many bass as possible, and now is not the time to back off of our leadership role.

What I, my fellow commissioners and PFBC staff do is use science, data, facts and blend it with what is best for the resource and what is right for the resource will always be right for our customers.

Lenny Lichvar

District 4 commissioner

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Boswell

Hollidaysburg put best foot forward

Congratulations to the Hollidaysburg Little League team going for the state championship.

Compliments to coach Jarrett Storm and staff and all the players.

This team was as real as it gets with good pitching, hitters deep in the lineup and rock-solid defense.

With all the negative publicity youth sports gets these days, these kids, coaches and parents are examples of everything that is still right about the game.

Don Rhodes

Altoona