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Blog

4th Annual Bayou La Batre Kayak Classic

leah kirk

Bayou La Batre, AL - Another Mobile summer means another Bayou La Batre Kayak Classic (BLBKC) fishing tournament. This year, August 5, 2017, will mark the tournament’s fourth consecutive year. Last year’s tournament welcomed many attendees and anglers, plus prizes, booths and family activities. The tournament is currently welcoming sponsors for this exciting event.

Still a relatively young event, the BLBKC continues to grow in size each year. This year will prove to be no different. Live entertainment, vendors, T-shirts, arts and crafts, food, great family environment and world class fishing will continue to make the BLBKC one of the premiere events in the Southeast.

The tournament has attracted sponsorship from companies such as Instrument Technical Services, Greer’s, Alabama Power, Southern Kayak Magazine,  Esfeller Construction, Mostellar Medical Center, Horizon Shipbuilding, Cold Blooded Fishing, and the City of Bayou La Batre just to name a few. We look forward to past sponsors continued support and welcome new sponsors to help make this event a reoccurring success.

“We are pleased beyond measure that Southern Trout’s sister publication, Southern Kayak Fishing is a Gold Level sponsor of the 4th Annual Bayou La Batre Kayak Classis,” says Don Kirk, publisher of Southern Unlimited, LLC. “We look forward to supporting and attending the event in Mobile.”

So, pack up your family and head down to the Bayou La Batre Kayak Classic this August. It promises to be a great event and fun for the whole family. Worried your kids are too young to enter? Don’t be. The BLBKC has a junior division and kids can even fish with their parents from the docks. Even if you don’t feel like entering, check out the booths and all our other activities—you never know what you’re going to find!

               For more information visit our website, www.bayoulabatrekayakclassic.org and like our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BayouLaBatreClassic. For sponsorship information please email: President@bayoulabatreareachamber.org or call (251)-402-5081.

For questions concerning this press release, please contact Chris Benton, Media Communications, Bayou La Batre Kayak Classic at (251)434-5422 or via email cmbenton@southernco.com.

Trout Stocking at WV’s Summersville Lake Tailwater

leah kirk

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), in cooperation with the West Virginia Professional Outfitters Association (WVPRO), stocked 600 pounds of rainbow trout in the Summersville Dam tailwater of the Gauley River June 7. Rafting fees support the program and compensate for reduced fishing opportunities during days of whitewater rafting flows on the Gauley River.

“The goal of the stocking is to enhance summer trout fishing opportunities in the Gauley River,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel.

MO Adjusts Trout Stocking to Compensate For Flooding

leah kirk

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The effects of recent flooding are still rippling through the state’s coldwater hatcheries, but anglers can be assured this spring’s record rainfall didn’t wash away prospects for a good year of trout fishing in Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) coldwater hatchery system is recovering from this spring’s record flooding. This network – which consists of Shepherd of the Hills in Branson, Roaring River near Cassville, Bennett Spring near Lebanon, Montauk near Salem and Maramec Spring near St. James – produces more than two million trout for the state’s trout areas annually. Flooding and flood-related water quality issues at some hatcheries claimed about 30 percent (approximately 280,000 fish) of the fish that were near stocking size.

To adjust for this loss, stocking rates at the state’s trout parks and Lake Taneycomo will be slightly reduced for the remainder of 2017. This is similar to last year’s adjustment after the 2015-2016 winter floods. MDC staff will continue to evaluate hatchery fish inventories and stocking plans and will make adjustments throughout the year as appropriate.

Hardest hit by flooding was Montauk Hatchery, located at the heart of an April downpour the National Center for Environmental Information called a “once in a millennium rainfall.” Pictures of flooded raceways and temporarily stranded campers at the state park that hit social media in the days after the rain provided irrefutable evidence a significant weather event had hit the state park in Dent County. However, the anglers currently pulling rainbows from Montauk’s waters provide equally clear proof that trout fishing at this popular destination is returning to normal.

“Bottom line – we have fish. That means trout fishing will remain good for the remainder of the 2017 season,” Drecktrah said.

OMG!! Another Otter Outrage!!

leah kirk

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two people recently were bitten by a river otter while boating on Dunkard Creek in Monongalia County near the Mason-Dixon Historical Park. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reminds the public to exercise caution around these aquatic maulers.

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Thanks to a poorly thought out restoration effort, river otters again have large home ranges in and along many of the streams and rivers in the state. Otters are territorial and may aggressively protect their young, so people should be extra careful not to disrupt their habitat with stupid things such as paddling a canoe or wading a pool to fly fish for trout or bass.

“Do not approach river otters,” said Steve Rauch, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources District 1 wildlife biologist. “If an otter approaches, you should take steps to keep the otter away from you. This can be done with boat oars, fishing rod, or whatever else might be readily available. You should never try to touch a river otter or any other wild animal.”

Coincidently, Southern Trout Magazine just received a shipment of new “Eat More Otter” t-shirts that are available for $20 plus $3 by contacting us at don@southerntrout.com.

Breaking News: Beast of the East Benefit Tournament

leah kirk

by Kevin Howell

We are pleased to announce the 1st annual Beast of the East Benefit Fishing Tournament. The tournament will be held July 22 and 23, 2017 and will be based out of Davidson River Outfitters in Pisgah Forest NC. This year all proceeds will be donated to the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Council/Trust fund.  The Outdoor Heritage Council is charged with getting children 16 and younger back outdoors and re-engaged in North Carolina’s strong outdoor heritage. The tournament will have cash and prizes paid to the top three finishing teams, along with prizes for most unique catch, ugliest catch, smallest catch and other fun categories.  The first 20 teams to register will receive a goody bag of flies, leaders, tippet and other fun stuff valued at $50.  All participants registered by Friday July 7th will receive a commemorative t-shirt.

The Beast of the East is a new format for tournaments, where anglers will catch and release multi species of fish to earn points.  Each species has of fish has varying point values so teams will have to create a strategy to earn the highest number of points in the shortest period of time.  Teams will photograph their catch with a control token and submit a photo of their catch via social media to the judges.  Since it is a two day event the standings at the end of day one will be announced so teams can decide a strategy for day two.

Eligible Fish Species

1.            Lake Sturgeon – 2500 pts, you da man and grand champion

2.            Muskie – 500pts

3.            White Drum – 500 pts

4.            Tiger Trout – 400 pts

5.            Striped Bass – 400 pts

6.            Kokanee – 400 pts

7.            White Bass – 300 pts

8.            Grass Carp – 300 pts

9.            White Perch – 300 pts

10.         Catfish – 300 pts

11.         Redeye Bass (Coosae) – 300 pts

12.         War Paint Shiner -300 pts

13.         Carolina Hogfish – 200 pts

14.         Red Fin Pickerel -200 pts

15.         Common Carp – 200 pts

16.         Kentucky Spotted Bass -200 pts

17.         Smallmouth Bass -200 pts

18.         Largemouth Bass -200pts

19.         Walleye – 200 pts

20.         Crappie – 100 pts

21.         Roanoke Bass (redeye) - 50 pts

22.         Sucker -50 pts

23.         Blue Gill – 50 pts

24.         Warmouth – 50 pts

25.         Red Breast – 50 pts

26.         Yellow Perch – 50 pts

27.         Redear (shell Cracker) – 50 pts

28.         Brook Trout – 50 pts

29.         Rainbow Trout – 50 pts

30.         Brown Trout – 50 pts

Rules and signup forms available when you click on this link.

2017 Masters Series July 22nd

leah kirk

The North Louisiana Fly Fishers, along with Contraband Fly Fishers, Magnolia Fly Fishers, Kisatchie Fly Fishers, and East Texas Fly Fishers are sponsoring the 2017 Masters Series July 22, 2017.  This year promises to be the best yet. George Daniel, one of the world’s top fly fisherman, will conduct an all-day fly fishing clinic on Saturday July 22, 2017.  The event, sponsored by the North Louisiana Fly Fishers, will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 P.M.

Daniel is a member of Fly Fishing Team USA, and a two time Fly Fishing U.S. National Champion.  He has competed in four World Fly Fishing Championships, placing in the top tier of competitors worldwide. Sportswriter Charlie Meyers of the Denver Post wrote "a compelling case can be made for George Daniel as the best fly-fisherman in the country”. Daniel has authored to blockbuster books on fly fishing.  The first "Dynamic Nymphing" was published in 2011.  His second book "Strip-Set" was published in 2015. 

The public is invited to come and spend the day with George Daniel on Saturday July 22, 2017 at the Red River Wildlife Center Conservation Conference Center, 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City, LA 71112.   The event will feature both classroom lecture plus outdoor casting instruction.  This is a rare opportunity to spend the day with a master in the art of fly-fishing that will certainly elevate your fly fishing skills.   Tickets are $40 and include breakfast and lunch.  They may be purchased by contacting Steve Oliver at 318-349-6411 or Tom Bullock at 318-393-7729.  For more information, contact Scott Irwin at 318-469-0854

Virginia “Big” Trout News

leah kirk

A special event is planned for Big Tumbling Creek located at the Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area for June 12, 14, 16, & 17, 2017. A special trophy trout stocking to include more than 400 trophy sized brook, brown, and rainbow trout stocked throughout the week will test the skills of anglers of all ages. Two barrier-free trails are now open for limited mobility anglers.

A daily permit ($8) is required of anglers; however, children 12 and under may fish without a permit as long as they are accompanied by a permitted adult and their combined creel does not exceed that of the adult (6 trout). Daily permits are no longer available in Saltville and must be purchased online or through a license agent prior to arrival at the Fee Area. Additional information may be found by contacting the Marion Regional Office (276-783-4860).

A special stocking event will take place at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Crooked Creek Fee Fishing Area in Carroll County beginning Fathers' Day Weekend June 17th and ending June 23rd, 2017. Over 200 citation size brook trout averaging 3 pounds or more will be stocked over the course of the event as well as over 100 rainbow and brown trout averaging 5 to 7 pounds. Don't miss this opportunity to fish for high quality large trout at the Fee Area.

Mind Boggling Carp Caper

leah kirk

The Outdoor Hub reports that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources set out recently to fight against a possible upstream range expansion of black carp in the Illinois River and, while no black carp were caught, the IDNR is reporting they have removed over 70,000 pounds of Asian carp from the Illinois River.

Go ahead and think about that for a minute, 70,239 pounds to be exact, and that’s nearly equivalent to a bulldozer, or a whole heard of elephants. Your brain might not be able to comprehend this . . .

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources set out recently to fight against a possible upstream range expansion of black carp in the Illinois River and, while no black carp were caught, the IDNR is reporting they have removed over 70,000 pounds of Asian carp from the Illinois River.

Over the past three weeks, IDNR-contracted commercial fishermen deployed a series of hoop nets in the Starved Rock and Marseilles Pools of the Illinois River in response to a possible Black Carp upstream range expansion. While no Black Carp were caught, timing and potential spawning conditions led to an impressive catch and removal of 70,239 lbs. of Asian carp. That staggering number is enough to send a shiver down your spine when you think about this dark cloud of invasive fish creeping closer and closer to the Great Lakes. There have been many possible solutions tossed out there to help eliminate the threat these fish pose, but overall, this carp extraction was a huge success. For more information about the fight against Asian carp visit www.asiancarp.us

North Georgia Wild Trout Report

leah kirk

Unicoi Outfitters via their Liar’s Club Newsletter has spilled the beans on the status of wild trout fishing in North Georgia, not that it has been great recently, and should continue through the summer as long as we continue to receive some rainfall. Anglers searching for streams can begin their journey on many of our waterfall hiking trails around the area. These streams generally offer easier access with little angling pressure. Fly selection is not very important, as these fish are generally not picky, but it is important to fish patterns which are easily visible on the water.

When picking patterns, focus on parachute patterns that are small enough for these fish to eat. We suggest staying between a size 10 and 16 fly for the best results. Use a #14 or #16 if you just want to catch fish, and a #10 or #12 if you would like to target some of the bigger ones. These fish are smaller on average, with a 10 incher being a trophy; however, they do offer some explosive dry fly strikes! Although these fish are smaller than your typical Delayed Harvest fish, they live in some of the most beautiful places around the area. Often times I find myself stopping to take in the scenery more so than fishing. Wild trout fishing is for those who love the journey as much as the destination. If interested in learning more about wild trout fishing, be sure to either stop by the shop, or hire one of our guides for a half day of exploration.

The Pisgah Home Waters Event

leah kirk

home-waters.jpg

Come join Davidson River Outfitters for The Pisgah Home Waters event this Saturday, June 17, from 9am - 5pm. You can test out Redington rods on a section of our Private Trophy water, and get all the details on gear. All experience levels welcome, and no cost to you.  They will also be offering the following specials on gear during the event.  Any Rod and Reel purchase receives a free unguided half day on our private water

Pigeon Forge Doomed?

leah kirk

University of Tennessee professor, Dr. Henri Grissino-Mayer warns that the GSMNP is a 520,000 acre tinderbox.

“This is the greatest concentration of people in the wildland-urban interface in the nation,” the University of Tennessee professor said to the Knoxville Sentinel.

As director of the UT Laboratory on Tree Ring Science, Grissino-Mayer knew early settlers and Native Americans regularly burned the area now deemed the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For a healthy forest, attractive to game and bountiful berry patches, humans for centuries burned the mountains.

Whether started by lightning or people, tree rings recorded 13 fires between 1825 and 1934, he said. Those fires in what would become the National Park consumed fuel collecting on the forest floor.

Grissino-Mayer has proof of those fires hanging from the walls of his office. Slices of trees an inch or so thick show extensive fires every seven to 10 years, he said.

“I still maintain the Smokies are called that because of the constant fires in the mountains,” the professor said.

“Now we have 80 years of fuel built up on our National Park.”

Next up, mudslides

            “There’s nothing holding those slopes up there,” Grissino-Mayer said. “With all the dead trees up there, those slopes are coming down.”

The professor said to the untrained eye, trees along slopes now bearing foliage would seem alive. But many of the trees, he said are dead.

The roots that would hold firm steep slopes during heavy rains are decaying under the soil as leaves sprout along branches. The leaves are the result of food stored in the trees, he said.

“Those slopes are going to go and take those million dollar houses with them and just cover The Spur,” Grissino Mayer said. “Not a little dirt, but cover The Spur.”

'My next prediction is Pigeon Forge'

Whether through restrictive building codes, wider acceptance of beneficial fires sending smoke into populated areas or firefighters and homeowners working together to reduce wildfire fuel in the community, Grissino-Mayer said “something has to give.”

“This problem will just keep accelerating until Mother Nature says, ‘It’s time to burn,’ and we’re going to see megafires like they’ve had in Yellowstone,” he said.

“That’s exactly what we have in Gatlinburg. It’s going to burn now or it’s going to burn later. My next prediction is Pigeon Forge. Pigeon Forge dodged the bullet. If the rains hadn’t come (on Nov. 28-29), Pigeon Forge would have been toast. Pigeon Forge is a community just waiting to burn."

Deadly Falls Summer

leah kirk

deadly falls.jpg

GSMNP officials released the names of two men who recently died in the park. On Saturday, June 3, Park Rangers recovered the body of 56-year-old James Baker from Hanover, Pennsylvania. Baker was found in Abrams Creek approximately one and one-half miles from the Abrams Falls Trailhead. The official cause of death will be released when the medical examiner's report is complete.

On Sunday, May 28, Michal Bojko, a 37-year-old male, fell approximately 80 feet to his death from the top of the 100-foot tall Ramsey Cascades. Bojko had been living in Sevier County for the past several years, but was originally from the Czech Republic.

A report of a possible drowning along Abrams Creek at 12:03 p.m. on Saturday, June 3. NPS Rangers responded to the scene and found a deceased adult male in the river approximately 1 1/2 miles from the Abrams Falls Trailhead. This was the second death in the streams of the GSMNP in the last week.

Swain: Screwed, Blued and Tattooed…Again

leah kirk

Swain County has yet to be paid about $39 million it is owed by the federal government. The government agreed in 2010 to pay the county $52 million for the loss of a road through the north shore area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but most of the debt is still outstanding. A judge recently ruled that it is too soon for Swain County to sue the federal government over money yet to be paid in lieu of a road once planned through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed Swain's lawsuit, but the county has asked for reconsideration of the decision, saying a recent ruling by a higher court underlines the importance of the fact that the National Park Service has not asked Congress for any of the money since 2012. An agreement calling for Swain to get $52 million instead of a road along the north shore of Fontana Lake gives the government until the end of 2020 to pay up.

The budget proposal the administration sent to Congress recently also contains no mention of money to compensate Swain for the road that would have run along the north shore of Fontana Lake. That dashed hopes by some that a change of administration, and the fact that the president and Swain County's representatives in the U.S. House and Senate are now all of the same political party, might dislodge some or all of the $39.2 million Swain is yet to be paid from a 2010 agreement between the county and the federal government.

Construction of Fontana Lake during World War II flooded parts of N.C. 288, a road Swain County had built in the 1920s between Bryson City and Tennessee, and left some other sections unconnected to any other road and thus useless in what is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 1943, the federal government agreed to build a replacement road when Congress appropriated the money. The Department of the Interior reneged on the agreement and stopped work in the 1970 leaving Swain County with a great unfulfilled promise.

"We're obviously disappointed in the court's decision," said Peter Dungan, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing the county. "The court is saying we have to wait until 2020 to exercise any rights. We don't believe that's the case."

Swain argues that the federal government is not acting in good faith because it has not asked Congress to appropriate any money to meet its obligation. If the county's legal strategy works -- and it is far from certain it will -- it would mean a dispute over payments to a company that trucked food and other supplies to American troops in the Middle East would deliver millions to Swain County coffers.

2017 Tim Hill Memorial Trout Derby

leah kirk

The 2017 Tim Hill Memorial Trout Derby will be held July 15-16 in Cherokee, North Carolina. This year’s event has $10,000 in cash prizes.  A daily tribal fishing permit ($10) required, along with required Tournament Registration ($11). Tag Turn In and Prize Redemption located at the Beetle Stage Pavilion next to the Cherokee Welcome Center in Cherokee, NC from 4:00pm-6:00pm both tournament days.

CASTING FOR HOPE: CHEROKEE CLASSIC

leah kirk

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The Casting for Hope Team is super excited to announce the 3rd Annual Cherokee Classic coming June 17, 2017.  All participants will receive a complimentary t-shirt, lunch, and any other swag that the Casting for Hope team can gather before the event.  The Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program of the Cherokee Tribe has brought $6,000 in prize money for the top three teams to the table–$3,000 for 1st place, $2,000 for 2nd place, and $1,000 for 3rd place. 

Teams will be limited to the first 16 two-man teams to register.  We are extremely excited to be partnering with River’s Edge Outfitters for the event to basecamp for the morning, lunch, and awards!

Teams will fish four, one-and-a-half-hour sessions, with two sessions on the Trophy Water on the Raven’s Fork and two sessions on the Enterprise Waters in this volunteer-controlled event. 

This will be a volunteer-controlled event. Entry Fees are $200 per team ($100 per angler) and includes your permit for fishing, a Casting for Hope shirt, and three meals. If you want to volunteer to learn what competitive fly fishing is all about, it's a great way to watch and learn, get a free shirt, and get three free meals. You can send your entry fee via PayPal to kathy@castingforhope.org.  If you’d like to pay by check or cash, please contact us at john@castingforhope.org.

Fips Mouche scoring rules will determine final placings in the event.  But Fips fishing rules will be modified to allow for strike indicators, split shot, and tying off the bend of hooks.  Barbless/debarbed hooks will be enforced.

 

Please see the schedule of events below:

 

7:00-8:00:  Angler Meeting and Beat Draw at River’s Edge Outfitters

 

8:00-8:30:  Travel to and scouting of beats for Session 1

 

8:30-10:00:  Fishing Session 1

 

10:00-10:30:  Travel to and scouting for Session 2

 

10:30-12:00:  Fishing Session 2

 

12:00-2:00:  LUNCH at River’s Edge Outfitters

 

2:00-2:30:  Travel to and scouting for Session 3

 

2:30-4:00:  Fishing Session 3

 

4:00-4:30:  Travel to and scouting for Session 4

 

4:30-6:00:  Fishing Session 4

 

6:00-6:45:  Travel back to River’s Edge Outfitters

 

6:45-7:15:  Scoring at River’s Edge Outfitters

 

7:15-8:00:  Announcement of Winners at River’s Edge Outfitters

WNC Fly Fishing Expo Returns Dec. 1st-2nd

leah kirk

wnc fishing expo.jpg

The WNC Fly Fishing Expo returns Dec. 1st-2nd says Alan Kirkpatrick, the new Director of the WNC Fly Fishing Expo. The 2017 Expo will take place on Dec. 1st & 2nd at the WNC Agricultural Center. Friday Dec. 1st from 12:00 noon to 7:00pm and Sat Dec. 2nd from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

“Reba Brinkman has handed off the rains to me after eight years of creating an excellent event for the fly fishing community. Big thanks to Reba, I wish her all the best in her new ventures.” Says Kirkpatrick.

“I come to this position with a wealth of experience in professional events management and a passion for fly fishing. I'm looking forward to working with you to continue putting on an event which creates value for your business and continues to strengthen the fly fishing community in Western North Carolina.”

“I would like to share my focus on three important goals I have for the 2017 expo,” says Kirkpatrick. “These include increasing the value created for exhibitors by the expo; improving the quality of the expo experience for exhibitors and paying visitors; and increasing the number of visitors at the expo.”

 

For more info contact Kirkpatrick at wncflyfishingexpo@gmail.com

Breaking News: Buddy & Buckberry Back

leah kirk

buddy and buckberry.jpg

After the Lodge at Buckberry Creek was destroyed in Gatlinburg’s November fires, its owner Buddy McLean said they would rebuild. Six months after the fires, he and McLean and designer Jeanie Johnson are weeks away from reopening the only building left at the lodge. Finishing touches are being completed to repairs as vacationers have booked suites for “the Woods” building, which offers a picturesque view of the Smokies from the comfort of classic rocking chairs.

Other buildings that once made up the sprawling complex are a long way off from being rebuilt. However, designer Jeanie Johnson is looking forward to the day when reconstruction begins in earnest. McLean, who developed the lodge with his brother in 2005, says engineers have checked the standing walls and declared them structurally okay. The plan is to build each new building higher.

“We’re planning to keep the retaining walls just like they are. The other idea is we would probably go up a story, which would give us more suites,” said McLean.

The Lodge at Buckberry Creek once housed 100 guests in 42 rooms. Each suite had a balcony. Guests could walk from their room or meeting rooms to the lodge restaurant. Over the the last six months, the process of rebuilding first the electrical system and then other infrastructure has been painstakingly slow.

STM stayed there several times. McLean irreplaceable collection of vintage fly fishing tackle from Scotland along with numerous other valuable pieces of memorabilia were lost in the fire. It was truly a breathtaking collection we sorely miss.

“It will take us about a year and a half to rebuild, but the truth of it is the mountains weren’t ever affected,” said McLean. “It will be fun again. It can’t be anything else. I’m a half full person: that glass is always half full.”

EPA Launches WOTUS (WHATAUS?)

leah kirk

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EPA is launching a new website today to provide the public with information about EPA's review of the definition of "Waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) as set out in the 2015 "Clean Water Rule." The site replaces the website developed for the 2015 rulemaking process. “EPA is restoring states' important role in the regulation of water by reviewing WOTUS (WHATAUS)," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

"The president has directed us to review this regulation to address the concerns from farmers and local communities that it creates unnecessary burdens and inhibits economic growth. This website aims to provide the public with information about our actions to meet the president's directive."

In the spirit of transparency, the site will provide the public with relevant information explaining the Agency's actions, along with the Department of the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies), to review the WOTUS rule, including how the agencies are working with our local, state and tribal partners, to examine our role in the regulation of water under the Clean Water Act. All the pages, information and documentation from the Clean Water Rule site will remain available in the EPA archived site, archive.epa.gov. EPA is initiating consultation and coordination with stakeholders and the public as the agencies implement the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule."

Ramsey Cascades Claims a Fifth Life

leah kirk

After eight months of closure, the popular Ramsey Cascades Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened last week.  The trail has been closed since August 2016 because a log foot bridge over a stream was damaged by a fallen tree. The bridge spans a section of Ramsey Prong where the water is too deep and swift to allow hikers to safely rock-hop across the stream.

Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park, dropping 100 feet over rock outcroppings. Prion to reopening the near vertical drop had claimed the lives of four visitors. Last Sunday a man died when he fell approximately 80 feet from the top of the Ramsey Cascades waterfall while hiking alone.

The 37-year-old man was seen climbing across the top of the waterfall before he fell. NPS officials immediately responded to the scene and declared the man dead. The victim's body was recovered Monday.

Shenandoah Bear Was Just the First Battle

leah kirk

On May 12, a bear came onto the back porch of Dustan and Tiffany Golladay’s house. The Warren County, Virginia couple was sleeping and was awakened by their dog, Zoe.

“Her bark wasn’t her normal bark,” Tiffany said.

Dustan came down the stairs of his two-story house on the back door of Shenandoah National Park with a gun in his hand. He started yelling at the bear to leave, flipping the light on and off.

The Golladays have had a lot of bear problems; Dustan even said he might have seen this bear before. Normally, when he threatens an animal, it leaves.

But in May, according to Jaime Sajecki, the black bear project leader at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, bears are still recovering from hibernation, looking for whatever food they can find.

“They can be in pretty rough shape,” Sajecki said.

Smelling cat food that was inside the Golladays’ porch, the bear wouldn’t leave.

“It just looked at me,” Dustan said. “So I swung the door open and I yelled at it, and it came after me, like it came towards me.”

So, Dustan said, he shot his gun and killed the bear. That part, though, was only the beginning.

What followed, Dustan said, was a stream of harassment, mostly coming from social media. There was even one death threat, he said.

“I even had a man post on Facebook, he said, ‘Save a bear, kill a retard,'” Dustan said. “And he was talking about me.”

After Dustan shot the bear, Tiffany called 911 and informed the police. An officer for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office showed up and began taking pictures, making sure that Dustan had, in fact, acted out of self-defense and did not shoot the bear illegally.

“They went outside, they checked the doors,” Dustan said. “And the one cop, he noticed the bullet hole in the floor. They confirmed that it was definitely shot inside. It wasn’t shot outside, and then we drug it in.”

The Sheriff’s Office closed its investigation, deciding that Dustan had acted within the law.

“The case was closed and all of that,” Tiffany said. “That we did no wrongdoings.”

Later, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries got in communication with the Sheriff’s Office.

“[The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries] even told us that we did the right thing,” Tiffany said.

Those facts, though, didn’t matter to onlookers on social media, Dustan and Tiffany said. On social media, people claimed Dustan did not shoot the bear inside the house and even claimed that they had not called 911, Tiffany said.

Others went after Dustan and even his children.

“I’ve even got one girl that’s been attacking my military career,” Dustan said. “Saying that I’m not a real veteran and all of this other stuff.”

The harassment, they said, has had a major impact on their life. Dustan said that he has not had a good night’s sleep since the incident last week. And it’s come, he said, because of a broader problem: People in towns and cities don’t understand what it’s like to live so close to the bear population.

“It’s like everybody from the Strasburg area has been harassing us and everybody from this side that knows the bear problems have all been on our side and defending us,” Dustan said.

“We can’t even walk out in our yards without somebody driving by and saying something or staring,” Dustan said.