Freshwater fish in N. America in peril, study says

11 09 2008

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP

WASHINGTON – About four out of 10 freshwater fish species in North America are in peril, according to a major study by U.S., Canadian and Mexican scientists.

And the number of subspecies of fish populations in trouble has nearly doubled since 1989, the new report says.

One biologist called it “silent extinctions” because few people notice the dramatic dwindling of certain populations deep in American lakes, rivers and streams. And while they are unaware, people are the chief cause of the problem by polluting and damming freshwater habitats, experts said.

In the first massive study of freshwater fish on the continent in 19 years, an international team of dozens of scientists looked not just at species, but at subspecies — physically distinct populations restricted to certain geographic areas. The decline is even more notable among these smaller groups.

The scientists found that 700 smaller but individual fish populations are vulnerable, threatened, or endangered. That’s up from 364 subspecies nearly two decades ago.

And 457 entire species are in trouble or already extinct, the study found. Another 86 species are OK as a whole, but have subspecies in trouble.

The study, led by U.S. Geological Survey researchers, is published in the current issue of the journal Fisheries. Researchers looked at thousands of distinct populations of fish that either live in lakes, streams and rivers or those that live in saltwater but which migrate to freshwater at times, such as salmon that return to spawn.

Read on here.

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Some Georgia state parks could face closure

11 09 2008

Anastasia Harbuck | Eufaula Tribune

 

State parks are important natural resources – not only preserving plant and wildlife habitats, but also generating dollars through tourism and recreation.

So the thought of several southwest Georgia state parks closing is distressing to many residents. A recent news article in a Georgia paper states southwest Georgia parks like George T. Bagby at Ft. Gaines, Providence Canyon at Lumpkin, Florence Marina at Omaha and Meadow Links golf course at Ft. Gaines could face closure.

But Annette Holland, site manager at George T. Bagby, said her park’s patrons have nothing to worry about.

“Bagby is not slated to be closed,” she said firmly Tuesday during a phone interview. “We are a revenue producer. Why would you close a park like this?”

George T. Bagby draws more than 1½ million visitors per year, said Holland. She says visits have dropped off during the previous year, but said the weak economy that’s affecting her park is affecting everything else in the country.

George T. Bagby features cabins, conference rooms, a swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic shelters, a marina and “all kinds of activities,” says Holland. These things make George T. Bagby and neighboring Meadow Links golf course tourist hotspots in the Chattahoochee area.

Joe Waters of Panama City, Fla. often comes to Meadow Links in Ft. Gaines to play golf and visit with friends from Florida and Atlanta. He says he and his golf buddies can each spend approximately $400-500 each time they come to Meadow Links.

“If they close this place, they’re going to lose a lot of revenue,” Waters said Wednesday at the Meadow Links course.

Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for Georgia state parks says approximately 10 million people visited Georgia state parks last year. This tourism spawns valuable jobs in the Chattahoochee area.
But due to a “pretty severe budget shortfall,” Hatcher says, the State of Georgia requested the Department of Natural Resources recommend possible cuts. These cuts could put some state parks on the chopping block.

Up to 13 parks could face closure due to these tight financial times for the state of Georgia. But, says Hatcher, “We don’t know which.”

Read on here.