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Outdoors: Earth Day celebrations take to waters

Earth Day dedications involved more water than earth-related upgrades around Western New York.

The waters of Cayuga Creek, a part of DEC Region 9 in Erie County, and adjacent lands around Hemlock and Canadice Lakes in DEC Region 8 were the Earth Day and weeklong focus of attention for public water and land use.

On Wednesday morning Region 9 Director Abby Snyder, staffers, federation and county officials, and a DEC Region 8 Caledonia Hatchery truck gathered at the Como Park Lake Grove on Cayuga Creek for a brief ceremony and the stocking of an additional 650 yearling rainbow trout.

Snyder noted that this day’s stocking is part of a total of more than 3,000 ’bows that have been placed in Cayuga Creek waters above the park dam. She began thanking the many volunteers who gather each year at sites around Western New York to assist DEC personnel in these stocking efforts.

She also noted that this was the first time trout have been stocked along this nearly mile-long stretch of water, affording area anglers public access to trout fishing close to Buffalo. This new Cayuga Creek stocking program is one of 312 sites the DEC provides statewide.

Troy P. Schinzel, Erie County Parks commissioner and an avid angler, commended the DEC for enhancing the fishing experience for anglers visiting Como Park.

Chuck Godfrey, Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs president, pointed out Erie County sells the most fishing licenses in upstate New York and the Como Park site, basically a suburban setting, will be a great place to provide greater opportunities for an inland trout fishery.

Joe Fischer, Erie County Fish Advisory Board chairman and nearby resident, is familiar with the history as well as the ecology of the creek and park site.

“All this would not have been able to take place if it were not for the many cleanup efforts that have been completed,” Fischer said of successful ecology upgrade programs done since the first Earth Day proclamations were made in 1970.

Along with the rainbow trout from Caledonia Hatchery, DEC Region 9 staffers and volunteers stock about 250 miles of streams plus ponds, inland lakes and Great Lakes waters with yearling and 2-year-old brown trout and brook trout that total nearly 190,000 fish each year.

Snyder ended her presentation with an invitation to all to set aside the weekend of June 27-28, the statwide Free Fishing Weekend open to all on New York State waters.

DEC Region 8 Director Paul D’Amato announced earlier this month that Earth Day would be a perfect way to celebrate the acquisition of an additional 165 acres of pristine shoreline lands surrounding Hemlock and Canadice Lakes.

The two lakes became DEC-management properties during an Earth Day celebration in 2010. Five years later the additional acreage will be added to the state forest lands, ensuring greater control of the land and water usage at these lakes.

Earth Day weekend has passed, but fishing opportunities expand each week. Walleye, northern pike, tiger muskellunge and a special Lake Erie trophy bass season all open on Saturday, but fishing for trout and an array of popular panfish species are open now and on the bite.

Conservation honorees

The Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs honored distinguished outdoors contributors during its annual awards banquet at Terry’s Corners Volunteer Fire Company on April 18. Most awards are in memory of outstanding federation workers who have passed.

These awards were presented: Oliver Jones Award for the Sportsperson of the Year, Georgina Grosofsky of Williamsville; Leroy Winn Club of the Year Award, Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association; Milford “Pinky” Robinson Great Lakes Fishery Award, Dimitry Gorsky, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fisheries biologist; Carl Lass Youth of the year, Dominic Sollitto, 17, of Niagara Falls; John Daly Legislator of the Year, Dr. John Syracuse of Newfane; Ken Berner Conservation Award, Dave Kern Sr. of Lockport; Victor Fitchlee Lifetime Achievement Award, Paul Schnell of Hilton; John Long Sr. Business of the Year, Niagara Falls Conference and Event Center; President’s Award, Jim Perri, 3-F Club president; Hunter Safety Training, Walter Whitenight of Lockport; Archery Safety Training, Mark Irlbacher of Doc’s Archery in North Tonawanda.

Two inductees were added to the Don Bronson Wall of Fame at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Lockport: Dave Whitt of Lewiston, a conservation volunteer since the early 1970s and Bill Hilts Jr., outdoor writer, promotions director for Niagara County Tourism and Fisheries, and active member of several fisheries committees.

Chautauqua County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs held the Eighth Annual Harry Probst Memorial Dinner at Lakewood Rod & Gun Club on Monday and honored several persons and presented club awards.

Floyd Prine accepted the Conservationist of the Year Award; Lakewood Rod & Gun Club is the Club of the Year; a special President’s Award was presented to Margaret Jemiolo, widow of Joe Jemiolo, who was instrumental in establishing a Youth Lifetime License Drawing in Chautauqua County.

The DEC presented a special award to Mary Hohmann, retiring Region 9 permits administrator. Deer Search of WNY honored Sarah Pleva of Forestville with its Butch Beverlin Memorial Scholarship.

Nine youths were selected as recipients of a lifetime license, which includes hunting, fishing and big-game permits: Madalyn Glasier, 15, of Fredonia; Henry Congdon, 15, of Dunkirk; Sophia Burrows of Dunkirk; Austin Henry, 10, of Ripley; Madison Huggins, 11, of Frewsburg; Dino Delmonte, 5, of Fredonia; Joey Kowai, 14, of Westfield; and Ella Conley, 16 of Kennedy.