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Philosophies of the ISA


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During my tenure as Science Director, 19 conservation philosophies were debated, ammended, approved and offered to potential conservation grant applicants as an introduction to the conservation goals of the ISA.

 

I've stepped down as an Executive Officer to focus elsewhere but those philosophies and the granting program still exist.

 

I've posted the Philosophies here...

 

http://brooksmith.blogspot.com/

 

...and am in the process of writing rationales to support each point.

 

This thread is begun with the hope that members with a serious interest in conservation will invest some time and thought to reading, digesting, discussing and critiqueing those points. There are weighty issues here. I'd be willing to cover them in as much detail as the forum readers deem necessary.

 

If the leadership of the ISA is still committed to this path, I'm sure the membership would like to know.

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Guest rich mc

yes, we do agree with these points. i believe they were also listed in the newsletter last year.one of the most important points is not stocking smallies where they are not native, and likewise not stocking other fish here that are not native. rich

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................one of the most important points is not stocking smallies where they are not native, and likewise not stocking other fish here that are not native. rich

 

 

Rich,

SMB were not native to the DuPage river.

SMB were stocked in the DuPage, (early to mid 90's), during a test stocking program.

125-130 SMB, including some large primary breeders, in the 2.5 to nearly 5lb range.

The fish adapted very well.

The Dupage is now one of the premier midwest SMB streams.

 

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Rich,

SMB were not native to the DuPage river.

 

Hi Ken.

 

People like to say that, but on the scale where it matters it's not really true.

 

If you look at the native range maps for smallmouth bass they cover most of Illinois, including the DuPage.

 

Over the tens of thousands of years that species has been around you can bet they were periodically in the DuPage. Steven Forbes collected them there in 1901.

 

Go here .... http://ellipse.inhs.uiuc.edu:591/INHSColle...fishsearch.html and plug in Microterus dolomieu for the species name, DuPage River for the stream name and Dupage County for the County.

 

When I did it I got 2 records of smallmouth bass, including the one in 1901.

 

http://ellipse.inhs.uiuc.edu:591/INHSCollections/FMPro

 

Populations wink in and out. Our recent experience doesn't mean much because it's a tiny fraction of what has happened in an area.

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Tim,

I personally didn't research the SMB in the DuPage river.

 

The info I got was based on the IDNR studies conducted on the DuPage, before the SMB stocking.

They found no SMB in the stream.

The habitat appeared to be suitable for SMB, therefore the stocking program commenced.

 

Perhaps they were there, eons ago, before polution wiped them out.

 

 

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Perhaps they were there, eons ago, before polution wiped them out.

 

You're probably right that pollution wiped them out of the Dupage. That was a statewide (nationwide) trend during the middle of the 20th century. The more recent stocking in the DuPage merely restored what was there before.

 

...and I hope you don't think I'm being a hard*ss, Ken, but there's not really any room for "perhaps" in the presence of smallmouth bass in the Dupage around the turn of the century. The Illinois Natural History Survey collections are one of the most important repositories of scientific information about streams and rivers in the Midwest. Stephen Forbes was among the best and most important biologists working in Illinois at that time. That information is solid, specific and scientific.

 

I've seen other people assert (loudly and with conviction) that smallmouth are not native to the Chicago area. Apparently that's a well entrenched local myth, but it's wrong.

 

Smallmouth were in the DuPage around the turn of the 20th century. They probably have a long, long history there and there is every reason to believe that the local biota is adapted to them. That's why the philosophies focus on native fish...because by preserving local assemblages of species the chances a fishery will do harm to other species is greatly reduced.

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Thank you Mark.

 

I should be careful to note, the philosophies were discussed by the officers.

 

The rationales on the other hand were only part of a general discussion and didn't pass any kind of review.

 

The wordings and the ideas put forth in the rationales on the blog are mine alone...and they're worded strongly just to be sure no one misses the point.

 

Anyone's welcome to jump in and debate.

 

 

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I'd like to know as well (I read it at 4 this morning but didn't have time to respond), and I kind of figured the original poster may have been coached by you Tim.

 

If anyone has any questions regarding the ISA conservation program, my work within the ISA is an open book..... ask away.

 

The question was regarding the ISA Grants and the webpage assigned to it.

The other asked who is managing the program (who do you think is managing it?).

Another point was directed at putting the ISA Philosophies on a web page, which I have no problem with, so long as it is directly related to the philosophies themselves in a list form.

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Here are your answers:

 

I'm working on the Grant Proposals web page, among about 7-10 other issues that I deal with for the ISA every night for at least 3-4 hours.

My computer recently crashed and I lost every photo and document from the last 6 years that I owned (some were transferred to disk, but not nearly enough).

Under the circumstances, we're still in pretty good shape as an organization.

 

Fire away- I'm here all night.

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Here are your answers:

 

I'm working on the Grant Proposals web page, among about 7-10 other issues that I deal with for the ISA every night for at least 3-4 hours.

My computer recently crashed and I lost every photo and document from the last 6 years that I owned (some were transferred to disk, but not nearly enough).

Under the circumstances, we're still in pretty good shape as an organization.

 

Fire away- I'm here all night.

 

Mike, I think you're doing a fine job with the conservation program. Everything there is in capable hands and I'm sure great things are on the horizon. I assumed you would answer those particular questions rather easily and hopefully you didn't perceive them to be a challenge. I don't think Eric intended them to be that way...

 

...because in fact Eric and I didn't speak about this. I'm slightly disappointed that you might think we had some kind of conspiracy in the works. If Eric reconsidered posting his question that's his decision and I have no problem with it.

 

However the ISA's disposition toward the philosophies and the understandings and applications of those ideas are of great concern to me. The removal of the post heightens my concerns.

 

As the beginning of this thread shows, the philosophies are a document that take some strongly principled stances and have the potential to generate controversy. Rather than avoiding controversy, people need a chance to sort through the ideas in them and think about them and debate them and to know what the principles are behind the conservation decisions that are being made...

 

...if those are in fact the principles in play.

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I had a 50/50 chance of being right or wrong on that assumption.

Obviously I chose the wrong one. I didn't even consider anything was a "conspiracy", but rather that perhaps you guys had some dialogue regarding the web page, and the questions were valid ones.

The fact remains that the questions were asked, and I spent a great deal of time today formulating in my mind the answers to those questions.

I looked forward to coming home and answering them.

 

The principles are still in play.

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I hear you Mike.

 

I know how hard you work for the resource and I respect your views and you as a person.

 

I doubt, in that particular case, that we actually disagree. Almost no one from any religious or biological tradition refutes the role of natural selection in nature (although "macro"-evolution has its' critics and we probably do disagree there).

 

The point is, I would respect you LESS not to argue the point if we did disagree and the point were actually important (and in conservation, its' very important).

 

...and I can assure you that very few of those points are mine and mine alone. It is true they are uniquely packaged here.

 

Hopefully it is abundantly clear that no one is going to hurt my feelings by debating these points. Please do weigh in.

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The respect is mutual Tim, and that has already been established.

Most every hard issue we've ever discussed in person or otherwise has been in mutual agreement.

I'm certainly not about to debate the issue of micro or macro evolution on the ISA forums, nor do I expect anyone else to engage in it here. It isn't a stretch to point out that it never leads to productive results, as most are set in their ways and beliefs.

We are in agreement on some parts of that, though it is more important to understand that any opinion (based on fact or otherwise) will cause roughly half of the room to disenfranchise themselves from the issue or the person presenting the case.

Same goes for global warming.

It is clearly divisive, and serves no purpose in discussions related to "basic" club functions.

 

The core discussion here is the ISA Philosophies as they apply to the manner in which the ISA functions.

 

The list is sound, in my opinion.

They serve to guide us in many ways, but more importantly they serve to educate our members on some of the finer points of stream conservation as it applies to the smallmouth bass range.

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The respect is mutual Tim, and that has already been established.

 

Then I hope that you would also realize that the actual chances that I would game the discussion weren't 50/50...

 

...

I had a 50/50 chance of being right or wrong on that assumption.
..

 

...but "0". I don't need Eric or anyone else to act on my behalf here.

 

I'm certainly not about to debate the issue of micro or macro evolution on the ISA forums, nor do I expect anyone else to engage in it here. It isn't a stretch to point out that it never leads to productive results, as most are set in their ways and beliefs.

 

Yes, people are set in their ways. In this case that's doubly frustrating because there is no debate to be had over micro-evolution. Find the most conservative religious university in the nation and consult the biology and theological faculty there and they will affirm the fact of local adaptation through natural selection (micro-evolution). There's no one to disagree with on this topic. No one is on the other side of this debate.

 

Yet, when people hear "that word", the knee-jerk reactions begin. As a result, topics like local adaptation and genetic conservation aren't generally understood, they're kept off the table and all kinds of mischief and damage are done as a result. The scientific basis for a great deal of conservation biology goes down the tubes when "that word" gets hidden for the sake of political expediency.

 

This is not a minor point. This is the scientific basis for several of the ISA philosophies and a great deal of conservation biology.

 

 

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This has gone beyond our initial scope of conversation, and the ISA members should be comfortable in knowing that their opinions are important and welcomed in this thread.

 

I'll step back and read, in the hope that Tim's original questions are addressed.

 

This thread is begun with the hope that members with a serious interest in conservation will invest some time and thought to reading, digesting, discussing and critiqueing those points.
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Tim~

 

Fist of all let me say excellent blog!! I enjoyed reading every bit of it!

 

As I read through both the Philosophies of the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance and your rationales I realized just how passionate you are about both science and smallmouth bass. I also realized that what you have written agrees with my line of thinking about conservation in general as well as where it pertains to smallmouth bass. You put into words my own line of thinking in such an articulate and thought out way! Some of your rationals went deeper than I had ever considered and I want to thank you for that insight.

 

I particularly agree with this statement "If anglers cannot articulate, defend and promulgate their view of fishing to non-anglers, their critics almost certainly will.". To me, that is a major factor in conservation itself. The next generation is the future of conservation and if this generation as a whole cannot get it right then we must place our hopes in the future.

 

Additionally I think that at worst, your rationalizations would serve as a wake up call to a lot of folks who think they know what conservation is and means. Conservation should be common sense for most folks. I hope that you will continue to champion conservation efforts for smallmouth in your future endeavors!

 

John Bunner

INSA

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Counterpoint #2: These fish were introduced in "lake x" a hundred years ago. They're a native now.

 

A fish might be "naturalized" and begin reproducing in a given location, but that doesn't mean they've stopped causing problems. Evolution and adaptation can begin right away, but they operate over very long time periods. One hundred years is barely a tick on the clock and no human introductions in recent history have resulted in "native" fish in any real sense of the word.

 

 

Do smallmouth in the Boundry Waters of northern Minnesota and Quetico in Canada fall under this catagory? I think smallmouth were not native- stocked in the early 1900's.

 

Now the area is crawling with smallmouth. Other species aren't extinct, but their numbers probably suffer as a result of competion with smallmouth. Right?

 

So, am I gathering correctly?

The smallmouth don't belong there. Therefore everything should be done to reduce their numbers. Every legal fish caught killed in an effort to reduce numbers?.

Or just don't be afraid to have your fill of smallie shore lunches so as to reduce numbers to a level where competition with other specioes wouldn't be an issue?

 

Is there a grey area? Or is this a black and white issue?

 

If it were possible- do you think it would benefit to set the "way, way back machine" to 1800 ish"?

 

If it weren't for smallmouth I probably would have never even heard of Quetico or the Boundry Waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tim,

 

Your blog keeps getting better and better as you add to it. It's some of the best fishing material on the internet with a nice blend of science, philosophy and practical fishing information, such as the article on spotted bass. Keep up the good work, I check it every day now that the river we tend to fish is too high and I have nothing better to do.

Let me suggest one improvement though. Please post the coordinates where you and your exchange student are catching those big bass. Just kidding, of course. I'll be looking for the next article. Your work is generating a great deal of thought and discussion. See you on the river soon, because it's starting to settle.

 

Jeff

 

 

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Mike, thanks for the leeway.

 

Jeff and John, you're far too kind but thank you. Also check out Brian Waldman's blog (it's linked in the site)...he's miles ahead of me.

 

Mark K...terrific questions.

 

Counterpoint #2: These fish were introduced in "lake x" a hundred years ago. They're a native now.

 

A fish might be "naturalized" and begin reproducing in a given location, but that doesn't mean they've stopped causing problems. Evolution and adaptation can begin right away, but they operate over very long time periods. One hundred years is barely a tick on the clock and no human introductions in recent history have resulted in "native" fish in any real sense of the word.

 

Do smallmouth in the Boundry Waters of northern Minnesota and Quetico in Canada fall under this catagory? I think smallmouth were not native- stocked in the early 1900's.

 

Is there a grey area? Or is this a black and white issue?

 

Using this model, yes, there will always be huge grey areas (as well as some fairly significant black and white ones).

 

One thing you might do is to broaden the time scale even more. Think how many glaciations and retreats have we had over the 3 million years Micropterus species have been around. Over that amount of time, climate, habitats and fish ranges can change radically. The species distributions we see now are just one cross-section in a very long pipe.

 

Smallmouth bass have historically occurred in Lake Superior. It seems likely that in warmer climactic periods those fish would have had easy access to the parts of those parks that are in the Lake Superior Drainage. As far as I know, there's no data available to show with certainty how that range has changed over time. However, most of the ranges of the species there overlap extensively with smallmouth bass in other places. They've had time to adapt to each other somewhere in that range. As long as genes for those species are mixing between those sites (and over long long time scales they probably are) the potential for serious problems is reduced.

 

That's vastly different from a stocking in Belize or California where smallmouth bass have had NO evolutionary history with the biota there. The potential for problems from species introductions in places like that is much greater.

 

There was actually an Illinois example where this principle came into play recently. Here's how it played out.

 

The southern part of Illinois has a large gap of several drainages where no smallmouth bass occur. These includ(ed) the Big Muddy. A reservoir on the Big Muddy was recently stocked with smallmouth bass. A local outdoor writer actually quoted me as saying the ISA supported that stocking program. That was a misquoted and the reporter has apologized since.

 

The ISA as a group did not oppose, but also did not support that program. Peer-reviewed data from that drainage show that the native species in the river below that dam are declining, probably because of competition and predation from reservoir fish species. The relative impact from smallmouth in the Big Muddy will probably be minor. A breeding population of smallmouth in silty low gradient stream like the Big Muddy seems unlikely. Smallmouth are already common downstream in the Ohio and fish with Southern Illinois genetics were used for the stocking.

 

As an angler, should you fish that reservoir? Why not. Bon appetite! Hopefully though, our conservation support continues to go elsewhere.

 

A project the ISA has supported for many years is the one run by Trent Thomas on the Kaskaskia River. That project works to conserve a native and struggling population of smallmouth. Trent collects and breeds out native Kaskaskia smallmouth in rearing ponds and then restocks them into the compromised habitats below the Shelbyville dam where reproduction and summer flows can be marginal and Esocid densities from the reservoir are high. Trent is also stocking smallmouth bass above the dam in hopes they will re-establish in the upper Kaskaskia.

 

That project meshes nicely with the philosophies.

 

------------------------------------------

...back to the Boundary Waters.

 

The smallmouth don't belong there. Therefore everything should be done to reduce their numbers. Every legal fish caught killed in an effort to reduce numbers?

 

Again, that's a grey area. I don't have data from Boundary Waters to make that call. I'd listen carefully to what area biologists had to say. Not having done that and sitting here with the scant information I have, I'd lean strongly toward catch and release.

 

Or just don't be afraid to have your fill of smallie shore lunches so as to reduce numbers to a level where competition with other specioes wouldn't be an issue?

 

Personally, I don't think I'd creel fish in the Boundary Waters. Until I had good solid information based on data, I don't think I'd start creeling fish anywhere for conservation purposes.

 

If it were possible- do you think it would benefit to set the "way, way back machine" to 1800 ish"?

 

There's no reason to pick a specific time as the "best" time.

 

In the philosophies, "pre-European settlement" is used as a cut off point for native because in general most of the big disruptions in streams have happened since then. That's still a bit arbitrary. That still leaves big grey areas because there was very little data collected until the 20th century.

 

The main goal is to keep species apart that don't coexist well together, leading to extinctions of populations, species or impaired fisheries.

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Great conversation here (more so on page 2..but I digress).

By the way, I have always used the term "moreso", but my spell checker is kicking it back for some reason. Further research finds arguments for both all over the internet.

 

Ahem....anyway,

 

As an angler, should you fish that reservoir? Why not. Bon appetite! Hopefully though, our conservation support continues to go elsewhere.

 

A project the ISA has supported for many years is the one run by Trent Thomas on the Kaskaskia. That project works to conserve a native and struggling population of smallmouth. Trent collects and breeds out native Kaskaskia smallmouth in rearing ponds and then restocks them into the compromised habitats below the Shelbyville dam where reproduction and summer flows can be marginal and Esocid densities from the reservoir are high. Trent is also stocking smallmouth bass above the dam in hopes they will re-establish in the upper Kaskaskia.

 

That project meshes nicely with the philosophies.

 

As it is now, our conservation support pretty much goes wherever we/I find the time to jump into it with both barrels blazing.

The MegaDairy is one I took to heart (thanks to a little prodding from Tim, I might add).

A fairly "last pristine" environment left in our state deserves our attention.

 

My own personal philosophy is that I won't put the ISA brand on an effort unless I have a real good idea what is at stake for all involved.

There is always more than one side to an issue, so I make it a point to call the side I'm inclined to disagree with in order to find out what it is they have to say without the grandstanding that media provides for us.

 

Much can be learned here from Tim's remarks.

If you don't know for certain, find out.

 

The rest I'm just absorbing.

Keep it coming.

 

 

 

 

 

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As it is now, our conservation support pretty much goes wherever we/I find the time to jump into it with both barrels blazing.

 

The ISA does considerably more than that....

 

1. The Conservation Granting Program: We've helped a program to establish instream habitat and we've provided resources for biologists to monitor the progress of that restoration. You've supported Trent Thomas' restoration program on the Kaskaskia, scientific inquiries into smallmouth bass physiology and ecology...

 

...simply by paying for raffle tickets at the Blowout and donating to the fund drive.

 

The granting program allows the officers to prioritize and focus our financial influence instead of being a bobble-headed me-too tag-along. Of course, that kind of initiative requires a vision of what you want to accomplish, which is why the ISA is also focuses on...

 

2. Member education: The ISA creates a culture of information exchange here on the forum at local meetings and in the Bulletin...

 

3. Individual member activities: ..and that's especially important because everything that happens in the ISA evolves from individual member initiative. The attitudes and information we take into fishing and conservation directly affect the way we fish, volunteer, and our influence on the environment.

 

I had no intention of prodding Mike specifically to do something on the Apple River when that issue appeared. I just said the ISA should be involved there...and BOOM..there he went. Many others also wrote letters and went to meetings and met with landowners.

 

It would be nice to find the tactics that actually allow us to win a few more of these issues, but the effort was worthwhile.

 

4. Schmoozing: People respect the efforts we've made. We've been approached by the DNR for input on various issues. We've been approached by Smallmouth Alliances from other states for help lobbying for regulatory issues. We attend and participate in stake-holder meetings. We have conversations at the sporting goods stores and bait shops and informal meetings everywhere. We influence the natural resources constituency every day, and not always with guns blazing. More often it's quiet conversations and respectful informed persuassion during normal every day events.

 

 

The importance of the values and information that guide all these activities can hardly be overestimated.

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I should have emphasized "with both barrels blazing" for clarity.

I didn't mean to say that our efforts overall aren't diverse and far-reaching.

What I meant was that hard core tangible issues that call for specific ISA "support" require tremendous focus, research and a strong will to reach a positive conclusion for the resource.

 

Tactics to win in the future?

That's a tough one, because there is no concrete answer.

Each case has individual characteristics that speak to a unique approach.

 

The dairy project was similar to others in some respects, however.

1) There was perceived to be corruption on every level, according to some.

2) The IDOA will not be moved in most circumstances.

3) This project was destined to go through from the minute Mr. Bos stepped foot in Illinois.

4) Nobody at the ISA is in a position to call the parties involved to the front of the class to explain their actions.

 

I could go on and on, but there is really no point any longer.

 

What I will be posting a little later is some FOIR stuff regarding the dairy.

Seems there may be a dam in the making?

Hmmmm....

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Guest Don R
I should be careful to note, the philosophies were discussed by the officers.

The rationales on the other hand were only part of a general discussion and didn't pass any kind of review.

 

I haven't had the time to read your blog. Can I assume that the above information is also clearly stated there? I realize that a blog by definition is someone's thoughts or opinions on a subject but it would benefit the reader if they knew without a doubt that these are your words and not necessarily the opinion of the ISA, its officers and members.

 

 

The granting program allows the officers to prioritize and focus our financial influence instead of being a bobble-headed me-too tag-along.

 

Indeed there is more money given to the grant program and the grant recipients thus far have shown great promise and have done great things. But let's not put aside or downplay all the other wonderful things the ISA has done prior to and outside the grant program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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