September 21, 2014

Intentional fish kill by poison is a necessary step in restocking lake

Dead fish at Lake Yankton

Dead fish at Lake Yankton

An invasive species of fish, known for sometimes jumping out of the water and injuring boaters, is being eradicated from a lake along the Nebraska-South Dakota border. Lake Yankton was intentionally poisoned this week to wipe out Asian carp.

Jeff Schuckman, manager of the Northeast Regional Fisheries for state Game & Parks, says the poison is acting quickly to kill the undesirables.

“There was probably more Asian carp that I thought there was even,” Schuckman says. “When they first started coming up, they were absolutely thick. A lot of them have sunk and they’ll start to float in the next day or two. There was a lot of them along the shoreline. Like we thought, there’s probably 98% of them are Asian carp, a lot of buffalo and common carp.”

Schuckman says they’ll be ready to start repopulating the lake soon.

“These fish will decompose,” he says. “It’s going to take a week or so for this chemical to detoxify. As soon as it detoxifies, we’ve got fish from the Valentine State Fish Hatchery, bass and bluegill, read to go in. It’s going to be restocked probably by October 1st.”

Schuckman says by next fall, there should be some good-sized fish in the lake.

“A year from now, we’ll have 5 to 6-inch bluegill and they’ll be spawing and we’ll have 9 to 10-inch largemouth bass, and we’re off and running,” he says. “Next spring, we’ll put in some more largemouth bass and we’ll get some black crappie fingerlings, some channel catfish and some walleye. It won’t be a couple of years and we’ll have some good fishing again.”

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department assisted in the project. Yankton Lake was overrun by the carp that got in during the flood of 2011. The lake is just below Gavins Point Dam.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton



Battle over Keystone XL extends well beyond lawsuit (AUDIO)

Proponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold a Capitol news conference prior to Supreme Court oral arguments as opponents look on

Proponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold a Capitol news conference prior to Supreme Court oral arguments as opponents look on

A case will be decided by the state Supreme Court, but the battle over the Keystone XL oil pipeline extends well beyond a Nebraska court room.

Supreme Court justices weigh oral arguments in the case against the state law that authorized the Keystone XL route through Nebraska.

But, the author of the bill signed into law, state Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, insists opponents really aren’t aiming at the law.

“The ideology of the opponents to the pipeline is that they want no fossil fuel. They do not want to move any of the North American oil to the refineries,” according to Smith. “Whether the oil comes from North Dakota or from Canada. That’s really irrelevant in this argument for them.”

Both those for Keystone XL and those opposed crowded into the Nebraska Capitol on Friday to hear the oral arguments and make their presence known.

Four landowners have challenge the law passed by the Unicameral that has shifted authorization to select the route of oil pipelines through Nebraska from the Public Service Commission to the governor. They claim the legislature violated the state constitution by by-passing the PSC.

The landowners won at the lower level. The state appealed to the Supreme Court which has taken the case under advisement and will rule later.

Bold Nebraska has been a vocal opponent of TransCanada from the beginning. It argues the production of crude oil from the oil sands of western Canada is extremely harmful to the environment.

Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb makes it no secret she wants to stop TransCanada from building Keystone XL and that she enjoys being at ground zero.

“So, Nebraska continues to be the lynchpin in the Keystone XL pipeline and nobody would have guessed that on day one.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Corps of Engineers offers more detail about rising Missouri River

This is what the Corps is hoping to avoid on the Missouri River.

This is what the Corps is hoping to avoid on the Missouri River.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now offering more details about how high the Missouri River will rise over the next few months.

Releases are being increased from the four lower dams on the Missouri following heavy rains in August in an effort to cut flood risks. Jody Farhat is chief of the Water Management Division in the Omaha office of the Corps.

“Our latest forecast indicates higher releases from the main stem reservoirs this fall in order to prepare the reservoir system for 2015, thus, reducing future flood risk potential,” Farhat says. “The higher releases will raise river levels along the lower river on average three to four feet above the level seen for most of the summer but will be well within the channel unless we experience a significant amount of rain.”

Farhat says they can cut back on those releases if there’s more heavy rain.

“If that should occur, releases may be reduced temporarily as part of our normal flood risk reduction measures and the reservoir system remains well positioned for this type of operation,” Farhat says. “We’ll continue to monitor the conditions across the basin as we move through fall and we’ll continue to make any necessary release adjustments.”

Farhat says releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton will be stepped up from the current release rate of 38,000 cubic feet per second to beyond 45,000 during the next several days and they’ll remain near that level throughout the fall.

“If you look back through our records, in about 25% of the years we’ve had releases above 40,000 in the fall,” she says. “It’s actually a very good time of year to evacuate flood water from the reservoir system. We do it routinely. We wait until the fall months and then we evacuate most of the water before the 1st of December.”

The excess water will also allow the Corps to extend the navigation season ten days and provide higher winter releases, which Farhat says will benefit winter hydropower generation and reduce risks to water intakes during periods of ice formation this winter.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Iowa man charged with killing mountain lion in northwestern Nebraska

Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

An Iowa man has been charged with killing a mountain lion in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reports a 23-year-old was hunting deer with a bow and arrow from a tree stand on Ponderosa Wildlife Management Area in Dawes County Saturday when he shot and killed the lion with an arrow.

The man, who has not been identified, reported the shooting to the Dawes County Sheriff’s Department. Game and Parks Commission officials recovered the carcass at about 2:30am Sunday morning.

The lion was a female and was lactating, indicating she might have cubs. Staff has been searching for cubs. If found, they will likely be placed in a zoo.

A fine of $1,000 and a charge of $500 in liquidated damages for taking game in a closed season could be levied.

“The law is very clear. People may not shoot a mountain lion simply because they are afraid of it,” said Craig Stover, law enforcement administrator for Game and Parks in a written statement. “They have to meet certain criteria. The law states that ‘any person shall be entitled to defend himself or herself or another person without penalty if, in the presence of such person, a mountain lion stalks, attacks, or shows unprovoked aggression toward such person or another person.’ ”

Ranchers can kill a mountain lion if he threatens livestock.

“Anytime a mountain lion is shot, we do a full investigation into the circumstances,” Stover said.

Visit for more information on mountain lions in Nebraska.

Ruling in Nebraska could have big overall impact on Keystone XL (AUDIO)

Attorney General Jon Bruning addresses reporters along with Dept. AG Katherine Spohn

Attorney General Jon Bruning addresses reporters along with Dept. AG Katherine Spohn

A ruling by the state Supreme Court on the law that authorized the Keystone XL route through Nebraska could have ramifications well beyond this state.

Attorney General Jon Bruning is confident the Supreme Court will uphold the law that set the route.

“I think the legislature clearly acted within the bounds of our constitution,” Bruning says.

The Attorney General’s office defended the Unicameral in the lawsuit Thompson v. Heineman. The state lost at the lower court level, when a Lancaster County District Judge ruled the legislature violated the constitution in shifting regulatory power over pipeline routes from the Public Service Commission to the governor.

The state appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the lawsuit Friday morning.

Bruning says it is time for the Keystone XL oil pipeline to be approved.

“But, the reality is we have pipelines in Nebraska,” Bruning states. “We will continue to have pipelines in Nebraska. It’s a very efficient way to transport oil.”

Attorney Dave Domina speaks at a Capitol news conference

Attorney Dave Domina speaks at a Capitol news conference

Attorney Dave Domina, who argued on behalf of the four landowners who brought suit, says the court case gives President Obama more insight about the character of TransCanada.

“Is TransCanada itself as an entity a worthy applicant?” Domina asks. “It’s misbehaved in Nebraska and I think that word will reach the president as a result of this and that will give him additional pause.”

TransCanada has applied for a presidential permit to cross the Canadian/United States border to build the northern portion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The southern route, between Cushing, OK and the Gulf Coast in Texas, has been built.

President Obama has stated he will not act on the request until the legal issues in Nebraska have been resolved.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]