On April 10 near Chattanooga, scientists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute carefully released 89 dinosaurs into the Tennessee River. At just 15-inches long, these nine-month-old Lake Sturgeon have many years of growing before potentially becoming eight-foot river giants. These fish can live for more than a century.

Each of these young fish represents the latest chapter in a 21-year effort by the Aquarium and its conservation partners to restore the Lake Sturgeon to its historic range. They represent the next generation of a species that first appeared alongside dinosaurs during the late Cretaceous Period; but its story almost ended abruptly not from a meteor strike, but our own poor decisions just a few decades ago.

In the 1970s the Lake Sturgeon had all but disappeared from the Tennessee River due to overfishing, poor water quality and man-made alterations to the waterway (hydroelectric dams). By the late 1990s, landmark legislation and responsible water management practices had improved conditions to the point that biologists thought it possible for the river to once again support a population of these ancient fish.

In 1998, intent on restoring the Lake Sturgeon to the river, the Aquarium and several partner organizations created the Lake Sturgeon Working Group. Since then more than 220,000 juvenile Lake Sturgeon raised from eggs collected in the Great Lakes have been reintroduced to the Tennessee and Cumberland river drainages. For more information about Lake Sturgeon and the Aquarium’s work with this species, visit tnaqua.org/protecting-animals/lake-sturgeon.

PUBLIC COMMENT

: E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuels can severely damage your boat’s engine and fuel lines, and it is about to get even easier to misfuel your boat. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving toward permitting the sale of E15 during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15). Currently available only in the colder months, the E15 summertime ban was implemented years ago to address concerns over its contribution to ground level air pollution (ozone and smog) on hot days.

The problem begins with a serious flaw in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is the 2005 federal law that mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. This is where our now-common regular gasoline with a 10 percent ethanol blend (E10) came from. Now E15 is scheduled to replace E10. The trouble is that all marine engines, motorcycles, ATV, small engines (lawnmowers, chain saws, etc.), and older automobiles might tolerate E10, but they are damaged by E15. And manufacturer’s warrantees are often voided by using E15.

When the RFS was written, it was assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to rise. However, U.S. gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily since 2005 and now the RFS law forces more corn ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline. What’s more, RFS dictates a reduction in the production of non-blended gasoline (E0), the fuel that all of the above engines were designed to use.

The nation’s largest boating advocacy, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), wants EPA to immediately halt any expansion of E15 fuel availability and is asking recreational boaters to speak up now to stop the summertime sale of E15. It offers an easy way contact the EPA by going to http://bit.ly/2UyyMFV . Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Among other useful information this site has a helpful chart that names the older automobiles at risk.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is also concerned with the EPA’s proposed increase of E15 fuels. It offers the following link to submit original comments to the EPA: www.votervoice.net/NMMA/Campaigns/64343/Respond. The NMMA strongly encourages filers to personalize the beginning and end of the pre-populated message in “Boating United”. EPA will not count identical comments.

TURKEY: That’s more like it. The first spring turkey hunt of 2019 on the Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area was held April 13-14, and the harvest was back to normal. A total of 22 birds was taken, 19 adults and three juveniles. The largest tom weighed 23.6 pounds, the longest beard was 11.2 inches, and the longest spur was 1.2 inches. None was retained due to internal radiological contamination.

Last year the first hunt harvest was only 10 turkeys, half of the average harvest for the last 10 years; in 2017 it was a more typical 21 birds. The lowest take has been 8 in 2008 and the highest was 36 in 2011.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share with news with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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