In the United States there are some 165 areas officially classified as wilderness. Some are included in national forests, parks and monuments, wildlife refuges or on Indian reservations, and all are virtually roadless. None, though, enjoys any congressional guarantee that it will be perpetually maintained in a wilderness state.
Before June 6 Senator Hubert Humphrey (Dem.) of Minnesota will introduce a bill which he calls the National Wilderness Preservation Act and which will make it illegal to tamper further with these areas.
Senator Humphrey's bill reflects the sentiment of many Americans that in a rapidly expanding economy some undiluted wilderness free from any economic activity is a spiritual necessity. Conservationists regard Humphrey's proposal as something long overdue. But they are aware that any legislation which places so much lumber and mineral resource beyond the realm of development faces a rocky, although not impassable, road to enactment.
June 3, 1956
ACRES OF ARMY
The Army may expand Fort Sill, Oklahoma onto 10,700 acres of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. In the course of hearings last week in Washington on a bill which would permit this, J. Clark Salyer, Chief, Branch of Wildlife Refuges of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has some strong points to make: "This first slice of the melon is not the last one...The 10,700-acre loss will curtail wildlife by 35%. I am sure this is a continued inching...The Army has de-occupied its war-occupied lands—Japan, for instance—but not our refuges. I think the first destroyer of our wildlife is our Defense Department. We have become a race of midget-minded people riding around on rockets and super guns which we can't fire without destroying our economy and the refuges at the same time...Make no mistake about it, any land the Army takes over will be a private hunting club for the higher echelon, plus some civilians who play the Army game."
Salyer, in his obvious anger, also referred to the Air Force, which has already taken one million acres from the Desert Game Range in Nevada, home of the last remaining major bighorn sheep herd in the country (some 1,500 animals strong), and is now demanding another 750,000, which means just about all that is left.
The Army answered clearly and firmly. It is expanding west from Fort Sill, where it is buying 20,000 acres of private property as an "impact" area. The refuge land is needed as a buffer zone in the overriding interest of public safety.
Charlie Garvin, manager of sporting goods department at Rich's in Knoxville, Tenn., is something of a skeptic. He doubts many of those sad tales about "the one that got away," and his doubts are well taken. Recently Charlie placed a weight under a box and attached it to a spinning outfit through a small hole in the top. He then put his contrivance on display and offered the entire rig to that person who could heft the rod and guess closest to the weight.
More than 100 self-confessed anglers tried their luck and only six came within a pound of the correct answer. Winner was Price Wilkins, a Tennessee fisheries biologist who estimated one pound. Actual weight of the hidden "fish," 14 ounces, but, said Charlie Garvin to an SI correspondent, "you'd be surprised at the number of fishermen who guessed up around 18 and 20 pounds."
THE LONG HAND
Four years ago, after the conservationists had battled for decades for a nonpolitical Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment which created one. Last week newly elected Governor Earl K. Long (brother of the late Huey) blatantly threw the commission back into the political grab bag.
At his behest the required two-thirds of a sympathetic legislature used its constitutional prerogative to remove from office "for reasonable cause" any state official except the governor himself. Out went what was considered a blue-ribbon Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, including Chairman Alfred C. Glassell, father of famed sports-fisherman Alfred C. Jr. (SI cover, March 19).
A reasonable summation of the "reasonable cause?" "...The continued administration of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission consisting of members not appointed by or friendly to or responsible to the governor obstructs the fulfillment of the peoples' mandate...."
The stocking of "splake" in Highland Lake, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania has produced some interesting data on this hybrid from a brook-lake trout cross.
Last fall the State Fish Commission released both splake and brown trout fingerlings in the lake and then checked the result just before opening day of this year. Some splake, it found, had grown to 12 inches and most to at least nine. Few if any of the brown trout fingerlings had yet managed to reach a legal six inches.
Biologists claim that splake, first produced during the 1880s, will not only outgrow but also outfight and outlive either parent species.
SO—season opened (Or opens); SC—season closed (or closes).
C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy.
N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling.
WT50—water temperature 50°.
FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP—outlook poor
TROUT: PENNSYLVANIA: Gloomy spy reports weather still horrible and FP throughout central part of state. WT 54-58, and OP.
OREGON: Snow runoff making streams H and R in most of state. FG, though, on Metolius River, with rainbows to 4 pounds taking deep-fished wet flies.
CALIFORNIA: Most northern and central streams H, R and OF. Bear River and other tributaries of Pit River producing some good catches. Tule and Yosemite Valley streams remote but OG. Mad River drainage basin, Humboldt and Del Norte counties SO May 30, and OF/G.
MICHIGAN: Scattered hatches of stone flies and early May drakes reported on the Au Gres and north and south branches of Au Sable; OF/G with warming weather.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Upper Connecticut River falling, with rainbows to 3 pounds being taken; OG. Lake Winnisquam producing some fat rainbows and lakers with Lake Sunapee improving for lakers, goldens and hybrids; OG.
COLORADO: Heavy rains have held down results in much of state after hopeful May 19 opening. Arkansas, Animas, San Juan and Gunnison rivers H and R and OP/F for next week or so. Frying Pan, Roaring Fork and Crystal rivers rising, but OF. North Fork of South Platte clearing with road open to within 300 yards of Jefferson Lake. Small streams above Steamboat Springs H but clear; OF/G.
WASHINGTON: Action still confined mostly to lowland lakes. Snow runoff makes lower sections of streams H and R, but upstream waters clear and OG. Sea-run cutthroats to 4 pounds being taken right off beach at Port Susan Bay, Saratoga Passage and south end of Camano Island; FG with flies and spoons. Hutchinson, Sumas, Saar, Johnson and Maple creeks in Whatcom County yielding nice creels of rainbow and cutthroats; OG.
VERMONT: Lake trout to 10 pounds hitting in Averill Lake. Castleton River showing brookies to 16 inches, and 9-pound brown taken last week. OG generally.
MISSOURI: Fly-fishermen scoring heavily on brown trout in Bennett Spring Lake; most catches between one and 2 pounds with a few scattered 3-pounders. OVG.
MAINE: Moosehead Lake, West Grand Lake, Fish River lakes, and Kennebec River hot spots for brook trout, and OG. Bangor Banker George D. Everett connected for 16 squaretails in shoals off Moosehead's Sugar and Deer islands last week. Everett released 12, including a double-header of 2-pounders.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: Provincial spy advises things are good all over with Kamloops trout lakes hottest spots. Lake Peterhope giving limits to 4 pounds and OVG for Hyas, Paul, Lejeune and Big Bar lakes. Results on Shuswap Lake remind sourdoughs of old times, as Al Saunders of San Diego, Calif. creeled eight Kamloops trout for a total of 59 pounds. Streams still H and R, OF.
NEW YORK: Esopus Creek milky below Woodland Valley junction, but WT 54-58 and ideal for wet-fly work, with scattered hatches in afternoon and evening (Quill Gordons, Hendricksons and Light Cahills). Portal should stay shut through June, and OVG from now through July 4th. Rainbow run was below par, but a few big fish (to 26 inches) reported. In Adirondacks both branches of Ausable still too high and cold for fly-fishing, but spin casters and bait fishermen are doing well. FF/G with wet and dry flies on Chazy River, but Saranac is too high even for spinning.
TUNA: BAHAMAS: Annual Cat Cay Tournament in full swing, with Carl S. Badenhausen Jr. of Short Hills, N.J. in the lead after boating three fish totaling 1,368 pounds. World record "no thread" tuna catch claimed by Bill Carpenter, Wilmington, Del. explorer, who thought light-tackle fishermen needed spoofing. Carpenter herded 469-pound bluefin into shallow water where mate gaffed and boated it.
STRIPED BASS: CALIFORNIA: Main channel of San Joaquin good up to Manteca, indicating run into delta resumed. Surfers scoring off Baker Beach at Golden Gate. OG.
MASSACHUSETTS: Sea worms attractive to school fish in Weweantic River and off Cape Cod's Popponessett Beach. OG for small fish but nothing big reported so far.
NEW JERSEY: OVG for big bass trolling below Sandy Hook with bunker spoons during day and rigged eels or plugs at night. OG for surfmen and jetty jockeys.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Limit catches reported from many areas but real excitement below Wateree Dam near Camden in front of Lake Marion Spillway where fish are averaging 8 to 10 pounds. Santee-Cooper diversion canal also hot. Saluda River above Columbia coughed up 30-pounder for Allen Arehart last week. Take your pick, and OG.
ATLANTIC SALMON: NEW BRUNSWICK: First salmon of season, a 7-pounder, taken at Hartland Pool on St. John River last week by perennial firster Angus Fraser. Most rivers still H and R as cold weather holds back season.
MAINE: Narraguagus, Machias, Dennys rivers in ideal shape, and OG.
NOVA SCOTIA: Water H and cold but 117 fish killed last week with Annapolis River and tributaries high scorers with 51. Lahave and Gold rivers yielded 15 and 17 fish respectively. Largest fish of week a 26-pounder taken in St. Mary's River, and OG generally.
BONEFISH: FLORIDA: Keys reek with boners from Key Largo to Key West with Islamorada most productive. Best bonefish story from Miami, where one bewildered angler caught a 7-pounder and asked local outdoor writer if it was a mullet.
BLACK BASS: TENNESSEE: FG but tapering off on Cherokee, Douglas, Luden and Cumberland lakes. Center Hill and Norris Lake OVG.
NORTH CAROLINA: Larry Mauer of Irvington. N.J. nailed largest bass reported so far from northeast waters of state when he took 7-pound 9-ouncer from Nags Head fresh pond. OF.
FLORIDA: East river in St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge hottest area in northwest Florida; St. John's River close second, and OVG. Withlacoochee and its backwaters producing fine catches, as is Lake Harris and Lake Tarpon 25 miles above Tampa. Central Florida still dry, but fishing picked up last week as Lake Harris and Lake Apopka near Orlando reported some fish. OF, but rain is desperately needed in many areas.
BLUEFISH: NEW JERSEY: Snappers churning Barnegat and Great bays where trollers in everything from rowboats to yachts have been registering heavy catches; OVG.
LOUISIANA: Three-to 4-pounders abundant around oil rigs where one party boated 200 fish in one evening.
NORTH CAROLINA: Oregon Inlet waters blitzed with snappers as one charter boat reported 450 fish last Thursday. OVG.
PACIFIC SALMON: WASHINGTON: Obstruction Pass. Orcas Island showing kings to 22 pounds. West port, Puget Sound and Fraser River spotty but OG.
CALIFORNIA: Outboard skiff anglers doing well off Bodega Bay with chinooks to 21 pounds. Freak run off southern California landings; deep-fished bait is best producer. Trolling fair out of Humboldt Bay but hottest action not likely until mid-June.
TARPON: FLOKIDA: West coast OVG at most popular spots. Keys angling reaching peak. M. M. Buchanan of Cocoa, Fla., fishing out of Marathon, battled estimated 125-pounder on spinning tackle for an hour and a half before losing it. Reports favorable all through Keys, with OVG through June.
LOUISIANA: Unprecedented tarpon run around Grande Isle and off southwest pass at the mouth of the Mississippi. Week's end saw wind scattering fish, but local dopesters predict torrid action when it moderates. Many fish topping 100 pounds, and OVG.
The great outdoors has its oddities, among them a tomcat in the more or less civilized town of Mamaroneck a few miles north of New York City.
Last week Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bull were startled to see their cat Pepper march into the house lugging a wailing but unharmed baby rabbit. Unaccustomed to dealing with wildlife, they relieved Pepper of the cottontail, popped it into a shoe box and gave Pepper a severe dressing down. Unimpressed, Pepper sauntered out the next morning and returned shortly with another bunny. This required another shoe box, and in the bustle Pepper returned with his third rabbit. At wits' end and fast running out of shoe boxes, the Bulls hailed the local SPCA, but before it could intercede Pepper had produced rabbit number four, and a neighbor had taken over the waifs from a bewildered but thankful Bull family. That should be the end of an intriguing tale, but a day later Pepper presented the Bulls with a fifth rabbit. As usual they clapped it in a shoe box and shunted it neighborward. All five bunnies are now thriving, but one Mamaroneck citizen was heard to mutter: "That cat could use a good psychoanalyst."
Among last week's notable catches were: a 10-pound LARGEMOUTH BASS taken in Center Hill Lake, Tenn. by Frank Rogers Jr. of Winchester, Ky.; by Levi McIntyre of Jamestown, N.Y., a 3-pound 15-ounce BROWN TROUT while fishing for carp on Stillwater Creek; a 5¾-pound CUTTHROAT TROUT taken from Lower Campbell Lake by Mrs. John F. Dick of Victoria, B.C.; by 73-year-old J. J. Carson of Petersburg, Va., a 9¾-pound BONEFISH near Islamorada after a 45-minute tussle on 8-pound test line and spinning tackle.