I Have a Gripe

November 3, 2013

Conservation Area Fishing

Filed under: New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 9:24 pm
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Those of you who known me know I am a long-time fly angler and advocate of catch-and-release fishing. In New Jersey, less than five miles of the approximately 8,600 miles of streams and rivers are catch-and-release. I find that appalling and have long advocated for more conservation areas.

Well, New Jersey is finally listening.

New Jersey’s Fish and Game Council, and the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is proposing amendments to the 2014 – 2015 Fish Code. The proposed amendments include changes to conservation areas. The Big Flat Brook section to Roy Bridge currently has a liberal harvest limit of six trout with a minimum size of nine inches (yes, nine) from Opening Day to May 31 and four trout all other times.

Electrofishing surveys conducted during the summer of 2007, 2012 and 2013 indicate very few trout remaining by mid-summer. The low number of trout may be a result of one or more factors, including significant harvest by anglers and/or a variety of ecological conditions.

To determine the role harvest plays in limited trout availability, the Council proposes year round catch and release regulations for the 4.2 mile stretch, from the Route 206 stretch downstream to the Roy bridge. The regulations should result in an increase in trout abundance, improve catch rates, and ultimately enhanced angler satisfaction. As hooking mortality is higher with live bait than with artificial lures and flies, the possession or use of bait is proposed to be prohibited at all times. For similar reasons, artificially enhanced substances are also proposed to be prohibited. A 2012 Trout Angler Survey indicate that 11% of anglers who fish the first nine days of the season in the fly stretch use bait. The current gear restriction for fly fishing is also proposed to be amended to allow spin fishing and artificial lures and flies for the entire 4.2 mile stretch, including the Blewett Tract. The Division will continue to monitor the fisheries population in response to any regulatory change.

I just sent the follow comment to the state regarding the proposed change:

As a long-time angler of the Big Flatbook Roy Bridge region, I encourage the state to change the regulation to a year-round conservation area. I avoid the initial opening season time period as I find it quite crowded, but I have seen the number and size of fish anglers keep in that area and I am often appalled at how many and the size of fish are immediately taken from the region. As a result, there are very few fish left by the time I get to fish the area.

I have long advocated for more conservation areas in the state and always practice catch-and-release. There are very few conservation areas in the state as compared to the total number of miles of water available for fishing. As a result,I feel this change in regulation would not negatively impact those who practice catch-and-keep fishing. Additionally, I would like to see the state consider raising the minimum fish harvesting size to a minimum of 12 inches as opposed to the current nine. A nine inch fish provides very little meat. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be changed.

While I am a member of the East Jersey Chapter of Trout Unlimited, my opinion in no way has anything to do with my association. I have long advocated these positions far prior to my membership with TU.

I hope you will take my comments into consideration prior to making your final decision.

Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten
Fly Angler and Catch-and-Release Angler

If you are an angler in New Jersey and would like to see more conservation areas, I encourage you to submit your comments to: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/news/2013/fishcode_proposal.htm by November 15th.




March 3, 2011

Support for Suspended Philly Teacher

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 2:20 pm
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In a recent post, I shared my opinions about a teacher that was suspended for blogging about her students that are “lazy, whiners.” Well, in an update, this teacher is receiving tons of support! The school system? Not so much.

“Ms. Munroe, by her own actions, has made it impossible for her to teach in this district,” according to a prepared statement read during a school board meeting. “No students should be subjected to such a hostile educational environment.”

Hostile educational environment? Seriously?

Many, however, are coming to the teacher’s side showing support. Paul Carpenter of the The Morning Call, wrote a great editorial and commentary about the entire situation, citing blame all around.

“Nevertheless, commentary that is not soothing to students, no matter how rotten they are, is not well received by the hand-wringers who feel all young people should be lovingly patted on their heads at all times. I’ve never been able to discuss stupid, criminal or lazy students without angry parents and others attacking me for being ‘insensitive’ or ‘insulting.'”

Mr. Carpenter is absolutely correct. More and more teachers, and the school system as a whole, are expected to be both educator and parent. That is, until the educator needs to reprimand the student. Then the parent is all of a sudden involved. Shameful.

Additionally, instead of the school system using this as a way to show parents they need to take a more active role in their child’s education, what are they doing? They are reviewing and establishing policies for teachers that blog. Oh yeah, that makes sense.

I echo Mr. Carpenter’s comments:

“If society does not like the message Munroe’s blog delivered, it should not kill the messenger. It should think about being more demanding and getting a lot tougher on the students who attend public schools.”

Public school goes beyond a “right.” It is a collective responsibility and students and their parents need to take that responsibility seriously if we expect our future generations to be able to lead this country forward.

September 24, 2010

It Can Be a Palace Again

There was a palace that was a city. It was a palace! It was a palace and it can be a palace again!

That is a line from the movie City Hall. I saw that movie years ago and that line really struck me. Well today, the city of my birth received a major gift that can help make that city a palace again.

There was a palace that was a city. It was a palace! It was a palace and it can be a palace again!

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg today has donated $100 million to the education system of the city of Newark in New Jersey.

Now some cynics say that the only reason he is doing this in an attempt to offset a soon-to-be-released movie that paints him in a very poor light. Is this is true motive? I have absolutely no idea. Do I really care? No, I don’t.

While I am a registered Republican, I really believe that Newark Mayor Corey Booker is truly working hard to turn the city of Newark around. However, as in many places today, his resources are very limited. Through this donation, he now has the financial resources to bring the his failing schools up to success. I certainly wish him all the best and hope that they are able to put it to the best use possible. My only request Mr. Mayor is that you include the arts and music in your plans for the new funds you now have available to you. I completely understand new books, computers, science classroom equipment are needed, I implore you to not forget this important part of curriculum. I am the person I am because of the music department. That is where I found my place and my home.

I will say I was a tad upset with some of the things Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive of the Harlem Children’s Zone, had to say on Oprah’s show on Friday during the donation ceremony. In full disclosure, I am proud to be married to a 24-year band director. He takes his job as a teacher very seriously. He looks at it not just as teaching, but truly as a ministry. That is why I am extra protective when I hear people bashing teachers. I am the first one to say there are bad teachers in school systems. God knows I had a few that to this day I don’t know what I would say to them if I bumped into them. However, there are many more that are great.  We spend lots of our own money providing to his classroom and I even had my former job donate computers and desks to his school system when we needed to dispose of perfectly good equipment. I truly believe there is plenty of blame to go around, just as there is plenty of success. It needs to be easier to get bad teachers out of the way. Parents need to take more personal responsibility and not just drop their kids off and expect the school system to raise their children. The teacher’s union needs to become more of a partner and less of a hindrance by protecting the good teachers and cutting off the bad.

If everyone plays their part, I truly believe it can be a palace again.

September 20, 2010

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church: Lost in the Ground Zero Religion Debate

There were many souls lost on 9-11 in Shanksville, Washington D.C. and of course New York City. There was another lost, however, that many have forgotten. Or may not have even known existed. Its soul may not have been lost, but it is definitely in purgatory due to no fault of its own.

As of late, the “religion debate” at Ground Zero has centered around a planned, and incredibly controversial, Mosque just steps from where those once great Towers stood. But, even more importantly, nine years later, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church has still not been rebuilt and isn’t even close to it.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was founded in 1916 by Greek immigrants, who dedicated the church to the patron saint of sailors. The Church was located at 155 Cedar St. and was completely destroyed when the Twin Towers fell. Now, that location is part of the construction site to rebuild the World Trade Center, the 9-11 Memorial and all the surrounding work. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey promised they would work to rebuild the church. Nine years later? Nothing.

Since that terrible day, there have been multiple changes of the guard in Albany as well as at the Port Authority. Negotiations to move St. Nicholas to nearby location have gone from slow to non-existent. While Governor Paterson has done little to help facilitate the rebuilding of this historic Church, he was willing to quickly step in to “work to resolve” the controversy of the Ground Zero Mosque, even potentially offering up a city-owned location for the Mosque.

There is rightful outrage, in my opinion, about the Ground Zero Mosque, but I ask where is the outrage that this Church has not been rebuilt?

Many in the mainstream press have all but ignored this story. When it has been covered, it has tried to paint those representing the Church in negotiations with the Port Authority as greedy and unreasonable. In all my research and reading, however, I have not found this to be true. If anything, it has been the Port Authority that has all but commandeered the Church’s original location and stalled and stammered at ever turn. In over a year, the Port Authority has not had negotiations with the Church leaders and have even gone as far as reneging on the alternate location.

I ask that you take up the fight of St. Nicholas Church. This should be rebuilt long before any Mosque steps from hallowed ground. St. Nicholas Church needs to be rebuilt. Without it, the open wounds of 9-11 will never begin to heal.

May 8, 2010

See Something, Say Something

This past week there was a terrorism scare in New York City at the famed Times Square. Thanks to two observant street vendors (and veterans), a quick moving investigation by the NYPD, FBI and I am sure lots of others we will never hear about arrested a suspect just days later. This taught the entire country the NYC mantra – see something, say something.

It is important to alert authorities if you see something that looks questionable or suspicious. I have actually reported two suspicious items since 9-11; one was just a few a weeks ago. I was getting on the 33rd Street PATH when I saw a bag without an owner. I couldn’t find anyone, so when I arrived in Hoboken, I found an officer and a PATH worker and told them exactly what I saw and where I saw it. They thanked me for reporting it and said they would dispatch someone to investigate. I’m sure it was nothing because I never heard anything on the news, but it was still important to report what I saw.

Another time I was driving home on Rt. 280 when I saw a large drum upright in the median. I hadn’t seen it the day before, so I pulled over and called the local police to explain what I saw. They transferred me to the New Jersey State Troopers so I can report what I saw. I started with the explanation, “I’m not a nut, but there is something on Rt. 280 that wasn’t there yesterday.” They told me not to feel like “a nut” and thanked me for reporting the information.

So, in the end, I hope everyone follows the advice of the NYPD and if you see something, say something!

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