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Volume 15, Issue 40 ~ October 4 - October 10, 2007

Way Downstream

From Annapolis, here’s a better-boding bookend to last week’s report on the scarcity of young blue crabs noted by Maryland Department of Natural Resources in the annual survey of the species. Rockfish news is as good as blue crab is bad. This year’s young-of-the-year index will settle in between 13 and 15, when the counting is done. An index of 12 is the average over half a century, making ’07 a better than average year. “It’s not a dominant year,” DNR’s Fisheries Service director told reporters, “but it ensures rockfish will be in the fishery in years to come …

Annapolis’ free bike-loan program didn’t pump cars off city roads this summer. Still, Free Wheelin’s 35 donated bikes attracted nearly six dozen cyclists. Many were boaters who borrowed the bikes to pedal around town; 14 riders were international travelers. Free Wheelin’ returns next June for two and a half months, with additional sign-out spots and access to medical professionals for bike-related injuries. Donate a bike for 2008: [email protected]

In Calvert County, billboards are coming — to solve the unsightly problem of, you guessed it, billboards. Hoping to manage the uncontrolled proliferation of promotional signs posted by an active community, the County Commissioners voted to install five four-by-eight-foot billboards at the entrance of three county parks and Appeal Landfill. All other signs would be banned there.

Dissenting Commissioner Susan Shaw derided the plan as “institutionalizing litter on a stick.” Commissioner Barbara Stinnett also opposed, for opposite reasons: “We’re not a manicured county.”

Stinnett needn’t worry. The new restriction applies only to parks and dumps. Calvert’s zoning allows organizations to post the same size signs just about everywhere else …

From Annapolis to Deale with 40 stops in between, the South County Connection lives. The Annapolis Transit’s rural bus route was due to end last week after federal funding was reallocated (Commentary: Vol. xv, No. 39: Oct. 27). But on the route’s last day, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold saved the C-50 route. With county funding, the bus — now operated by the Anne Arundel County’s Office of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Social Services — continues on its regular schedule at least till June 2008 …

In Western and Northern Maryland, Department of Natural Resources is warning people to expect extra-hungry black bears prowling for garbage and human food leavings as they bulk up this fall for hibernation. Why’s that? Natural food such as acorns and hickory nuts are scarcer this year due to drought …

In Virginia, they’ve caught so many rockfish that the state is imposing new limits. Last year’s Virginia quota was 1.6 million pounds, but fishermen shattered that limit by 50 percent, taking 2.4 million pounds. It was the third time in four years they’ve gone over the recreational quota.

So starting this week, there’s a no-take rule on fish between 28 and 34 inches for the rest of the year. That means, Virginians, that you must throw it back …

Our Creature Feature comes from Florida, where a jumping sturgeon may have caused the death of a man who disappeared last week on the Suwannee River.

We at Bay Weekly can attest to flying carp on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers because some of us have been slimed by these airborne creatures. But we never heard of any deaths until the report last week that Florida authorities are investigating whether a flying sturgeon caused a 22-year-old man to fall out of a 12-foot aluminum boat and disappear into the storied Suwannee, which flows from south Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico.

Nine people have been injured in Florida already this year by jumping sturgeon, a bony-plated, prehistoric fish that can grow eight feet long and can tip the scales at 200 pounds.

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