National Park Week underway
National Park Week 2005 is now in full swing as it continues through April 24th, following the theme of National Parks: America's Gift to the World. For a complete list of National Park Week events, visit the National Park Week website at http://www.nps.gov/npweek
National Volunteer Week continues through April 23
Utah State Parks and Recreation publicly thanks its 450 volunteers statewide serving as camp hosts, docents, trail maintenance crews, lead school group programs, and instructors, who educate youth in safe operation of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and personnel watercraft (PWC), as well as those that help staff the park visitor centers.
Every year volunteers donate approximately 100,000 hours of service to the Division, saving taxpayers over $1 million. Volunteers not only serve in parks, but help build community support and expand services and programs by supplementing full-time staff.
Robin Watson-Hullinger, volunteer services coordinator, commented, "We could not be successful without volunteers. They assist park staff with projects and services that otherwise would not be completed." For information on volunteer opportunities with Utah State Parks, contact Robin Watson-Hullinger at (801) 537-3445.
Celebrate Earth Day at the Ogden Nature Center
Earth Day activities await at the Ogden Nature Center on Sat. April 23 from noon to 4 p.m., as the center invites everyone to explore the trails and enjoy their exhibits. Admission is free.
Featured at the festivities are Earth-friendly exhibitors, a rock climbing wall, wildlife presentations on birds of prey and other animals. Also awaiting is the water-wise plant sale, exhibits from the 12th annual birdhouse competition and "The Earth and Me" art poster contest for students ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade. The birdhouse awards reception is scheduled at 10 a.m. while poster winners will be announced at 11 a.m.
Kid activities include face painting, fossil making and other fun crafts. Visitors are invited to donate household and clothing items to the Salvation Army on site at the center. Musical entertainment includes performances by Stone Circle and Dance by Celtic Beat. For more information, call (801) 621-7595.
Watch Rocky Mountain Goats April 23
With warmer weather, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources invites residents to view Rocky Mountain goats at their annual free field trip at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, in Salt Lake County on Sat., April 23. Visitors may watch and enjoy their surefooted antics from the Park and Ride lot from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. No pre-registration is required.
Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, commented, "Powerful scopes and binoculars will be available to enhance the views of this remarkable animal. Rocky Mountain goat fact cards and posters will be distributed to everyone in attendance."
The field trip, which will not require leaving the Park and Ride lot area, is sponsored by the Division of Wildlife Resources' Watchable Wildlife program. For more information, call Walters at (801) 538-4771.
Successful Anglers use Thermometers- Tips provided
Warmer temperatures have many anglers anxious to try some fast and furious spring fishing. Tom Pettengill, Sport Fish Coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, reports that warming waters are causing fish to become more active at many of our lower elevation waters.
Pettengill recommends anglers prepare to make your early spring angling efforts this season more enjoyable, "If reels were spooled last spring or summer, I recommend anglers change out that line for some new fishing line...Buy the best quality line you can buy. You don't want to take a chance on that old line. It might mean catching the fish of a lifetime or losing it. Plus by respooling, your reels will be full, you will be able to cast farther, and you will have a more enjoyable fishing trip."
Pettengill included some additional tips for warming fishing waters, "As you are driving around fishing, watch that temperature gauge. Some areas or canyons, because of their orientation to the sun or water clarity will warm up faster. That's the key, if you can find water temperatures between 55 and 57 degrees F, you are likely to catch more fish, especially bass and crappie." He added that bass and trout respond at different temperatures, triggering them to feed and become more or less active.
If your fish finder does not have a temperature sensor, Pettengill recommends using a household thermometer. Hold it underwater for one minute and check the reading. If it is too cold, move to shallower water.
To compound these influences, catching more fish this year may not be linked using the best scents on your lures as much as much as removing the offensive odors. Over the past decade, researchers at Spirit Lake-based Outdoor Technologies Group have devoted a great deal of work into determining which chemicals and ingredients fish find attractive and those to be offensive. Their findings have led to the creation of Berkley Power Bait and their newest creation Berkly Turbo Dough, the top-selling artificial soft baits in the U.S.
But in addition to finding out what fish like, research has also uncovered some things that fish don't like. John Prochnow, O.T.G.'s Product Development Manager for baits, reported, "There are a few everyday type things that really turn fish off. These are things you want to avoid if you're trying to catch fish." Five of the biggest, and most common, culprits that can keep you from catching fish include:
*Sunscreen: Prochnow commented,"There are chemicals in sunscreens which fish perceive as a real negative. We're not saying not to use sunscreen, but be sure and rinse your hands well after you've applied it."
*Insect Repellent: "There is a chemical found in insect repellent known as 'Deet' that can really turn fish off in a big way," continued Prochnow. "If you want to catch more fish than your buddy, just spray his baits with insect repellents."
*Fragrances: "Many of the various fragrances that are put into soaps, for instance, are synthetic. And most synthetic compounds are viewed negatively by fish," according to Prochnow, who worked in the fragrance industry before joining O.T.G. in 1986.
*Nicotine: Ever heard the old myth that spitting a little tobacco on your lure makes it more appealing to the fish? Forget it, Prochnow says. "Smoke from cigarettes or spit from chewing tobacco can be a negative factor also."
Prochnow says that in addition to the items listed above, there are a few other bugaboos to beware of when trying to "get bit." Many preservatives, alcohol towellettes and waterless washes should all be treated as suspect because many have surfactants that can turn fish off. The chemist added that the bottom line is to just keep your hands clean and as 'odor free' as possible, and in tough fishing situations it will definitely increase your odds.
Prochnow suggests that it is important for anglers to understand that people and fish live in two different worlds. "So what may be a positive for humans, may well be a negative for fish.
For fish, things need to be water soluble in order for them to relate to it as food. For humans, things need to be air volatile. What we smell, and what fish smell, are totally different things."
Are they big enough factors to make a difference always? Probably not," according to the chemist. "When fish are aggressive, they'll slam the bait first and ask questions later. There you're dealing with how long they'll hang onto the bait. But when fish are negatively inclined to bite, that's when you have to pay attention to details. That's when you want to make sure you're not presenting any negatives to the fish."
When asked about WD-40 as an effective fish attractant, he responded, "WD-40 is in my mind, at best, a masking agent…it can possibly cover negative odors on your lures. But what does it do to positive odors or scents? The same thing, it covers them up, too." The reason is that oils or large molecules are not able to be detected by a fish's olfactory system (taste buds). Taste buds are like locks and keys. Taste buds are the lock, and the molecules are the key. These types of chemicals don't allow the fish to send a message to the brain, because the lock doesn't fit right into the key. As a result, that is why water soluble ingredients like Power Bait scents or attractants are so important."
Migratory Birds viewed along Wasatch
As the days become warmer and snow melts from the ground, now is the time to view unique migratory birds, as many pass through the state of Utah. Whether you participate in guided excursions or head out on your own, bird watching enthusiasts are becoming very excited with the opportunities that await.
Frank Howe, Coordinator for Partners in Flight, discussed their patterns, "These birds fly, or migrate, from their wintering areas in Mexico and other warmer places to Utah. Some of these species of migrants may also be year-round residents. It's not uncommon to see American robins and black-capped chickadees during the late winter months and then hear and see more of them during springtime."
Cecile LeBlanc, Wetlands Specialist from the Division of Wildlife Resources, continued, "The international migration of hundreds of bird species connects Utah with Central and South America. For instance, the same oriole seen nesting in Utah this summer may have spent the winter in Costa Rica. These migratory birds travel thousands of miles to winter in the south, then return to Utah's wetlands to breed and raise their young."
"All types of wetlands are important to birds. Riparian wetlands, or streamside woods, are particularly important for willow flycatchers, yellow-billed cuckoos, and common yellowthroats which, because of declining populations and/or ranges, are listed as species of special concern. Several other species, like the northern (Bullock's) oriole, broad-tailed hummingbird and the lazuli bunting are still abundant, but at risk because of the loss of wetland habitats in North America and the tropics.
Howe noted that migratory bird viewing is typically only minutes away from our homes. "Riparian areas with a stream and its associated foliage of willows, cattails, trees, and grasses are ideal for birdwatching statewide." Particularly good viewing areas include Rock Cliff Nature Center at Jordanelle State Park, various areas along the Jordan River, wetlands surrounding Utah Lake State Park, and the marshlands near the Great Salt Lake. Loyal Clark, from the US Forest Service, suggested, "To enhance your experience, dress appropriately, bring binoculars, a lunch, and a bird identification book if you have one..."
Houghton Mifflin offers easy-to-use bird identification "Flash Cards," by Roger Tory Peterson. These laminated cards simplify bird viewing by placing color illustrations on one foldable page, allowing faster identification than can be obtained with many bird identification books. These cards overcome the frustration that amateur bird viewers have as they scan several pages while the bird flies away. Over 100 birds are identified on each of the available flash cards, including Western Trailside Birds, Hawks, and Backyard Birds. Brief descriptions identify striking characteristics or habits of the birds including viewing seasons and feeding habits to identify which bird feeders attract which species. For more information about migratory birds, contact Frank Howe at (801)538-4764 or Scott Root (801)491-5678.