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Outdoor Notes : Newport Dredging Has Little Effect on Wildlife

Dredging, which began Feb. 3, continues in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, carving a path 100 feet wide and 14 feet deep up the main tide channel with little visible effect on the resident wildlife.

Said Dana Base, a wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said a record-high 119 breeding pairs of the endangered light-footed clapper rail were spotted in the reserve this spring.”

The $3.7-million project, scheduled to end late this year, will remove more than 1.1-million cubic yards of sediment from the lower part of the bay. According to Base, sediment has been washing into the bay from San Diego Creek, the bay’s main inlet, for years and must be removed if the reserve is to survive.

The dredged silt is taken to a dump site, approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, three miles off shore.

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According to the DFG, the reserve is a 752-acre wetland inhabited by about 90 migratory and 75 resident bird species, 60 fish species, 20 amphibian and reptile species and 10 mammal species. It is home for two endangered bird species and two endangered plant species.

“Numerous careful measures have been implemented to minimize potential impacts,” Base said of possible adverse effects on reserve wildlife.

The reserve is popular with bird watchers, naturalists and teachers. Financing the project are the DFG, the Irvine Co., the city of Newport Beach, the city of Irvine and Orange County.

Entrance fees could be charged this year, for the first time, at some national wildlife refuges if a proposal by the National Fish and Wildlife Service is accepted.

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Said Frank Dunkle, service director for the federal agency: “Money raised through these entrance fees would go toward refuge operations and the addition of new areas to the nation’s refuge system. These funds would provide an important means of bolstering deposits in the migratory bird conservation account, the service’s primary account for acquisition of vital wetland habitat.”

Fees, ranging from $2 a car to $1 a person, are being considered for three refuges in the service’s Pacific region--McKay Creek near Pendleton, Ore.; Dungeness near Port Angeles, Wash., and Kilauea Point on Kauai in Hawaii. Fees are also being considered for 16 refuges elsewhere in the country.

California big-game hunting licenses will be available in sporting goods stores and DFG offices next week, but hunting regulations booklets will be delayed until the week of June 15.

Said Karen Madrigal of the DFG license office in Sacramento: “If the hunter knows what zones he will hunt and is familiar with the process, application can be made to purchase tags when they become available. But if instruction is needed to complete the application procedure, it will be necessary to wait until the regulations booklets are available.”

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Applications will be available for deer, bear, antelope, elk, mountain lion and bighorn sheep. Aspiring elk, antelope, mountain lion and bighorn sheep hunters should refer to the mammal regulations before making application.

Hunters new to the sport must get a hunter safety card before a license will be issued. Information on hunter safety classes can be had by calling (213) 590-5670.

Briefly Wildlife Conservation Board members have approved the spending of $126,000 for two new fishing piers on Lake Evans in Riverside. . . . The DFG is soliciting volunteers to help with the installation of a big-game watering device June 6-7 in the Clark Mountains of northern San Bernardino County and a wild-sheep survey July 2-4 in the Old Woman Mountains of southeastern San Bernardino County. For additional information, call (213) 590-5158. . . . The Chevron Corp. has donated $5,000 to the Black-footed Ferret Fund established last year by the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. to help the captive-breeding program of the endangered species. . . . Couldn’t the proclaimers get together? Next week has been proclaimed National Fishing Week and the following week, June 7-13, has been proclaimed Safe Boating Week.

Projects dealing with the raising of white sea bass and California halibut will be explained to the public at the seventh San Diego and Sea Seminar next Wednesday in the USD Salomon Lecture Hall at 7 p.m. . . . The San Diego Marlin Club will conduct a halibut fishing tournament June 6 between Oceanside and Point Descanso. For more information call (619) 225-1300. . . . Showtime: Don Bullock’s Anaheim Gun, Knife and Collectors’ Show, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Anaheim Convention Center; Marina del Rey New Power and Sailboat Show, June 10-14, Burton Chace Park county dock at the end of Mindanao Way; Fred Hall’s Western Recreation Vehicle Show, June 10-14, Long Beach Convention Center.

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