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Outdoors notebook: Bald eagles approaching new status

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Pennsylvania is marking a milestone this year. It was 30 years ago that the Pennsylvania Game Commission launched efforts to re-establish wild eagles in the state.

That work has succeeded to the point that the agency might, this summer, consider moving eagles off the list of threatened species, said Dan Brauning, chief of its wildlife diversity section.

Southwestern Pennsylvania is one area where the eagles are doing well.

Beth Fife, a wildlife conservation officer for the commission in Allegheny County, has long received reports of eagles in the area, with more in the last year than ever. She recently saw her first one in Upper St. Clair.

“While driving past the old Mayview Hospital, I did a double take and tried not to wreck the car. There was a mature bald eagle flying west right down the valley,” she said.

Conservation officer Seth Mesoras said eagles have been spotted more frequently along the Conemaugh River near Johnstown, too. Christopher Deal, a conservation officer in Butler County, said he's seen eagles there this winter as well.

Big money

Outdoor recreation is big business in America, according to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association.

It revealed that more than 140 million Americans make outdoor recreation a priority each year, spending $646 billion on their pursuits. The money helps support 6.1 million jobs, and it generates $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $39.7 billion in state and local tax revenues.

It is estimated of the $646 billion spent on outdoor recreation, $120.7 billion is spent on gear and vehicles, while $524.8 billion is spent on trips.

River of the year

The Monongahela has been chosen as Pennsylvania's river of the year.

Public voting decided the issue, singling out the Monongahela above the Schuylkill, Lackawanna, Kiski, Swatara and Juniata rivers, in that order. The designation means the river will host a sojourn for paddlers and other activities designed to focus on its health, needs and the communities along its banks this year.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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