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Frye: Times may change, but issues don't

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 11:51 p.m.

A few late-summer random thoughts:

• It was interesting to hear Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commissioners Len Lichvar of Somerset County and Norm Gavlick of Luzerne County talk about annual reports from the agency dated 1899 and 1889, respectively, they've acquired.

Reading the more recent of the two, Lichvar said he noticed some similarities to the commission's current challenges.

“In 1899, guess what they were dealing with? They had a cash-flow problem,” Lichvar said. “They were in debt $13,000, and they had to close two hatcheries.”

Likewise, the commission last fall announced plans to close two trout hatcheries to fend off a looming budget crisis. It's since agreed to delay that for a year.

In 1899 the agency also was dealing with pollution and battling various industries over environmental regulations. There was even a “goldfish in the classroom” program similar to today's trout in the classroom aimed at teaching kids about aquatic resources.

“In 100 years the names changed, but otherwise it all seems pretty familiar to me,” Lichvar said.

• If you've been to Northmoreland Lake in the past few days, you may have glimpsed an unusual visitor.

A double-crested cormorant — a waterbird related to the pelican — has been hanging out there. They're not as rare in Pennsylvania as they once were. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has, in fact, gotten federal authority to depopulate them in bunches on Wade Island — in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg — where they've threatened to out-compete colonies of endangered great egret and black-crowned night herons.

But they are a somewhat rare treat, distinctive for their habit of perching on rocks or shore, wings spread, to dry themselves off.

• Amazingly, the great ammo shortage continues.

What's funny, though, is that with fall approaching, some of the larger box stores have been announcing “huge” shipments of incoming ammo. One even sent out an email touting its online sales. Yet the day it came, a click showed .22 long rifle ammo was already out of stock.

Who'd have thought we'd ever see the day when you couldn't buy .22s? They were like pennies once. Scoring a box now is like striking gold.

• One of the best times of the year for the outdoors is almost here. Early fall brings with it renewed action on the fishing front as well as the start of hunting seasons, all of it against a backdrop of cooler weather and colorful scenery.

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

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