Monday, August 30, 2010
y Louis Porter Vermont Press Bureau - Published: April 12, 2010 MONTPELIER — Last month Alaska's Board of Fisheries voted to outlaw felt-soled fishing waders in that state by 2012. A much smaller, more liberal state at the opposite end of the country now seems poised to follow suit.
A bill which would prohibit the use of waders or fishing boots with felt soles has been approved by the Vermont House and is now being considered in the Senate's Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
Felt-soled waders provide better traction on wet underwater rocks for fishermen. But they also stay wet for a long time after they are used and can trap dirt and silt easily. That means they provide a good — if far from the only — vehicle for aquatic invasive species to be moved from one stream to another. And that matters to those worried about didymo (better known as rock snot), whirling disease and other invasive species.
"What are the species we don't even know about yet? We know they are out there," Robert Wiltshire of the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species in Montana told lawmakers by telephone Thursday. And such felt-soled waders are, Wiltshire said, very difficult or impossible to completely disinfect.
"It presents a unique problem," he said. Members of the Senate committee were interested in limiting or banning the use of such waders (the bill as approved by the House would go into effect in 2011).
Sen. Virginia Lyons, D-Chittenden, the committee's chairwoman, said she was interested in putting in place immediate restrictions on those rivers with didymo already living in them, such as the White, Battenkill and Mad Rivers.
"The goal is to eliminate the spread of didymo," she said.
Such a ban on felt-soled waders would not stop the spread of invasive species which travel other ways besides fishing boots, but it would help, experts told lawmakers.
Some states have told their fish and game officials to not wear felt-soled waders and some have considered bans for all fishermen, but none had approved a an outright prohibition before Alaska did in March – partly at the urging of Trout Unlimited, said Dave Kumlien, whose Whirling Disease Foundation is now combined with the Trout organization. He spoke by telephone.
Whirling disease is a neurological disease which affects fish, particularly species like trout. "We have never really taken any action regarding anglers' equipment," he said.
Banning felt-soled waders in Vermont has drawn fairly muted opposition, at least so far. Manufacturers of wading boots have already begun to develop and offer alternatives and some like Simms are in the process of discontinuing felt-soled waders from their product lines.
The Vermont Traditions Coalition, which advocates on hunting the fishing issues, is supporting the ban because of the risk invasive species pose to fish, said Frank Stanley, who oversees government affairs for the organization.
"The science makes it pretty straightforward," he said. Vermont's Department of Fish and Wildlife opposed the ban in the House, but is neutral on the Senate version of the legislation which prohibits the use rather than sale of such boots, said Commissioner Wayne Laroche.
"There are pros and cons on either side," he said. "It could be useful and helpful in slowing down things like didymo and whirling disease."
On the other hand, the ban on waders will not solve the invasive species problem, Laroche said. "It is not the solution to the larger problem we have," he said.
Felt-soled waders are safer for anglers walking on hidden slippery rocks than rubber soles, Laroche said.
"They are probably the safest form of sole we have now," he said. "We are trying to make it easier for people to go fishing, not more difficult."
He is not sure that didymo is as big a problem in Vermont as was originally feared a few years ago, although the department is monitoring its spread, Laroche said.
Genetic studies show some indications the diatom, a tiny aquatic organism that can make dense mats on river beds and rocks, may have been in Vermont all along, Laroche said.
As for Vermont's fish and game workers they are not prohibited from using felt-soled waders, but they do dip their waders and clean them with bleach, he said.
In the long run, invasive species will probably not be stopped entirely, although his department is producing more educational materials about the issue, Laroche said.
"Some things are impossible to stop," he said. "We can slow them down."
I have seen this shit 1st hand and it's not anything you want in your local system. I have been using rubber studded boots for 3 years now . Please don't spread this crap it's bad for us and the local wildlife.