Today, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill (press release) that fails to protect Lake Erie’s rivers and impairs our rights as hunters and anglers and the public’s use of waters within the Ohio Lake Erie Basin. (Marc Smith Testimony – Ohio Compact Senate 5-2012) HB 473 is legislation that would implement the Great Lakes Compact.
This bill leaves Lake Erie, its rivers and world-class steelhead and walleye fisheries vulnerable.
Governor Kasich and the Ohio state legislature are not living up to their obligations under the Compact. As Ohio’s neighbors take steps to implement water protections, Ohio has gone in the other direction.
What is really troubling with this new law: if the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issues a permit that would cause significant harm to a river or stream, hunters and anglers and the public have no say and cant challenge this decision. Only if you own property along the Lake and/or river, or have a direct economic interest, can you appeal a decision.
This is a step back to the midieval European method of conservation, where people had no voice and all fish and wildlife belonged to the King – and no one hunted or fished without the King’s permission.
The battle for Lake Erie is not over. We are currently assessing our next steps to ensure that Lake Erie is protected for future generations and provides a sustainable source of fresh water not only for people and wildlife, but the businesses and industries that rely upon it.