Report examines effect of warmer winters on outdoor economy in Pa., other states

03-30-2012 // Dana Massing - Erie Times-News

This excerpt is from the Erie Times-News

Warmer winters in Erie sound good if you like to go golfing in January, but not if you're a fan of ice fishing on Presque Isle Bay.

"No ice means no ice fishing," said Jerry Skrypzak, president of S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie.

He and other outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists and biologists gathered on Erie's bayfront Thursday to talk about "On Thin Ice." The new report from the National Wildlife Federation looks at how "warming winters" are putting "America's hunting and fishing heritage at risk."

The most recent December through February was the fourth-warmest on record in the contiguous United States, the report stated.

The report also found that winters are declining in length and amount of snow. That's proving harmful to fish and animals, to anglers and hunters, and to businesses supported by fishing and hunting.

"Fishermen bring a lot of dollars into our community," Skrypzak said.

A lack of bay ice interrupts that revenue flow, he said.

Dollar amounts weren't available for the Erie area. However, Ed Perry, an outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, said that hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation provide more than $4.5 billion in economic activity annually in Pennsylvania and support 150,000 jobs in the state.

The federation report said that America's "ice fishers spent more than $100 million on equipment alone in 2006."

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