October 31, 2014

Omer residents go to Lansing to testify on sucker season

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LANSING — A delegation of Omer residents are going to Lansing Nov. 27 to testify before the State House’s Natural Resources Committee regarding changing the sucker season start date to move earlier in the year.

Omer Mayor Alice Sproule, Councilman Larry Daly and local angler Michael McLavy are going to Lansing that day to push for the season change, which would accommodate the sucker run being earlier in the year than the official start date for net dipping.

City officials and local anglers have been pushing for the change, which has affected the number of people who come to the city in the spring for the annual sucker run in the Rifle River. Rep. Joel Johnson (R-Clare) has been working in the Michigan House to get such a change approved, and according to his administrative aide Ben Frederick, the hope is to get it passed into law by Jan. 1.

“We hope to get it voted out that day so it can go to the full House,” Frederick said.

Frederick said the proposed legislation would give the natural resources committee authority to set the season based on fish migratory patterns each year, as it does for other seasons. Functionally, it would likely end up about two weeks earlier, he said.

The Department of Natural Resources supports the change and helped draft the proposed legislation, and Frederick said the Michigan Senate seems favorable to amending sucker season. Gov. Rick Snyder has not shown any opposition to the change.

“We’re hopeful we can push it through,” he said.

Frederick expects the date would be set each year in January if the legislation passes, and if it finishes within the lame duck session in progress — which functionally ends in mid-December when Congress adjourns — it would go into effect before the next Omer sucker season begins, he said.

“We appreciate this being brought to us so we can address a local concern,” Frederick said.

Daly said he intended to talk about the fishing aspect of the season, as a second generation sucker fisherman himself. He said he planned on talking about how the fish used to run and how only twice in the past 10 years has the ice stayed around long enough for the sucker run to take place during the net season.

McLavy will give data and dates about the changes in the sucker run in years past that he has been collecting with other local anglers over the past few years, Daly said, while Sproule will provide letters from local businesses to talk about the economic impact the season has on the area.

Due to Sproule and Daly being in Lansing for the committee meeting, the city council meeting has been moved to Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.

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