James named to Great Lakes commission

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James named to Great Lakes commission

3/25/08

Bill James, chief fisheries biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, has been nominated to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission by President George W. Bush.

“It’s humbling and kind of mysterious,” James said of the announcement.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission was established in 1955 by Canada and the United States to control the invasive sea lamprey but has expanded to incorporate a wide range of aquatic research and management efforts in the Great Lakes.

“This reflects admirably on the career and talents of Bill James, but at the same time sheds a favorable light on DNR and our state,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels, who last year honored James for 35 years of state government service.

The GLFC focuses on aquatic resource management issues on lakes Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario and represents Canada and the eight states that border them – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Indiana has 45 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

“Indiana is a Great Lakes state,” James said. “So when you list the Great Lakes states, there are eight of them. It doesn’t say, ‘Seven big ones plus Indiana.’ There are eight, and Indiana is one of them.”

An Illinois native, James has been in charge of the Division of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Section since 1978. He previously worked as a reservoir biologist, statewide research supervisor and regional supervisor. James actually began his career with the DNR while in college, spending three summers assisting with lake and stream investigations throughout Indiana.

“Bill is the full package – humble, dedicated, loyal and hard working,” DNR Director Robert E. Carter Jr. said. “I’m confident he will approach this task with the same diligence he has given all these years to DNR and our state fisheries programs.”

James’ duties with DNR include overseeing statewide programs of fish management, research, hatcheries, public access, aquatic habitat, aquatic invasive species control and contaminants.

He led management team efforts to extend migratory runs of steelhead trout and salmon on the St. Joseph River through Michigan and Indiana. That award-winning partnership project between Indiana DNR, Michigan DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resulted in the construction of four migration ladders to assist fish in passing over dams, a new fish hatchery in Indiana and expanded public access facilities on the river.

James has served on numerous state and national committees, is a founding member of the six-state Ohio River Fisheries Management Team, and has worked with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in several capacities as a committee chair.

“I kind of have an idea what they do, but because I’m not working full-time on Lake Michigan issues -- there will be a brief, steep learning curve just to get up to speed on all the issues that go beyond Indiana, from Lake Superior to the St. Laurence Seaway,” James said. “That’s the real challenge, plus running out and getting a passport so I can run back and forth to Canada as needed.”

James will be completing a six-year term on the commission, which has four members and an alternate from each of the two countries.

Two previous DNR employees served on the Great Lakes commission – Division of Fish and Wildlife director Frank R. Lockard from 1978-91, and DNR director James Ridenour from
1983-89.

Media Contact:
Phil Bloom, (317) 232-4003; cell (317) 502-1683
 

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