OUTDOOR HAPPENINGS: Natural Resources Board meets in New RichmondMy last column reflected on the fact that certain legislators had broken some promises and decided to slip a fast one into the budget bill.
By: Mike Reiter, New Richmond News
My last column reflected on the fact that certain legislators had broken some promises and decided to slip a fast one into the budget bill.
Intense negotiations were held between many interest groups to get the Stewardship Program approved and to do so verbiage was added to insure that hunters, fishers, trappers and outdoor recreational users would have access to land purchased through the program. It was a done deal!
Recently there was a move afoot by a couple of legislators to remove that portion of the agreement. Due to a surge of calls, letters and e-mails from incensed outdoor enthusiasts, the perpetrators have removed that amendment and it now appears that the original wording will stand.
Vigilant oversight and strength in numbers have ruled the day on this one!
Another victory may be in the offing. In an attempt to keep DNR Service Centers open by continuing to have frontline receptionists on duty, a public outcry was raised. Continuation of this service has been recommended by one of the legislative houses and should clear the other. Unless the governor vetoes it, we will continue to be provided the efficient and friendly face to face service that we have become accustom to receiving.
On June 23 and 24 we had the unique experience to host the Natural Resource Board (NRB) at WITC in New Richmond. The NRB is a seven-member board whose members are appointed by the governor and to whom the Department of Natural Resources reports.
We are lucky to have three of the members living in our local area. John (Duke) Welter, an attorney, comes from Eau Claire; Dave Clausen, a veterinarian, hails from Amery; and Gary Rohde, a former Secretary of Agriculture and Consumer Protection and former Dean of the College of Agriculture at River Falls, resides in River Falls. All are very approachable and only a phone call away.
Pressed between the two business meeting days was an NRB tour that entailed visits to the Common Harvest Farm in Osceola, the River Island Park in Star Prairie and the Emerald Dairy in Emerald.
Subjects of interest that were addressed by the NRB were changes in 16 deer management units, a review of the new Wolf Management Plan and a review of NR 115 which is the controversial proposal on lakeshore zoning.
The Natural Resources Board approved the first updates to Wisconsin’s shoreline building regulations in more than 40 years. Property owners would have to limit waterproof surfaces such as roofs and driveways. Buildings within 75 feet of the water would be limited to 35 feet in height. Homeowners who want to expand a pre-existing structure within 75 feet of the water would have to improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Rules limiting spending on renovations to pre-existing structures to 50 percent of their value would be eliminated, allowing unlimited repairs and internal remodeling.
The changes were approved by a vote of 6-0. The rules now go to the Legislature’s natural resources committees. If they have no objections in 60 days, the rule goes into effect.
Tom’s WPA of the Week
WPAs and Duck Stamps
Over the last several months I have been writing about the Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) in the St. Croix Wetland Management District which covers eight Counties in northwest Wisconsin.
These WPAs were all purchased with funds generated from the sale of federal duck stamps, which duck hunters are required to buy and people interested in conservation are encouraged to buy to support habitat protection. June 26, 2009 was the first day of sale for the new 2009-2010 federal duck stamp. The duck stamp, painted by South Dakota artist Joshua Spies, features a long-tailed duck and decoy.
Although many of us may never be lucky enough to see a long-tailed duck, an arctic nester which winters on the Great Lakes and along both coasts of North America, we do have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of WPAs and see and hear the many other species of wildlife that depend on WPAs.
Federal duck stamps are a vital tool for conservation. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of federal duck stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System, which includes Waterfowl Production Areas.
The stamps can also be used as an entrance pass for National Wildlife Refuges where an admission fee is charged.
Since 1934, federal duck stamp sales have generated more than $700 million, which has been used to help purchase or lease more than 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the U.S.
In northwest Wisconsin, the St. Croix Wetland Management District manages 42 WPAs totaling about 7,800 acres. The grassland wetland complexes on these WPAs benefit blue winged teal, mallards, northern harriers, western meadowlarks, sandhill cranes, monarch butterflies, frogs and many other species of wildlife. These WPAs would not exist without the generations of duck hunters and conservationists who have purchased federal duck stamps.
The purchase of a federal duck stamp for $15 is an investment in conservation that will pay off for generations to come.
For more information about federal duck stamps, check out the duck stamp Web site at http://www.fws.gov/duck stamps/firstday.html. Duck stamps can be purchased at most Post Offices or online at http://www.duckstamp.com/mm5/.
Warden Paul’s Corner
The boating season is in full swing. Boating on lakes and rivers in Wisconsin has become a very popular past time. Each year thousands of boaters venture out to Wisconsin waters to enjoy the sport.
With the increase in use it is very important that you, as a boat operator understand the laws of boating. Awareness of these laws could steer you and other boaters from a “close call.” Please consult the Wisconsin Boating Regulations before boating this season. Here are few boating reminders for the upcoming summer season:
• All personal watercrafts (PWC) must operate at a slow no wake speed within 200 feet of any shore on a lake.
• All PWCs must operate at slow no wake speeds anytime the PWC is within 100 feet of any other boat or a PWC on any water body.
• Operators and all passengers on PWCs must wear their life jackets at all times.
• All boats must operate at slow no wake speed anytime they are within 100 feet of a dock, raft, pier or buoy restricted area.
• While towing a water-skier, tuber, etc., the boat must have a competent observer to watch the skier (a mirror is not legal in Wisconsin).
• All PWCs pulling a water-skier must be capable of carrying three individuals.
• All boats must have a wearable life jacket of the proper size and type for each individual on board the boat.
• All boats 16 feet and larger must have a throwable floatation device (seat cushion or ring buoy).
• All boats equipped with motors must be registered, even electric trolling motors.
• Boats on the right have the right of way on the water.
• Enjoy the water, don’t drink and drive.
Lost Fishing Licenses/Stamps
During the year, wardens check thousands of anglers and it is almost inevitable that a warden will contact an angler who has lost their fishing license. If this happens to you, you must obtain a duplicate fishing license. The cost for this duplicate fishing license is $10 and can be obtained at your local DNR Service Center, the county clerk office, any automated license issuance system (ALIS) vendor, 1-877-WILICENSE, or online at dnr.wi.gov.
If you had any fishing stamp privileges, such as an inland trout stamp, they will automatically print with the duplicate license at no extra cost. However, if you purchased your license and stamp privileges at different times and lost only the stamp, you will need to purchase the stamp privilege at full price.
For questions or to report a violation, call Conservation Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120.