Spring hearings provide grassroots feedbackMark your calendars for Monday, April 12, which is the scheduled date of the 2010 St. Croix County Spring Hearings to be held at 7 p.m. at St. Croix Central High School Commons, 1751 Broadway St., Hammond.
By: Mike Reiter, New Richmond News
Mark your calendars for Monday, April 12, which is the scheduled date of the 2010 St. Croix County Spring Hearings to be held at 7 p.m. at St. Croix Central High School Commons, 1751 Broadway St., Hammond.
For many years the Spring Hearings were held at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond but because of escalating rental costs, the venue has been changed.
If you have an interest in natural resources, conservation, hunting, fishing, trapping or outdoor recreation in Wisconsin, it is very important that you attend these hearings.
Wisconsin is the only state that has legislated this rule-making process and allows the public to have direct input on rules and laws that affect their interests.
County residents elect the five delegates from their county to represent them on the Conservation Congress at these meetings. The Conservation Congress along with the Department of Natural Resources advises the Natural Resource Board on various positions in putting new fishing, hunting, trapping and outdoor related regulations in place. Also, private individuals have the opportunity to bring forth new conservation issues of a statewide nature to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process which occurs at these meetings.
The voting procedure at the Spring Hearings is again by an electronic ballot. A “yes” or “no” vote would be indicated and later read by a vote tabulating machine. Results of the voting for each question are available a few days later. Department questions have progressed through the process and could become law the next year while Conservation Congress questions are advisory and could come back as department questions.
Some of the department questions to be voted on:
1) Allow the use of scopes on muzzleloading firearms during the muzzle-loading deer hunting season.
2) Allow dividing deer, bear and elk into five parts prior to registration in order to facilitate removal from the field.
4) Allow motor trolling in Ashland, Iron, Price and Sawyer counties.
5) St. Croix River “catch and release” sturgeon season.
6) Numerous local fish and wildlife questions.
Some of the Congress advisory questions:
• Lead reduction in fishing tackle
• Concept to support deer antler restrictions during deer season
• Appointment of the DNR Secretary
• Extend inland trout season
• Earlier opener for trout
• Numerous other local and statewide fish and wildlife questions.
Recently, certain members of the Legislature have taken it upon themselves to bypass the established process and pander to special interest groups. Some of these special interest individuals and groups have taken stands that they claim represent their organization’s position, but in reality, were never taken up by the membership or even reviewed by the full board of directors. They never went through review by the Conservation Congress or received any public input. Listed below are two examples.
• SB481, the Turkey Bill is a real “turkey.” This bill would allow for a six-week spring turkey season with permits to be purchased over the counter in an unlimited number and all hunters could hunt any time during that six week period. This would be disastrous to quality turkey.
• SB222, the Uncased Gun Bill, would allow for loaded, uncased guns to be transported in an area of the vehicle not occupied unless it was during the nine-day gun deer season. Then the loaded firearm could be carried with or by the occupants of that vehicle. The bill would also relax group hunting regulations. Law enforcement is opposed to this type of legislation.
It is very important to be vigilant on this type of “end around” behavior by both the special interest groups and the legislators. It would set a very dangerous precedent.
On a recent walk last week, near the Betterly WPA east of New Richmond, I heard the telltale chirping peent of the male woodcock trying to get the attention of a potential girlfriend. The woodcock, or “timberdoodle,” is a weird looking bird similar to a snipe that inhabits our local woods. They are relatively common in Wisconsin weighing in at 6-7 ounces and have a long bill that is 2-3 inches in length. This long bill allows them to probe into the moist soil in search of its favorite food, the earthworm.
In the spring the male woodcock will stake out a territory and announce his presence with a buzzing call or peent. At times the male will fly straight up into the air to a couple hundred feet than slowly spiral down to earth, all the time making a whirling sound. It is a very impressive auditory and visual display.
The woodcock is a migratory bird and spends the winters as far south as Mississippi and Louisiana. They make their way up to their nesting grounds in our area and start the courting process in late March or early April.
The woodcock’s nest consists of a shallow depression in forest floor usually containing four tan eggs.
Keep an eye out as you are out and about for this unique avian visitor.
Junior Duck Stamp Contest
By Tom Kerr –USF&WS
On Friday, March 26, I spent the day at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, about 20 minutes east of Tomah. I was one of five judges for the Junior Duck Stamp Contest.
The Junior Duck Stamp contest is an educational program for youth, designed to help them learn about waterfowl and their habitat while also honing their artistic skills. Students from around the United States submit their drawings to their state or territory competition.
A Best of Show winner is selected and each of the 53 Best of Show winners competes in the National Junior Duck Stamp contest.
This year, the national judging will occur in late April at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn. The state winners each receive a ribbon and the National first, second and third place winners receive ribbons and cash prizes.
The National winner’s design is also produced as a Junior Duck Stamp which can be purchased for $5. Proceeds from the sale of the Junior Duck Stamps are returned to the states for environmental and conservation education programs.
The Wisconsin contest resulted in 791 entries from 61 schools. Through a series of votes and elimination rounds, the first, second and third place winners are selected for each age category.
Looking through the 791 entries, all of the judges were amazed at the quality of the artwork.
The Best of Show winner was 14-year-old Drake Schlosser from Rubicon who attends Saylesville School. He gets his inspiration from spending time outdoors, especially from visiting Horicon Marsh with his father and uncle.
The Junior Duck Stamp program is modeled after the highly successful Federal Duck Stamp program which not only encourages artists to capture their favorite waterfowl species in art but also results in the stamp proceeds being used to purchase and protect migratory waterfowl habitat.
Within the St. Croix Wetland Management District, more than 7,800 acres of land have been protected with funds raised by the Federal Duck Stamp program.
If you know budding artists in grades k-12, encourage them to enter the Junior Duck Stamp contest next year.
For more information, visit the contest Web site at www.fws.gov/juniorduck.
If you have the time, encourage them to enjoy our great outdoors and visit one of your Waterfowl Production Areas (www.fws.gov/midwest/StCroix) in the New Richmond area. Who knows maybe that will serve as inspiration for their Junior Duck Stamp entry.