Spring hearing slated for St. Croix Central High SchoolOn April 11, the annual spring hearings for St. Croix County will be held at the St. Croix Central High School Commons, 1751 Broadway St., Hammond, starting at 7 p.m.
By: By Mike Reiter, New Richmond News
On April 11, the annual spring hearings for St. Croix County will be held at the St. Croix Central High School Commons, 1751 Broadway St., Hammond, starting at 7 p.m.
If you have an interest in natural resources, conservation, hunting, fishing, trapping or outdoor recreation in Wisconsin, then this is a meeting you have to attend.
Across the state on this Monday each of the 72 counties that make up Wisconsin will be holding these meetings. People in attendance will have the privilege to vote on outdoor related issues that they hold near and dear. This grassroots opportunity allows the public to have their say and really make a difference.
These gatherings held each year are broken down into several parts and each part is very important.
The Department of Natural Resource’s fisheries and wildlife management sections provide statewide and local questions that if passed and reviewed positively by the Natural Research Board will become law the following year. Advisory questions are also asked to test the water on public opinion and could appear at the next Spring Hearings as a rule change.
County residents also have the option to be elected to the Conservation Congress. Nominees are selected and those county residents in attendance will vote on the delegates from their county to represent their views regarding natural resources on the Conservation Congress.
Individuals also have an opportunity to bring forth new conservation issues to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process. Resolutions presented at the hearing are read and voted on. If passed at the county level, these resolutions will be sent to an appropriate committee of the Conservation Congress and if deemed relevant will be formulated into an advisory question for the next years Spring Hearing and perhaps a rule change. This is public interaction at its finest and only Wisconsin has this rule making process.
Some of the fisheries questions asked would raise the minimum size restriction to 40 inches on muskellunge on all waters currently at a 34-inch size restriction and require a quick set rig when using minnows 10 inches or larger.
A request to establish a protected slot size on bass in Squaw and Glen lakes in St. Croix County would allow a bag limit of three fish total with no minimum size limit but the possession of fish from 14-18 inches is prohibited and only one “keeper” may be longer than 18 inches.
Some wildlife management questions will ask for a permanent December extension of the fall turkey season, an extension of each of the six spring turkey periods by two days so that each runs from Wednesday through the following Tuesday and an elimination of the archery deer hunting season closure during the traditional nine-day deer gun season. An elk hunting season is also being proposed.
A question to include Manitowoc, Pierce and St. Croix counties in the list of counties where the discharge of firearms on department land is prohibited except while hunting, dog training or at established ranges, will be asked. Advisory questions would recommend prohibiting the use of lead shot on department land and a ban on baiting and feeding of deer 10 days before and during the nine-day deer gun season.
Conservation Congress advisory questions would ask for the legalization of crossbows statewide for the archery season with no age or disability restrictions, allow hunting and trapping on state park lands and exempt all buildings from the 100-yard discharge prohibition while on public lands.
While these are but a few of the 84 total questions on the questionnaire, the meeting goes quite fast. Department wildlife, fisheries and enforcement personnel are on hand to answer any and all queries. Take this opportunity, be counted and make a difference.
By Tom Kerr
Early April is prime time to view migrating waterfowl in the New Richmond area.
Many of the early migrants, such as goldeneyes and buffleheads, started showing up in mid-March, spending time on the Willow and Apple rivers. As the ice continues to melt on larger wetlands, other migrants, including common mergansers, begin to appear.
Common mergansers are usually seen on the Erickson and Oak Ridge Waterfowl Production Areas, which are located northeast of New Richmond. Along with many other species of migrating birds, the mergansers may spend a short time in this area, fueling up for their journey north.
Common mergansers breed from Alaska to the Yukon and across eastern Canada, south to Minnesota, Michigan and New England. They nest in tree cavities, nest boxes and cliff crevices close to rivers or large lakes.
During summer camping trips, I have seen several common merganser broods along rivers at the edge of Lake Superior. They eat fish, crustaceans, amphibians and other invertebrates by diving underwater.
Common merganser males are a large white duck with green heads and a red bill. Females also have a red bill but have a reddish brown head and silver gray back and sides. Common mergansers weigh between 2.5 to 4 pounds. To put their size in perspective, mallards weigh about 2.5 pounds.
If you are interested in finding out more about birds found on local Waterfowl Production Areas, check us out on Facebook by searching for St. Croix Wetland Management District.
For more information on the St. Croix WMD, check out our website at www.fws.gov/midwest/stcroix/.
The New Richmond Pathway bird hike is set for Saturday, April 30, from 7 to 10 a.m. Participants should meet at New Richmond Nature Center Pavilion, at the intersection of County Road A and Business Highway 64.
Join DNR wildlife biologist Harvey Halvorsen on a hike along the Willow River to investigate the birds who call the Nature Center their home. After finishing this stretch, we’ll carpool to the west shore of Hatfield Lake. There we’ll view waterfowl and other waterbirds that need wetland habitats.
Urban wildlife habitats like the Nature Center and Hatfield Lake provide close destinations for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. These bird-friendly areas attract a nice array of resident and migratory birds that help create a better New Richmond for birds and people.
Come discover what’s in your back yard. Wear mud boots or hiking shoes for the Nature Center portion in case the ground is soggy. Bring your bird guides and binoculars and spotting scopes too. Halvorsen will provide a short introduction of optics for wildlife before beginning the hike.
For more information, contact 715-246-6643.