MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- Lake Michigan anglers reported significantly improved results for many species in 2016, reeling in nearly 385,000 salmon and trout, including the third highest number of coho salmon since 1992.
"During much of 2016, favorable weather and water temperatures helped produce solid results and we are pleased to see anglers benefit from ongoing efforts to provide a diverse and balanced fishery," said Brad Eggold, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Great Lakes district fisheries supervisor. "While the chinook harvest showed healthy increases over the past two years, coho salmon proved to be the big story with more than 125,000 fish harvested."
Highlights from DNR's 2016 survey of anglers on Lake Michigan include:
The improved results came even as anglers decreased their effort to 2.63 million hours from last year's 2.73 million hours, about 1 percent below the five-year average. The harvest rate increased to 0.1464 fish per hour, up slightly (2.17 percent) from the five-year average.
Factoring in other species such as northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch, the 2016 harvest totaled 557,375. Among the other fish, walleye accounted for the single largest target species at 78,440 fish, a 21 percent decrease from 99,302 in 2015. Smallmouth bass saw the greatest increase to 16,880 fish, up 79 percent from 9,422 in 2015.
Over the last 15 years, sport fishing surveys show that boat anglers are harvesting the majority of fish on Lake Michigan. Anglers who launched their own boats from ramps or marinas or invested in a charter trip were the most successful. The sport harvest from ramps and marinas totaled 395,549 fish, while charter captains helped clients bring in 112,150 fish.
DNR's annual creel survey dates to 1969 and last year captured the results from more than 13,000 angler interviews at ramps, shorelines, piers and streams in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan stretching from Kenosha County to Green Bay. Each year, creel clerks interview anglers at established locations, measure fish and keep track of hours fished, numbers of boats and more. Results also include harvest estimates for guided charters from monthly reports that were initiated in 1976.
MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the Milwaukee Bucks once again for "DNR Nights."
Anyone presenting a 2016 or 2017 hunting or fishing license is eligible for reduced pricing on tickets for select home games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. As an added bonus, "DNR Nights" ticketholders will have a blaze orange Bucks beanie hat mailed to them.
"Hunting and fishing in Wisconsin is a time -honored tradition," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We're thrilled to give license holders an added benefit they can use to spend time cheering on our home team with their families."
The following dates are designated "DNR Nights" at the BMO Harris Bradley Center:
This exclusive promotion includes a discounted ticket and Bucks beanie hat starting at $15 in the upper bowl and $50 in the lower bowl. License holders can take advantage of this unique offer by going to the Milwaukee Bucks ticket website (exit DNR).
MADISON -- Land trusts, conservation groups and government organizations are encouraged to apply for some $6.4 million available to fund wetland restoration projects.
The money, available from the Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust, may be used to cover all aspects of restoration including land acquisition, site construction and long-term maintenance and monitoring. The wetland conservation trust program was created in 2014 as an additional method of wetland mitigation for Wisconsin by allowing the purchase of wetland mitigation credits specified by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DNR wetland permits.
The program then uses the funds generated from these credit sales to implement wetland restoration projects to help offset the wetland impacts resulting from DNR wetland permit approvals. The funds are awarded to applicants through a competitive request for proposal process to implement wetland restoration projects.
"We look forward to working with conservation groups and others to accomplish important restoration projects," said Josh Brown, wetland in-lieu fee program coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We anticipate a number of well-thought-out, competitive proposals for this second round of funding."
Proposals for the current round of funding may be submitted through April 28. The program issued its first call for proposals last year and funded five projects totaling approximately $4.9 million to conduct wetland restoration efforts on more than 250 acres statewide. Work on those projects will get underway this year.
Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Brown at 608-266-1902, JoshuaA.Brown@wisconsin.gov, to discuss prospective projects. Additional information can be found by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching "Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust."
MADISON - Each year, more than 10,000 people use tax season to donate to the Endangered Resources Fund - this simple gesture can help protect and restore endangered birds, bats, turtles, martens and more.
These generous donations, along with sales of Endangered Resources license plates, direct donations and matching funds, provide over 25 percent of funds that support the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation. From bats to bullsnakes, orchids to orioles and native prairies to natural areas, Natural Heritage Conservation program staff work with Wisconsin volunteers, organizations, private landowners and businesses to help sustain Wisconsin's wildlife.
View a slideshow illustrating how donations are put to work for the Wisconsin wildlife and habitats you love. The program's 2016 annual report [PDF] contains short stories that highlight the progress made by DNR staff to protect and restore wildlife and their habitats.
"Wisconsin is home to an excellent diversity of plants, animals, and natural areas that need ongoing effort to maintain," said Drew Feldkirchner, Natural Heritage Conservation bureau director. "By working together, we can ensure that future generations will experience the Wisconsin we all know and love -- donations of any size make a huge difference, and we are grateful to everyone who has contributed over the years.
"Together, we track, assess and manage native wildlife; provide regulatory protection to endangered and threatened species, manage State Natural Areas to preserve the best remnants of Wisconsin's prairies, oak savannas, forests and wetlands; and consult with other DNR partners and private landowners to help them manage their land to help maintain Wisconsin's unique plants and animals and special places."
To learn more about donating to the Endangered Resources Fund via your Wisconsin income tax form, go to dnr.wi.gov and search "tax check off."
MADISON -- The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the final proposal from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for a master plan variance that will classify 75 percent of the state's northern forests as forest production areas.
The master plan variance was directed by, and compliant with, Wisconsin Act 55, 2015 Wisconsin Act 358 and 28.04(3). The legislation directs the department to propose a variance to the master plans of all northern state forests, except Governor Knowles State Forest, so that 75 percent of all the land is classified as a forest production area. The DNR is conducting the planning for all the affected state forests simultaneously to gain efficiencies and consistency, and to make engagement and review from interested parties more streamlined, according to Carmen Hardin, DNR Director of Forest Management.
Using public input from previous open houses and comment periods, and additional analysis, DNR staff refined and identified specific land management classification changes for each property, and drafted proposed changes to land management classifications to meet the 75 percent forest production directive.
Northern state forests include: Northern Highland American Legion State Forest; Peshtigo River State Forest; Flambeau River State Forest; Coulee Experimental State Forest; Black River State Forest; and Brule River State Forest. Together these forests account for 451,000 acres of forest in northern Wisconsin. Currently 66 percent of the lands are designated for forest production.
Public comments, and a response to comments received during the first phase of public review, along with maps and revised documents for the northern forests land classification variance can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "master planning," and then click on the links for "Northern State Forests".
All of the documents and associated maps will be available at the open houses that will be held:
The documents and maps will also be available for review during open office hours that will be held:
In addition to submitting comments at the open houses and open office hours, people can fill out online surveys or submit comments by email through the master planning pages for the properties. The public comment period runs through Feb. 27, 2017.
MADISON - Taylor Finger has been named the new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources statewide migratory game bird ecologist.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Finger received his bachelor's degree in wildlife management and biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a master's degree in waterfowl ecology from the University of Western Ontario.
Waterfowl have played an important role in Finger's life since a young age, and this interest turned into a professional passion while receiving his bachelor's degree. In past roles, Finger interned as a waterfowl bander for the Minnesota DNR, conducted black duck and brant research in New Jersey, teal research for Wisconsin DNR, and completed his master's degree research on lesser scaup migration. Finger lives north of the Wisconsin Dells with his wife Michelle and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.
"This is truly a dream job for me, and I look forward to continuing the great history of waterfowl management in Wisconsin," said Finger.
The migratory bird program manages Wisconsin's duck, goose and mourning dove populations and sets annual season regulations. Finger is stationed in Madison and can be contacted at (608) 261-6458 or via email at email@example.com.
To learn more about Wisconsin's Wildlife Program please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wildlife" for an overview of what the DNR does to conserve and protect our wildlife populations and habitats; or search keywords "wildlife areas" for links to all the state wildlife areas and other state-managed lands.
MADISON -- With spring around the corner, farmers may be looking ahead to a variety of maintenance projects such as constructing new ditches or installing drain tile.
Approximately one-third of Wisconsin farms depend on constructed drains to remove excess water from the fields. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources encourages farmers to check wetland requirements before proceeding with these projects, which may affect wetlands and require permits to proceed.
"DNR recognizes the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin and we understand many farmers are looking to improve or expand the uses of their land," said David Hon, a DNR water regulation and zoning specialist. "We want to encourage farmers to work with DNR staff and use our convenient online resources to learn more before implementing costly capital improvements that may affect wetlands."
In the past five years, DNR has seen a large increase in the number of proposals for projects related to ditching and drain tiling. Farmers considering these and other major projects should contact DNR ahead of time to learn if a permit is needed.
Wetlands are a valuable natural resource and provide a variety of benefits including flood protection; storm water storage; water quality protection; habitat for fish, aquatic life and wildlife; groundwater processes; and shoreline protection. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "wetland disturbance" or search the staff directory for your local water regulation and zoning specialist.
MADISON - With all 2016 deer hunting seasons officially closed, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff would like to thank hunters for another great season in the field.
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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