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Weekly News Published - November 14, 2017 by the Central Office

 

Public hearing Nov. 30 on Kohler golf course proposal wetland permit and updated EIS

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - The public will have an opportunity at an upcoming public hearing and during a public comment period to submit comments on a wetland permit application and updated draft environmental impact statement (EIS) related to a proposed golf course just north of Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County.

Kohler Company has proposed developing an 18-hole golf course that would be constructed immediately north of the state park on 247 acres owned by the Kohler Company. The project site is an undeveloped area between the Black River and Lake Michigan.

As part of the proposed project, Kohler has submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources an application for a wetland permit to fill 3.69 acres of existing wetlands. The DNR has prepared an updated draft EIS to inform decision makers and the public about the anticipated effects of the proposed project as well as alternatives.

In addition, the company had proposed to construct an access roadway, roundabout and maintenance facility on less than 5 acres within the state park boundary. The wetlands that would be impacted by this proposal are addressed in the wetland permit application and draft EIS. Kohler's proposal to use park lands is still being evaluated, so that proposal is not part of the November 30 public hearing or its associated comment period.

The complete wetland permit application WP-IP-SE-2017-60-X03-08T09-02-48 and updated EIS are available for review by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Kohler golf course proposal." The webpage also has a link for people to subscribe to receive email updates on the environmental impact statement and wetland permit processes.

A public hearing on the wetland permit application and updated EIS will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Theater, 1 University Drive, Sheboygan. Any interested persons will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed project, wetland permit application and updated EIS. The public comment period on the wetland permit and updated EIS runs through Dec. 15, 2017. People may submit comments through the DNR website, by email to DNRKohlerProposal@wisconsin.gov, or by U.S. postal mail to Jay Schiefelbein, Wisconsin DNR, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, WI 54313-6727.

The department will consider all public comments and prepare a final environmental impact statement prior to taking action on any permit applications. The public will be notified when the final EIS is available.

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Design concept selected for new Peninsula State Park Eagle Tower

FISH CREEK, Wis. - Most people who commented on concepts for a new Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park would like to see the tower rebuilt with an accessible ramp connecting the existing parking area and trails to the tower viewing deck through a tree canopy trail rather than from an elevator or internal switchback ramp.

The concept of a new Eagle Tower will include an accessible ramp that reaches the viewing platform through the tree canopy
The concept of a new Eagle Tower will include an accessible ramp that reaches the viewing platform through the tree canopy
Photo Credit: Ayres Associates

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received more than 650 comments on three separate design concepts [PDF] for a new tower. A 60-foot tower with an accessible ramp through the tree canopy connecting to the top viewing deck received the greatest support, with people preferring it over the other two concepts: a 75-foot tower with elevator access and a 75-foot tower with internal accessible ramp.

While the 60-foot tower received the greatest support, there was also strong support for building the tower to 75 feet, which was the height of the old Eagle Tower. Of the respondents who preferred the internal accessible ramp design, many indicated that they would have preferred the canopy option had the proposed tower reached the 75 feet. Additionally, people also supported a future tower that most resembled the old Eagle Tower, preserves and memorializes the original Eagle Tower, and has low future maintenance costs.

The park closed the tower to public use in May 2015 to protect public safety after an inspection report raised significant concerns over its structural integrity and an inspection by the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory staff found considerable deterioration of the structural and non-structural wood members. The tower was deconstructed in September 2016 (deconstruction slideshow).

"Based on the comments provided by the public and stakeholder team, we plan on moving forward with the canopy concept while exploring the possibility of reaching 75 feet in height or as high as we can possibly make it up to that height," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin state park system director.

The public had an opportunity in September through early October to comment on the three proposed concept options via an online survey, mail and at a public meeting that was held on Sept. 28, in Sturgeon Bay.

The Friends of Peninsula State Park in cooperation with interested community members has formed a subcommittee, the Eagle Tower Fund Committee, which has raised more than $650,000 to help rebuild Eagle Tower and Gov. Scott Walker has included an additional $750,000 in the current state budget for rebuilding the tower.

Bergey said the next steps will be to select an architectural and engineering firm to develop the design based on the selected concept. Depending on fundraising, plan approval and bidding, Bergey said he hopes the new tower will be under construction in approximately a year.

People who are interested in donating to the reconstruction of Eagle Tower can find more information and a link to the donation website through the Friends of Peninsula State Park website at http://peninsulafriends.org.

People can also sign up to receive email updates on tower progress by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Eagle Tower" and clicking on the "subscribe for Eagle Tower updates" email icon.

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Nearly half-century-old fish caught and released in fish surveys on Lake Superior

Lake trout hatched when Richard Nixon was president

BAYFIELD, Wis. - State fish biologists conducting spawning surveys on Lake Superior hauled in a lake trout earlier this month that hatched when Richard Nixon was president.

The fish was originally caught and released during Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' spawning assessments for lake trout in 1981. It was caught and released again Nov. 2 in the same fish refuge, the Gull Island Shoal of Lake Superior.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 3 photos

Old lake trout shows value of fish refuges

"We often think of a fish's life span being relatively short, maybe 10 years," says Terry Margenau, DNR fisheries supervisor. "But lake trout are slow growing and have a longevity that will rival that of the ancient sturgeon.

"This fish is a prime example of that longevity and the important role fish refuges play in sustaining populations of these native fish."

No fishing of any type is allowed in two fish refuges in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior. The Gull Island Refuge was established in 1976 and the Devils Island Refuge in 1981. "Creating these protected areas was the primary driver of the recovery of lake trout following their depletion from sea lamprey invasion and overharvest", says Brad Ray, senior fisheries biologist for DNR in Bayfield.

To help assess the condition of lake trout on Lake Superior, DNR has been conducting spawning lake trout assessments since 1951. Part of the assessment includes tagging the fish caught and releasing them so biologists can monitor their growth and movement in future years.

The fish caught Nov. 2 had first been tagged in 1981 when it was 27.3 inches during a DNR spawning assessment on Gull Island Shoal of Lake Superior. The same fish was handled again in 2017 during the same spawning assessment and measured 35.5 inches, Ray says.

"This lake trout grew about 8 inches over 36 years, or less than a quarter inch per year," he says. "So very slow growing. Its age is also interesting.

"Considering this fish was likely 10-12 years old when it was tagged in 1981, this fall it would have been at least 46 years old."

Doing the math, the lake trout hatched from an egg in the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon was president, the Vietnam War was ongoing, and John Lennon wrote his hit song "Imagine."

The same fish would be caught by DNR seven more times during surveys, Ray says.

In all of those instances, the fish was captured in the Gull Island Refuge.

"The spawning site fidelity of this fish, and many others we have sampled, emphasizes the importance of the refuges and the protection it affords the spawning stock of lake trout," he says.

Anglers fishing Lake Superior will want to keep an eye out for the next geriatric fish, a survivor and a foundation for the fishery. All lake trout DNR fish crews handle receive a numbered colored tag. Anglers who catch a tagged lake trout and intend to release the fish, should just write down the tag number and contact the Bayfield DNR office to get the capture history.

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Apply now to serve on trout advisory committee

Group to advise DNR on 10-year trout management plan

MADISON -- Anglers and other people interested in Wisconsin's trout resources are invited to apply to serve on an advisory team that will help the Department of Natural Resources start developing a plan to guide trout management over the next decade.

The plan would address trout habitat, stocking, and other management issues in Wisconsin. The advisory team would meet on three Saturdays in winter 2018 and would help the DNR brainstorm issues, set broad goals and define needs, says Joanna Griffin, DNR's trout coordinator.

Help create the plan to guide trout management in Wisconsin for the next 10 years by applying to serve on DNR's trout advisory team.
Help create the plan to guide trout management in Wisconsin for the next 10 years by applying to serve on DNR's trout advisory team.
Photo Credit: Matt Mitro

"We're looking for people who are not members of organizations like the Conservation Congress and Trout Unlimited that will already have representatives on the advisory team," Griffin says. "People do not need to be trout anglers, but have an interest in the future of Wisconsin's trout resources."

People who are interested in serving on the advisory team can fill out an online form through Nov. 30. Four people will be selected by DNR's trout team to serve on the advisory team as at-large members, one from each of four regions. Search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "trout management" to apply.

The four at-large members will serve alongside anglers, landowners, tourism officials, Conservation Congress members and tribal representatives selected by DNR biologists to represent diverse interests in Wisconsin's trout resources, Griffin says.

"We're already going to have a diverse group represented on our stakeholder advisory team, but adding at-large members is another way we're trying to be proactive and capture all interests out there."

In recent years, DNR has been creating or updating management plans for different fish species and major waters. Management plans have recently been created for panfish and bass and for the Lake Michigan fishery, Griffin says.

"Wisconsin's trout resources are important recreational, environmental and economic assets," Griffin says. "We need a plan to help us sustainably manage them so future generations can enjoy them and the benefits they bring local communities."

Wisconsin has more than 13,000 miles of trout streams, including more than 5,300 miles, or 40 percent, that are Class 1 streams with naturally self-sustaining populations of wild trout. Another 46 percent, or 6,120 miles, are Class 2 trout streams that have some natural reproduction but require stocking to maintain a desirable sport fishery.

A 2017 study by a UW-La Crosse economics professor [PDF] (exit DNR) shows the impact trout resources can have on local communities. The study estimates that trout fishing and trout restoration work generates a $1.6 billion annual impact in the nationally-renowned Driftless Area, which encompasses 24,000 square miles in southwest and western Wisconsin along with portions in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

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DNR Recycling Excellence Awards celebrate America Recycles Day

MADISON - Seven recycling programs, organizations and businesses impacting their local communities received 2017 Recycling Excellence Awards from the Department of Natural Resources as part of America Recycles Day, held November 15.

In its fifth year, the award recognizes four categories of excellence: Projects and Initiatives, Overall Program, Special Events and Innovation.

"It is an honor to recognize these programs for their waste diversion achievements in conjunction with America Recycles Day," said Joe Van Rossum, Waste and Materials Management Program director.

Projects and Initiatives winners are recognized for a specific project that demonstrates cost effectiveness while increasing materials recycled.

The Overall Program Award recognizes outreach efforts that are robust and constantly improving, while demonstrating a commitment to improve the overall recycling program.

The Innovation Award recognizes programs that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to recycling. Glean Central Wisconsin wins the Innovation Award for starting and expanding a food diversion program from farmers markets to local food pantries and community meal programs.

More information on the awards program is available on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching "Recycling Excellence Awards."

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General permit available for stream habitat projects

MADISON -- Beneficial stream habitat projects will be easier to undertake in Wisconsin under a new general permit the state Department of Natural Resources has issued aimed at streamlining stream habitat projects. Before the creation of this general permit, many beneficial stream habitat projects were authorized under individual permits, which added time and expense to the permitting process.

The general permit authorizes numerous activities, including placement of fish habitat structures, placement of wildlife habitat structures, and dredging or adding material to a previously channelized streams. The general permit also authorizes constructing a ford crossing and disturbing wetlands, as long as these activities are associated with fish or wildlife habitat projects.

The general permit is available for stream habitat projects designed by staff from DNR, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Land Conservation Department or other county agencies. The regional DNR fisheries biologist must approve the projects.

The general permit is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for water permits and then clicking on the drop-down for "Waterway and wetland."

The general permit was issued on Nov. 6, 2017, and will be valid until Nov. 6, 2022. At that time, the DNR will solicit public input on the permit before renewing, modifying or revoking the permit.

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Preliminary registration data for the 2017 nine-day gun deer hunt will be available online at set intervals in November

MADISON - Preliminary registration totals for the nine-day gun deer hunt will be available online at set times for the 2017 deer hunting seasons to provide for accurate and consistent data for media use.

Preliminary registration data will be available Tuesday, Nov. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 28. A more detailed registration data summary for all deer hunting seasons will be available after all 2017 deer hunting seasons close.

These preliminary data will be available by searching the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "weekly totals." For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."

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Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey preliminary results

MADISON - The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is a great opportunity for hunters to let Department of Natural Resources staff know what they are (or are not) seeing this fall.

With hunters' continued efforts, DNR staff can better track population changes and improve management decisions, especially for animals that are difficult to monitor. Hunters are encouraged to record all hunting activity, even if no wildlife sightings occur during a hunt.

In the first two months of the survey, deer hunters have recorded 547 trips, observing 355 bucks, 719 does, 493 fawns, and 149 unknowns. Turkeys and raccoons are the next most commonly seen animals while hunting. At the end of each year, survey participants can receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife.

To access the survey, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "deer hunter wildlife." Observations can be submitted by smartphone, desktop, or mail. The current survey period ends January 2018.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Contact information

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James Dick
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608-267-2773