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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

December 1996

Readers Write

Creepless Charlie

The article on the "green alien hordes" that invade our forests, prairies and wetlands (June 1996) was most interesting and enlightening. I especially appreciated the information about controlling Creeping Charlie by using seven tablespoons of laundry borax in a gallon of warm water, thus avoiding the use of stronger herbicides in our flower gardens and lawns. That bit of advice is worth the cost of the subscription alone. It works!

Marilyn Foust
Oshkosh

Bird Books

About a year ago, you ran an article mentioning a book by a Mr. Robbins about birds of Wisconsin. I checked with several Milwaukee area book shops and no one can tell me where to find one. Can you help?

Edward Lensby
Glendale

You might be referring to one of three books. In our April 1992 issue, we mentioned Wisconsin Birdlife: Population and Distribution/Past and Present by Samuel D. Robbins, Jr. It's an encyclopedic 702-page reference which details the populations, distribution, habitat needs, migration patterns, breeding habits and wintering traits of nearly 400 species. Wisconsin Birds, by Stanley Temple, pub. 1987, is a very handy guide for birders on the seasonal and geographic distribution of Wisconsin birds. Both books were published by the University of Wisconsin Press, 114 N. Murray Street, Madison, WI 53715-1199. Birds of Wisconsin, by Owen Gromme, is more of a coffee-table book chock-full of illustrations by the late artist and former curator for the Milwaukee Public Museum. It is published by Stanton & Lee.

Access to Campsites

I am very upset with the DNR's rules that set aside campsites strictly for canoeists. We are senior citizens who have traveled to northwestern Wisconsin to fish for 14 years. We used to stay in the campsites along the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers. We would fish into the night and then sleep in our van that we've equipped with a bed. We loved being in the outdoors where we could enjoy a little privacy.

We feel discriminated against since we can no longer stay in these riverside campgrounds strictly reserved for canoeists. We camp very simply. We buy our fishing license and few groceries, but we don't need all the luxuries of home in our van.

Those canoe campgrounds are equipped with water, simple restrooms and a fire ring. At the campgrounds now available to us, we have not found restrooms or other simple amenities, although there is plenty of room for them.

We sure miss discovering and enjoying those quiet refuges, and we wonder why they are not available to us.

Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Strange
New Virginia, Iowa

We checked on your behalf. We suspect you are describing the campsites managed by the National Park Service.

In truth, most of the 100 or more campsites along the 252-mile St. Croix National Scenic Riverway have been set aside for canoe camping since the riverway was established. The reason was two-fold: first, the Park Service only allows camping at designated sites because the costs of providing water, toilet facilities and fire rings limits how many places can be properly equipped. Second, the sites are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. So a canoeist who planned on stopping at a certain spot has to either get their early or keep going until a vacant campsite is secured. If these sites were filled by car campers, the canoeists would find very few campsites. That would limit canoe exploration to day trips.

Tent and car campers have many alternatives to enjoy the river experience including campsites at five state parks and two state forests that abut the river.Some of the choice campsites at the state parks can be reserved ahead of time.

If you truly want to find a quiet riverside refuge, explore the St. Croix River south of Never's Dam near the community of St. Croix. South of this area tent camping is allowed anywhere along the river, though potable water and toilet facilities are not readily available. For maps and information about the riverway, contact the National Park Service at (715) 483-3284.

A Right to Howl

I think your answer to Mr. Lawrence Krak's letter about wolves was one-sided; even tacky. He has a right to his views and he brought out some good points. Does it make sense for Wisconsin to spend money increasing wolf populations while our neighbors in Minnesota pay damages to remove some wolves? I am almost always "pro-DNR," but on this issue, not so much.

Gary W. Sutherland
Brodhead

Fish Art

Scaling the heights of fashion (August 1996), encompassed all that was necessary for successful gyotaku (fish printing). I am a teacher in the Minneapolis area and have done gyotaku before. I received some wonderful tips from this article to make the fish prints even better! This year I will follow our printing with a lesson on fish dissection.

Your magazine has been a great benefit to me as an educator. Many of the articles can easily be applied in the classroom. If students become educated about nature and wildlife, they will develop an appreciation for it and will in turn respect it. Thanks for a top-notch magazine.

Lynn Mais
Victoria, Minn.

Cover Colors

Your camouflage shot made great copy for the front cover of the August issue, but who would want to go hunting with someone wearing highly visible, shining earrings?

Clarence Peterson
Waukesha

I'm a long-time subscriber and enjoy the informative articles. I am pleased to see more effort to encourage women who want to get involved in hunting and fishing. The more people that understand these sports, the better for all sports-minded individuals.

The August cover concerned me greatly. That person is in danger wearing the clothing and sporting the camouflage paint depicted. At turkey hunting clinics I have attended, we were told three colors were absolutely never to be worn: RED, WHITE, or BLUE. Those are the colors of a tom turkey's head. Secondly, given the sharp eyesight of the tom, those bright earrings, shiny gun and circle camo face paint will probably give this hunter away long before she would ever get a good shot.

Dennis R. Fletcher
Brookfield

You are right that red, white and blue should not be worn when turkey hunting as a matter of safety. Also, the shiny reflections from earrings and gun stocks can be readily spotted by the wary, sharp-eyed wild turkey. Please understand that the person pictured on our cover was attending a weekend workshop in which she was receiving instruction on the preparations one makes to turkey hunt. She was not actually hunting, nor did she apply her own face paint. Instructors demonstrated face-painting techniques and quickly dabbed some paint on participants. Yes, the blues in her face paint should have been darkened. In a turkey hunting situation, face paints would need to be more carefully blended to mask and conceal the hunter.

Turkey hunters need to be especially careful to know if others are hunting the same property, identify their prey and look WELL beyond their target. Camouflage clothing, turkey calls, realistic decoys and concealed blinds all make the turkey hunter extremely vulnerable if others misjudge whether it is safe to take a shot.

Early Planning

Last year you carried a short article on a morel mushroom festival somewhere in southwestern Wisconsin. It gave dates, places and a phone number to call. Unfortunately, I misplaced my copy. Could you provide a contact?

R.E. Schluttenhofer
Ashwaubenon

We bet you are thinking about the Muscoda Morel Festival, traditionally held each year on the weekend after Mother's Day. (Mark your calendar now: May 17-18, 1997.) Festival managers have changed over the years. We recommend contacting the Village Clerk's office in early May to find a contact (608) 739-3182.

Old Shack Memory

My wife handed me the August 1995 issue that started the cabin photos contest and she pointed to the bottom of page 14. The hunting shack pictured is a cabin I built in 1978 in Waupaca County in the middle of a woodlot on my 180-acre farm. The older logs in the cabin came from a cabin in Plover which had been built by my friend, author Justin Isherwood.

That cabin was dismantled, reconstructed and expanded on the farm. The additional logs came from 150-year-old white pines that we cut with two-man crosscut saws and milled on-site. The cedar shakes were cut on an antique steam-powered shake mill. Total cost for that cabin, including chimney, well and windows was $450.

That cabin stands on an esker, the remains of a glacial stream, and is surrounded by old growth white pine. It overlooks a pond, also built in 1978. The cabin was indeed a hunting shack for family and friends during the deer season as well as a retreat site for many gatherings. Much music and many stories have been shared at that cabin, but perhaps the best music is the sound of the wind through the old white pines.

Steve Hemshrot
Shell Lake

Deer Damage

I enjoyed reading Bill Vander Zouwen's article, How deer to Wisconsin? Even though whitetails do much damage to Wisconsin's flora, I believe the photo on page 19 was deformed by corn smut (Ustilago maydis) not white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Corn smut can infect healthy or damaged plants by entering through the flowers, tassels and ears. The fact that this plant was eaten by deer and infected happened by chance. The spores have to be in the area to infect the plant. It could have been carried by the wind or by the deer if it brushed against another smut ball or even had some on its teeth.

Jerry Davis, PhD
Biology/Microbiology Department
UW-La Crosse
La Crosss

Urban River Recovery

I was happy to see your article on Lincoln Creek (April 1994) and I couldn't be happier that a testing station was built on the river near 45th and Congress in Milwaukee. I've enjoyed spending time visiting with DNR staff when they are working at the site.

I suspected for years that someone was polluting this stream, but didn't realize it came from so many sources. I remember catching some small sunfish and dumping them in the stream near the falls. Within minutes, they floated away...dead.

I used to walk up and down that stream with the Cub Scouts and was horrified at the bad water next to St. Michael's Hospital.

Back in the early forties, I used to take my bike and fish under the Sherman Boulevard stretch for crappies. We were poorer then and fresh fish was a treat.

Raymond Vinarski
Milwaukee

Songbird Predation

I agree with Viola Pries that hawks are contributing to declines in songbird populations. I've seen the "great wild peregrine" raid our feeding stations. He swooped right over the back deck and took a chickadee. Later, a peregrine hit the front picture window and sat stunned on the ground for about an hour, then flew into a nearby pine and sat there for a few more hours. When I spotted one in a nearby tall tree overlooking the feeders, my husband and I made as much noise as possible to scare it away.

Numerous other times there would be a flash past the windows and small birds would scatter in panic. Like Ms. Pries, we too are feeding less than half the birdseed we used to feed in the same area where we have fed birds for 16 years, and the surrounding area has not changed.

Hawks will go where the living is easy and as more of them move in, we'll have fewer other birds.

Pat Hoff
Florence

Packing Out at Parks

Your magazine articles bring back vivid memories of times I've spent outdoors and you provide a wonderful balance between knowledge and appreciation of our environment as well as a forum for discussion. Can you address the new "carry in/carry out" policy for day users at our state parks?

The policy was piloted last year at Pike Lake State Park and other southern parks. Starting Memorial Day this year, all single-day park visitors have had to take out all trash from their park visits. Many park users don't understand the reasons behind the policy and they come to the park with materials that are not convenient to take home and subsequently need to be disposed of illegally at the park. Could you explain the importance of this policy and what effect it may have on our natural areas?

Mark Goings
Fall Creek

State Park Operations Chief Kermit Traska responds: We have received many comments concerning the new program. Some people are opposed to it because we formerly provided trash receptacles in state parks. However, there have been many editorials and letters of support.

Our aim is to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills; to reduce the presence of wastes that smell, attract insects and draw animals that raid trash bins; to encourage our visitors to be more environmentally-conscious when they come to a park; and to reduce our maintenance costs so we can concentrate our efforts on other priority services such as regularly servicing restrooms.

All of our parks now have posted signs, distribute information and offer free trash bags so visitors can conveniently take their trash with them. We will evaluate the program at the end of each park season to improve it in subsequent years. Overnight campgrounds will continue the practice of providing waste receptacles for visitors.

They're Back

As a photographer, I've noticed improvements locally. I've taken a photo of a fledging eagle that is the first successful one I'm aware of in the Pierce County area in 75 years or more. Along the same lines, we started seeing banded trumpeter swans at Lake Eau Galle a couple of winters ago and I've seen several more in the area. I can now photograph Hexagenia mayflies on the Mississippi River. They didn't have big hatches of mayflies on Lake Pepin 20 years ago; it was too polluted. In the last few years there have been huge hatches. The much-maligned DNR can take some credit for that.

Don Blegen
Spring Valley

Calling Frogs Names

Correct me if I'm wrong. In the April issue, the author of All about amphibians listed the generic name of the Northern Spring Peeper as Pseudacris. Isn't it more properly classified as Hyla crucifer? I'm not aware if any name change has taken place.

Erich A. Gottfried
Palmyra

Dreux Watermolen responds: Based on genetic analysis, herpetologists recently transferred the spring peeper from the genus Hyla to the genus Pseudacris. The change is now widely accepted and spring peepers are classified under Pseudacris in the most recent editions of "A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America" (R. Conant and J.T. Collins, 1991, Houghton Mifflin, third ed.) and the recently published "Geographic Distributions of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin" (G.S. Caspar, 1996:Milwaukee Public Museum.