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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

August 1997

Readers Write

Symbolic Wisconsin

Our class at Elm Dale Elementary School in Greenfield liked the story on Wisconsin State symbols. We made a mural of Wisconsin four feet tall and eight feet long. We used all the state symbols. We painted it during our recesses. We had a lot of fun.

Kate Esselman
Mrs. Haberlis' Fourth Grade Class

Web Fans

Saw your [web]site and I have to say what a great thing to have on the Internet. Hats off to you and your associates.

Joe Severa

I like the layout and organization of your Web site. It's simple to see what is in the magazine and it's nice to see what's going to be in the next issue. As a subscriber, I read the magazine cover-to-cover within two days of its arrival.

Jane K. George

I just renewed my subscription. As far as I'm concerned, you are doing everything right. Congratulations on the Web site, too.

Fred Stoeffel

Though I now live in another setting of great beauty, I always look forward to the magazine's arrival in my mailbox. You see, my roots are still in Wisconsin. The original Zettel landgrant farm in Maplewood, Door County is still operated by my father. Your Web site now gives me another place I can visit for a virtual stroll along the by-ways of my favorite place, Wisconsin.

Steve Zettel
Libby, Mont.

Hawk Photos and Mel Ellis

The sharp photo of a goshawk (February cover) and accompanying article were most enjoyable. We've been seeing goshawks in greater numbers in our travels around Wisconsin. We really appreciate your photographers' expertise. We know how difficult it is to get close enough to hawks to get a shot like the one on the cover. We've seen eagles hunting food on the Wolf River just outside our door for more than 30 years. The current keeps a channel open most of the year and waterfowl flock here. We've never gotten a good photo of the eagles, partially due to inadequate camera equipment and partly due to the eagles keeping a sharp eye on any movement.

Also in that issue, your article of Mel Ellis' essays brought back fond memories of his numerous writings in newspapers and magazines. As a teacher at that time, I used many of his articles in my writing classes to motivate students – especially the boys. I wrote to Mr. Ellis one time about an exceptional article on trees – "A Love Song to Trees." I received a response, which I still have. Whatever happened to Little Lakes? Does one of the girls still live there?

Marge and John Eid

Mrs. Ellis still lives on the property. The Little Lakes homestead has been purchased by a private foundation and will be preserved.

Killing Anglers' Enthusiasm?

It is a shame you had to ruin such a nice story about steelhead fishing on the Root River (April issue) by scaring people telling them to "Select just a few fish to eat." No wonder our fishery can't support itself. You folks just keep scaring those potential new anglers away! Oh, that's right, wildlife watching is the trend now! Ten years down the road, I wonder who will regret this rhetoric when we have NO fisheries department.

Maxine Appleby

Just as the catch-and-release philosophy encourages anglers to enjoy the fishing experience without keeping every fish, we believe our fish advisories encourage anglers to enjoy outdoor experiences and decide for themselves which fish to take home. These advisories are not designed to dampen enthusiasm for fishing as sport or recreation, we want to let people make their own informed choices about which environmental risks they choose to accept.

And Cats Again

Regarding your December article on cats, I cannot understand why household cats are allowed to run free. So many cat owners feel their cats need to hunt. I used to like cats and darling little kittens, but seeing so many of them attacking birds and leaving the remains in my yard sickens me. I wouldn't want a cat that had been chewing on birds, bunnies, rats and mice.

My friends and my son have cats that have never been out of the house. I consider those animals 100 percent cleaner and I'd say the practice has lengthened their lives. If dogs have to be tied up outside so they won't give chase, why not cats?

We seem to experience another problem – crows in the city. Since our landfills have been sealed off from open garbage, the crows are invading residential neighborhoods. Each summer as the crows feed their young, we lose baby robins, cardinals and finches. The crows sit on our rooftops listening for baby bird twitters and they watch as parents enter and leave to feed their young. The frantic parents are helpless against the larger, aggressive crows.

If there is a solution to stop cat and crow problems, I favor it.

Ellie McLaughlin

Remembering the Kickapoo

Thank you for Harvey Black's article Awakening the Kickapoo Reserve. We have been waiting a long time to see such a piece.

My husband, the late Ronald Rich, started working in 1972 to keep a dam from being built on that beautiful river. He was born and grew up within three miles of Wildcat Park and explored the Kickapoo Valley all his life. He attended every hearing held all those years, appeared as a witness, wrote dozens of letters, made phone calls, took hundreds of pictures, contacted Senators Nelson, Proxmire, Governor Lucey and anybody else who would listen. He never gave up hope of saving the valley but the going got very hard for a while, since the proponents of the dam got pretty nasty.

My husband died in April of 1994, just before the project was officially halted. I believe he was the first to report the existence of Primula mistassenica and the Northern Monkshood. He knew they should be there, and he found them. He knew where the Indians had lived and understood the valley.

That picture you ran in the article of the couple walking in the woods is Ron and me. The article has warmed the hearts of our family.

Louise M. Rich

While I agree the reserve is a state treasure, the article overlooked an important and dramatic change in one aspect of the Kickapoo: its aquatic resources.

In the summer of 1993, with my partner Lorie Wilson and under the supervision of DNR Fisheries Manager Dave Vetrano, I surveyed fish species on the Kickapoo River between Ontario and Rockton.

Previous surveys in the early seventies showed an almost lake-like assemblage of warmwater species – smallmouth bass, northern pike, bullheads and green sunfish. Most notable was the red shiner which prefers warm, turbid waters.

Our 1993 survey showed a definite shift. In fact smallmouth bass, northern pike, bullheads and red shiners were not found. Instead, the sand shiner, common shiner, redside dace, red-bellied dace and a few species of darters were now resident – all clear, coolwater species. We also found longnose dace, which are only associated with fast-flowing, cold waters.

It is clear that the quality of the Kickapoo's water has changed. What caused this change? Nothing!

When the federal government took over the land, intensive agriculture stopped in areas with high runoff. This greatly reduced erosion and nutrient flow to the river. Additionally, many roads through the area were closed and bridges were removed, further reducing impacts from people. Then nature took over and the river flushed out and cleaned itself. Simply leaving the river alone allowed it to return to a more natural state. This change was so dramatic that marked trout that had been stocked in another stream were captured in our Kickapoo survey. Indeed, many species not previously noted were found during our survey including the rare red-sided dace.

The upshot of all of this is that our nongame fish species deserve more attention and respect. Also, sometimes the best management activity can be no management to let the land recover. This should be kept in mind as we balance "recreational development" with preserving the wilderness experience. The Kickapoo has already recovered once, giving us a second chance. Let's get it right this time.

Tim Roettiger
Kenai, Alaska

Two Good Reads

We gave up providing extensive book reviews several years ago because readers told us it was their least favorite feature. May we recommend two recent arrivals?

A Northwoods Companion: Spring and Summer by John Bates is a bi-weekly reader that shares phenological highlights from March through August. Bates is a forest naturalist who now operates a naturalist guiding service in Mercer, Wis., and he knows the northern scape darn well. The book is chock full of interesting tidbits and is organized so the reader who wants to study nature's coming attractions or plan a northern vacation can anticipate what will be blooming, crawling and croaking in a particular two-week segment. It would be equally enjoyable to slip this book in your backpack with your sandwich and field guides, take it along when you can sneak in ten minutes of reading between appointments, or keep it on your nightstand for a few minutes of quality reading at the end of the day. Manitowish River Press, 254 pages, $14.95.

Everyone's Illustrated Guide to Trout on a Fly by R. Chris Halla, illustrated by Michael Streef, uses large print narratives and plentiful black and white illustrations on every page to introduce newcomers of all ages to fly-fishing. The basics on selecting rods, reels, line, flies, even fishing clothing are handled with such fun it hardly seems like learning. Essentials like reading the water, making casting choices, selecting flies and understanding trout behavior are all covered in a 96-page quick read. Frank Amato Publications, Inc. $10.95.