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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

December 1997

Readers Write

Booze and Boating

Alcohol and water don't mix in your June 1997 issue should be reprinted just before each boating season. Education is the best long-term answer, just as it's helping reduce the high accident rate among personal watercraft operators.

Wisconsin, a mecca of boating, could and should join other states in requiring "driver training" for all motorized craft on the water. Drivers should at least be 16 and should have to complete a meaningful course such as Basic Boating taught by the Power Squadron, Coast Guard Auxiliary or the Dept. of Natural Resources. An additional course should be required to operate personal watercraft. Some Eastern states already have these requirements in place. Even current boat owners, regardless of age, were required to pass a safe boating class during a 2-3 year grace period.

I'm very concerned that the DNR and legislature do more to force boaters to be safer. A trip around Lake Geneva or Lake Minocqua on a Fourth of July weekend would show state leaders the need for such mandatory training.

John Bartosz
Lac du Flambeau

Meet Woodland Owners

Thanks for More than tending timber, the August article on Rachel and Don Jordan, the National Tree Farmers of the Year from Wisconsin. The article mentions our organization, and I want readers to know more about us.

The Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA) is a nonprofit group that provides workshops, conferences, and field days to educate people and offer sound advice to manage private woodlands. WWOA was organized in 1979 and has more than 2,000 members in Wisconsin. Next year, we will meet in Platteville and tentatively plan to hold the Sunday field day at the Jordan's farm. For information or a free copy of our quarterly magazine, Woodland Management, write or call WWOA, P.O. Box 285, Stevens Point, WI 54481 or call (715) 346-4798.

Nancy C. Bozek
Executive Director
Stevens Point

Land Use and ATVs

I thought your April 1997 article Awakening the Kickapoo Reserve captured the marvelous opportunity to create a reserve in keeping with the beauty of the valley. Perhaps it was a blessing that the land was held in federal hands for 30 years. I believe had the land been transferred back to Wisconsin earlier, we would have lost the area's uniqueness. The '70s and '80s saw rapid, poorly-planned development in such places as the Wisconsin Dells and Door County – which has finally declared a moratorium to control development pressures. I believe Wisconsin is primed to move into a new decade creating development which provides growth for the local economy while maintaining the essence of why an area was valuable for development.

What bothered me about the article was the mention of ATVs. My heart just dropped when I read that those noisy vehicles were allowed at all. My husband and I enjoy nonmotorized recreation throughout Wisconsin – biking, hiking, canoeing, camping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. As we head out to enjoy the state's beauty, we especially enjoy the quietness of valleys and forests, bird songs, wind blowing through the trees and the scent of fresh pines. ATVs ruin these for us. We can hear them from miles away. We avoid those areas where we know ATVs trails exist or are planned. As tourists, we take our dollars elsewhere.

The unique rare plants, birds and unspoiled beauty in the Kickapoo seems in complete contrast to ATV use. Those machines ruin the landscape through erosion, noise pollution and air pollution (dust and exhaust). I hope the Kickapoo board bans ATVs from the area. The ATV enthusiasts bring dollars to the local economy, but at what price? Will the Kickapoo become yet another area my husband and I will avoid or a mecca for those wishing to enjoy Wisconsin in its truest beauty?

Lauri Gerlach
Salem

Catchin' Fishers on the Web

I'm interested that the biggest northern caught in Wisconsin last year was 42 ¼ inches long. I caught one bigger by half an inch this year and a 45-incher last year on a fly rod. Of course, that was up in Canada. Not bad for an old timer. I spend a lot of my retirement years these days in Florida, but I enjoyed visiting your Web pages and will visit again.

Jerry Simons
Osseo

The fish records we listed were the largest fish registered with the Hook on Wisconsin Anglers' Club. There's no guarantee these were the largest fish caught here last year.

List of Natural Areas

I've been getting the magazine since Lester Voight was the old Wisconsin Conservation Department head, and I think the product has really improved over the past couple of years. I also really like the Web site as it both compliments and complements the written version. I thought you had a really great article about signs on public properties in the August 1997 issue. After reading how courts interpret friendly signs that say "please," I can see why you don't dare just be polite in signage. How about going all the way like saying "Dammit, don't you dare step off these trails...please." Maybe you ought to have a contest.

By the way, I am still trying to find the list of State Natural Areas mentioned in the article "About Wisconsin naturally," which tells which natural areas can be visited.

Phil Mayer
Dodgeville

The list of natural areas available on our Web site features sites best suited for public visitation. Readers can also receive a paper copy of the list and maps of the properties we highlight on our back cover by writing to: State Natural Areas Program, DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. The Endangered Resources program is now preparing all of those maps for Web use. We are aiming to make maps available electronically for all the State Natural Areas that can handle visitors. Paper fact sheets and maps for most of these sites are available now.

Bear Update

Readers may recall our October 1996 article A bear-raising experience in which DNR Wildlife Manager Mike Gappa and Wildlife Technician Dan Mautz reintroduced orphaned bear cubs to the wild with mixed success. This year Gappa and Mautz decided to try again when bears cubs were abandoned after their den was accidentally tipped over by heavy equipment operators during a construction job.

Gappa and Mautz sought help to track the bears' movements. They started a partnership with a nature center at the Beaver Creek Reserve and three teachers at Augusta High School, Fall Creek High School and Altoona High School. Students were trained to find and track radio-collared bears. Moreover, when it was time to move the bears from pen to den, students got hands-on experience – lugging sedated bears from crates, weighing and measuring the sleeping yearlings, ear-tagging and collaring the bears, dragging them by sled to the new dens, preparing the den sites and lowering the bears into their new den sites.

Student and teacher commitment to the project remains strong. Throughout the school year and summer student/teacher teams have tracked the bears every day or every other day.

What happened to the bears? One female died from natural causes (dysfunctional spleen). One boar was shot legally during the hunting season (not by anyone tracking its movements) and a third sow is doing fine. She has established a home territory and acts like any other wild bear.

The students' story continues. Their commitment to the project led wildlife managers to radio-collar two deer fawns whose habits and activities are also being monitored. Teacher support and student interest remains so strong that the high schools are considering establishing a science course including telemetry labs and field biology studies.