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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

December 2008

Readers Write

Success on Public Hunting Land
Where are the Warnings? | Open Season on Crows?
Elroy-Sparta in the Trail Hall of Fame | Wisconsin a Top-Ranked Bicycling State
Wisconsin River Flood Debris Removed at Less Cost and Ahead of Schedule

Sucess on Public Hunting Land

I started hunting public land 15 years ago. My success rate has steadily increased from my knowledge of how other hunters hunt. Generally most hunters hunt close to the road and only for a few hours.[You just need to take steps to move into the properties farther and travel lighter].For instance, on most public land you have to put up and take down your tree stand daily. This adds a lot of work to hunting on public land. I use a portable tree stand made from a nylon strap that is quiet and lightweight. It also acts as a safety harness. It can be used for bow hunting and gun hunting, and it does not damage trees. I have also started using kayaks and canoes to paddle my way deeper into public swamps and woods.

My favorite bowhunting places on public land are state parks that allow bow hunting during gun season. In 2002, with the outbreak of CWD, state parks allowed bow hunting around campgrounds where gun hunting is not allowed. It was a challenge that I always wanted to attempt, shoot a buck with my bow during gun season. I was successful my first day, as I bagged a seven-point buck. I have shot six deer with my bow during gun season since that first day in November 2002. I love to hunt that state park.

Lane Furseth

Where are the Warnings?

Where are the fish consumption warnings in the August article Hook into a good time, or did I miss them? People I know who grew up fishing on Lake Michigan say their mantra is "Eat small fish, and not very often." But the fish portrayed in the article are large, and therefore more likely to be PCB-contaminated.

Colleen F. Moore

Fishing and eating one's catch are both fine Wisconsin traditions. The writer is correct that all anglers should heed health advice and choose which fish to eat in which quantities. Women in their child-bearing years and young children are most susceptible to accumulating contaminants. Safe eating guidelines for inland waters and specific advice to enjoy fish while minimizing exposure to mercury and PCB-contaminated fish are posted at Fish Consumption Advisories. They are also listed on pages 14-15 of the general fishing regulations.

Open Season on Crows?

I recently watched two crows go after a mourning dove nest. They took each little bird out of the nest one at a time and sat on the limb and tore them to pieces. Now that the mourning dove is considered a Wisconsin game bird, I suggest a year-long open season on crows with a bounty to be decided later on. I would like to hear other bird hunters' opinions on this, for or against.

Pat McQuillan
Eau Claire


Elroy-Sparta in the Trail Hall of Fame

In September the Elroy-Sparta State Trail was honored as a national Hall of Fame Trail by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the nationwide advocate for preserving unused rail corridors and converting them to trails that promote healthy exercise. These trails link communities and encourage visitors and residents alike to explore the natural and cultural attributes of the communities along these corridors.

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail is a real beauty – 32 miles of bicycling trails in Juneau and Monroe counties with modest grades that cut across woodlands, pastures and swooping hills of western Wisconsin. The trail goes past Amish and organic farmsteads, and forms a continuous ribbon of 101 trail miles by linking together the Great River State Trail, the La Crosse River State Trail and the 400 State Trail.

The crowning features of the Elroy-Sparta Trail (aside from the hospitality you will find in six trailside communities) are three tunnels blasted and cut through the hills in 1873 to keep the railroad running. Tunnel #1 is slightly over a quarter-mile long between Kendall and Wilton. Tunnel #2 is of equal length between Wilton and Norwalk and the big dig, Tunnel #3, is nearly three-quarters of a mile long between Norwalk and Sparta. All three tunnels have doors on either end that were used to trap in the 45 degree heat during the frigid winter months. Back in the late 1800s, gatekeepers tended the doors all winter, opening them up to 50 times a day to accommodate traffic. Today, the doors remain open from the first of May until November for your traveling enjoyment.

In 1965 Wisconsin was the first state to convert abandoned railway beds into recreational trails promoting hiking, biking, snowmobiling and some ATV use. Wisconsin has one of the largest recreational trail systems in the country with 42 named trails and nearly 10,000 miles of roadways rated suitable for bicycle touring.

Wisconsin a Top-Ranked Bicycling State

Wisconsin has been ranked the second best bicycling state in the country by the League of American Bicyclists.

"The League's survey measured factors like quality roads, safety, use of available federal funding and policy favorable to cyclists. But there's little doubt in my mind that if scenery, clean air, clean water and wildlife viewing opportunities were also included as cycling attributes, Wisconsin would top out in those categories, too," added DNR Secretary Matt Frank.

The survey is the first of expected annual rankings of states and is part of the League's Bicycle Friendly State program, supported in part by Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo. Two other upper Midwestern states made the top ten with Minnesota ranked fifth and Illinois eighth.

To plan a leisurely, self guided bicycling tour in Wisconsin, go to and check the calendar of events, read the information on the Great Outdoors, or order a Wisconsin Biking Guide. Travelers also can call 800-432-TRIP (8747).

Wisconsin River Flood Debris Removed at Less Cost and Ahead of Schedule

More than 120 tons of debris along a 20-mile stretch of the Wisconsin River downstream of Lake Delton was removed by mid-September following extensive flooding in June. DNR Secretary Matt Frank noted that hard work by volunteers spearheaded by the nonprofit group Living Lands and Waters of East Moline, Ill., landowners and government agencies made that reach of the river much safer for navigation weeks ahead of projected cleanup schedules.

About 97 percent of the debris consisted of wood from walls, trusses, flooring and metal from five homes on Lake Delton that collapsed into the water.

On June 9, raging floodwaters cut a new channel from Lake Delton to the Wisconsin River, destroyed a county road and drained 600 million gallons of water from the 267-acre manmade lake in less than two hours. The new channel was 700 feet long, 370 feet wide and 30 feet deep.

The cleanup project was coordinated with the Department of Natural Resources, Columbia and Sauk counties, the village of Lake Delton, the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Wisconsin Emergency Management.

Thirty-one community volunteers, many helping for three days or more during the 24-day cleanup, removed 99 percent of the debris by hand. Fully half of the woody debris (7,000 pounds) and all 632 pounds of metal removed from the river were recycled.

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking reimbursement for at least 75 percent of the $92,430 cleanup cost from the federal government. Wisconsin Emergency Management will cover half of the remaining costs, and the remainder will be split four ways among the Village of Lake Delton, DNR and Sauk and Columbia counties.

Together we delivered cleanup weeks ahead of schedule, saving a quarter million dollars from initial projections thanks to volunteers, and an economical contract with the nonprofit group, said DNR Secretary Frank. "The floodwaters are gone but our work is ongoing to help communities rebuild," Frank noted. "We're inspecting dams, assisting wastewater treatment plants, and working with the Department of Transportation and the Village of Lake Delton to restore the lake, road and surrounding area," he said.