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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 21, 2011

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Lake protection and restoration in full swing this summer

MADISON -- Efforts to protect and restore Wisconsin's inland lakes are going full throttle across Wisconsin as citizens, and local, state and federal governments work to ensure these natural features remain what Henry David Thoreau famously called the "landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature."

"It takes a lot of work involving a lot of different people and organizations doing a lot of different things to keep lakes in our state in great condition," says Carroll Schaal, who leads the Department of Natural Resources lakes team.

Recent monitoring shows that partners' efforts are paying off: 75 percent of the 3,200 lakes assessed exhibited excellent or good water quality, according to DNR's 2010 Water Quality Report to Congress. And the number of lakes judged as such has grown since 1980 in each of the classifications DNR has assigned lakes based on their size, depth, water sources, drainage area and position within the landscape, the report says.

Here's a sampling of the activities rippling across Wisconsin waters this month:

"We should be proud we have an important resource and we have maintained that," says Tim Asplund, a limnologist for the DNR. "But keeping Wisconsin lakes in good condition is going to take vigilance and investing dollars where we know we can make a difference because the cost and effort to restore a lake once it's degraded can be so great."

Schaal, Asplund and others reflect on successes in cleaning up and protecting lakes, and the ongoing and emerging challenges ahead in A Watershed Year, in the June 2011 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

2011 Lake Protection Grant funds to benefit 3,000 lakes

The list of governments and organizations receiving DNR Lake Protection Grants for 2011 (pdf) demonstrate the diversity of partnerships and projects needed to keep Wisconsin lakes healthy, Schaal says.

Lake Belle View
Jim Amrhein, DNR water management specialist, prepares to stock a northern pike in a restored Lake Belle View in Dane County.
Greg Matthews Photo

There are lake associations, lake districts, land trusts, and various levels of municipal government, especially counties, stepping up to do everything from protecting critical shorelands through regulation, acquisition and voluntary restorations to constructing detention basins to control sediment and phosphorus in runoff to adding alum to break up the recycling of algae-causing phosphorus within a lake after other protective measures have been put in place. Each of the state grants is matched by at least 25 percent in cash or donated services and labor.

"That doesn't include the meetings, the planning and all the preparation that citizens and local officials voluntarily put in to get to the point of conducting these projects," Schaal says. "With this kind of partnership and dedication, Wisconsin's lakes are in good hands."

Communities receiving grants in 2011 are in Barron, Florence, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Polk, Portage, Rock, St. Croix, Vilas, Waukesha, Washburn, and Waushara counties. All projects are eligible for awards. Before the grant agreements can be issued, project sponsors must submit all documentations to meet all program requirements by Sept. 1, 2011.

A searchable database of Lake Protection Grant awards by location, year or type of activity is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carroll Schaal (608) 261-6423

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Lake Stewardship Awards in 2011 recognize longtime leaders

MADISON -- A handful of veterans retiring from state service and those coming up to replace them topped the list of citizens receiving 2011 Lake Stewardship Awards.

The awards are given by the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, a nationally recognized and successful collaboration of Wisconsin Lakes, DNR, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. More information on the awards is available in a brochure on the UW Extension website [www.uwsp.edu] (pdf; exit DNR). They were presented during the annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention in Green Bay in April to:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carroll Schaal (608) 261-6423

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New web feature makes it easy to find lake maps, amenities

MADISON -- A new "Find a Lake" feature on the Department of Natural Resources website gives boaters and anglers an easy way to find new waters to try out. Users can search for lakes by region, alphabetically by lake name, or by features like boat ramps, beaches and parks. They can get maps and detailed lake information, and learn about boat access, local boating ordinances, and other facilities.

Wisconsin Lakes Fast Facts

- Wisconsin Lakes Book, 2009 revision

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carroll Schaal (608) 261-6423

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Tips for introducing kids to fishing

Instructor offers lessons learned from 40,000 students

HORICON - Mark Baldock was 3 years old when he started fishing. His parents put a rod in his hand when they went to a cabin on a lake for vacation. "I caught a yellow perch, and I was hooked!" Baldock recalls.

Now he gets other people hooked on fishing. Baldock has taught nearly 40,000 kids about fish and fishing during his eight years working for Wisconsin's fisheries management program.

As the Department of Natural Resources urban fishing coordinator in 2005 and 2006, Baldock worked with school and scout groups, conducted kids fishing clinics and events, and ran DNR's fishing activities at the Wisconsin State Fair and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Sportshow. Now a fisheries technician-advanced at DNR's Horicon office, Baldock still takes several school groups fishing each year, helps out with fishing events at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center near Poynette, and serves as fishing camp director for the Wisconsin Outdoor Youth Expo, which brings 3,500 fourth and fifth graders from all over the state for two days of outdoor experiences.

Baldock makes the time to take his niece out fishing, and passes on his tips here for helping make kids' first fishing trip a success.

Fishing, Family, Fun

By Mark Baldock

Fishing with your kids is a great way for a family to come together and to connect with themselves and with the natural world around them. Bluegill are the most caught species in the state of Wisconsin, so if you are looking for as close to a sure thing as you can get, hedge your bets on these readily feeding fish the next time you go out.

Mark Baldock
Mark Baldock takes his niece Lexi fishing to pass on his love for the sport.

When fishing with kids, the most important thing to remember is to keep it simple. You don't have to have the most advanced tackle and electronics to fish for bluegill. Just an old rod and some bait.

Rods, tackle, bait

Ultralight rods are perfect for kids to fish with. The rods are usually shorter, and when the kids get a fish on the hook, it will make it feel like a trophy every time! Use a bobber, small hook, and a BB sized sinker for your tackle. The bobber should be relatively small so that it doesn't spook the fish. A bobber is great because it gives a visual indication of a bite that kids can see and get excited about. Many foam bobbers also have weighted bottoms so that even your little one can cast it a country mile.

For the hooks, a small size 8 or 10 octopus hook is perfect for bluegill. They are small enough for a bluegill to take it, but not so small that they will swallow it every time.

Bluegill will hit a variety of baits, so that is the easy part. They will gobble up garden worms, nightcrawlers, small minnows, grubs, or leeches. Try collecting some worms from your driveway after a rainstorm for a free sample! If you don't want to use live bait, they will also hit any number of artificial lures. Flies, mini-mites, and plastics such as Berkley power bait works just as well on bluegill.

Where to fish

Get a line on good places to take kids fishing by checking the "Take Me Fishing" page of the DNR website.

Once you're at your spot, where to find the fish? Just check the shoreline area. Bluegills spawn in the shallows from late May through August. Just cast near weed lines and docks, and you'll be sure to catch some.

More essentials to bring along

Also, make sure to bring your patience. Kids are going to foul up their line at some point, or get caught on weeds or a dock. We have all done that, even as grown-ups, so laugh it off. Make sure to bring a pair of pliers, because kids' attention span can be limited, and they may miss the bite, allowing the bluegill to swallow it. If it is too far down, just cut the line, tie on a new hook, and give them encouragement.

Don't be afraid to mix it up as well. If the fish aren't biting well, point out birds or turtles to keep them interested and provide a lasting memory. Once they get one in the boat, give them the opportunity to look at the fish. Have a bucket on board that you can fill with water and let the kid get the chance for hands-on experience with it. Show them how to properly hold a fish, so that the spiny rays of the fins don't poke them. Ask them to tell you why the fish is shaped that way or what its color pattern means -- you'll be surprised what they come up with!

Lastly, make sure to have plenty of water, juice, and snacks on board. Bring sunscreen and a towel in case it gets hot and they want to take a dip in the lake. Have some rags to clean hands after they touch fish or the bait. Let them pick one spot on the lake to try and fish. They might find the secret hotspot! If it looks like you are having fun, they will have fun. Good luck and enjoy!

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Baldock (920) 387-7868

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Most fireworks illegal in state forests and parks

MADISON - Camping in a state park or forest for the Fourth of July? There are lots of ways to enjoy the holiday in the parks, but park officials ask visitors to enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities - not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks and forests.

Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Jason Fritz, chief ranger for the Wisconsin State Parks program.

"For the safety of our guests and our resources, our rangers strictly enforce the no fireworks laws," Fritz said. "Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as 'fireworks' per Wisconsin state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents would rather not see them at all because they are a fire hazard."

A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost the lawbreaker up to $200 and parents could be liable for the full costs of putting out a fire started by their children playing with or setting off fireworks.

In fact, anyone responsible for starting a forest fire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out but also for any damages, notes Catherine Koele, forest fire prevention specialist with the DNR Division of Forestry.

As of the third week of June, fire dangers levels throughout Wisconsin were low across the state, but even in low fire danger times, fireworks can start wildfires. So far in 2011, DNR records show 413 fires have burned nearly 400 acres in Wisconsin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fritz (608) 266-2152 or Catherine Koele, DNR forest fire prevention specialist - (608) 266-2359

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June 27 public hearings set on commercial trap fishing nets

Emergency rules aimed at improving boater safety

MADISON - A requirement that anglers trolling with downriggers on the Great Lakes carry wire cutters on board -- along with changes that commercial fishers must make -- are the topic of public hearings June 27 in Cleveland and Bayfield.

The hearings are on emergency rules adopted in April by the state Natural Resources Board and aimed at better protecting sport anglers on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior from potential hazards under the water, including commercial fishing nets. Find information on these rules on Trap Net Safety on the Great Lakes page of the Department of Natural Resources website.

The emergency rules have been in effect since May 15 and will run 90 days, at which time the DNR has a chance to renew them for another 60 days.

Public comment collected at the hearings or through written statements sent to the DNR will be used to help shape any further rule-making efforts, says Bill Horns, DNR Great Lakes fisheries specialist.

Under the emergency rules:

The emergency rule and fiscal estimate may be reviewed and comments electronically submitted through the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website.

More information or a copy of the proposed rule and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate, may also be obtained from William Horns, DNR Bureau of Fisheries Management, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707 or by email to William.Horns@wisconsin.gov or by calling (608) 266-8782. Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via U.S. mail to William Horns. Comments may be submitted until June 23, 2011. Written comments, whether submitted electronically or by U.S. mail, will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearings.

The hearing will be held concurrently by conference call June 27 from 5-7 p.m. in the following locations:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Horns (608) 266-8782

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Chef Tim: A warden's guide to good, easy meals

Grab a dark beer, check the freezer and dust off the slow-cooker

MADISON - If you shot and froze it, now's the time to cook and enjoy it.

"If you're like me, you've got some long-forgotten wrapped wild game wedged between the frozen vegetables and pizzas in your basement freezer," says Tim Lawhern, Department of Natural Resources conservation warden and admitted foodie. "Now is the time to empty out that freezer so you'll have room come fall. It also helps relive the memories of a successful hunt and builds anticipation for future hunts."

Don't worry if you don't have any venison or other game. "You can use any kind of red meat," he said. "If you're short on time, do what I do, use the slow cooker.

Here's how to make Chef Tim's Dark Beer Bake:

The last ingredient you'll add is the secret sauce - the dark beer. Bock beers are especially popular in the spring. The recipe calls for one-quarter of a cup. "But I usually add about half a bottle or more - depending upon the size of your pot. Lawhern says cover the meat entirely with the liquid. "Be careful as salt and garlic will cause the liquid to form a foam head."

You're done. Place the lid on the Crock Pot, or slow-cooker, and go to work.

"When you get home it will be ready," Lawhern says. "My favorite way to serve this is over a baked potato with a side dish of sautéed or steamed fresh veggies.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern, DNR Administrator of Enforcement and Science - (608) 264-6133

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 21, 2011




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