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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 5, 2011

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3 million walleye stocked in Wisconsin waters

WILD ROSE, Wis. -- Nearly 3 million walleye, Wisconsin anglers' favorite fish, have been stocked in dozens of lakes and rivers waters over the last few weeks.

The fish, up to 2 months old and 2 inches in size, were harvested from the Art Oehmcke Hatchery in Woodruff, the Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in Spooner, the Lake Mills Hatchery in its namesake community, and, for the first time in 20 years, Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery in Waushara County. Construction of new coolwater facilities at that century-old hatchery allowed fish crews there to return to producing walleye for the first time in a generation.

"It was a good year for small fingerling walleye production, and it's good news for future walleye fishing opportunities in Wisconsin," says Dave Giehtbrock, statewide fish production manager. "The longer winter led to later egg collection, which caused a logistical complication at some hatcheries, but the cooler water temperatures were good for the walleye, and we were able to pull off successful rearing at our hatcheries, producing the fish we needed to produce."

The walleye are stocked to provide walleye fishing opportunities where otherwise there would be none, and to help restore naturally self-sustaining walleye populations in the receiving waters. The vast majority of the state's walleye fisheries are naturally reproducing but stocking plays an important role in some waters. .

How long it takes these little guys to reach legal size depends on the water where they're stocked and regulations, but count on two to five years before these fish are likely to turn up in the frying pan.

The fish have been raised at the four hatcheries for the last month or two, living in hatchery ponds that DNR fertilizes to help fuel production of algae. Zooplankton in the pond eat the algae, and the young fish eat the zooplankton. Now, that the plankton and algae supplies are depleted, it's time to get the fish out before they start eyeballing one another.

Gary Lindenberger, supervisor for the Thompson hatchery in Spooner, says the cooler weather and water temperatures helped boost survival in the ponds and led to surplus fish that were able to help fill quotas elsewhere.

That hatchery stocked 1,125,000 fish including providing a surplus of about 100,000 fish. In addition, the Thompson hatchery transferred about 40,000 fish off site for additional rearing at cooperative ponds maintained by fishing clubs, and is keeping about 50,000 fish at the hatchery to be raised to large fingerling size.

walleye harvest
Ben Heimbach harvests walleye for stocking from Wild Rose Fish Hatchery.
Randy Larson Photo

At Wild Rose, Supervisor Steve Fajfer says that returning to walleye production after 20 years was a learning experience for everyone, but that "we're very pleased. There were some challenges, but the fish survived very well, and we were successful."

Hatchery technician Ben Heimbach experimented with putting different densities of fish in the ponds to try to maximize growth rate and returns. The ponds were the same and the same amount of fertilizer was added.

"We're still crunching the numbers from that experiment and it will take a couple of years to know what density is best," Fajfer says. "But our fish in general were very good sizes. Up to 2 inches long, which is excellent size for small walleye fingerlings."

Wild Rose stocked 246,816 fish weighing a total of 384 ponds. Wild Rose also produces other coolwater fish, like northern pike and sturgeon, and also produces coldwater fish like Great Lakes trout and salmon.

The hatchery is also keeping some of the young walleye on site to raise to large fingerling size, 6 to 8 inches. Those fish will be stocked out in the fall.

Lake Mills, which had the trucks rolling earlier in June, stocked 1,112,566 fish. The hatchery also produces rainbow and brown trout.

The Art Oehmcke hatchery has also finished its stocking and transferred 492,342 fish from the hatchery to Wisconsin waters, Giehtbrock says. That hatchery also is raising fish still on site to large fingerling size for stocking later this year.

More information on state fish hatcheries is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave Giehtbrock (608) 266-8229; Gary Lindenberger, (715) 635-4149; Steve Fajfer (920) 622-3527; Steve Merson, Lake Mills Hatchery (920) 648-8012; Bruce Underwood, Oehmcke Hatchery (715) 356-5211 ext 215

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Open house meeting for Draft Point Beach State Forest Master Plan July 13

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news releases has been updated with additional information on the environmental assessment that was prepared as part of the master planning process.]

TWO RIVERS, Wis. - The public has an opportunity to review and comment on the draft master plan for the Point Beach State Forest at an upcoming open house meeting. The meeting will provide opportunity to review and comment on future land and recreation management for the forest. Master plans guide management activity on Department of Natural Resource's owned lands and are updated every 15 years.

This meeting will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at the main lodge at Point Beach State Forest, 9400 County Highway O, Two Rivers.

Established in 1937, the Point Beach State Forest in Manitowoc County consists of more than 3,000 acres of forest and beach, and 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, with dunes, camping, hunting, hiking, biking, skiing, nature and snowmobile trails.

In addition to recreational values, the property has unique ecological features such as Great Lakes Beach, Dune, and Ridge and Swale natural communities. This ecological diversity creates multiple opportunities for land management and the protection of rare species and natural communities.

Recreation is an extremely important component of the Point Beach State Forest. Recreation on the property supports a range of uses including trail-based activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing; camping; swimming; picnicking; hunting; and other nature-based activities such as nature study and photography. The primary draw is the beach for activities such as swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, canoeing and kayaking.

Throughout the planning process, the public's input served as a planning tool to help identify planning issues and suggestions. Based on public comments, a rapid ecological assessment, a regional and property analysis, and DNR staff input, the master planning team developed the Draft Point Beach State Forest Master Plan and conducted an Environmental Analysis for the property.

Under the draft plan, all existing recreational facilities will be maintained, and a few additions are planned. Several additional camping opportunities are planned, including a walk-in/paddle-in site, additional indoor group camping, and a new, modern campground loop. The primary modification to recreational trails will be the separation of the Ice Age Trail from the groomed ski trail system.

The master plan calls for an expansion to the project boundary for the Point Beach State Forest of 5,944 acres. The expansion area was selected because of its ability to sustain additional ecological, economic, and social value for the property and region. If the boundary expansion were acquired in its entirety, the property would encompass approximately 8,973 acres.

The expansion would provide additional public space for future recreational trail uses and hunting as may be appropriate for the capability of the lands acquired. The area would also be managed for various habitat management objectives including protection of the headwaters of Molash Creek, restoration of hydrology, and restoration of forested areas to provide habitat for migratory birds.

The department determined that this master plan is a Type II Action under ch. NR 150.03, Wis. Adm. Code, and requires an environmental assessment. The actions proposed in the plan are not anticipated to significantly affect the quality of the human environment, would not significantly affect energy usage, and do not involve unresolved conflicts in the use of available resources. The department has made a preliminary determination that the environmental impact process is not required for this master plan.

Anyone can provide comments on the master plan online, by U.S. mail, or during the public meeting. The comment deadline is July 26, 2011. The draft master plan and environmental assessment, an online questionnaire, and related documents are available on the Point Beach State Forest master plan page of the DNR website.

For information or to obtain print copies of documents people can contact: Guy Willman, Point Beach State Forest Superintendent, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 9400 County Highway O, Two Rivers, WI 54241, (920) 794-7480, guy.willman@wisconsin.gov

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Guy Willman, (920) 794-7480

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Devil's Lake drowning underscores how quickly innocent fun can turn to tragedy

Park rangers and conservation wardens arrived on scene quickly but unable to save young victim

Summer holiday weekends are special times. They give us a chance to slow down, spend time with family and friends, to recreate or work in the yard or just relax. They give us a moment to think and reflect and perhaps explore new places. They are meant to be fun and for most of us they are, but for some families, they can be frightening and sorrowful.

The events of July 2 at Devil's Lake State Park, where a young man lost his life in a drowning accident, underscore how quickly innocent fun can turn to tragedy. None of us at the Department of Natural Resources can possibly feel the loss the family and friends of this teenager must be experiencing. But I do want to express our sympathy on behalf of all DNR employees and especially the staff of Devil's Lake.

Sadly, events of this kind or those involving serious injury have happened before in other areas of the state this season and I would like to extend my condolences to all affected families and friends.

I was at Devil's Lake just last weekend, celebrating the park's 100th anniversary. I have met the staff and know how proud they are of their park and of the efforts they take to make sure visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.

While all park and forest staff have visitor safety at the very top of their priorities, our rangers and conservation wardens are at the point of that effort. They are often the first responders to accidents and mishaps and often perform life saving actions while alone and isolated and waiting for help to arrive.

But sometimes even these dedicated efforts are not enough to avert tragedy, as was the case at Devil's Lake last weekend. The park was fully staffed and even had the benefit of two additional conservation wardens patrolling the lake in their boat. Events that day transpired too quickly for staff to respond in time to save a life. Arriving on the scene just a short time after the swimmer disappeared under water, wardens and bystanders were able to locate the victim and began CPR until EMS crews from Baraboo arrived. But even their advanced lifesaving skills were not enough.

Many times it is also the sad duty of rangers and wardens to inform families of loss of a loved one.

In the coming weeks we will conduct an after action assessment of the circumstances surrounding this event in the hope that we may learn something that might prevent this kind of incident from repeating itself. In the meantime I want to thank Devil's Lake staff and the responding wardens for their professionalism and empathy and invite all citizens to continue to enjoy Wisconsin's state parks and forests and public lands. They are, after all, your lands.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Manwell, DNR spokesman, (608) 264-9248

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Wisconsin State Parks—More than just camping

MADISON -- When the summer doldrums strike, Wisconsinites and visitors from across the Midwest engage in the decades-long tradition of visiting our state parks for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities.

But there's a host of other family - friendly activities taking place in our state parks this summer. Here's a partial, summer-long list of activities in Wisconsin State Parks:

Most events require a park sticker; be sure to call first. To learn more about these events and other state park activities, visit the park website at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Wisconsin State Parks - (608) 266-2108

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Turtle season opens July 15

MADISON - Turtle season opens statewide July 15 and runs through Nov. 30. The open season does not include those species that are listed as endangered or threatened. The ornate box turtle, Blanding's turtle and the wood turtle are protected and may not be taken at any time.

Anyone who collects or possesses native Wisconsin unprotected aquatic turtles must have one of the following licenses: Fishing, Small Game, Sports, Conservation Patron, Setline, or Set or Bank Pole. See the Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Regulations (pdf) pamphlet for more information.

Turtles may be taken by hand, dip net, hook and line, set line, set or bank poles, hooking, or hoop net trap. No other trap types are allowed. Turtles may not be taken by hook and line from trout streams during the closed trout season. The possession limit for snapping turtles and softshell turtles, is three statewide. The one exception is the Mississippi River, where the possession limit is 10 for snapping turtles and 5 for softshell turtles.

Turtles are up against tough odds, with highway mortality and loss of habitat contributing to some declining turtle populations. Three of Wisconsin turtle species are listed as either threatened or endangered species. As few as 5 percent of eggs laid survive to hatch and of those, only very few may survive to reproductive age. Natural predators of turtles and turtle eggs are many and include raccoons, skunks, fox, opossums, herons, egrets, seagulls, cranes, crows and others.

For more information on turtles in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin reptiles page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rori Paloski at (608) 264-6040

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 05, 2011




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