NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 3,962 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 11, 2011

All Previous Archived Issues


Winnebago systems sturgeon spearing license deadline Oct. 31

OSHKOSH -- Sturgeon spearers will want to make sure they've purchased their sturgeon spearing license by midnight Oct. 31, 2011, to get another good shot at landing a really big fish in the 2011 Lake Winnebago System spearing seasons.

A record number of fish weighing more than 100 pounds -- 94 -- were harvested in 2011, and state fish surveys continue to show a large number of really big fish in the Winnebago system, says Ron Bruch, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor.

"The probability of another fish in the harvest over 200 pounds increases each year," Bruch says. "We're seeing a shift in the fish population to include more older and larger fish, thanks to the strategies we began putting in place in the early 1990s to better protect vulnerable adult female fish.

"That's good news for spearers in 2012, and we expect another excellent season if water clarity is anything better than poor next February."

Spearing licenses are required for spearers to participate in the Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season or the Upriver Lakes season, which both start at the same time, Feb. 11, 2012. Licenses are $20 for residents and $65 for non-residents and can be purchased in three convenient ways:

Last season, the 94 fish more than 100 pounds that spearers registered equaled about 6.6 percent of the total 1,426 fish harvested, and that's well up from less than 1 percent, which was common 20 years ago, Bruch says.

The reigning state fish record for a lake sturgeon harvested by spearing is a 212-pound lake sturgeon registered in 2010 by Ron Grishaber of Appleton. It was the first fish to exceed 200 pounds since DNR started requiring mandatory registration in 1955.

"We routinely see a few fish each year now during our population assessments that exceed 200 pounds, and 2012 may be the year another lucky spearer winds up in the record books," Bruch says.

More details about license requirements

The minimum age for spearing is 14. Youth who turn 14 between Nov. 1, 2011, and the last day of the 2012 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31 by visiting a DNR Service Center.

The number of licenses sold is not limited on Lake Winnebago, but is limited to 500 for the Upriver Lakes fishery. The Upriver Lakes fishery is managed through a drawing and 500 individuals who submitted an application before Aug. 1, 2011, were authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing license for the 2012 season. Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, he or she is not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago. Those who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the drawing but were not authorized received a preference point and can still buy a Lake Winnebago license before Oct. 31.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron Bruch (920) 424-3059



Treatment of East Alaska Lake set for Oct. 18-19 to improve water quality

TOWN OF PIERCE, Wis. - The Tri-Lakes Association moves one step closer toward clearer water in one of Kewaunee County's few lakes when a barge-like boat treats East Alaska Lake with alum later this month to improve water quality.

The alum treatment is one of the tools that can be used to help tackle excess phosphorus in a lake after work has been done to cut the flow of new phosphorus entering the water.

"It's wonderful to see this next step toward restoration happen after working toward this for so many years," says Bill Iwen, president of the Tri-Lakes Association, which works to improve East Alaska, West Alaska and Krohns lakes.

The boat will release 89,000 gallons of alum, a nontoxic material, on the water's surface. Alum, similar to the main ingredient in antacids, will bind the phosphorus that now feeds algae blooms into a nonsoluable compound. The treatment, funded largely by a grant from the Department of Natural Resources, will prevent phosphorus in lake sediments from being released back into the water. Water clarity will improve with less algae blooms.

"Treating a lake with alum is a tool we can use when sources of phosphorus to that water are reasonably under control," says Carroll Schaal, DNR lakes team leader. "The alum addresses phosphorus that is already in the lake, in sediments on the bottom.

"After it's applied, the alum strips phosphorus from the water as it sinks to the bottom, and then seals up the phosphorus in the sediments so it doesn't fuel algae blooms," Schaal says. "Alum helps reset the clock."

This summer, Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire was treated with alum, and in past years, Delavan Lake in Walworth County, Silver Lake in Manitowoc County, Bass Lake in Marinette County and Wind Lake in Racine County have all received alum treatments after longterm efforts to reduce the amount of new phosphorus entering those lakes.

The Tri-Lakes Association has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to improve water quality of East Alaska Lake in Kewaunee County, says Mary Gansberg, the DNR water resources management specialist who has worked with the members.

She also commended the efforts of the Tri-Lakes Association, Town of Pierce, Kewaunee County, and many local residents and concerned citizens that have donated time and money to this restoration project.

"The East Alaska Lake restoration project is an excellent example of the good work that can be done when many people and agencies work together," says Gansberg. In addition to providing a number of grants for lake planning and restoration work on East Alaska Lake, DNR has provided technical help.

About 20 tanker truck loads of alum will be loaded onto a spray boat that is 24 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. Its booms allow alum to be evenly spread over a 60-foot path. Onterra, the DePere-based consulting firm hired to design the alum treatment, will also oversee the application of the alum treatment. The alum will be applied by Sweetwater Technologies of Aitkin, Minn.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on the East Alaska Lake alum treatment contact Mary Gansberg, DNR water resources management specialist at (920) 662-5489; on the East Alaska Project ccontact: Mary Gansberg (920) 662-5489; on alum treatments contact: Carroll Schaal (608) 261-6423



DNR Secretary Stepp names three top managers

MADISON - Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has appointed directors for the agency's South Central, Southeast and Northeast regions.

Jean Romback-Bartels, an 18-year veteran of DNR, was appointed Northeast Region director. She started her career with DNR in l993 as a wildlife technician and park ranger. She promoted through of number of jobs including property manager, Land and Forestry Basin leader, and since November, 2010, she has served as acting regional director. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Wildlife Biology and Natural Resources Management. DNR's Northeast Region includes Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, and Winnebago counties. Former regional director Ron Kazmierczak retired from the department late last year.

Mark Aquino, a manager at DNR since 2001, was named South Central Region director. Aquino started his career with the state at the Legislative Audit Bureau, in 1988 as a management analyst. In 1997 he promoted to chief of the Department of Transportation's Strategic Issues Section, and he came to DNR in 2001 as Land Services Team Leader in 2001. He promoted to South Central Region Land leader in 2005 and to Deputy Administrator for Land in 2009. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. DNR's South Central includes Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Grant, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Richland, Rock, and Sauk counties. Former regional director Lloyd Eagan took another position in DNR this summer.

Eric Nitschke, Director of Public Works for Sussex and a newcomer to DNR, was appointed Southeast Region director. A professional engineer, Nitschke brings private sector work experience at Wisconsin Electric Power Company as a student and as a staff engineer at HNTB Corp. in Milwaukee. From 2002 to 2007, he served as division engineer for stormwater for the City of New Berlin, and since October 2007 has been the Director of Public Works and Village Engineer for Sussex. He holds a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with an emphasis in Water Resources. DNR's Southeast Region includes Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha counties. Former regional director Gloria McCutcheon retired from the department in September.

"I am really proud to name these people to my top management positions," said Stepp.

"They get customer service and they understand how important Wisconsin's natural resources and environment are to our citizens. They are enthusiastic, bright and will be a partner with communities in achieving a high quality of life and supporting a healthy economy."

Regional directors represent DNR with local government and organizations and play a key role in consistently applying laws and DNR policies. Stepp notes that whenever regional directors hear of businesses thinking of expanding or locating in Wisconsin, they are charged with leading a team to assist the business through permitting, assuring environmental concerns are addressed early on in the planning process to avoid delays and unnecessary costs.

Romback-Bartels and Aquino assume their duties immediately. Nitschke will start his new job on October 31. Romback-Bartels will be located in DNR's Green Bay office; Nitschke in DNR's Milwaukee office; and Aquino in DNR's Fitchburg office.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurel Steffes - (608) 266-8109 or Bill Cosh - (608) 267-2773



Memorial forest to be dedicated in memory of DNR pilot

Heath Van Handel forest dedication Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.

MADISON - A 39-acre forest that contains an arboretum of high quality aspen trees will be dedicated Saturday, October 15 to the memory of a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation pilot who lost his life in a aircraft accident while performing the duties of fire air attack pilot helping direct firefighters on the ground to suppress the April 2009 Pittsville fire in Wood County.

The dedication of the Heath Van Handel Memorial Forest will be held on at 1 p.m. on the Memorial Forest site. There will be a short presentation and dedication followed by an opportunity to socialize and explore the property.

The Natural Resources Board recognized the life and dedication to duty of deceased Department of Natural Resources pilot, Heath Van Handel, by naming this parcel of DNR managed land west of Appleton the "Heath Van Handel Memorial Forest" on October 22, 2010.

A memorial plaque at the site note that Heath Van Handel, 36, "was living his dream of working as a conservation pilot for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources."

Heath grew up in this area and after graduating from Appleton East High School he earned a degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While serving an internship in Canada he discovered his love of flying. This led Heath to Kansas State University where he met his wife Jenny and received an Associate Degree as a Professional Pilot. Together they returned to Appleton and started a family. Heath was a devoted husband and father to his sons.

The site is located on County Road JJ northwest of Appleton. It is 0.7 mile west of the intersection of County Road JJ and Mayflower Road on the south side of the road. There is limited parking available on the site. A multi-bay storage garage on the property will provide protection in case of inclement weather.

This forest was purchased in 1956 by The Institute of Paper Chemistry for use as a nursery, test area, and arboretum. The breeding program focused on aspen, cottonwood, and larch, and still has an arboretum with high quality aspen trees selected from around lake states, to provide flowers for future breeding stock.

This parcel was transferred to the DNR in 1989. Several pulp and paper companies contributed funds to enable the formal transfer of land to the State of Wisconsin. A memorandum of understanding provides for continued access to the breeding stock contained in this forest site.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John A. Jorgensen, 608.219.2841 (cell); Michael Callahan, 920.424.1190 or Luke Wuest, 920.424.1190



Work proceeding on Wisconsin beaver management plan update

Webinar presentation to be held Oct. 25

MADISON - After receiving a moderate level of participation at a series of informational meetings last month, members of the Wisconsin Beaver Task Force will now be conducting an online "webinar" to further gather input prior to revising the state beaver management plan.

Beaver management meetings were held in La Crosse, Oshkosh, Rhinelander and Hayward over the past two weeks.

"Citizens, landowners, educators, trappers and anglers were noteworthy contributors at these gatherings, and although attendance was moderate, participants were sincere and gave us thoughtful comments and good suggestions," said Debbie Beyer, University of Wisconsin-Extension regional natural resources educator who facilitated the meetings.

Shawn Rossler, assistant furbearer specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, is collecting and recording citizen input on the beaver management plan revision.

With the initial set of meetings now complete, the task force plans to conduct an online webinar, where members of the Task Force will give summary presentations of their programs followed by a question and answer segment. People interested can pre-register for the online presentations and participate from their own computers right from their own home Wisconsin Beaver Management: Past, Present, and Future (exit DNR).

The webinar will begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 25, with short presentations on various aspects of beaver management through 7 p.m. Participants may submit questions through a chat feature during the webinar. Questions will be addressed for up to 30 minutes after presentations are complete.

In addition, the task force is setting up a beaver management website where an online beaver management survey will be posted so anyone with interest can provide comments and suggestions.

"This is an effort to gather information and public comments as we work to update Wisconsin's beaver management plan," said John Olson, DNR furbearer ecologist. "We hope to hear how citizens view beaver, beaver management and those issues and concerns important to them involving beaver, including: damage control, wild rice management, wetland ecosystems, water quality, trout management, roads, disease, forest impacts and agriculture."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Rossler at 608-261-6452 or John Olson at 715-685-2934.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Need an expert?

The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.