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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published February 18, 2014

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Early Trout Season Opens March 1 to streams loaded with fish

MADISON - Wisconsin's early catch-and-release trout season opens March 1 on streams that are loaded with fish but might take some work to reach during the earliest days of the season, state fish biologists say.

"My advice for anglers? Snowshoes," says Jordan Weeks, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist for Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties. "If you can get to the streams, it will be worth it. They're loaded with fish."

Trout populations have generally increased statewide, and the number of fish in all sizes examined have increased since 1950, according to a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point analysis released in 2011 and discussed in "A Trout Treasury," an April 2011 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article.

Two weeks out, deep snow stands between anglers and those fish. But warmer temperatures forecast for the next few days make it hard to predict exactly what conditions anglers will find on the earliest days of the season, and also, what the rest of the season will look like as Wisconsin experiences the coldest winter in a generation.

"Deep snow will make accessing and fishing the streams quite difficult for at least the early part of the season," says Gene Van Dyck, fisheries biologist for Richland and part of Iowa counties. "The best fishing will start after most of the snow has melted and the streams settle down, which really doesn't take too long once most of the snow is gone."

The trout populations in the southwestern part of the state are in excellent condition for both numbers and average size, along with some large fish, Van Dyck says.

In northwestern Wisconsin, Marty Engel, fisheries biologist stationed in Baldwin, reports that trout streams in the Pierce County area are covered with more ice than normal. Deep snow depth also remains an issue along the streams and road ways. "Temperatures are expected to rise during the next few weeks which should improve the amount of open water available to early season anglers," he says.

Trout anglers seeking early season fishing opportunities in Iron and Ashland counties should try the larger stream systems near State Highway 77 between the Towns of Cayuga in central Ashland County and Upson in north central Iron County for the best accessibility, says Lawrence Eslinger, fisheries biologist for Iron and Ashland counties.

And Max Wolter, fisheries biologist in Hayward, says the Namekagon River is a good bet. "Flows are pretty consistent in March and even if the river comes up a bit it usually doesn't get off-color. Brown trout up to 18 inches are abundant and fish up to 22 inches are seen regularly in electrofishing surveys. Look to the tributaries and mouths of tributaries for brook trout."

Where ever anglers choose to fish early opening season, that extra effort is worth it, as longtime angler Len Harris writes in "Bitten early by the big trout" in the February 2014 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

"Early season trout fishing is cold and stark. The snow is typically deep and I wear out easier," Harris writes. "The environment is not inviting like the lush greens of summer, but there is an allure to those days of frozen guides and numb fingers. The long winter has made me forget the gnats and mosquitoes of late September. My heart yearns to brave the crisp cold days of Wisconsin's early season. I like to be the first one to place a footstep in fresh snow on opening morning. It makes me feel like I am the first angler to ever set foot on that stream."

Season details

The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. on March 1 and runs until midnight April 27.

Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and most streams in northeast Wisconsin; check the current trout fishing Regulations pamphlet for specific waters. Printable maps, tips for early season fishing, and more information can be found on the early inland trout fishing season page of the DNR website.

Anglers are not required to use barbless hooks but must use artificial lures and flies.

Trout population reports for 2014 and more

Learn more about trout abundance and size on popular streams and access information for the same in these 2014 early trout season forecasts [PDF], some filed in the last few days and others filed by state fisheries biologists in late 2013 for inclusion in DNR's 2014 Wisconsin Fishing Report. That 16-page tabloid newspaper will be available online in March as well as in hard copy at DNR Service Centers and included in the April Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Jordan Weeks 608-785-9002, Gene Van Dyck 608-935-1936 or Lisa Gaumnitz - 608-264-8942



State land under review for possible sale

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released a list of 33 parcels of land that are currently under review for possible sale in response to a new state law that requires the Natural Resources Board to make 10,000 acres of land available for sale by June 30, 2017. The land under review is located in 23 counties and totals approximately 2,552 acres.

DNR staff compiled this list of land parcels using Geographic Information Systems tools to locate lands outside of DNR project boundaries as well as reviewing property master plans and past actions of the Natural Resources Board. The general criteria used to determine whether a parcel should be considered for sale under this new law include parcels of land:

The department developed a land sale policy that reflects the requirements found in Wisconsin state statute. That policy was shaped by public comments received at five informational meetings held throughout the state in October 2013 and by comments received through the public policy page of the DNR website. The Natural Resources Board approved the final land sale policy in December 2013.

"This is the next step in a process that began shortly after the new law went in to effect on July 1" according to Doug Haag, Deputy Bureau Director for the Bureau of Facilities and Lands. "Now we are conducting field reviews of the parcels. During the field review process, staff will assess the recreational and biological values of the property. They will also consider whether there is legal access to the land, or whether the land was designated for sale through some past action of the Natural Resources Board."

"We intend to break this up into manageable phases" said Kurt Thiede, Land Division administrator. "The timeline going forward includes completing the field reviews sometime around March 1, seeking government and tribal review during the month of March and into early April and then preparing the final package for review by the Natural Resource Board at its May meeting in Green Bay. Parcels approved for sale by the Natural Resources Board in May will be marketed for sale in June, July and August 2014."

The Department of Natural Resources owns land and land rights encompassing more than 1.7 million acres statewide, so the requirement to sell 10,000 acres affects less than 1 percent of the agency's land holdings. DNR expects the second phase of the land sale process to begin later this year and carry over into 2015.

"We have four years to meet our statutory requirement" said Thiede. "We want to complete this work in an open and transparent manner and in a time frame that is manageable for staff and the Natural Resources Board. The sale of these public lands will allow us to re-purpose surplus lands and divest in lands that don't serve an important role for DNR land management objectives, or public access."

Ultimately, the Natural Resources Board has final say on which lands will be offered for sale and will make that determination based on recommendations from the department later this year.

To view the list of lands currently being reviewed by field staff for possible sale, search the DNR website, for keywords "land sales" and click on the button for "Parcels for review and sale."

More information about the actual marketing of the land and the bidding process will be available on the DNR website later this spring.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Doug Haag, Bureau of Facilities and Lands, 608-266-2136.



Wisconsin Invasive Species Council calls for 2014 Invader Crusader Nominations

MADISON - The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is calling for nominations for the 2014 Invader Crusader awards to take place during Invasive Species Awareness Month in June.

Invader Crusader Awards honor Wisconsin citizens and organizations -- both volunteer and professional -- for significant contributions to the prevention, management, education, or research of invasive species that harm Wisconsin's land and waters. The award recognizes efforts working at all scales - from neighborhoods to statewide parks, lakes, and forests. Last year, five awards were given to various individuals and groups statewide for their efforts. The nomination form can be found on the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council website (exit DNR). The deadline for nominations is April 18.

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Invasive Species Awareness Month, a statewide effort to teach people about invaders in our landscape and our waterways.

"Invasive plants and animals threaten Wisconsin's water and land by outcompeting native plants and animals and by disrupting natural habitat systems,"said Jennifer Feyerherm, invasive species coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "They also threaten the productivity and economic viability of Wisconsin's agricultural lands by creating overwhelming competition with crops. Millions of dollars, both public and private, are spent each year for the control of invasive plant and animal species in Wisconsin's waters, natural areas and agriculture lands."

Invasive Species Awareness Month brings many opportunities to help raise awareness about invasive species as well as help control them. In addition to Invader Crusader Awards, there will be a video contest offering everyone the opportunity to show how easy and even fun invasive species prevention can be. For more information, check out: University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute website. There will be events throughout Invasive Species Awareness Month where you can learn more and lend a helping hand. Check the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council website to find an event. (Both links exit DNR.)

The Wisconsin Legislature created the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council in 2001. The Council is charged with providing recommendations to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on invasive species classification and allocation of funds of invasive species control, and conducting studies of issues related to controlling invasive species.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Feyerherm, invasive species coordinator, 608-266-6437 or



Pheasant Fest 2014 brings nation's pheasant enthusiasts to Wisconsin

MADISON - Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever's 2014 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, held at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, came to a close Sunday. The national event, held in Wisconsin for only the second time in its history, drew 21,063 people over the course of the weekend. Through the presence of great partnerships between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever, Wisconsin landowners, and hunters, a number of exciting projects were highlighted.

The Department was specifically recognized for its conservation efforts and was awarded Pheasants Forever's 2014 Partner of the Year award. Accepting the award on behalf of the Department was Kurt Thiede, Land Division Administrator.

"We truly value our partnership with Pheasants Forever" said Thiede. "We've accomplished great things together from habitat management to land acquisition. We look forward to more great opportunities to partner on new initiatives like hunter recruitment and retention."

Brian Buenzow, a DNR Wildlife Technician for Rock and Green Counties, was recognized as one of eight recipients of Pheasants Forever's Faces of Wisconsin award . Buenzow, a longtime Department employee, has played a vital role in efforts to improve pheasant habitat in Wisconsin through land management and acquisition. Buenzow currently serves as the habitat and youth/education chairperson for the Rock River Valley Pheasants Forever chapter.

The Department also presented Pheasants Forever with a check for $25,000 - these funds will be used to enhance youth programs throughout the United States. In all, Pheasants Forever received $1 million in contributions and gained 1,500 Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members at Pheasant Fest. With Department wildlife biologists in attendance, interested landowners at Pheasant Fest were able to discover which local, state, and federal programs they may utilize and learn more about what they can do to improve wildlife habitat throughout Wisconsin.

For more information regarding pheasant hunting and conservation in Wisconsin, search the DNR website, for "pheasant."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Lobner, Southern Wisconsin wildlife program manager, 608-235-0860



Nest box seminar offered at Horicon Marsh

HORICON, Wis. - People can learn about songbirds and raptors that use nest boxes, and how to build and place nest boxes to enhance bird habitat at an upcoming nesting box seminar at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. The seminar will be held March 1, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and no registration is required.

"Spring signals the return of nesting birds to our yards. Many of these birds will be looking for a tree cavity or nest box to lay their eggs and raise their young," says Liz Herman, Department of Natural Resources wildlife educator at Horicon. "We can all assist native cavity nesters by providing and monitoring suitable nest boxes for them. "

There will be displays by the Horicon Marsh Bird Club, Marsh Haven Nature Center, the Wood Duck Society, Bird City Wisconsin, Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. Members of these organizations will be available during the event to answer questions and discuss their role in providing "housing" for native cavity nesting birds.

Local nest box enthusiasts and experts will present and share knowledge gained from years of building, mounting and monitoring nest boxes for a variety of species throughout the day.

Jeff Bahls, representing the Wood Duck Society, will give a program on, How to Make your Wood Duck Box Pro-duck-tive. Wildlife educator Herzmann will share stories about Nest Box Treasures. Jack Bartholmai with the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin will share information on bluebird boxes and there will be a presentation by the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research folks on kestrel nest boxes.

People of all ages may purchase and build their own birdhouses - a great activity for children - assisted by carpenters of the Beaver Dam Senior Center's woodshop, kids also can make an owl greeting card with event-provided materials and bird puzzles will also be available for families. Various nest boxes and kits can be purchased.

Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located at N7725 Hwy 28 between Horicon and Mayville. For further information and a detailed schedule please visit or (both links exit DNR) or contact Jeff Bahls at 920-210-4832 or or Liz Herzmann, wildlife educator, at 920-387-7893

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, 920-387-7893



Deadlines approach to remove ice fishing shelters

MADISON - The first of a number of deadlines for ice anglers to remove ice fishing shelters from boundary waters is this week, when all ice fishing shelters must be removed from Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters by Wednesday, Feb. 20. This earlier date, applying to Mississippi River south of the Minnesota-Iowa border, corresponds with Iowa regulations.

The deadlines for other boundary waters are March 1 for Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters and March 15 for Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters.

For inland Wisconsin waters, ice fishing shelters must be removed by the first Sunday following March 1 for waters south of Highway 64 and by the first Sunday following March 12 for waters north of Highway 64. For 2014, those dates are: Sunday, March 2 for waters south of Highway 64; and Sunday, March 16 for waters north of Highway 64.

After these dates for removing ice fishing shelters from a frozen lake or river, an angler may continue to use a portable shelter but must remove it daily and when it is not occupied or actively being used.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Holtan, public affairs manager, 608-267-0798


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Last Revised: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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