Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Monarch with folded wings and viceroy with open wings on Joe-Pye Weed. © Jack Bartholomai

Monarch with folded wings and viceroy with open wings on Joe-Pye Weed.
© Jack Bartholomai

October 2009

Readers Write

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Monarch Mimic

While reading your June issue, I noticed the butterfly labeled as a "monarch" on page 30 is a viceroy. The black stripe about 1/4 inch from and parallel to the edge of the hind wing is a good field mark for this species and differentiates it from the monarch. Here's a photo that shows the two species side-by-side.

Jack Bartholmai
Beaver Dam

Landowner Rights at Issue

With regards to your June story, "Peaceful passage," only an unelected, appointed official with dictatorial powers would think the violation of constitutional rights is humorous. The big "success" of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board has been to stop antagonizing the very people who could have been its biggest proponents and allies. For decades official Madison policy has been to keep southwestern Wisconsin a rustic little pocket of poverty where high paid executives can escape the stressful life of bureaucracy and academia, relax, and spend an afternoon (and little else).

John F. Smith
Glen Haven

River User Surveys Key to Bluff Protection

What a pleasure to view the introductory photograph of Ferry Bluff in the June issue ("Peaceful passage"). This was the setting when a small group of concerned faculty and students at the UW-Madison convinced the Office of the Public Intervenor to weigh in to assure that the "stunning views" and "prehistoric hills and bluffs" would be included in the long-term management of the 92.5 miles of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (LWR).

It was also a pleasure to see that David Aslakson's leadership efforts and diligence were recognized. With the support of the Public Intervenor, Peter Peshek, we were able to help identify those "stunning views." Over a two-summer period we monitored the riverway using low-flying aerial photography. We also conducted on-site user and landowner surveys to document the importance of bluffs and hills. We also provided Instamatic cameras to river users. We asked them to photograph features that constituted natural beauty. Most of them photographed and identified the bluffs as the most scenic features. And, we conducted the first ever comprehensive computer based assessment of the riverway's 79,275-acre viewshed. This helped identify which hills and bluffs needed protection. And what a pleasure it is to know that the LWR is now in good hands and continues to "preserve its gorgeous vistas – in perpetuity."

Sue and Ben Niemann

Disappointing Duck Season

Everybody in Wisconsin is upset about the deer season. What about the really horrifying duck season? The 2008 season was the worst on record. I was up before sunrise 31 times of the 60-day season, mostly hunting mallards. My total bag for the season was seven ducks – three green-winged teal, three wood ducks and one bufflehead, no mallards. I shot 11 times. It was the first time ever not shooting a mallard. When I started duck hunting in 1968 the Head of the Bay wetlands had over 200 breeding pairs of mallards; 150 pairs being black mallards. In 2008, there were maybe six pairs of mallards and no black ducks. We need to stop spending our duck stamp monies in Canada and start restoring our own wetlands, like the Head of the Bay storehouse, before it's too late to bring our ducks back.

James Mattson

DNR's waterfowl specialist, Kent Van Horn, replies...

Annual waterfowl breeding success, annual waterfowl populations and fall migrations depend upon water levels and weather patterns that can vary widely from year to year. Therefore, changes in ducks observed and harvested in a particular area, such as Chequamegon Bay are not unusual. In addition, long-term landscape level trends such as decreasing water levels on Lake Superior can alter habitats such as the local wetlands mentioned in this letter. Local biologists also noted the changes to wetland habitat and bird numbers at the "Head of the Bay" wetlands in recent years as this reader noted.

However, at the statewide level, waterfowl breeding populations in Wisconsin have increased significantly over the last 30+ years. When the statewide breeding waterfowl survey started in 1973, total breeding duck numbers were 412,000 with mallards contributing 107,000. The most recent 10-year average breeding duck survey results show 595,000 total ducks and 264,000 mallards breeding in Wisconsin annually. The highest breeding waterfowl numbers are counted in the southeast central region of the state where we find the best habitat conditions.

This growth in the waterfowl population has helped support the continued strong interest in Wisconsin waterfowl hunting. Wisconsin ranks second in the nation for the number of active waterfowl hunters (85,000) – second only to Texas. This committed population of waterfowl hunters includes some of Wisconsin's long-standing habitat conservationists. Since the Wisconsin duck stamp was first created in 1978 over $12 million has been raised from stamp sales for waterfowl habitat. By state law, one third of those funds must be spent annually in Canada and two thirds are spent in Wisconsin. The net benefit in waterfowl habitat under this funding process is significant. The funds that are sent to Canada primarily through Ducks Unlimited are matched by funding partners in Canada and ultimately generate about four times the funds for on-the-ground habitat work there. Recognizing that migratory birds must be managed cooperatively between countries, federal law requires non-federal (primarily state) habitat funds to be sent to Canada before federal grants are released to the states for habitat work in the U.S.

As a result of this cooperative process, Ducks Unlimited and the federal wetland habitat grant program have invested significant funding from out of state for habitat work right here in Wisconsin. The amount that has entered Wisconsin has far exceeded what we could have raised on our own. For example, since the beginning of the current federal grant program in 1992 more than $22 million in federal grant money has been provided for waterfowl habitat in Wisconsin – the second highest recipient of these funds in the nation, second only to California. Sharing and matching of funding for waterfowl habitat has had a net benefit for Wisconsin's waterfowl populations and Wisconsin's waterfowl hunters. If you want to contribute to the conservation of wetlands in Wisconsin, then purchase a Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp today.

Good Grades for Boating DVD

Your magazine brings not only terrific articles to our household, but many other wonderful surprises as well. Among them have been maps, puzzles, checklists and other items of interesting variety. However, when I picked up the June issue and it had something a little thicker inside, my curiosity was switched on. At first I thought that someone else's mail had been accidentally stuffed inside, and was getting ready to pull it out for inspection. What a surprise to find it was connected to the magazine and that meant it was mine! As I sat down on the sofa, I looked and saw that it was a boating DVD. I was greatly impressed with its professional quality and presentation of the material. It gives a great overview of boating's most important topics, safety being number one, of course. It is concise, which helps people with short attention spans view the DVD and be exposed to the material. The narrative from the DNR officer helps show that wardens are mainly interested in everyone's safety, not ruining people's day on the water. The "live action" clips help to visualize and reinforce what the officer is conveying, too.

Overall, I give it an A+. I could also see this as something included in a "new boater" package distributed at dealers. Although, an old salt like me sure enjoyed it, too, and I've been boating since the days of Noah.

Truman Adcock
Arlington Heights, Ill.

I wanted to take a minute to tell you that I thought the Safe Boating DVD in the June issue of the magazine is really excellent. It was a good review, and would be a good introduction to the topic as well. I hope you can consider doing a hunter safety product in the same format.

Tom Roberts

An Example Worth Following

Thank you for including my entries in your story about homemade kits and gear in the June issue ("It works for me!"). I have all sorts of homemade outdoor items: oars, deer cart, etc. I get a lot of enjoyment out of these little projects and grew up watching my father repair or make things in his farm workshop. He was an old-time farmer, lived through the Depression years and served in World War II. He never bought new if he could repair something and never hired a repairman if he could do it himself. During the war, when there was downtime, he would handcraft items from materials at hand.

Steve Zandler

Camping on the Willow Flowage, Circa 1955

Your stories about the old days of camping at Peninsula State Park ("One hundred years of memories," June 2009) brought back memories of my first camping experience on the Willow Flowage over 50 years ago, about 1955. My dad grew up in the Tomahawk area and knew the flowage very well. He took us out in a small boat with the old Army wall tent, a couple of sleeping bags and other gear. He took us to an island with a beach area where we camped for a couple of days and had quite a grand time. Dad has been gone a couple of years now but we all never forgot those wonderful times out on the Willow. My parents and their friends went back to camp on that island for several years.

Joy M. Farnand (Roggenbauer)
Tampa, Fla.

Drill Bee Holes How Deep?

In your June issue ("What's the buzz about bees?") it says you should use a 4 x 4 and drill holes five or six inches deep. But a 4 x 4 is only about 3 inches deep. Please explain.

Bill Wohlbedacht
Menomonee Falls

WNR magazine responds...

Some of the posts and blocks described in the story used larger dimension lumber and in other cases holes were drilled at a slight angle into the post behind the lumber. As long as the holes are deep enough that birds and other animals that might probe when looking for a meal can't reach the larvae, they should work just fine – the deeper the better. Thanks for taking on this project.

Provide Longer Option for MFL Program

I recently received a packet from a land trust in Eagle River trying to persuade shoreline landowners to not sell or develop their land, as the shoreline is fast disappearing. Several years back, an article appeared in this magazine (Coming to grips with growth, October 1998) which stated that in 20 years or so, most undeveloped lake property would be developed. Land Trusts do a good job, but they can sell land in the future if it would benefit the trust to accomplish something better. Conservation easements are nice, but do little to help pay for land taxes. I believe that most landowners of sizeable shoreline property would like to see their property preserved in perpetuity and remain in their family.

I have about 70 acres of land on a lake in Forest County which I put in Managed Forest Land (MFL) some years back because I like the program. The shoreline is quite long and I like the eagles, loons and ducks that inhabit it as there is no activity on the shoreline to disturb them. I put my land in a 50-year program but wanted one for a few hundred years, so I could grow big timber but 50 years was the limit. Now when a harvest is done, the government gets 5% and the landowner the rest. The DNR today is swamped with work, so why not let the town boards work with the landowner on this type of shoreline preservation and use the MFL program? Taxes are always a concern. Turn it around a bit and when a harvest is complete, the government receives 80% and the landowner 20%. Let the towns decide if what a landowner wants to preserve in perpetuity would be acceptable, and the town's people would vote on it.

There is really no cost to the government, and the land is preserved in perpetuity, a win-win for people, government and taxes. This could include rivers and streams. If nothing is done soon, it will probably be too late.

Frank Kuehl

Forest Tax Chief Kathryn Nelson responds...

Interesting idea. It appears the proposal would be similar to a perpetual conservation easement that would be approved and signed for by voters in each municipality. That would give local people a greater say in which lands were accepted into the program. It appears Mr. Kuehl proposes an 80-20 split on timber sale revenues to reimburse local municipalities for deferring property tax payments. A constitutional amendment in 1927 allowed for lands under a forestry tax law program to be taxed an acreage share instead of ad valorem property taxes. Legislation would be needed to allow payment of a reduced property tax, if that is the intent here, and local municipalities would need to provide the support to monitor and follow-through on the timber sales and subsequent revenues. Such a program would likely need county or municipal ordinances to make it workable.

Permit Required to Trap Cowbirds

Your April issue (A warble from the barrens) has a picture of a cowbird trap. Are there plans for such a trap? If so, where can we get a set? We have lots of cowbirds and I just saw a chipping sparrow feeding a just-fledged cowbird. How disheartening!

Wayne Ballweg

WNR magazine replies...

Strange as it may seem, brown-headed cowbirds are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and it takes a special permit to trap them. The traps at the Kirtland's warbler breeding site shown in the article were set up by Wildlife Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Only professional wildlife biologists are granted such permits.

Sandbars – Public or Private Property?

We were in the Dells over the Fourth of July weekend and were told that a popular resting spot [on the Wisconsin River] was closed to the public. We call it a sandbar, but it technically is shoreline since it is attached to the shore. If it is within the navigable high water mark, is it not useable by the public for swimming and picnics? The Sheriff's Department was telling people they had to "get off" the land that is owned by the University of Wisconsin. In fact, all the visible sand or shoreline that boaters usually pull up to, to enjoy the river, was off-limits and people were asked to leave.

Please help us find out if this is the end of resting on the shores with our kids for swimming and enjoying the sandy shallow areas in the upper Dells. The area is roughly between Chula Vista and Holiday Shores Campground. It encompasses all of the sandy areas in that small section of river that people have been enjoying for years. Why would the UW want to take away the fun-filled memories of all those families that use those areas? Are they operating within the law, or is it possible that the visible sandy shorelines are public by the federal regulations regarding the river's high water marks?

Diane Steltenpohl
Lake Geneva

DNR staff attorneys respond...

When the water is low on a river and the lands extending from the riverbank are exposed, those lands are considered private lands subject to control by the adjoining owner. Section 30.134 authorizes members of the public to use "any exposed shore area of a stream without the permission of the riparian owner (shoreland owner) only if it is necessary to exit the body of water to bypass an obstruction." This statute was adopted to give fishers and others who may be wading or navigating a stream the opportunity to use the area below the ordinary high water mark to avoid obstructions. This is also consistent with the common law in the case Doemel v. Jantz 180 Wis. 225 (1923), which held that the riparian owner has the right to control use of the exposed riverbed and that persons using it without permission are trespassing.

Along rivers, riparian owners own the riverbed to the thread or center of the river and have exclusive use of exposed riverbed just as they have exclusive rights to land created by buildup (accretion) and they lose property that the river washes away (reliction). However, the Public Trust Doctrine retains public rights to use the water and to travel navigable waters.

DNR also prohibits public use of the sandbars in this stretch of the river where we own the shore opposite from the University of Wisconsin property (under authority to close portions of property from public access (NR 45)). The agency allows shoreland camping only along the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, which is well south of this area.

Videos to Weed Out the Bad Ones

Three new online videos can help you rid your woods this fall of invasive plants that can crowd out native plants and the wildlife that depend on them.

The videos can be found at Invasive Species. Each short segment demonstrates how to identify three of the most problematic invaders – buckthorn, garlic mustard and honeysuckle – and how to control them using easy, inexpensive measures.

Fall is a good time to look for the three invasive species on your woodlots and to take steps to get rid of them, says Matt Zine, who is featured in the video segments and who leads the Department of Natural Resources crew that fights invasive species on State Natural Areas in southern Wisconsin. "It's a really easy time to separate the species."

For one thing, garlic mustard, honeysuckle and buckthorn all remain green well into the fall as similar looking native plants and trees are brown and are losing or have lost their leaves.

The videos were created by DNR video producer/director Mary Farmiloe and DNR videographer Nick Van Court, and were funded through a grant from the Natural Resources Foundation.

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