The National Rivers Website, Rivers of Wisconsin:
Wisconsin River News and Opinions
The following news is assembled from postings from various sources, as a public service. The sponsors of this website do not assume responsibility for accuracy. Always double-check information before relying on it, especially when your safety is involved!
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NEW!!--Fish Agencies Looking for Busy Seasons
Dredging Lake Michigan digs up problems
Strengthening wetland protection
Laws protect both anglers, landowners
Owners docked for too-large piers
Proposed changes to pollution rules
Careful on the jet skis!
Stocking Up on Trout
Wisconsin state fisheries crews have been hoping to propagate the next generation of brown and brook trout in Wisconsin streams and rivers by removing eggs and sperm from wild trout brought to the Nevin Fish Hatchery.
Taking wild trout from a stream, spawning the females and then returning those fish -- known as the brood stock -- to the same stream is the cornerstone of the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) wild trout program. It's also a template for what fisheries staff hope to do in the rest fo the state to improve the survival of trout it stocks inWisconsin waters and to create better long-term fisheries.
About one-third of Wisconsin's 9,000 miles of cold-water trout streams support naturally reproducing trout populations, and fish managers hope to increase that total. Stocking guidelines that DNR staff developed in 1999 call on the agency to double the proportion of fish it raises and stocks from wild parents. Now, about 25%-35% of the trout DNR stocks are raised fromwild parents while the rest are raised from"domestic parents" that live inthe hatchery and were themselves offspring of hatchery-raised fish.
Find out more about the Wisconsin DNR by going to www.dnr.state.wi.us.
Increased permit applications causes concerns
Requests to dredge Lake Michigan's Door County shoreline to accomodate boats are streaming in at 10 times the normal rate, stirring concerns that dredging will destroy important near-shore habitat for fish, shorebirds, and other aquatic creatures, according to a report from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "We think there is the potential for a lot of damage," says Tere Duperrault, the DNR water management specialist who reviews the permits.
Duperrault and other DNR fisheries management and habitat protection officials are particularly worried the cumulative impacts of dredging would harm the near-shore waters and bays along the Door Peninsula. Dredging can interrupt fish spawning activity indirectly just by the presence of heavy equipment in an area, while dredging itself creates plumes of fine sediments that can smother eggs, kill young fish by plugging up their gills, or remove the spawning substrate from an area that some species need to reproduce.
For more information, contact Tere Duperrault at 920-746-2873 or Mike Toneys at 920-746-2864.
Proposed plan to reverse damage, loss
Nearly half of the 10 million acres of wetlands present at statehood have been drained for agriculture or filled for development, and though they're no longer lost at the pace they once were, Wisconsin wetlands continue to be destroyed and degraded, state wetland officials say. To prevent further losses and even reverse them, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is unveiling a draft plan that seeks to strengthen wetland protections while increasing education, technical assistance and financial incentives to the private landowners who control three-quarters of Wisconsin's remaining wetlands.
The plan "Reversing the Loss" builds on the following cornerstones:
- Strengthen relationships with private and public landowners of wetlands.
- Manage wetlands to protect diversity of species, wildlife health and ecological integrity.
- Simplify the regulatory system.
- Develop and use modern technology.
To learn more about the "Reversing the Loss" strategy and to comment on the draft plan, check out the DNR web site at www.dnr.state.wi.us or call or email Scott Hausmann at 608-266-7360 or email@example.com.
Flouting law can lead to acrimony
As fishing season opens, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is concerned that anglers and landowners alike recognize and respect the laws that protect their rights. A navigable stream is a public waterway that can be used for fishing, provided the angler has landowners' permission to cross their property to reach the stream, or can reach the stream from a public highway bridge. A stream is deemed navigable if it has a bed and banks, and if it's possible t float a canoe or small craft at some time of the year -- even if only during spring floods, according to Mike Lutz, a DNR attorney. Once you are at a navigable stream, you can fish while standing in the stream or on the exposed banks, up to the ordinary high water mark. On most streams, the ordinary high water mark represents how high the spring floodwaters climb during a normal year.
Conflicts between anglers and landowners mainly arise when an angler trespasses on land to get to a stream, or when an angler parks in a way that blocks farmers from entering their land. Wisconsin trespass law requires that people get permission before entering any agricultural lands, fenced lands, and undeveloped land, whether or not the land is posted. Anglers are responsible for knowing property boundaries and for respecting the rights of landowners. Likewise, landowners must allow river users access to public waterways provided they do so legally.
Large docks block access, harm habitat
A growing number of citizens are going to court to challenge their lakefront neighbors' requests for large and permanent docks, fearful that the structures could harm fish habitat, water quality, shoreline beauty and the public's right to access and enjoy Wisconsin's waters. The Department of Natural Resources contends that the new slips and the cumulative impact of those and other slips already on the bay would degrade the unique aquatic community there, and the fish and wildlife that rely on the food and spawning areas it provides. In addition, the DNR contended the proposed slips were not open to public use, as many other slips approved in the same area have been.
March meetings offer public comment, information
Farmers, elected and appointed municipal officials, county land conservation department employees, and interested citizens are encouraged to attend statewide public hearings in March to learn about, and comment on, proposed changes in rules to keep polluted runoff from entering Wisconsin streams, lakes, and aquifers.
The proposed changes seek to takcle what state environmental officials say is one of the final frontiers of water pollution: runoff from farms, construction sites, and cities. Such "nonpoint source" pollution now degrades or threatens about 40% of Widconsin's streams, about 90% of inland lakes, many Great Lakes harbors and coastal waters, and a substantital proportion of Wisconsin's groundwater supplies.
The proposed rules would require for the first time that all farmers control polluted runoff from their land if the state helps pay for the cost of those controls, and that smaller cities join larger cities in controlling their stormwater. Nonpoint source pollution can include animal waste, construction and farm sediment, and urban runoff such as pesticides and car oil carried by rian and snowmelt.
The rules and hearing schedule will be posted on the Department of Natural Resource's web site at www.dnr.state.wi.us. Click on environmental protection, water, watershed management, and announcements. Written comments on the rules and the environmental assessment will be accepted through May 5. Please send written comments, requests for hard copies of the rules, or requests for more information to Carol Holden, DNR, WT/2, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707; ph 608-266-0140, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fun days can end in tragedy
Despite a significant decrease in jet ski accidents during the last eight years, officials are concerned that the personal watercrafts still account for a third of all 1998 boating accidents. Most of the accidents appear to be the result of operator inexperience and a lack of knowledge of boating laws.
Jet skis may not operate within 100 feet of another watercraft and 200 feet from lake shores.
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Farewell to dams, hello to fish!
One dam is down and already the fish numbers are up. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (www.dnr.state.wi.us), fish have responded favorably to the improved water quality of the Baraboo following a dam removal eighteen months ago. The improved current sweeps silt away from the riverbed, allowing the fish to lay their eggs where they won't be smothered. Improved flow also means improved oxygen in the water, leading to more plants and insects in the water and creating a more diverse habitat.
The DNR will continue to study the effects of this single dam removal to anticipate the effects of three more scheduled removals. For more information, contact Dave Marshall at (608) 935-1914 or Tom Bainbridge at (608) 935-1937.
River finds new life after dam, pollution
The Milwaukee River looks a little more like its old self these days, now that the North Avenue Dam is gone and trash along the banks and old streambed has been picked up.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that efforts from various Milwaukee councils, youth groups, and environmental and neighborhood coalitions resulted in the shutdown of the 150-year-old dam and the subsequent revitalization of the downstream area. Today, the habitat is rebounding with improved fish stocks and water quality, and the reappearance of herons, osprey, red fox and river otters. Local groups are also working to create recreational opportunities for hikers, kayakers and canoeists.
After century of stagnation, Prairie River flows free again
The International Rivers Network reports that after many legal twists and turns, the gates at the Ward Dam in Merrill were fully opened on September 3rd. Today the river is seeking its natural river course again for the first time in nearly one hundred years. The Ward Dam is the last of four dams on the Prairie River. Its removal will greatly benefit warm, cool and cold water fisheries. Dam removal will also restore about 40 acres of wetland, which is prime wildlife habitat and will benefit a wide variety of wildlife species.
DNR officials have indicated that this drawdown has exposed more than 80 percent of the 113-acre impoundment and will allow revegetation of the area before the dam is physically removed. As the dam structure is removed, the river would be restored to its original character - a sight unseen for over 90 years. The River Alliance hopes that local citizens and officials will now become involved in developing a plan for restoring the "new land" and creating an area that can provide enjoyment for all of the community. This visioning process is an important component to the restoration of a river. The River Alliance has extended a standing invitation to assist in that process.
For more information visit the River Alliance of Wisconsin or contact Stephanie Lindloff, Small Dams Program Coordinator at 608.257.2424, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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