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Spring hearings to be held Monday, April 9

Dean Hall/lakeland times

Attendees of the April 9 spring hearings will be answering questions on a variety of fish and wildlife management questions which affect all of the state’s animals, such as this racoon, seen in Lac du Flambeau.

The annual Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) spring fish and wildlife public hearings will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 9 in every county in the state. In Oneida County, that meeting will be held at James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander. In Vilas County, the meeting will be held at the St. Germain Elementary School. Iron County will meet at the Mercer Community Building. The spring hearings questionnaire is the public's chance to weigh in on a variety of fish and wildlife management issues as well as some issues of environmental concern around the state. In each county, there are also citizen resolutions posted on which the people of the county can vote. These resolutions come from a resident of that county and are in regards to a concern the author has regarding a fish, wildlife or environmental management issue within that county. If a resolution passes at the county level, it may then move on to be voted on by spring hearings attendees across the state the next year. Here are a few of the questions attendees of this year's spring hearings will find on their ballots:

From the Mississippi River Committee:

Do you support the Wisconsin DNR developing and proposing a rule change to allow a dark house spearing season through the ice to harvest northern pike on the Wisconsin portion of the WI/MN boundary waters of the Mississippi River?

This rule, according to the background information, would allow for the taking of northern pike during winter by spearing, commonly known as "dark house" spearing. Spearing of northern pike in Wisconsin is currently only allowed on the Wisconsin portion of Lake Superior. Dark house spearing is legal in several northern states, including Minnesota and Iowa. However, neither of those states allow dark house spearing of northern pike on their portions of the Mississippi River.

From the Great Lakes Committee:

Do you support an administrative rule change to have an open fishing season for white perch in Lake Superior similar to that on Lake Michigan?

White perch are an invasive species. Currently, according to the background information, white perch can be harvested, without limit, on Lake Michigan. There is no season on Lake Superior, however, one may be killed and possessed while delivering it to a DNR service station for study. There is come anecdotal evidence, they said, that populations are increasing in Lake Superior.

From the Bear Committee:

Would you support allowing the transfer of awarded bear harvest permits to Wisconsin seniors (70 years old or older) if the senior hunter was required to forfeit harvest points accumulated through the date of the transfer and an individual was only eligible for a transfer one time in his/her life?

This change would require legislation.

From the environmental committee:

Should the Conservation Congress work with the DNR, NRB and legislature to enact fines/penalties to any landowner and/or renter of agricultural land who violates the law and tills within 5 feet of any stream, ditch or top of the channel or any surface water?

The only penalty in place currently is loss of the Farmland Tax Credit. There is no penalty for a farmer not in that program. Plowing to the water's edge, the background information states, "can cause an increased risk of erosion, which may lead to runoff draining into the water bringing with it silt, chemicals and fertilizers." This change would ultimately require legislation.

Do you support the Conservation Congress working with the DNR and NRB to establish new rules designating the entire karstic areas of Wisconsin, both dolomite and calcareous bedrock areas, as sensitive areas meriting special groundwater protection by the State and freeing municipal governments to make additional rules and regulations based on local geological considerations?

Karst geology is a special type of landscape characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. Easy access and rapid flow, according to the background, makes these areas "Exceedingly susceptible" to contamination. Currently, municipalities cannot implement regulations to protect these areas.

Should the Conservation Congress work with the DNR, the NRB and the legislature to require hydrogeological surveys be conducted in counties where none have yet been done?

This question is being asked in regard to the growth Wisconsin is currently experiencing and the interest in high capacity wells and pollution discharge permits. It is felt that local governments should share in the responsibility to protect the state's resources and should use the "best data available" to make those decisions.

These are several of the questions, directly from the spring hearings questionnaire, attendees will be answering on April 9. There are 54 questions in all, as well as citizen resolutions in each county. At the meeting, residents of the county will also vote on any open Conservation Congress delegate positions. Respondents may fill out the questionnaire ballot in any county, but may only vote for Conservation Congress delegates in their county of residence.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at bgaskill@lakelandtimes.com.


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