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TO: Marsh Management Committee

FROM: Andy Nelson, Area Wildlife Supervisor

SUBJECT: July 8, 2003 Meeting Minutes

Wow! Our summer is just flying by! As I write this the flyway conferences are wrapping up and we’ll soon see final proposals on season length and bag limits for the fall hunt.

At our July meeting we had some great discussion on several important topics. To begin, we started talking timber with Dodge County Forester, Randy Stampfl.

Randy explained that recent field investigations of the One Mile Island and Raddatz Woods on Palmatory Street revealed both areas were in need of management efforts to stimulate oak regeneration. Much of the following conversation centered on the Palmatory Street woods, as this 8 acre stand sits at the hiking trail head and encompasses a portion of our public hiking trail system.

Randy explained that the trees in this woodlot are approximately 140 years old and are nearing the end of their lifespan. Other species of trees are very sparse. Randy noted that many ash trees had died in recent years. As a result of the oak’s in ability to grow in shade and a lack of other species in the woods, there is no regeneration occurring at this time.

Oak regeneration is a very serious concern around the state as little regeneration is occurring at this time. This is due to timber management practices which do not favor shade-intolerant species like oak and aspen.

To help regenerate oaks on the marsh property for their wildlife value, timber production, and aesthetic value, Randy is recommending two phase timber harvest strategy for both areas. The first phase would remove all trees but about 10 mature oaks per acre. The trees which would remain are currently marked in the woods. Following this harvest we would foster oak regeneration by:

• Relying on acorns to seed new forest
• Burning slash and leaves to control brush competition
• Plant seedling oak stock from state nurseries
• Foster other desireable tree species for moderate stand diversity

In about 5-10 years aafter the initial harvest and when strong regeneration is assured, the remaining mature oaks will be removed to allow the young forests to flourish.

This plan was debated and a number of questions were raised about various aspects of the plan and different management options. After this discussion, there was general consensus of support to implement this plan. However, due to the prominence of the Palmatory woods, in particular, Andy indicated that he would re-visit the matter again in August to allow other folks a chance to check out the timber markings and talk about the plan.

Andy provided a quick batch of management updates. These include:

Bachhuber dike rip rap and gravel surfacing is complete. Many thanks to the Bachhuber Foundation for providing $18,000 to complete this work.

Andy reported that staff had taken action to address neighboring water concerns. The I-3 water level had been lowered in response to complaints from Ed Miescke about impacts to his land. As of our meeting, the I-3 level had been reduced to below the crest of the Hwy 28 water control structure. Since this crest has been held constant since the 1980’s, this should result in a return to “normal” water levels on the east side of the road.

To the West side, Andy reported that staff had been pumping water to alleviate flooding by Dobberpuhl’s. This pumping has reduced the level by 6 inches and has returned the water to the confines of state land.

Andy submitted a grant proposal to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for $90,000 to purchase a Marsh master and conduct cattail spraying. We should find out results by August.

Carp numbers are down. No spot killing opportunities this year as concentrations of fish were absent, even at dams. Remaining carp are large, indicating good health. Hopefully, hard winter ice conditions and other factors are controlling them.

Overall habitat conditions look moderate. Scattered beds of submerged plants and good rice growth promise modest food stocks in fall. Fall flooding should provide access to good food in older spray sites. Steamboat spray area has re-colonized with bulrush and cattail. It will be interesting to see if muskrat feeeding will maintain this diversity and small openings after it is flooded.

DNR’s basic Horicon Wildlife budget is going to be reduced another 20 percent in upcoming year. Virtually all habitat work will cease except for that funded by special projects, grants, or donations. If the NACA or NFWF grants fail, Technician Karl Kraner will be like the Maytag repair man.

One such special project that should be accomplished is upgrades at the Greenhead and Burnett boat landings. This work will include boarding piers, information centers, and some grading. This work will be funded by Sport Fish Restoration dollars, collected from gas tax.

Wendy Wyoczik from USFWS provided us with a great set of updates from the Refuge. These included:

Fall hunting seasons will be similar to years past. The Refuge is considering some changes to expand deer hunting opportunities. Spring turkey is not feasible at this time due to administrative issues with potential conflicts to nesting season. However, Wendy is open to considering expanded hunting opportunities in the future. Waterfowl hunting on the Refuge is NOT up for discussion at this time.

Refuge staff completed the annual Pelican and Cormorant survey. Pelicans nests increased from 300 last year to 512 in 2003. Most nests had 2 chicks. The birds also expanded geographically, by starting to nest in the midst of a large cattail mat. Previously nesting was restricted to a few small spoil banks. This new development shows that the colony will not be limited by available nesting sites. Considering breeding pairs, non-breeding adults, and young of year, the total pelican colony is estimated to be 5,000 birds. Additionally, the cormorant colony is estimated to be 1,500 birds. Combined these fish-eating colonies are probably contributing mightily to the carp control effort.

Wendy also noted that as she looks to the future, she would like to work with DNR to develop the habitat south of the Main Dike. This rank stand of cattail has potential for flowage development. When time and funding become available, USFWS and DNR will pursue cooperative management opportunities in this area.

Finally, we discussed the matter of dogs and hiking trails on the Bachhuber dike, Indemuhle Island, and Quick’s Point. Historically, dogs have not been permitted on Quick’s Point trails due to concerns over droppings and conflicts to users. Conversely, dogs have always been free to roam the other portions of the Marsh, except during nesting season when all dogs must be on an leash no more than 8 feet long. With the opening of the Bachhuber and I-3 dikes for hiking, there has been some confusion about where dogs may travel as hikers may get different messages, depending up where they access the trail system. This is further complicated by hunters using the trail system to access hunting sites in the fall.

After some involved discussion, the group recommended that DNR post all trails as requiring dogs to be on a leash no more than 8 feet long. Dogs must also be leashed throughout the property during nesting season. In other areas, including Indemuhle Island, dogs do not have to be leashed outside of the April 15- July 15 nesting season.

Once again, the group wanted to give all parties a chance to think on this one. So, we will revisit the topic in August to see what, if any new opinions and information comes to light.

Many thanks to Cheryl Kakatsch for providing treats again! They were great. Thank you also to Barbara Dutkiewicz for volunteering to provide treats in August! Please consider volunteering to share some sweets, sausage, or other snacks for our September meeting!

Our next meeting will be August 12th at 6:30 p.m. at the DNR Service Center on Hwy 28. All are welcome, so please join in and bring a buddy or 2.

Our agenda will include:

Management Updates
Prescribed Burn report
Quick’s Point timber management
Fall Trapping
Clark’s Ditch management opportunities

Attendance:

Noel Nogalski Randy Stampfl Stuart Wellnitz
Jack Williams Don Miescke Ed Miescke
Ken Byrne Pat Byrne Robert Miescke
Norman Langlois Wayne Bandler Duane Zepherin
Russ Sobczyk Terry Vrana Peter Ziegler
Dean Schaeffer Tom Schnaderbeck Gerald Voy
Cheryl Kakatsch Mark Kakatsch Todd Cook
Wendy Woyczik Keith White Andy Nelson

 
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