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DATE: January 31, 2002

TO: Marsh Management Committee

FROM: Andy Nelson, Wildlife Team Leader

SUBJECT: January 8, 2002 Meeting Minutes

Happy New Year to all!

It’s hard to believe, but we have been working together every month since March of 1998. That means that the MMC has begun its 5th calendar year of work to improve Horicon Marsh! Looking back I think we have accomplished a great deal. However, when I look ahead, I see much more that needs to be done for us to fulfill our mission. As we plunge into the New Year, let's set our sights on making this a special year of accomplishment for the MMC!

As we often do, we began this meeting with a series of management updates from around the Marsh and beyond.

On January 7, Andy and Wildlife Biologist Brenda Hill flew the annual mid-winter waterfowl survey on Lake Michigan. This year the lake held more ducks and geese than have been recorded since the survey began in 1972. Approximately 37,000 ducks and over 12,000 geese were on the lake from Kenosha to Plum Island in Door County. Highlights included over 23,000 scaup, about 8,000 goldeneye, 3200 bufflehead, and 1600 mallards.

On the same day Wildlife Technician Karl Kramer and Wildlife Biologist Mark Randall flew Dodge, Fond du lac, Green Lake and Marquette counties. In their flight they tallied over 116,000 geese. This included over 37,000 remaining on Horicon Marsh! This was not a record, but certainly ranks high on the list.

Crews are expected to begin hauling gravel and rock on the top of the Bachhuber Dike very soon. This additional armor will help minimize erosion and provide firm footing on the portions of the dike open to public hiking.

DNR staff is monitoring dissolved oxygen levels on Rush Lake. So far thin ice and lack of snow have buoyed oxygen and fish have not been available for harvest. If they do become available, we anticipate salvaging as many as possible for continued stocking in the Marsh. Volunteers may be called into action when/if need arises.

Later this month, Wildlife staff from DNR’s South Central Region will convene to age deer jaws collected from car kills. These jaws are intended to augment aging data collected at registration stations during opening weekend of gun deer season. This will be the third year of this effort and over 800 jaws are expected to be available for analysis.

Several DNR staff had a short meeting with Lake Sinissippi Fishery committee members concerning management strategies to remove carp from Lake Sinissippi. Though these discussions are very preliminary, they do offer some hope for substantially reducing a huge reservoir of carp that constantly try to make their way into the marsh.

Andy also reported that he expects to receive approval on a Stewardship grant application. This grant provides $6,000 from Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and $6,000 Stewardship funding from the state to complete pothole restoration on the Marsh over the next 2 years!

Aaron Hoffman provided our feature presentation of the evening. Aaron is a prospective graduate student associated with Delta Waterfowl Foundation. After all necessary approvals are obtained, Aaron plans to conduct a Nest Success research study at Horicon Marsh over the next two years. Though many details remain to be worked out on Aaron’s project proposal he was able to answer many basic questions about both our local project and ongoing work on the western prairies. Please watch for the time and date of a public information meeting to kick–off Aaron’s study before spring arrives. If you have any questions in the mean time, please call Andy at 920-387-7868.

Finally, we discussed completing year 2 of our muskrat surveys. These surveys involve walking specific transects in the marsh each winter. As the transect is walked, each muskrat hut location is marked and tallied. As muskrat numbers rise and fall, we generally expect the abundance of huts will change too. We hope that over time we will be able to use this survey as an index to muskrat abundance. Traditionally, abundance has been measured through harvest. However, changing harvest regulations, closure of areas to harvest, and fur prices make harvest a less than perfect indicator. By developing this new tool we hope to get a better measure of wildlife response to management actions.

Speaking of Muskrats… Following the spring 2001 burn on the Bachhuber Flowage it was very easy to count muskrat huts on the new flowage. There were 4. After just one season with a mere 10 inches of additional water, the number of huts has increased 100 fold! Another significant fact is that this minimal increase in water, combined with fire, was enough to prohibit these cattails from flowering. This is evidence of plant stress. Based on these factors, it is suspected that the cattail on this flowage will open significantly within the next 2-3 years. It sure will be fun to watch!

If you’re an old (but young at heart) Marsh rat, we need you to join us on February 11th for our next MMC meeting. We will be poring over maps and selecting sites for our next batch of pothole restorations. If you know of areas with loose, floating cattails that just a couple shots of herbicide can knock out and re-open a pothole, let us know! Your knowledge can translate into improved habitat. Perhaps most importantly, we might pry a few clues out of Russ Sobczyk regarding his top secret hunting spots!

  • Our full agenda includes:
  • Management Updates
  • Muskrat Survey Results
  • Calling all Marsh Rats: Pothole Restoration Site Identification
  • Wanted: HWY 49 Roadkill Solutions
  • Water Management Fish and Wildlife Style -Time permitting

See you on February 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the DNR Service Center on Hwy 28!

Attendance:

Jim Reinhard Jack Williams Craig McKinney
Aaron Hoffman Jim Reinhard Ken Byrne
Norman Langlois Keith White Dick Koerner
Diane Pentilla Bob Dries Todd Cook
Andy Nelson Fred Ladwig Gary Kahlhammer
Tom Schnaderbeck Don Gamble Ron Tobianski
Dean Schaeffer Bill Wheeler Barbara Dutkiewicz

 
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