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TO: Marsh Management Committee

FROM: Andy Nelson, Wildlife Team Leader

SUBJECT: June 6, 2001 Meeting Minutes

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer!

Our June meeting began with a round of introductions, as we were joined by a number of new faces. Following brief introductions, Andy provided a brief history of the MMC and its mission and goals.

Diane Penttila provided a management update from the Refuge. She noted that frequent rains have made summer water management a challenge. High water has shifted nesting activity into drawdown zones. As a result, water levels are being held higher than planned so as not to leave nests high and dry. Waterfowl production looks promising as several redhead broods have been observed. The next few weeks will begin to tell more of this story. Plant growth on the refuge looks excellent. Diane noted large amounts of sago pondweed, a very desirable wildlife food plant. The new addition to the headquarters building is nearing completion. This will provide additional meeting space for groups and events. FWS staff continues to cooperate with WDNR for carp control as needed.

Andy reported that plant growth was well started on HMWA. Many areas showed growth equal to or in excess of last year at this same point. However, high water has slowed wild rice growth up to this point. Overall habitat conditions are on track to be comparable to last year. Early checks of cattail spray sites are encouraging. It appears that the treatment was very effective on the few sites that have been checked so far. Further site visits are planned in the coming weeks.

DNR crews have begun spot treatments of carp. The federal dike is the primary focus of treatments. Our first couple attempts have been a little frustrating due to high volume leakage of fresh water. This has left surviving carp to contend with. Simultaneously, last year’s young-of-year carp have been showing up at the dam on the day after treatments. As a result, we have repeated our treatments and killed large numbers of these fingerlings. We will continue to monitor this situation and conduct treatment as often as fish numbers indicate.

Andy also noted that prescribed burning has been put on hold for cattail units. High water and ongoing nesting prevents burning at this time. If water levels drop and dead material dries in July, a few cattail burns will be tried. The goal of burning at this time will be to harm the green cattail at the peak of its growth. If successful, this should allow greater plant diversity to develop.

Next, the group began an extended discussion of the proposed Wetland Wilderness Area. This discussion was marked by animated discussion from several parties with differing points of view. Overall, opinions at the meeting appeared split. Andy indicated that he would continue to collect local opinions on the matter and would plan to have a questionnaire ready for boat landing use by fall.

Interspersed through the Wetland Wilderness discussion were a number of questions about what can be done to improve habitat on the marsh. Many newcomers expressed concerns about loss of potholes, the dearth of muskrats, and user conflicts due to crowding. It was encouraging that there is such keen awareness of the key habitat issues facing the marsh. At the same time, it is obvious that the MMC can do more to make Marsh enthusiasts more aware of ongoing management efforts. As we continue current management projects and begin new ones, a renewed effort to share this information with Marsh visitors will be necessary.

After a short break, the group reconvened and began discussing some of the ongoing projects, such as cattail spraying, wild rice planting, flowage development, etc., that are focused on improving habitat. As a carryover from earlier discussion, pothole restoration and cattail control received much attention.

As various methods of achieving habitat goals were discussed, Andy introduced the group to the financial limitations of the wildlife management budget. Specifically, the group was made aware of the need to obtain additional sources of revenue to continue to implement habitat management practices.

As the financial picture unfolded, several members provided ideas of how to generate the desired funds. A wide range of ideas flowed out. These include:

  • Banquets/raffles
  • Booths at fairs/DU Festival
  • Soliciting wildlife organizations like DU, WWA, PF
  • Soliciting businesses
  • Seeking University research
  • Applying for grants
  • Voluntary launch fees
  • Create a friends group

When this discussion was concluded, we had a few people agree to meet as a sub-committee on fundraising. The group will meet and provide an initial report at the next meeting. To help support the fundraising efforts, Andy will provide a brief list of projects and funding needs so that any fundraising effort can be targeted to specific projects. This list will be distributed at the July meeting.

As we closed out the meeting for the night, Andy requested a change in the scheduling of the August meeting. Due to a conflict with the Conservation Congress District meeting, the August MMC meeting has been rescheduled for Monday August 6th at 6:30 p.m. at the DNR Service Center.

Our next meeting is Monday July 9th at 6:30 at the DNR Service Center. Our agenda will include:

  • Management Updates
  • Water Management Planning
  • Pothole Restoration
  • Nest Success Results
  • 2001/2002 Habitat Projects
  • Fundraising
 
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