Published May 21, 2010, 09:45 AM

Wisconsin does away with special stamps

On Aug. 28, judging for the artists’ submissions of the 2011 Wisconsin State waterfowl, pheasant and turkey stamps will take place at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center.

By: Mike Reiter, New Richmond News

On Aug. 28, judging for the artists’ submissions of the 2011 Wisconsin State waterfowl, pheasant and turkey stamps will take place at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center.

A decision has been made, however, to discontinue the contests for the Great Lakes and trout stamps, according to Cold Water Specialist Larry Claggett. Because of budget constraints, these contests and the corresponding stamps will not be produced for collectors. The winning designs of the trout stamp contest will not appear on the covers of the Wisconsin trout regulations.

If you want to fish inland trout or fish for Great Lakes trout and salmon, you will still need to purchase a “phantom stamp” as indicated on your printed license. A corresponding real stamp will not be produced.

Back in 2003, being the Conservation Congress Trout Committee chair, I had the honor of participating in judging the designs for the 2004-issued Wisconsin trout and Great Lakes stamps. Sally and I traveled to Madison and spent the better part of the morning going through the design selection process with two other judges.

Through a well devised selection procedure, the numerous renditions were narrowed down and, through a final vote, the first place selections were made. I later purchased a signed trout stamp print from the winning artist, which now hangs in my computer room. It is one of my prized possessions. It was indeed an honor to partake in the judging process.

I also have the complete collection of all the trout stamps dating back to 1978. Many of the state conservation stamps are purchased by collectors and without a physical stamp, this extra money will not be available to get real conservation work done.

It is a sad testament to the fact that saving of a few dollars for the state will result in the loss of a valued historical part of the outdoor tradition. What is next on the chopping block?

Fishing report

On the morning of April 28, 3,600 brown trout were stocked into the waters of the Willow River upstream from New Richmond. Helping to distribute the fish was a contingency of local sportsmen plus Department of Natural Resources hatchery workers.

The fish that were released ranged from 8-12 inches in length and were in excellent physical shape. The browns were scatter planted over the length of the river to provide quality fishing for the avid trout fishers that braved the windy weather on the May 1 fishing opener. Fish were also stocked through the Willow River State Park and in the Apple River at Star Prairie prior to the opener.

Because of the stocking efforts in the county, the 2010 trout season will again prove to be exceptional. The area streams will provide plenty of fishing opportunity for those who ply their trade and be rewarded with a delicious meal of trout throughout the season.

Fishers who utilize our streams must also be aware of the fact that these waterways run through private property. If access is not publicly available, then access permission to the streams must be obtained from the private landowner or access is not allowed. It is extremely important that fisher-landowner relationships be maintained or loss of stream access could be the result.

If “No Trespassing” signs appear, then trout stocking will not take place and everyone suffers. Litter can also be a problem. If you bring it in, take it out. It is also a good idea to carry a plastic bag to remove litter left by others. Good landowner relationships are a win-win situation for everyone.

Visitor center

Last week Sally and I took a short trip up to St. Croix Falls to visit the St. Croix River Visitor Center. It is located at 401 N. Hamilton St., just above the dam on the river near the north end of town. If you have not been to this center before and are in the area, schedule a stop.

The center is a beautiful facility with a view of the river which provides both indoor and outdoor experiences. The center is open seven days a week with hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and there is an 18-minute film that can be viewed entitled “The St. Croix – A Northwoods Journey.” It also has a bookstore which contains many novel items.

I found the displays very interesting, especially the one on mollusks and mussels of the river. These little known animals have very interesting physical forms with unbelievable life styles. I’ll write more about them in a future column.

Besides intriguing educational opportunities, the center also offers the National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Use Senior Pass. These passes are lifetime cards for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 62 years or older and can be purchased for a one time charge of $10. This card offers entrance to the card holder and any other occupants in a private vehicle, to federal parks and recreational areas that charge entrance fees. Yellowstone National Park is an example. It also can be presented to receive discounts on camping and other amenities in many other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation areas.

Erickson WPA

By Tom Kerr –USF&WS

Although it seems that we have had several cold rainy days lately, the effects of the prolonged drought are evident on the Erickson Waterfowl Production Area. Many of the wetlands on the 466-acre WPA, just northeast of New Richmond at Highway 64 and 145th Street, are rapidly drying up, exposing large mudflats.

Although many species of waterfowl like blue winged teal and mallards will just continue north until they find suitable breeding habitat, some birds seek out mudflats during their migration. Shorebirds like open mudflats and the associated shallow water, which are preferred feeding areas as they search for aquatic invertebrates. Like other spring migrants, they rely on areas where they can easily find food and fuel up quickly for the long energy consuming flight north.

One species that you may see at Erickson WPA is the Greater Yellowlegs. Greater Yellowlegs are a medium-sized shorebird with long bright yellow legs. They winter in South America and migrate north to the boreal regions of Canada and Alaska where they nest near bogs and marshes. They incubate their eggs for 23 days and the young fledge 18 to 20 days later. Soon after, they begin their migration south as the arctic summer winds down.

As a group, shorebirds take some of the most incredible migration journeys of any North American birds, some traveling 15,000 miles in this annual trip from the wintering grounds in South America to their breeding grounds in the Arctic and then back south again. Although they may spend only a few days or even a few hours on local wetlands like those found on the Erickson WPA, these wetlands are crucial links on their long journey.

To find the Erickson WPA or for more information on the St. Croix Wetland Management District, check out our Web site at www.fws.gov/midwest/stcroix.

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