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TO: Marsh Management Committee

FROM: Andy Nelson, Wildlife Team Leader

SUBJECT: August 6, 2001 Meeting Minutes

Hello again! It's hard to believe, but here we are at the end of another summer and staring a new hunting season in the eye! I hope the former has been great and the latter will be even better for those of you who head afield.

Our meeting began with a chance for all to check out the Marsh Master. Since it had been the subject of so many discussions in recent months, Diane P. brought it down for a look-see. Andy shared his experiences operating the machine on the Marsh. Overall, it is a very useful machine for gaining access to remote parts of the Marsh. More importantly, it is capable of implementing habitat projects that fulfill some of our pothole restoration interests.

Andy reported on several ongoing management activities. These include:

• Burnett Impoundment: Mowing is underway to create openings in the cattails. Progress has been slow, but steady. Goal is to mow at least 20 acres of openings to encourage waterfowl and muskrat use. Extensive beds of burreed and arrowhead will provide excellent food sources upon fall reflooding.

• Prescribed burning: Two burns were attempted in the area between the Main Ditch and Miescke Bay. On July 16 and 27. These fires carried moderately well, showing promise for summer burning techniques. Burns will be monitored for plant recovery and muskrat use following reflooding.

• Pothole restoration via Marsh Master cattail crushing: Crews operated the machine 3 days for crushing operations. Progress was about one acre of crushing per hour of operation. 15 sites comprising about 12 acres were crushed. Attempts were made on sprayed sites and green cattail. Time will tell on success, but early appearances are encouraging.

• Cattail spraying: Most sites were checked via airboat or Marsh Master. First year results were very encouraging. Most stems were dead and decomposing. Live plants were sparse and weak. Another spray treatment should knock these areas out.

• Water Levels: Low water persists for summer drawdown. New growth is prospering on exposed areas. After burns, mowing, crushing, etc. is complete; levels will rise for fall.

• Water Quality: Heavy algae blooms in Marsh are shading submerged plants. Very poor water quality is causing declines and is affecting overall habitat quality.

• Wildlife Use: Shore birds are just starting to show up. Muskrats seem to be slightly more common. Many wading birds. Waterfowl are still a little reclusive.

• Carp: Spot treatments have ended for the year. A total of 680,000 fish were removed in these treatments. Carp numbers appear to be higher than last year at this time. Fall surveys will tell the tale for certain.

Diane reports staging beginning on Refuge. Many late broods as well. It seems there was abundance of late nests. Water quality problems are similar on Refuge with submerged plants taking a hit.

We also briefly discussed trapping auction plans for the fall. Andy recited last year’s regs for discussion purposes. These are: entire state end of Marsh open for Upland trapping (anything but muskrats, otter, mink), dike units open for all species, but rat trapping restricted to dikes, one otter per trapper only. I-3 impoundment is reserved for Trapper Ed. Graduates. Andy reported that rat numbers seem to be on slight increase throughout Marsh. Due to improving habitat conditions in certain impoundments, we expect that numbers will rise. After a short discussion these regs were approved for 2001-02 trapping as well.

Once again, we discussed the Wetland Wilderness Area. Andy shared a draft survey with the group. This survey was designed to be conducted for the latter part of summer and throughout the hunting season. Much discussion followed. Specific concerns related to survey methods, assuring fairness, preventing ballot stuffing, and an overall discussion of the merits of the issue. Through discussion, there was consensus on the usefulness of the survey, provided it was handled fairly. This means that those people surveyed need to provide a name and address so those repeats can be sorted out. Andy will make slight revisions to the survey and proceed to gather responses. A copy of the survey is enclosed for you to complete and return. This issue will next be discussed at our November meeting.

Andy reports that Delta Waterfowl Foundation is interested in visiting Horicon Marsh to determine its suitability for a Nest Success study. Serge Lariviere, Scientific Director, Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba will tour the Marsh and its surrounding lands on September 10. Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and Wisconsin Trappers Association are sponsoring this visit. Following his tour and meetings with local Biologists, Mr. Lariviere will provide a public program at the USFWS Horicon Refuge headquarters at 7 p.m. All MMC members are invited to attend. The event sponsors suggest a $5 donation at the door, with all funds going towards nest success efforts on the Marsh.

Fundraising was another topic of discussion. Brian Johnson, Jeff Kotnick, Mike Borzick, and Gary Kahlhammer have been working to organize a habitat sponsor decal sale for the Marsh. This independent effort will begin at the DU Great Outdoor Festival and continue through the fall. The goal of the effort is to raise up to $7,500 to fund wild rice plantings, northern pike rearing pond construction, and pothole restoration. All MMC members are encouraged to help this cause by selling decals at your local clubs or organizations. To obtain decals and sale information, please attend the next meeting! Your help is needed! Many thanks to these enthusiastic Marsh lovers for their initiative!

Andy also reported that he has begun organizing a NAWCA grant application. A handout on the criteria for this grant was provided to those in attendance. This matching grant uses any non-federal money expended on wetland habitat restoration and protection, including nest cover establishment and management to generate grant funds. The grant accepts match funds expended 2 years prior to application and 2 years after. Restorations, plantings, acquisitions, easements, and donations all count as match funds. So, we hope to use funds from the Bachhuber Flowage and other recent projects from within the Horicon Marsh watershed to compile up to $2 million match funds. This could return up to $1 million in grant dollars.

We need partners for this grant to work! If you or your organizations have been or plan to be involved in wetland/grassland work please let Andy know. You may be a potential partner for this grant.

Speaking of donation…. I am pleased to announce that our habitat projects have received a couple gracious donations in recent weeks.

Longtime MMC member Keith White and his wife recently donated $1,500 for the improvement of the Miescke Impoundment! Thanks to this gift, we are moving ahead with permit applications and plans to install a new water control structure in the dike. This new structure will give us management capabilities on the north lobe of the impoundment. We will use this capability to rear an additional 100,000 northern pike fry each spring. Many thanks to the White family for this great gift!

Also, MMC newcomer Cliff Bertling gave us a big boost by telling of our plans and needs at the Mapleton Hook and Shell Club. Thanks to Cliff’s persuasive presentation to the club, we have received a $500 donation to be applied towards pothole restoration on the Marsh. I am pleased to report, that we have already encumbered the funds for this year’s pothole work! Thank you Cliff and Mapleton Hook and Shell!

Finally, we have $210 in hand from The Citizens Natural Resource Association and WWA-Kettle Moraine Chapter for wild rice plantings. I anticipate purchasing seed one more time this fall as we hope to get our new rice beds up and running on their own. Hopefully, our water quality will allow for better growing conditions next year.

These gifts are just the tip of the iceberg of commitment that MMC members have shown to the Marsh over the years. Your time, talent, and wisdom are truly appreciated. I look forward to working with you in the future as we continue to strive to bring this big Marsh back to prime condition.

Let’s keep our momentum rolling by turning out for the next MMC meetings. These are scheduled as follows:
September 4
October 3
November 6
December 5

All meetings will run 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the DNR Headquarters. Bring a friend! Thanks to all who have continued to support the committee for the past 3 years and welcome to our new friends!

On September 4, our agenda will include:
Management Updates
Water Levels
Pothole Restoration efforts
Fundraising Reports
Nest Success Initiative

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