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TO: Marsh Management Committee

FROM: Andy Nelson, Wildlife Team Leader

SUBJECT: July 9, 2001 Meeting Minutes

Hello again! I hope these minutes find everyone enjoying another great Wisconsin summer!

As has been the pattern in recent months, our meeting began with a discussion of the proposed Wetland Wilderness Area. Andy reported that written and verbal comments on the proposal continue to be mixed. There is a contingent of folks that are definitely strong supporters of designating an area of the Marsh for non-motorized use. At the same time, many people are less than excited about the proposal due to potential impacts on existing navigation patterns, potential crowding issues, and safety. Overall, there seems to be most support for limiting motor use in an area that is currently not navigable, but which may become navigable through continuing habitat development work. Andy will work to prepare a draft survey questionnaire for the August meeting.

Water level management was another topic of discussion. Specifically, our current water management plan is about to expire at the end of August. Plans are needed for fall and beyond.

One of the most significant considerations for water management decisions is plant growth status. Andy noted that cattail bogs appear to be well anchored in most areas. Additionally, lower water levels from the past 2 summers have helped the cattails expand into the margins of many bays. Submergent plant growth appears to be doing well in many areas.

Using these indicators, Andy felt it would be wise to push water levels up for fall to encourage muskrat feeding and over-winter survival. Daine P. agreed with this notion, and mentioned concerns about bog lift if we go too high too fast.

Two alternatives were considered. These were a level of about 75.0 which would be the same as last year, or possibly maxing out the level at 75.3 for fall and winter to make as much of the Marsh as possible available for birds and rats. After discussion, it was decided to commit to the 75.0 level for now, with continued evaluation of this level in light of continuing habitat work (mowing, burning, crushing) and the effectiveness of such levels at suffocating treated sites. Bog stability will also be evaluated.

Next, we talked about fundraising efforts. Andy and Gary Kahlhamer reported on an initial fundraising meeting held in June. The session was a brainstorming session where multiple ideas for generating modest funds were discussed. Among the ideas were raffles, sponsor prints, boat launch donations, and a sponsor sticker. The sponsor sticker had the most support at the fundraising meeting.

Andy and Gary proceeded to describe a simple window decal that said " Horicon Marsh Habitat Sponsor" or similar text. The basis of this concept was for MMC members to take these decals back to their various organizations to sell for a fee of $5 or $10. The collected funds would then be deposited into a gift account for use to complete specific habitat projects. It is hoped that these projects and a short explanation of each could be provided on the backing for each decal. Jeff Kotnick reported that his firm, Tailored Label Products, of Fond du Lac would be willing to print the decals at no charge.

A short discussion ensued about the need for MMC members to commit to making sales of the decals a priority. It was noted that DNR can support the effort with news releases and information at the Service Center, but that sales effort must come from the MMC if this effort is to be successful.

Andy provided the group with a short handout of 4 projects that could be completed with these funds. These include: Miescke Impoundment Rearing Pond, Redhead Impoundment Rearing Pond, Pothole Restoration, and wild rice establishment. The narratives of these projects could be used to support the decal sales.

Finally, Andy gave a short report on the Nest Success Initiative. The 2001 nesting season saw 52 artificial nests successfully established and completed the monitoring regimen. Each nest consisted of 4 pheasant eggs placed in a black clay pigeon. Most nests had a cotton patch under the eggs to hold dog training scent. This scent was intended to mimic the scent of a sitting hen. To help with relocation, nests we placed 10 feet away from a pre-placed steel fence post. Eggs were checked at 14 days and replaced to avoid spoilage. At 28 days nests were checked to determine success. All nest checks and handling involved use of rubber gloves and boots. On later nest attempts we did not use the scent and instead used scent killer to test for differences. No differences were found.

Of these nests only one (>2%) did not experience loss to predation. Four nests (7.7%) had at least one egg survive the 28 day nesting period. Inspection of destroyed nests suggests that most nest losses were caused by raccoon and fox. Interestingly, three of the four successful nests were located on a site where extensive tree removal had occurred this past winter. More investigations will be required to determine if any relationship exists.

Trapping activity was a non-factor in 2001 as trapper services never materialized. While this is disappointing, our year was still productive. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers who established and monitored nests, we have baseline information to compare future results against. Special thanks to Fred Ladwig, Bob Dries, Gary Grover, Clem Jacak, Rob Monette, and all the other folks who helped make our nesting effort a success this spring!

For the third consecutive month one major highlight of our meeting was a bunch of new faces taking the time to attend and participate in our meeting. This is excellent news as the continuing work of the MMC relies upon new energy and continuing commitment to the best interests of Horicon Marsh above personal desires. Thanks to all who have continued to support the committee for the past 3 years and welcome to our new friends!

Our next MMC meeting will be held on Monday August 6th at 6:30 p.m. at the DNR Service Center on HWY 28. Our agenda will include:

  • Management Updates
  • Precribed Burning results
  • Wetland Wilderness Survey
  • Pothole Restoration efforts
  • Fundraising Reports
  • Nest Success Initiative
  • Trapping Auction
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