Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Land trust, PF cooperate on new state wildlife area

Hudson, Wis. – Pheasant Forever’s Build a Wildlife Area program
came to Wisconsin this year thanks to a combined effort of the
Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, PF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and Ducks
Unlimited.

A 204-acre tract in St. Croix County (about 15 miles northeast
of Hudson in the town of Erin Prairie) was sold to KRLT at a
bargain price by the Vern and Becky Nagel family. The family kept
the land in prairie and wanted to see it preserved.

The land was appraised at $676,500. The purchase was made by the
KRLT using a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant of $338,250, federal
NAWCA funds of $180,000, and $30,000 of donated funds. Some of
those funds were from Pheasants Forever, which had a Build a
Wildlife Area campaign in Wisconsin as a result of holding its
National Pheasant Fest in Madison in February. Some PF donations
were from individuals; the Indianhead, Kinni, and Racine chapters
of PF; and a donation by Enbridge.

The parcel has more than 16 acres of wetlands and 183 acres of
restored prairie grasslands. It will provide habitat for a wide
range of species and acreage for public recreation.

KRLT donated the land to the Wisconsin DNR for inclusion in the
Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area as the Nagel Wildlife
Management Area. The property was accepted by the Natural Resources
Board in September. The transfer of title is expected by
mid-November, but the land is open to the public.

KRLT Executive Director Nelson French said the group was waiting
for signs to be erected showing the property boundaries so members
of the public would not stray onto private land.

“The last thing that I want to do as a responsible resource
manager is to send out maps to a place that is not signed,” French
said in response to a request for a map of the project. “I want to
make sure the appropriate management tools, such as signs, are in
place. The property is open but we don’t have a program to
encourage or start marketing that property being open to
hunting.”

French said the purpose of the acquisition was for wildlife
purposes and associated public uses that are allowed.

“It will be open to hunting and managed for wildlife. It has a
tremendous diversity of species, with 93 different species of
birds,” French said. “We want to make sure the property is
appropriately signed, visible, and identifiable as people go out to
use the resource.

“The owner over the last 15 years has returned tremendous
ecological functions to the property, and its long-term protection
as a prairie landscape is very valuable,” French said.

The KRLT focuses on the upper Kinnickinnic River and restoring
native grasslands. This parcel is a representation of what private
landowners can do to protect the watershed.

Harvey Halvorsen, DNR wildlife biologist at Baldwin, said that
the 204 acres is 95 percent prairie and grassland, and will be
managed that way.

“We have small scrapes and wetland restoration on the property
that offer some diverse habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl,”
Halvorsen said. “It is adjacent to woodland, so deer and turkeys
will use and expand their range into the grassland. A cornucopia of
wildlife will use the property.”

Halvorsen said the owners, the Nagels, have kept a detailed log
of species, and it holds a diversity from bobolinks to harriers, so
bird-watching opportunities will be excellent.

“I want to open it to all forms of hunting, including bird and
deer hunting, and there may be some minor beaver and muskrat
trapping,” Halvorsen said.

The area is part of the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area
of core grassland blocks and isolated satellite grassland
communities. The WPHRA was created in 1999 and covers 350,000 acres
within 15 townships in St. Croix and Polk counties. This will build
on the block that exists with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
DNR land.

“This will be phenomenal on the landscape,” Halvorsen said. He
was waiting for the deed for the project to be transferred to the
DNR to then go out and post signs around the property.

“Becky and I have worked extremely hard over the last 15 years
to restore the landscape surrounding our home to native grasses and
wildlife habitat,” Vern Nagel said. “This work has truly been a
labor of love for us and we are pleased that through this
transaction our vision that this land be conserved for the
enjoyment of future generations will be realized.”

Nagel retained some land in the southeast corner of the tract.
That line had not been posted as of early October.

Pheasants Forever became involved through its Build a Wildlife
Area campaign, which began in Minnesota in 2003 by PF chapters and
the national office, Outdoor News, and the Minnesota Game Fair, as
an effort to encourage individuals, businesses, and groups to
create public wildlife areas. Gander Mountain has been the
campaign’s leading donor.

Through the campaign, each $1 donation turns into $3 through
matching grants from local, state, and federal sources. Once lands
are bought, they are turned over to the state for management and
opened to public recreation, including hunting.

Joe Duggan, PF vice president of corporate relations in St.
Paul, Minn., said the partnership triples the impact of individual
and corporate donations.

“It is interesting how many memorial gifts, and gifts that
fathers and grandfathers make in the name of children and
grandchildren,” Duggan said. “People have given small gifts and
even as large as up to $100,000. Aside from the importance of the
actual land acquisition and protection of habitat and a place for
people to go, it secondarily showcases the amount of support for
public wildlife areas. It shows the general public and elected
officials that people support these outdoor activities.”

This is even more critical as people see how the landscape is
getting chopped up by development, supporters said.

Duggan said that one of the goals at Pheasant Fest is to raise
money for the Build a Wildlife Area campaign. The contributions
help to leave a mark on the landscape memorializing Pheasant
Fest.

“If we aren’t enhancing things, we are not doing our job,”
Duggan said. “We need these places for the public to enjoy the
outdoors.”

Wisconsin PF wildlife biologist Kevin Wallenfang expressed his
thanks to the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust for leading the
campaign for the project.

“Our chapters are always trying to do things to enhance habitat
and provide hunting opportunities,” Wallenfang said. “No matter
where you live, we all have seen our old stomping grounds swallowed
up by new housing developments. The Build a Wildlife Area program
is a golden opportunity for Pheasants Forever chapters to team up
with other conservation groups to benefit natural resources.”

Build a Wildlife Area campaigns in six states – Illinois, Iowa,
Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin – have helped create
eight new wildlife areas totaling more than 3,000 acres – all open
to public hunting and recreation. To learn more, or to make a
donation, contact Pheasants Forever at (877) 773-2070 or go online
at www.pheasantsforever.org/events/bawa.
n exchange for permission to issue certain DNR licenses and stamps
as an agent of the DNR. The band retains all fees it collects,
except for resident and nonresident sports licenses, where it
retains the amount of an annual fishing license and remits the rest
to the DNR.

€ The DNR will pay $50,000 to Eau Claire County to develop a
public shooting range.

€ Change in wildlife damage claims and abatement program, which
provides landowners in participating counties with financial
assistance to begin projects to reduce crop damage and partially
reimburse losses incurred due to crop damage. The budget increased
claim deductibles from $250 to $500, but if the claim is between
$500 and $5,250, the claimant receives the full amount.

Reductions

The budget adheres to the 10-percent reduction the governor
required of all state agencies. That cut 62 jobs, mostly from
service centers. All employees, union and non-union, also are
facing a 2 percent pay cut, and union employees and their
representatives are still in discussions for how those cost
reductions will be made.

The furlough savings should be about 3 percent of salaries.

The DNR will be closing offices on 10 days in the two fiscal
years, with the 2009 closed dates being Monday, Oct. 12, Nov. 27,
the day after Thanksgiving, and Dec. 28, the Monday following
Christmas weekend.

Other furlough days requiring all state government to shut down
are: Monday, Feb. 15, 2010, Presidents Day; Friday, May 28, 2010,
Friday before Memorial Day; Monday, Oct. 11, 2010, Columbus Day;
Friday, Nov. 26, 2010, the day after Thanksgiving; Monday, Feb. 21,
2011, Presidents’ Day; Friday, May 27, 2011, Friday before Memorial
Day. In addition, the DNR will close offices on Dec. 27, 2010. The
DNR said it is closing its offices at the end of December because
there is less public demand for services during the holidays, and
by positioning a shut-down next to a holiday weekend, it can
maximize savings by powering down heating and electrical uses in
DNR offices.

Employees will take the rest of their eight days per year when
they want, with their supervisor’s approval.

The Legislature reduced hours at DNR service centers,
maintaining four-day-per-week service at Black River Falls and
Superior, but the other 22 centers will only be open from one to
one-and-a-half days a week rather than the three to five days they
have been open, beginning in April, 2010. The exact way it will
work out is still being determined, as the DNR lost 38 employees
from those centers.

The budget does not include increases in hunting, trapping, or
fishing licenses or park stickers. Some permit costs were increased
for asbestos and hazardous waste removal.

The elk-hunting application fee was increased from $3 to $10,
and $7 of the proceeds will go to elk management, and $3 to the
Fish and Wildlife Account.

The bobcat permit application fee went from $3 to $6, with
proceeds supporting research on bobcat populations.

Boat registration fees were increased by 15 percent: under 16
feet, $22 (had been $19); 16 to 26 feet, $32 ($28); 26 to 40 feet,
$60 ($52); boats longer than 40 feet $100 ($86).

NRB member Gary Rohde, of River Falls, noted that he would like
to hear a DNR discussion about staffing levels at a future board
meeting.

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