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Karst, Canoes and Climate Change Among Annual Conservation Congress Questions

Among the 54 advisory questions from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board list to be voted on April 9 during the annual statewide meeting of the Conservation Congress is one that asks if people would be willing to pay a $5 annual fee to use state fishery, wildlife, natural areas and leased public hunting grounds.

The fee – to be paid by any user of those areas who is between the ages of 16 and 64 – would go into a fund to help the DNR manage its more than 1.5 million acres of public land. The DNR has estimated that the $5 annual fee could generate more than $3 million annually.

On Monday, April 9, there will be 72 public hearings, one in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 pm (the Door County meeting site is in the Commons area of Sturgeon Bay High School, 1230 Michigan St.).

People interested in natural resources management have an opportunity to provide their input by non-binding vote and testimony to the DNR and the Conservation Congress on proposed natural resource-related advisory questions that may impact future rule changes.

The spring hearings cover three major areas:  elections for county Conservation Congress delegates; DNR wildlife and fisheries ideas for potential rule changes; and Conservation Congress proposals for future rule development.

During the Conservation Congress county meetings, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their views regarding natural resources issues on the Conservation Congress, the citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board and DNR.

Also, individuals have the opportunity to bring forth new conservation issues of a statewide nature to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process.

Here are a few more questions attendees will be asked to vote on:

  • Would you support the Wisconsin Conservation Congress taking a position on and encouraging legislators and DNR to support science- and market-based legislation and rules to reduce the risk of global warming and increase the use of renewable energy resources?
  • Do you support the creation of a lifetime hunting and fishing license?
  • Do you support the creation of a “last chance” outdoor opportunity in which a person with a terminal prognosis would be allowed to hunt, fish or trap a non-migratory species of their choice outside of the regular season framework?
  • Would you support legislation legalizing fluorescent yellow as another color (orange and pink are already approved) option of safety clothing to be worn during any firearm deer season?
  • Would you support legislation to enact fines/penalties to any landowner and/or renter of agricultural land who violates the law and tills within five feet of any stream, ditch or top of the channel of any surface water?
  • Do you support the Conservation Congress working with the DNR and Natural Resources Board to establish new rules designating the entire karstic areas of Wisconsin, both dolomite and calcareous bedrock areas, as sensitive areas meriting special groundwater protection by the state and freeing municipal governments to make additional rules and regulations based on local geological consideration?
  • Ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on state-owned agriculture and forestland?
  • Several questions pertain to the Wisconsin Guide License, including one that asks whether it is time to raise the annual guide license fee from $40 to $250 because “some feel that Guide License fees should reflect the added pressure guides may put on the resource and that guides should pay a higher fee for using the state resources to make money.”
  • There are also several questions related to the topic of permit fees for non-motorized watercraft. The question begins with an explainer that states “on average, non-motorized watercraft accounted for 33 percent of boating deaths. Boating enforcement and investigations are funded by the boating program, which does not receive funding from non-motorized watercraft. Registration could help to identify non-motorized watercraft owners when a boat is found, whether from an accident or at other times. It is believed that 335,000 non-motorized watercraft use our resource.This is a possible revenue source that should be considered.” There are four parts to this:  should all non-motorized watercraft be registered?; should anyone who purchases a hunting, fishing or trapping license receive one non-motorized watercraft permit at no charge?; no need to carry a watercraft permit if you have any of those other licenses?; and should a group rate be created for organizations with multiple watercraft?

The questionnaire package for the 2018 spring Conservation Congress county meeting is available for review on the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov.

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