A decades-long tradition that’s unique to Wisconsin will take place in every county in the state April 13, when citizens can take an active role in natural-resources management through the 2020 Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) spring fish and wildlife rules hearings and the county meetings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC). Locally, they’ll begin at 7 pm in the high schools in Kewaunee and Sturgeon Bay.
For the second year, there will also be an online option to vote on advisory questions. The link will go live when the meetings begin and remain open for 72 hours.
As always, however, you’ll need to attend in person if you want to run for or vote for county delegates to the WCC, or submit or vote on citizen resolutions brought up that night.
The State Conservation Commission (the predecessor of the Natural Resources Board) created the WCC in 1934 to provide Wisconsin citizens with a local avenue for input and exchange concerning conservation issues. Prior to 1937, the state Legislature established all fees, seasons, bag limits and regulations.
In 1972, legislation legally recognized the WCC to ensure that citizens would have a liaison between the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and the DNR. This structure allows citizens to vote on proposals offered by the DNR, NRB or WCC, or submit their own. The results – although not legally binding – provide valuable insight for decision makers when considering rule changes.
The WCC is an independent organization of citizens that serves in an advisory capacity to the NRB on all matters under the board’s jurisdiction.
When former Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 21 in 2011, he and legislators created a much longer process for proposed rules to be enacted and opened the door for politicians to slide in changes without going through the WCC.
In even-numbered years such as 2020, the hearings are basically opinion polls. In odd-numbered years, there are rules proposals. Many would like to see the WCC get its teeth back.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the WCC or have questions, contact liaison Kari Lee-Zimmermann at [email protected] or 608.266.0580.
You can also check out this year’s questionnaire, learn how to submit a county resolution and find out where your hearing will be held at dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html.
Deer Meetings April 6, 8
The first County Deer Advisory Committee meetings of 2020 are set for April 6, 7 pm, at the Door County Government Building in Sturgeon Bay; and April 8, 7 pm, at the Muskrat City Sportsman’s Club north of Kewaunee.
It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s some pushback on the number of free tags given this year, and whether there’s another bid to try to split Door County into a “north” and “south” management unit to better reflect differences in habitat and deer numbers.
Want to contact your county representatives to learn more? Find out whom to contact, and see the 2019-20 deer hunting season data at dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html.
• Many anglers pulled their ice shelters from the bay last weekend as mild temperatures and strong winds preceded Monday’s rain. Ice fishing shelters must be removed from Green Bay by March 15. Portable shelters may be used past the deadline; just remove them daily when they’re not in use.
• March 15 is also the last day to keep yellow perch caught on the bay. There’s a two-month closure after that for the spring spawn.
• Leftover wild turkey hunting permits will go on sale next week, including March 17 for Zone 2. See what’s available by zone and time period at dnr.wi.gov/permits/springturkey.html.
• Fishing licenses for 2019-20 will expire at the end of March, and new licenses are available. Learn more at gowild.wi.gov, or visit the Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center.
• Comments on the DNR’s proposed 2020-21 waterfowl hunting season structure will be accepted through midnight on March 13. One of the proposals would open the North Zone a week before the South Zone. Another would replace the Mississippi River Zone with an Open Water Lake Michigan/Green Bay Zone. See the rest of the proposals and comment on them at dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/waterfowl.html.
As of March 6, Lake Michigan was 14 inches higher than last year and three inches above the previous record, set in 1986. Those numbers likely climbed this week, thanks to a big meltdown last weekend and Monday’s rain. Lake Michigan is expected to rise two to four inches by early April, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.