Moving forward is the theme for 2012 …
As members of the Wisconsin Bass Federation, we can take pride for our collective efforts to get the tournament culling bill as part of State law. Many of our members played significant roles in getting this done including all of the members that contacted their respective congressmen. We have more issues to address in 2012 and beyond.
Our focus now must be in looking forward to our natural environment and how we can best protect the great outdoors for our children and generations to come. I have spoken in the past about the power of partnering with other groups to get projects done that actually make a difference. Each club has the opportunity to contact local municipalities, State and/or Federal agencies, local groups such as lake districts or associations, “friends” groups that may not having taxing authority but do many great habitat or protection projects with funds from donations, raffle or other money making processes. These partnering opportunities are limited by only our imagination and the needs that we or others see to help protect or restore natural resources in our great State.
This line of thinking includes another topic that you have heard me talk about before and that is Aquatic Invasive Species or AIS. We all have, and can do our part in making sure that we reduce the spread of AIS in our waterways as we go from place to place. It takes only a few minutes to drain all water from your boat and check your boat, trailer and vehicle for plant fragments and leave them at the landing. One novel way to accomplish this will be to talk with local lake groups about partnering with them to have the boat landings raked up on a regular basis. Most lake groups are very concerned about the spread of AIS, especially in the northern lakes and rivers. Cooperatively partnering with them to set up times to rake and dispose of these free floating weed fragments can go a long way towards reducing the spread.
Rakes are cheap and it will not take much effort to rake the weeds from the launch ramps and place them on land adjacent. These weed fragments contain a significant amount of nutrients and carbon that make great and free fertilizer or mulch compost. Place these weed fragments on gardens or flower beds and reduce the cost of buying commercial fertilizer. This is especially important in lakes that have weed cutting operations as they do not get all of the fragments when cutting and collecting. Boat launches seem to be collection spots based on use and wind direction. If a club were to offer to rake the launches daily (or more than once per day) and/or remove these weed piles on a weekly or as needed basis, there will be less weeds to cling on boats and trailers and provide the benefit of reducing nutrient cycling in our lakes and rivers.
Another step in moving forward will be to keep up with current and upcoming issues. Our 2012 radar should include the proposed mining bill, the new wetlands permitting law, Asian carp in theMississippi Riverand others and the continued efforts to ban lead in fishing lures.
Recently three species of non-native carp were netted near Winona and included grass carp, bighead carp and silver carp. These creatures have made it all the way to LaCrosse and beyond from Asia. This is very troubling to me and I hope it is to you also. These fish not only pose a significant safety hazard by their behavior (jumping out of the water when boats are near), but also their affect on our native plants and animals. They are like a bull in a china shop and will wreak havoc on our fisheries for many years to come. We have all seen the videos of boats in the Illinois Riverand hundreds of these fish jumping out of the water and actually injuring or in some cases killing recreational boaters. I don’t know about all of you, but my reflexes are not what they used to be and the thought of going 60+ mph on the Mississippi River with carp jumping up in front of the boat scares the carp out of me!
So in closing, keep your eyes out for ways to help Mother Nature with partnerships, help reduce the spread of AIS and keep our lawmakers aware that we are watching and give them your opinion early and often. We all have a voice and unless we use it we will be dealing with the opinions of others that did voice their opinion while we were daydreaming of a 10 # bass on the end of our line.
Take care and stay active in protecting our natural heritage.
Wisconsin Bass Federation Conservation Director