Sep

29

RAVERSE CITY, Mich. — If huge, hungry Asian carp reach Lake Michigan, their long-dreaded invasion may turn out to be less ferocious than once expected because a tiny competitor is gobbling up their primary food source, some Great Lakes researchers say.

The quagga mussel, a thumbnail-sized foreign mollusk first spotted in the lakes two decades ago, has devoured so much plankton in southern Lake Michigan that the entire food web is being altered, federal and university scientists reported in a series of newly published articles.

Mussels have “beaten the Asian carp to the buffet table,” said Gary Fahnenstiel, senior ecologist with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. “While the public has been worried about Asian carp and the Chicago canal, another invader has fundamentally changed the lake and made it inhospitable to the Asian carp.”

Some biologists and government officials say if the carp get a foothold in Lake Michigan, they could spread to most of the Great Lakes and vacuum up enough plankton to threaten collapse of the $7 billion fishery. But Fahnenstiel and other researchers said the quagga mussel is a greater danger.

Some types of microscopic plants have declined more than 80 percent with the mussel’s arrival, they said, which probably explains a similar drop-off of a freshwater shrimp species that is a dietary staple for small fish pursued by prized sport varieties such as salmon and trout.

Other scientists and policymakers insisted the carp could survive and even thrive in a plankton-depleted environment.

“They can eat other things besides plankton,” said Duane Chapman, a U.S. Geological Survey fisheries biologist. “They are very flexible fish.”

Bighead and silver carp — Asian varieties threatening to enter Lake Michigan through Chicago-area rivers and canals — are filter feeders that consume up to 40 percent of their body weight daily. The biggest can grow to 4 feet in length and weigh 100 pounds.

But Fahnenstiel said that if carp evade electronic barriers and reach the lake, they’ll probably find so little nourishment they’ll either go back or starve.

Chapman is based at the Columbia Environmental Research Center in Missouri, where researchers are measuring Asian carp’s appetite for substances that will remain abundant in the Great Lakes even where plankton runs short. One example: bits of food the mussels spit out rather than digest.

Another is cladophora, a green algae that annoys beachgoers by washing ashore in stinky, rotting clumps. The cause of its resurgence in recent years is unknown but some believe it’s linked to the mussels, which improve clarity as they filter water, allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper.

“Chances are pretty good that Asian carp would do just fine eating that stuff, but we’re going to test it to make sure,” Chapman said.

Quagga and zebra mussels, believed to have hitched a ride from Europe to the Great Lakes in ballast tanks of freighter ships in the 1980s, have wreaked ecological havoc and done hundreds of millions in damage to all the lakes except Superior, where only isolated colonies have been found.

Fahnenstiel and Michigan Tech University biologist Charles Kerfoot were among co-authors of a series in the Journal of Great Lakes Research that described the quagga mussel’s takeover of southern Lake Michigan this decade.

Quaggas — which unlike zebra mussels thrive in cold, deep waters — are a likely culprit in the disappearance of phytoplankton blooms that feed opossum shrimp, the scientists said.

Those tiny invertebrates, crucial food for prey fish, have plummeted by more than 70 percent, said Steve Pothoven, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration field station in Muskegon.

Scientists say whitefish and salmon, two of Lake Michigan’s most popular species, have gotten smaller in recent years, a probable sign of malnutrition from a deteriorating food web.

“We are really getting a genuine collapse in the third-largest freshwater lake in the world,” Kerfoot said.

The quagga population should outgrow its food supply and level off sometime. How soon that happens will determine how severely fish populations suffer, Tom Nalepa, another NOAA researcher.

If Asian carp arrive in large numbers and successfully reproduce, the situation would get even more dire.

Even as scientists debate how likely that is, five Great Lakes states are suing in federal court, demanding closure of Chicago shipping locks and separation of the lakes from the Mississippi River basin to block the path of Asian carp and other invaders. Chicago business interests say doing so would cripple the local economy.

Marc Gaden, spokesman for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, says he hopes never to find out how well the carp would fare in Lake Michigan.

“What’s important is to focus on the prevention,” Gaden said. “Once you let the invaders in and they spread, it’s permanent.”

via Scientists say mussels are leaving little for Asian carp to eat | fdlreporter.com | Fond du Lac Reporter.

Sep

29

A trio of stars of Discovery’s hit reality series “Deadliest Catch” have left the show.

Capts. Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand — who were sued earlier this month by Discovery for allegedly not performing work on a planned spinoff special — as well as Capt. Sig Hansen, said in a statement Tuesday that they were “unable” to continue on the series due to the litigation.

“We have been through a lot over the past year and unfortunately given the current situation with Discovery we are unable to continue participating in ‘Deadliest Catch,'” the three crab fishermen said in a joint written statement. “It has been a fantastic ride, and we wish the best to all of the amazing and supportive ‘Catch’ fans we have met over the years.”

A statement from Discovery was not forthcoming.

The network sued the Hillstrands for $3 million claiming they failed to show up to finish work on “Hillstranded,” a planned “Catch” spinoff. The Hillstrands’ lawyer Jeff Cohen then called the suit an attempt to “extort” his clients and said the lawsuit could force them to sell their boats and fire their crews. Hansen, also repped by Cohen, later weighed in, backing the Hillstrands, slamming Discovery and saying, “I want people to know the captains stand together, and me and my brothers support them 100 percent.”

Hansen, captain of the Northwestern, has been a fixture on “Catch” since its first season premiered in 2005. The Hillstrands, captains of the Time Bandit, joined in Season 2. Filming on the seventh season of the Emmy-nominated series is scheduled to begin as crab season starts in October. But barring any reconciliation, it now appears the show will be down three captains (in addition to Capt. Phil Harris, who died earlier this year).

via Deadliest Catch Television show – Deadliest Catch TV Show – Yahoo! TV.

Sep

28

We recieved notification from the DNR yesterday that a permit has been applied for and will more than likely be approved for the USCG to place a research buoy on Lake Winnebago.

The specific location is:

NE 1/4 of NW 1/4 of S22 T18N R17E
longitude 88.4544
latitude 44.0242
approx 3 miles east of Millers Bay

I was not told what the purpose of the buoy is, but was reassured by the DNR that “The buoy is temporary (should be removed in 2012 from what I understand) and will be located approx 3 miles out from the west shore.  The permit has not yet been issued but when it is, it will contain conditions regarding safety and marking of the buoy.”

If you have specific questions please contact the WI DNR Oshkosh Service Center.

Sep

25

Door County marinas made a big splash Tuesday, garnering two of the first four awards in the state to receive the designation of “Clean Marinas.”

Scott Bird, representing Quarterdeck Marina and Harbor Club Marina, won the distinction, with the help of student intern Tony Rieth. Port Washington’s city marina and the Nestegg Marina in Marinette also earned certification.

The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program is a new voluntary program possible by a $50,825 grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and administered by the Wisconsin Marina Association.

Training and technical assistance are provided by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and the University of Wisconsin Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center.

The grant allowed Bird to bring in Rieth, a University of Green Bay graduate student in environmental science, to work through a checklist of requirements qualifying the two Sturgeon Bay marinas for the award.

“It wasn’t hard to do,” Rieth said. “It just meant taking the time to rethink how to do things a little different to meet the guidelines.”

For example, Rieth found that a call to a local grocer garnered 1,500 pounds of shrink-wrap that was going to be thrown away but can now be picked up and recycled.

A potential hazard was the method used to wash the boats at the marina because paint chips can be pressure-washed into the bay. Now, bales of hay are used to absorb chips to avoid sending them into the water.

“Discharge of nontoxic antifreeze is a common problem. It lowers the oxygen content in the water. Quarterdeck will have a collection point and we now recycle that,” Rieth said.

A key initiator of certifying marinas as “clean” is Jon Kukuk, owner and operator of Nestegg Marina of Marinette and chairman of the Wisconsin Marina Association. Kukuk choked up Tuesday remembering the five years of work he and others went through to bring the Clean Marina program to fruition. Kukuk’s marina was among the four to receive the designation.

“This is an extremely exciting day for me,” he said.

Sturgeon Bay Mayor Thad Birmingham and Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald addressed the Wisconsin Marina Association, stressing the importance of environmental stewardship for both communities.

“Sturgeon Bay has been founded and built around our waterfront,” Birmingham said. “This award is a wonderful thing. Our waterfront has provided so much for us. It makes sense to take care of your assets. I know there are several other marinas working on this certification.”

Kae DonLevy, a Wisconsin Marina Association representative who brought the association together for the conference and cruise on the Harbor Lady, said of the 45 Wisconsin marina association members, 20 have pledged to become clean marinas.

“We celebrate a key milestone today,” DonLevy said. “I want to congratulate our industry on a first step for clean marinas and to continue to grow our state association. It’s great to have this much support.”

Several government employees from the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard and tourism bureaus, as well as maritime museum employees, and public officials, including Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, Sen. Robert Cowl, representatives from Sen. Steve Kagen’s office and Vicky Harris from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute were among attendees.

The conference was held in conjunction with a state proclamation by Gov. Jim Doyle to celebrate each September as Wisconsin Coastal Awareness Month.

In addition to tourism revenue, DonLevy said there are 1.4 million fishing licenses and 635,000 boats registered in the state. Fishing generates $2.75 billion in economic impact and supports 30,000 jobs in the state, she said. A number of boat builders and marine manufacturers account for more than $1 billion in economic output, and in 2008, Wisconsin’s commercial ports handled more than $7 billion in goods.

via Clean Marina | greenbaypressgazette.com | Green Bay Press Gazette.

Sep

22

To implement the Great Lakes Compact and associated statewide water use regulations, the department must draft administrative rules in several areas.

Water Use Permitting: Public Hearings and Comment Period

Water Use Permitting Factsheet

The Department has issued a public notice of hearings on the proposed rules that are scheduled for October 2010:

October 13, 2010, Wednesday, 2:00 p.m., at the DNR Milwaukee SER Headquarters, 2300 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Milwaukee in Rooms 140-141.

October 14, Thursday, 2:00 p.m., University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Instructional Services Building Room 1034, 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI.

October 14, Thursday, 2:00 p.m., Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), Conference Center Room 306, 2100 Beaser Avenue, Ashland, WI.

The proposed rules and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate may be viewed and downloaded and comments electronically submitted from the State of Wisconsin Administrative Rules Water Use Permitting page. Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted until October 31, 2010 to:

Kristy Rogers
Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707–7921

Water Use Permitting [exit DNR]Factsheet [PDF 43KB] Large water withdrawers in the Great Lakes basin, including public water systems, will be required to have a general or individual permit (depending on the amount of their withdrawal) by December 2011. This rule will establish the procedures and standards for the water use permitting program.

Water Use Permitting Factsheet

The Department has issued a public notice of hearings on the proposed rules that are scheduled for October 2010:

October 13, 2010, Wednesday, 2:00 p.m., at the DNR Milwaukee SER Headquarters, 2300 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Milwaukee in Rooms 140-141.

October 14, Thursday, 2:00 p.m., University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Instructional Services Building Room 1034, 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI.

October 14, Thursday, 2:00 p.m., Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), Conference Center Room 306, 2100 Beaser Avenue, Ashland, WI.

The proposed rules and supporting documents, including the fiscal estimate may be viewed and downloaded and comments electronically submitted from the State of Wisconsin Administrative Rules Water Use Permitting page. Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted until October 31, 2010 to:

Kristy Rogers
Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707–7921

Water Use Permitting [exit DNR]Factsheet [PDF 43KB] Large water withdrawers in the Great Lakes basin, including public water systems, will be required to have a general or individual permit (depending on the amount of their withdrawal) by December 2011. This rule will establish the procedures and standards for the water use permitting program.

Water Conservation(NR 852), Registration and Reporting(NR 856), and Fees(NR 850) Rules Sent to Legislature

Senate Hearing – September 29, 10 am

The department held public hearings [PDF 55KB] for the following three rules on June 28 – 30th and the public comment period closed on July 7, 2010. These rules were adopted by the Natural Resources Board at its August 2010 meeting and forwarded to the Legislature. The Senate Committee on the Environment and/or the Assembly Natural Resources Committee may choose to hold hearings before approving or returning the rules to the department for revision.

  • Factsheet [PDF 49KB] – This printable factsheet provides a summary of each of these rules.
  • Water Conservation and Water Use Efficiency [exit DNR] – The rule clarifies and further defines requirements for water conservation and water use efficiency for water withdrawals within the Great Lakes Basin, diversions of water from the Great Lakes Basin, and water withdrawals statewide with high (>2 million gallons per day) water loss.
  • Water Use Registration and Reporting [exit DNR] – The rule provides specific processes and methods for measuring, registering, and reporting withdrawals and diversions from the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Water Use Fees [exit DNR] – State statute sets a base fee of $125 annually for anyone with a water supply system (e.g. well or surface water withdrawal) with the capacity to withdraw an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any 30–day period. The rule implements an additional Great Lakes basin–specific fee on persons who withdraw more than 50 million gallons of water per year. See this water use fee table [PDF 87KB] for examples.

Additional Administrative Rules

The Department is also currently drafting rules for:

  • Water Supply Service Area Plans – Public water systems that serve a population of 10,000 or more and withdraw water are required to develop a water supply service area plan by 2025. In some situations a plan will be required sooner if the system is in the Great Lakes basin and interested in increasing their withdrawal, or if the system is seeking a diversion of Great Lakes water. This rule will specify the procedures and requirements for these plans.
  • Water Use Public Participation – This rule will establish the requirements for public participation for proposals for diversions of water out of the Great Lakes basin.
  • Water Loss and Consumptive Use – This rule will establish the methods for determining the amount of water loss from different consumptive uses.

These rule drafts are expected to be available for public comment in fall of 2010. Check back at this webpage or sign up for GovDelivery for notification regarding these rules.

For more information on this topic please contact:

Shaili Pfeiffer
Water Use Section
Bureau of Drinking and Groundwater
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707–7921
Phone number: (608) 267–7630

Great Lakes Compact Rules.

Sep

20

Fishing groups want commercial nets separated

MANITOWOC (AP) – A dispute between Lake Michigan sport anglers and commercial fishermen is heating up.

The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum meets at 6 p.m. Monday at
Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland. The Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter says the public meeting will focus on the appropriate timing and placement of commercial trap nets.

It comes in the wake of the June 25 death of sport fisherman Charles Koenig. He died of a heart attack after his boat’s downrigger became tangled in a commercial whitefish trap net off Sheboygan.

Fishing and conservation groups are asking that the commercial
nets used for whitefish be separated from popular sport fishing
areas. But commercial fishermen say the proposed restrictions would
hurt their industry and fish consumers.

via Forum in Manitowoc County Monday night to consider rules for commericial netting in Lake Michigan.

Sep

13

A Northeast Wisconsin company is unveiling a new showroom that it hopes is a sign business is on the rebound.

KCS International, which owns Cruisers Yachts in Oconto, officially opened the showroom Monday.

The shipbuilder was hit hard by the economy’s downturn, seeing its staff dwindle from 700 to about 40.

Now they’ve hired many back, up to 200 employees, and hope this showroom will keep business booming.

“It means that we’re going back to work. It means that the backbone of Oconto County, our largest employer, is back on track, and that’s a vital part of our economic structure here,” Mayor Tom Fulton said.

The showroom was unveiled during the company’s annual dealer meeting, with dealers from all over the world in town for the event.

via Cruisers Yachts Unveils Showroom in Oconto – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News.

Sep

9

OSHKOSH — Jeff Jacobs, who gained notoriety last winter when his houseboat froze into the Fox River at Rainbow Park, stepped lightly across two small boats moored at Lakeside Marina on Taft Avenue next to his larger boat.

Fleet of foot as usual and clutching a map, the 54-year-old former Omro man came out to greet a visitor who came to his boat Wednesday morning. The map, he said, came from Oshkosh police officers. On it police had marked all city-owned shoreline property boldly in red ink to show him the spots to avoid when anchoring his boat.

A city resident complained to police last week when Jacobs tied his boat to city property. He had first moored at the Boat Works, on city-owned land along the river at the foot of Michigan Street. When officials told him he could not stay, Jacobs moved his 1968-model 35-foot Whit Craft to city property on the other side of the river near Marion Road.

“We said, ‘nope,'” said Darryn Burich, planning services director. “City property is like private property. He can’t just tie up.”

Jacobs ended up going back to Lakeside Marina where he had spent the entire summer.

To avoid potential insurance liability problems for Lakeside, Jacobs is not technically moored there. Rather, his houseboat is tied to free standing posts in the water.

A series of setbacks that included the loss of a home care business, health problems and a divorce resulted in Jacobs being left with just his boat.

Before coming to Oshkosh Jacobs had been living on his houseboat on a small island he owned in Omro, property he lost to foreclosure.

He made it as far as Rainbow Park when mechanical problems arose and the ice came in.

Jacobs first became stuck in the ice at Rainbow Park in January. He violated a city mooring law that allows such tie-ups for no more than 48 hours. But he was unable to leave due to the ice and mechanical problems.

City officials were sympathetic to Jacobs’ financial and personal difficulties and allowed him to stay all winter. Area residents, sensitive to his plight, brought him donations of money, clothing, fuel for his wood burner and food.

He later received offers to help him put his boat on a trailer and haul it to the Mississippi River, his stated destination at the time. That never happened. Jacobs spoke to the people offering the help and set up a date for the move. The helpers never showed up, he said.

He doesn’t want sympathy.

“I love my boat. I know it’s a piece of crap, but to me it’s heaven,” he said.

At the city’s urging he left the park in the spring when the ice broke up. After spending most of the summer at Lakeside Marina and suspecting he may have worn out his welcome, Jacobs decided to test the waters for a new spot to moor his boat. It did not take long for him to discover that city officials are watching him.

“He was tied up to a city park. That’s trespassing,” said Sgt. Matt Kroening. “We advised him to move to non-city property and gave him a map.”

Jacobs said there are ways around the city’s rules and he’s feeling just obstinate enough to test them. For example, he could tie up to pylons in the water at Knaggs Ferry near Rainbow Park because those pylons are not attached to the shoreline.

“I will stand my ground,” he said. “This is federal water, not city water.”

As the weather turns cooler, Jacobs is pondering his options. He would like to make repairs to his boat. He needs a place to pull it up out of the water. He thinks those pylons might be just the spot.

“I have plenty of places I could go. I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t know if I’ll spend another winter on the boat.”

But, if he is unable to fix his boat he faces another winter with it stuck in the ice. He can accept that notion.

“It won’t be at Rainbow Park,” he said.

via Jeff Jacobs, who lives on houseboat on Fox River in Oshkosh, ponders next move | greenbaypressgazette.com | Green Bay Press Gazette.

Sep

7

GREEN BAY (WFRV) – Wisconsin is one of five states that is asking a judge to close Illinois shipping locks to prevent the Asian Carp from overrunning the Great Lakes.

Hearings are taking place today and tomorrow on a Federal Lawsuit to stop the spread of Asian Carp. The lawsuit was filled by Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Biologists fear that the Carp will damage Wisconsin\'s $7 billion-a-year fishing industry if the fish make it through the shipping locks.

The first witness called by the states Tuesday was a biologist who found traces of Asian carp DNA in Chicago-area waterways near Lake Michigan.

David Lodge says the DNA most likely came from live carp.

Others have suggested the carp DNA could have been transported in the ballast water of barges and so the positive test don\'t necessarily mean the fish is present.

But Lodge says that and other explanations are far less plausible.

via Federal Lawsuit attempts to stop Asian Carp | WFRV Green Bay: Northeast Wisconsin News, Weather and Sports | Local.

Sep

7

Pocket-sized books provide information for identifying and controlling invasive plants

MADISON – A new field guide is available to help people identify and control invasive plants in Wisconsin. A Field Guide to Terrestrial Invasive Plants of Wisconsin provides photographs, identification and control information, as well as resources for more information for 58 invasive plant species that disrupt wetlands, grasslands and forests, as well as home gardens and yards.

The Department of Natural Resources forestry and endangered resources programs developed the new pictorial guide to help people learn to identify and control some of the invasive species that are covered by an invasive species control rule Wisconsin adopted last year, according to Tom Boos, who coordinates DNR control efforts for forest invasive plants.

The new rule, Chapter NR 40, Wis. Admin. Code, classifies invasive species as either restricted or prohibited. For both groups of species it is illegal to transport, transfer (including purchase or sale) or introduce them.

Species classified as restricted are already widespread and landowners are not required to control them. Restricted plants include many that are well known and despised, such as buckthorn, bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, Canada thistle, wild parsnip and phragmites.

Prohibited species are those that are not yet established in Wisconsin with the exception of small pioneer stands. Wherever they are found, DNR staff, partners and volunteers hope to contain these new invaders before they can become widespread and cause extensive damage. Most of these plants are not as well known, at least in Wisconsin. A sampling includes Japanese stilt grass, giant hogweed, poison hemlock, kudzu and mile-a-minute vine.

The field guide will help people to learn to identify all of these plants, and it also provides details on methods for successful control as well as recommendations for minimizing the spread of invasives.

The Field Guide to Terrestrial Invasive Plants of Wisconsin (pdf

via WDNR Weekly News Article – Invasive Plant Field Guide Now Available.

Sep

7

Three people ended up in Lake Winnebago Labor Day when their catamaran capsized off the east shore in Fond du Lac County.

The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department was called at 3:30 p.m. Monday by someone on shore who saw the boat capsize, according to a press release. The caller said one person was in the water about 1½ miles northwest of Columbia Park.

“A short time later, the caller reported that he could no longer see the subject,” according to the release.

The Sheriff’s Department boat patrol responded to the area and found the capsized boat.

Officers determined that 3 people were on the boat when it overturned, according to the release. One was picked up by a passing fishing boat, one by another catamaran and the third remained in the water to try to upright the boat.

No one was injured and the boat was uprighted, according to the release.

The captain of the boat was Thomas Tomter of Grafton.

via Catamaran capsizes on Lake Winnebago | fdlreporter.com | Fond du Lac Reporter.

Sep

1

In an effort to facilitate better relations between the various types of boaters that utilize the Winnebago Pool, we’ve created a new board in the forums called “Boater Relations.”

The link for the forum board is: http://www.boatingwinnebago.com/forums/boater-relations

You can register for a forum account (absolutely free,) at this link: http://www.boatingwinnebago.com/forums/index.php?action=register

The goal is to give everyone a place for open discussions on some of the things we can all do to avoid getting into those situations where recreational boaters, fishermen and skier / tubers find themselves giving each other the one finger salute.

We hope this will be a constructive place, not a destructive place.