Tuesday, December 1, 2009

DNR purchases 155 acres adjoining Casey Lake State Wildlife area

Left to right are Harvey Halvorsen, Mike Soergel, Brett Olson and Ryan Brathal, all with the Wildlife area at the DNR office in Baldwin, standing near the new signs at the 155 acre addition in public land next to Casey Lake State Wildlife Management Area. The state-owned area is available for public use for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and cross-country skiing.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has purchased a 155 acre tract of land adjoining the 210 acre Casey Lake State Wildlife Management Area. The property is at the corner of 200th Street and 130th Avenue north of Baldwin in the Town of Erin Prairie.
The property was purchased from a pair of Minnesota men for a price of $465,000, or $3,000 per acre.
According to the information used to review the proposal to purchase the parcel, the 155 acres “will consolidate state ownership, provide addtional recreational opportunities, and allow habitat restoration and management of the area for wildlife in conjunction with the Western Prairie Habitate Restoration Area project.”
The sellers are Lowell Bliss and William Potts, of Burnsville, Minn.
According to Wildlife Biologist Harvey Halversen of the Baldwin DNR office, “I was really happy that we were able to make the acquisition.” He said the land is an important part of the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Project [WPHRA] in western Wisconsin that spans an area from River Falls to Osceola and points east, including all or parts of 15 towns in St. Croix and Polk counties.
Within the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Project area of about 350,000 acres that was started in 1999, the goal is to eventually acquire 20,000 acres of land and restore it to pre-settlement condition. The project is a collaboration of the Department of Natural Resources, local governments and non-profit conservation organizations. The goal of 20,000 acres will protect approximately 10% of the landscape of the original prairie from pre-1850. In addition to prairies, the project will protect pothole lake areas and marshes. Those areas are important for pheasant and waterfowl production. Currently about 5,000 acres are owned by the state, local government and non-profits as part of the project.
The impetus for the WPHRA was “based upon comprehensive research of biodiversity and ecosystem management practices. Restoration of viable grasslands and wetlands to provide habitat for waterfowl, pheasants and grassland birds is the primary objective of the WPHRA project. The intent is to widely scatter suitable habitat throughout the area, rather than concentrating the habitat in one place. Reductions in habitat quality and quantity because of land use changes have contributed to the decline of grassland nesting wildlife populations. In addition, wetland loss or degradation has been an important factor in the decline of many wetland wildlife species. Ten species of birds known to occur in this area are state-listed as endangered or threatened and 19 species are listed as special concern.”
Casey Lake State Wildlife Managment Area contains the headwaters of the Kinnickinnic River and contains an important Great Blue Heron rookery. Acquistion of the Bliss/Potts property connects “Casey Lake to the subject’s uplands, thus increasing the brood and nesting success of the birds. Along the east side of the property is a complex of forested wetlands. Further to the east is Pine Lake. Pine Lake has protected shoreland via easement through the West Wisconsin Land Trust. The lake offers good brood-rearing habitat for waterfowl. The connected complex of wetlands and uplands of Casey Lake, the Bliss/Potts property, the forested wetlands and Pine Lake creates a vital association of nesting areas in this area.”
According to the proposal review material, of the 155 acres of the Bliss/Potts property acquired by the DNR, 110 acres is in grassland and 45 acres is “lowland woodland.” Prior to public ownership, the land had been in the Conservation Reserve Program [CRP], said Halvorsen, with much of it planted in native grasses. It will be burned next spring if the weather cooperates, said Mike Soergel, Wildlife Management, of the Baldwin DNR office. Plans for the lower areas of the property, on the south side, may include a dike to create a pond.
“The property will be open to the public for all nature-based outdoor recreational activities to include hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and cross-country skiing.”
Halversen said another 240 acre parcel in the vicinity is in the process of being purchased.

Fire destroyed building at Emerald Dairy

A Sunday morning fire at Emerald Dairy about seven miles north of Baldwin on CTH G destroyed a building that housed the manure digester for the large dairy.
John Vrieze, owner of Emerald Dairy, said the cause of the fire appeared to be a fan malfunction in the distiller in the building. No one was injured and no animals were lost as a result of the fire. However, the building appeared to be a total loss.
The manure digester produces natural gas from manure produced on the dairy.
Called to the scene was the Glenwood City Fire Department. United Fire and Rescue Department of Woodville, Baldwin and Hammond were called for mutual aid to protect buildings on the south end of the digester building.
Vrieze said he has insurance for the loss.

Christmas kick-off in Baldwin this weekend
Horse parade is Saturday; Santa visit, lighting is Sunday

As is traditional, the kickoff to the Christmas season in Baldwin will be this coming weekend.
The Baldwin-Woodville Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a visit by Santa Claus and Festival of Lights on Sunday, December 6.
The events will be held at Windmill Park. Santa’s visit will begin at 5:30 p.m., and he will continue chatting with children until 7:00 p.m. A warming tent will be set up and there will be refreshments for children and adults.
The Festival of Lights will also be at Windmill Park. The Windmill and the Christmas Tree at Windmill Park will be lighted at 6:00 p.m.
The 20th Annual Christmas Spirit Horse and Wagon Parade will be held Saturday afternoon. The horses and wagons festooned for Christmas are expected to parade down Main Street at 1:00 p.m. The Christmas Spirit Horse and Wagon Parade is sponsored by local merchants. Contact person is Mike Smith.
A number of additional Christmas sales and events are also planned in the area.

News from the exchanges
   Interesting items from the
      surrounding communities

PIERCE COUNTY HERALD (ELLSWORTH): A Spring Valley man was charged earlier this month in Pierce County Circuit Court with intentionally abandoning animals. William Gokey, 53, is looking at misdemeanor charges carrying a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or nine months in jail if found guilty. According to court records: Pierce county sheriff’s deputies were called to an animal complaint on September 26 near N48870 410th St. in Spring Valley. The homeowners were alleging they saw a truck stop, drop its tailgate and dump a dog. They were able to track the truck into the Village of Spring Valley where the police were notified. After a few minutes, they saw a male walking to the truck, where he was identified as Gokey. Deputies asked him if he had been in the Town of Gilman earlier that day and was the driver of the pickup. He said yes to both. He was then asked about being involved in the alleged dumping incident, a charge he denied saying, “I would never do that. I would shoot a dog before I dumped it in the middle of nowhere.” He also denied seeing a stray dog on his route to Spring Valley or that he would pick up a stray and drop it off again. Four days later, sheriff’s deputies got a call from an anonymous tipster who said she heard Gokey talking at a bar and saying his son called him four days ago, told him there was a stray dog on his property and asked his father “to get rid of it.” The caller then said Gokey was bragging about dumping the dog in the middle of nowhere and getting away with it. Law enforcement went to Gokey’s residence where he initially denied knowing anything about the incident. Gokey the admitted to picking up the stray dog from his son’s home and taking it to the place where he dropped it off. He kept denying the charge because he thought they were only asking about dogs he owned. A few hours later, sheriff’s deputies were notified the stray dog had returned to Gokey’s son’s home.

HUDSON STAR-OBSERVER: Zachary Wiegand was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday morning for the Wisconsin portion of a crime spree he went on six years ago. The sentence will be served in addition to more than 12 years in prison that he was given in Minnesota for convictions on charges of first-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. St. Croix County Circuit Judge Eric J. Lundell handed down the Wisconsin sentence after the 32-year-old Wiegand, a 1995 Hudson High School graduate, pleaded guilty to armed robbery five days earlier. Wiegland’s robbery of an armored car outside of Citizens State Bank in Hudson on the morning of May 29, 2003, came near the end of an episode that had started the previous evening in Lake Elmo, Minn. A 42-year-old Lake Elmo woman was shot four times by Wiegand in that attempted car-jacking. When another woman stopped to help the shooting victim, Wiegand stole her van at gunpoint. Judge Lundell also sentenced Wiegand to one and a half years in prison for an arson charge that resulted from him setting fire to the stolen van that he used as a get-away vehicle in the armored-car robbery. The arson sentence will be served concurrent with the other sentences.

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: Police continue to look for an armed man who held up a female Schwan’s truck driver around 8 p.m. Friday, November 20 in the city’s industrial park. The woman had returned from her route to the Schwan’s depot, 1050 Benson St. About to plug her refrigerated truck, she was confronted by a man holding what police describe as a “steel rod.” River Falls Police Sgt. Jon Aubard said the man demanded money. The driver tried to give him her business wallet, but he told her not to look at him and to remove the cash from the wallet and hand it over.