RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held its second public comment meeting for a $13 million initiative to boost state walleye production, Wednesday night in Rhinelander.
The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative will spend $8.2 million for infrastructure improvements and $1.3 million each year for annual operating costs will be provided to expand production at DNR state fish hatcheries.
Production should increase from 60,000 to 120,000 large walleye fingerlings a year to well over 500,000 by 2016.
The goal of Wednesday's meeting was to hear opinions from residents, and also discuss options of where the fish will be stocked.
DNR Northern Fisheries Supervisor Steve Avelallemant says more than 80 percent of Wisconsin lakes have natural walleye production. Those lakes won't be targeted for stocking.
"We would not think about stocking where Mother Nature is already doing it because she beats us every time," Avelallemant said.
Over the decades, walleye populations have declined slightly. That's one of the reasons why the initiative was passed. But walleye popularity with anglers also played a factor.
"Walleye are the number one game fish both in terms of what anglers are seeking and in terms of fish that they harvest," Avelallemant said.
More than 35 percent of anglers go for walleye. According to the DNR 6.1 million days of fishing in Wisconsin are for walleye. That's 29 percent of all angling days.
But Avelallemant says overfishing is a lesser problem.
"It's a factor, but it's not really one of the driving ones," Avelallemant said.
The next steps with the initiative comes in January. The DNR will revise walleye stocking quotas statewide. They will also plan private and tribal walleye production.
The DNR will hold one more public comment meeting for the walleye initiative. It will be Wednesday, October 23 in Oconomowoc.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Oconomowoc High School Art Center, 641 East Forest St.
HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.
The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."
The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
RHINELANDER - A large open lot on Rhinelander's east side could soon fill in with a chain restaurant.
Cory Moritz-Hoffmann and her husband hope to build a Pizza Ranch next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway. The pair of former Pine Lake firefighters got the idea about six years ago when they first went to a Pizza Ranch in Iowa.
They considered pursing a franchise then, but it was more than they could afford at the time. About two years ago, the Hoffmanns contacted an investor and saw an opportunity to turn their dream into a reality.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
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