LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Stories about spear fishing and tribal rights generate a lot of feedback. Some of it is so negative and inflammatory we have to delete it from our Facebook page.
Lac du Flambeau leaders hope to avoid that reaction at an upcoming Musky Tournament.
Fishing tournaments are a way of life for many in the Northwoods. Sports anglers take millions of fish from the lakes each year. In comparison native spearers take a much smaller harvest, but they face extensive criticism for it.
It's likely native people have enjoyed a friendly competition since the invention of the spear thousands of years ago. They hold small tournaments often, and often their pictures end up on websites condemning them, like www.musky.com/2012Single/FisheryRape .
This weekend musky spearers will hold a tournament in Lac du Flambeau. Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson wants Native Spearers to feel the same pride as anglers who show off their catch.
"This is a time that our people can be proud of what they do. And they shouldn't have to be scrutinized by a newspaper or a musky group or any type of fishing group out there… We don't go out there and protest their tournaments," said Tom Maulson, President of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
In the 6 to 7 hours of the tournament, Maulson thinks some spearers won't catch any fish. Some others he says might catch one or two.
There will be Tribal and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission officials monitoring the tournament.
MEDFORD - You know curling from the Olympics. This week, master curlers from across the country are throwing their rocks in Medford. But this kind of curling you won’t see in Sochi, Mixed Doubles.
"Mixed doubles is fun. I really like it. It's really quick, everything happens quick and you're making a lot of precision shots because you don't have sweepers. I like that a lot and I like getting to play with Brady," said Cristin Clark.
FOREST COUNTY - Forest Count and Wisconsin Off-Road Vehicle Park Inc. (WORVPI) have found a 10,000 acre plot of land they would like to buy for an off-road park, according to WORVPI President John Schnorr.
Schnorr wouldn't discuss the exact location in Forest County, but said they would hope to buy the parcels by June 2014. Right now they’re contracting an engineering firm to evaluate the land.
"That's so environmental concerns can be met," Schnorr said. "We'll look at that as well as a pleasurable experience for an off-road visitor who is going to come up and spend hopefully a weeks vacation in Forest County."
Forest County leaders believe an off-road park could help bring more tourists to the area, and with that more money. The county has the fifth worst unemployment rate, 7.9 percent, in Wisconsin.
WORVPI used Ripon College to perform a feasibility study on the off-road park. It says the average off-roader will travel 300 miles to visit an off-road park. It also projected an off-road park could bring in nearly $28 million per year for Forest County businesses.
"It will take us some time to operate and open it up and develop the trails, the camp sites, the amenities inside," Schnorr said. "Realistically we could see an opening date of Memorial Day of 2015."
The park would host ATVs, motorcycles and other vehicles on off-road trails.
People can help fund the park by purchasing $150 charter membership passes. More than 30 have already been purchased. Schnorr says only 100 will be available.
"The pass will entitle the holder to a park pass, an annual park pass, for the first year when the park opens," Schnorr said. "It will give us some capital up front and afford them a discounted price down the road."
Even with the progress, Schnorr says the project is still in the early stages.
"If you are an optimist, you think a huge amount of progress has been made," Schnorr said. "But if you are a pessimist, not enough progress has been made."
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