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.
RHINELANDER - People lived through detours, dust, and demolition throughout most of 2016 in downtown Rhinelander. Residents won't see that kind of work in 2017, but the city is planning more closures and road work to finish up the Streetscape Project.
Crews will start with the Davenport Street Bridge shutting down for a month in starting April 17. Public Works Director Tim Kingman says some sections of concrete, sidewalk, and asphalt pavement shifted, settled and cracked over the winter.
RHINELANDER - Cracked concrete, twisted rebar, and overgrown trees and bushes don't paint the most ideal picture for a park. But a Rhinelander alderman sees the perfect chance for a peaceful place to enjoy nature.
Alderman Alex Young hopes to turn an old snow dumping dock site into a "pocket park." The site sits where Norway Street runs into the Wisconsin River behind Ripco Credit Union and the DNR Service Center building.
TOMAHAWK - Tomahawk High School sporting events got an attendance boost this winter. At the same time, local charities benefited from the community's generosity.
The school's Varsity Club sponsored six nights of special events, one for each winter sport. The Varsity Club gave out T-shirts printed with team rosters. Meanwhile, fans brought donations for local charities.
"Each kid would walk in and they'd put on their T-shirt," said Varsity Club member Jackie Elliott. "When we got our student section going, they were all together, and you just had this block of white. It was awesome."
WAUSAU - A contractor fell from a ladder and died at the construction site of the new Hilton Garden Inn in Wausau last week. Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death.
Marathon County Sheriff's Captain Dale Wisnewski said Shane J. Cash, 45, of Wisconsin Rapids was drilling holes in the ceiling on Thursday when he fell from his ladder and died on scene.
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