WDNR holds public input meeting on Driftless Area fishing access


Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Map courtesy of WDNR.

Outdoor enthusiasts who visit southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, which includes parts of Verona and Fitchburg, for fishing or other kinds of outdoor recreation are invited to share ideas to improve fishing access and management of state lands.

As the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources begins the process of preparing a master plan for these state properties, it will hold public input meetings. Four meetings are scheduled for DNR’s South Central Region, including one in Fitchburg March 28 from 4-7 p.m. at Fitchburg City Hall, 5520 Lacy Road.

People attending the meetings can see a decade’s worth of information showing fish populations in the affected streams, view maps of existing public access, and learn how climate change is projected to impact the future distribution of trout and bass throughout the Driftless Area.

In Wisconsin, the Driftless Area occupies the western and southwestern portion of the state that escaped the last glacial period and is characterized by rugged topography, springs, cold-water streams and rock outcroppings. The public meetings are part of a long-term master planning process for more than 200 properties that will guide DNR’s habitat management and land acquisition efforts in the Driftless Area over the next 15 years.

Most of the properties are narrow strips along some of the most desirable trout and smallmouth bass fishing waters in Wisconsin. Local fisheries biologists will be on-hand at the meetings to make short presentations and answer questions.

DNR currently owns about 28,000 acres in the Driftless Area and holds easements on more than 8,000 acres of land that allow anglers access to more than 300 streams.

As a first step in the development of the master plan, DNR staff created a background report describing the streams, the size and abundance of trout and bass in different watersheds, the relative resilience of streams to climate change and a host of other issues.

The report is available on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching for “master planning” and clicking on the Driftless Area link.

 

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