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Outdoor notes: Upper Mississippi River project improves habitat for turtles and fish

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outdoors Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Turtle and fish on the Upper Mississippi River will be basking and swimming in better digs after this summer courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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The project's price tag comes to 160 thousand dollars. Dennis Anderson, a fisheries biologist with the Army Corps, says they'll begin removing small trees and shrubs along the river shoreline near Buffalo City, Wisconsin. This will give turtles better access to their nesting sites--and also create what he calls "loafing structures," or logs the protrude from the water, giving turtles a place to sun themselves. While turtles will be basking in the warmth of the summer sun, the Corps will also be dredging backwaters there to improve the winter homes of fish says Mary Stefanski with the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Anderson says fish don't have much energy during the winter months so they look for some place deep and warm away from the river current. He says without a place to winter the fish can become very inactive and die out.

Anderson and Stefanski say the work being done is one more step toward restoring the natural ecology of the river, following years and erosion and runoff. The project begins in mid-June and will wrap up early this fall.

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The deer start moving and everyone is out driving. Upcoming is the peak season for deer-vehicle collisions. Wisconsin State Patrol Major Dan Lonsdorf says we see a spike in car-deer crashes every June. Lonsdorf has some advice on how to avoid the season's hazard. He says if you see a deer cross the road, don't look where he's going - look where he came from. There's often a second deer right behind him. Dane County had the most motor car-deer crashes reported in 2009 with 873. Waukesha County was second with 680, followed by 648 in Shawano County, where more than half of all reported crashes involved deer.

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State and federal officials have added 36 thousand brown trout to Green Bay. Wildlife experts say predators, like birds and walleye, have reduced the bay's numbers of trout. The new fish were put in deeper waters in hopes more will survive for fishermen to catch. Those trout were raised at the Department of Natural Resource's Brule River State Fish Hatchery. They were dumped into the bay waters between Marinette and Sturgeon Bay.

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Starting next week, campers in state parks-and-forests will have new restrictions for bringing in firewood. The idea is to control the spread of the tree-killing emerald ash borer - which is most often transmitted by firewood. Starting on Tuesday, any firewood that's brought into the state-owned camping sites must be gathered or bought within 25 miles. The limit is currently 50 miles. Exceptions will be made for firewood from Wisconsin sellers that's certified as being treated.

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A Marinette County man has agreed to pay 25-thousand-dollars to settle state allegations that he illegally drained and filled a wetland. The state Justice Department said David Betzig also agreed to take away the illegal fill material, and inspect the property each year for invasive plants. State officials said they filed a civil suit after Betzig created a 19-acre pond on a trout stream on his land - and he moved the left-over material to a nearby wetland that had 32 acres. The trout stream is designated by the state as a protected wild river. It's the North Branch of the Pike River.

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