There are a number of people I regret not having had the opportunity to talk to while they were still on this planet. Northern Illinois industrialist, sportsman and philanthropist Bob Torstenson is one of them.
Torstenson, from Pecatonica and a member of the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame, developed a 750-acre farm in Winnebago County into a model of forest, wetland and upland prairie land management. When he died, he donated the property to the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, which in turn gave it to the ICF. It is now the Youth Conservation Education Center, a 750-acre playground for kids to learn about the outdoors. Children often go to the site to hunt turkeys, ducks and pheasants as well as practice archery.
Torstenson and his wife Leslie also donated a staggering 135,000 acres of New Mexico land to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, along with a $4 million endowment in 2002. It was the largest gift of land ever provided to a wildlife conservation organization. When the land was recently sold, the RMEF received a $30 million endowment from the Torstenson family.
Speaking of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which is one of my favorite causes, the Des Plaines River chapter’s annual banquet is near. Veterans Terrace, 589 Milwaukee Ave. in Burlington, Wis., will be the location for the bash from 5 to 10 p.m. March 16.
What does the RMEF do with the money it raises? From their website, “The RMEF permanently protects crucial elk winter and summer ranges, migration corridors, calving grounds and other vital areas. Our land conservation tools include: acquisitions, conservation easements, land and real estate donations, land exchanges and associated acres. Healthy habitat is essential for healthy elk and other wildlife, the RMEF helps fund and conduct a variety of projects to improve essential forage, water, cover and space components of wildlife habitat, and supports research and management efforts to help maintain productive elk herds and habitat. The RMEF works to re-establish elk herds in historic ranges where the habitat and human cultural tolerance create a high potential for self-sustaining herds.”
The cost for attending the banquet is $75 a person or $115 a couple. An excellent dinner will be served and a cash bar is available. There will be raffles and auctions too numerous and deep to be adequately described here. It is an impressive list, I must say. I’ll be the emcee, and I hope some of you can join the crowd of about 250 we usually draw. Women, men, children and families are invited and are always in attendance. It is always a good time for all.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit rmef.org. You can also contact chapter president David Smith by email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-847-244-6486, ext. 107.
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Reader James Krause sent a letter inquiring about the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ continued practice of sharpshooting whitetail deer to control chronic wasting disease. I forwarded his missive to the state, and it was answered in last week’s column by Paul Shelton, manager of the Forest Wildlife Program.
Krause sent a few lines concerning the response, including, “Let’s first start with the high harvest numbers. There was a new season that included hunting with crossbows. Also, I think there was more total time to be spent in the field, due to good weather, and the crops were taken out early.”
“That said, since 2002, 30 deer have tested positive. Paul said they shot 69 deer in 2012 while hunters shot 989. So with that, it’s possible that the county’s sharpshooters have shot around 700 deer since 2002. That ends up to around 4.3% of the deer testing positive. I believe we could still harvest that many deer through more permits and still do the testing. One more thing Steve, look at the cost of using sharpshooters as opposed to just selling permits. My feeling is that everyone has good points and that we can only hope that the IDNR soon sees better numbers.”
True, James, there are good points made by all, especially when facts are relied on more so than emotion and rhetoric.
My questions right now are why the sharpshooting program is happening at all. Didn’t the IDNR announce last year that the program was being suspended for budgetary considerations? I am pretty darned sure that they did. Also, didn’t the IDNR also announce at about the same time that they were going to stage a series of new meetings to determine the future of the sharpshooting program? Hmm. My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.
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I’ll bet you haven’t heard enough about sequestration lately. Not to worry. I am here to fill that void in your lives. What, if anything, does sequestration have to do with the world of the outdoors?
The bottom line seems to be that millions of dollars are going to be withheld from the states that would be used for managing fish and wildlife. State fisheries programs are being impacted because apportionments from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program are being withheld. The funds already have been collected from excise taxes on hunting, fishing gear and motorboat fuel and have been pledged to the states for fish and wildlife management. A total of $46.2 million dollars, 5.1 percent of the funds, are going to be held back.
Additionally, sequestration’s cut to the rate of growth for environmental programs might result in a loss of more than $100 million to the states, in grants and other assistance for protecting water and air from hazardous wastes, pesticides and other pollutants.
“I’m very sad that this is happening, and I’m disappointed that leaders in our government can’t work together to fix this,” said Noreen Clough, national conservation director for B.A.S.S. and former Southeast Region director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It is going to hurt resource management by limiting what the state and federal agencies can do.”
• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz of Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Ice fisherman need to remember that Wisconsin lakes are now closed for game fish. You can only fish for panfish and in rivers before the May 4 season opens. Illinois has no closed game fish season. Ice conditions will change every day with wind, rain and rising water working on the quality of the ice. Last ice can be a great time for panfish that hang just under the ice and wigglers are the bait of choice if you can get them. Pike start to spawn and can be caught on large golden roaches or 5-inch suckers. Warm afternoons could be a good time to fish one of the Fox River dams for an early walleye bite.” Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports. For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit foxwaterway.state.il.us/ or call 847-587-8540. Wisconsin: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for LakeMichigan and its tributaries.
Southwick Associates, through their Fishing survey.com website, has announced the brands fishermen bought most frequently in 2012. The top brands included: rods – Shakespeare; reels – Shimano; fishing line - Berkley Trilene tied with PowerPro; hard bait – Rapala; Soft bait – Berkley Gulp tied with Zoom; spinner bait – Strike King; jig – Strike King; hook – Gamakatsu; bobber – Thill; leader – Seaguar; fish finder – Lowrance tied with Humminbird; tackle box – Plano; net – Frabill; fishing knife – Rapala
Coyote stories sought
Second request, please. I have heard a lot of stories about encounters between Northern Illinois residents and those dastardly critters, the coyotes. I’d like to read your stories about your ’yote encounters for a future column. If you, your family or your pets have had close calls, please send me the tales at email@example.com.
Fishing license year
Anglers are reminded that Illinois’ new fishing license year begins April 1. Illinois fishing,hunting and sportsman’s combination licenses for 2013 are available from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR website www.dnr.illinois.gov/online/Pages/default.aspx or by calling 1-888-6PERMIT(1-888-673-7648). The 2013 licenses will be valid through March 31, 2014, unless otherwise noted. When buying your 2013 Illinois hunting, fishing, or sportsman’s license, please consider adding a donation to the Illinois Conservation Foundation to support youth hunting and fishing programs. Your additional $5 donation to the ICF will help recruit the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Since 2008, those buying their hunting, fishing,and sportsman’s licenses have donated more than $435,000 to support youth hunting and fishing programs by adding a donation to the ICF. Please join them. The ICF is an IRS-registered 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation and all funds are held in private accounts.
Ultimate fishing towns
TV’s World Fishing Network is presenting the 2013 version of its contest to fine the North America’s Ultimate Fishing Towns. This is an opportunity for one town in both the United States and Canada to win a $25,000 community donation to be used toward fishing-related causes along with an awareness and tourism boost with a special feature produced by and aired on WFN. In the United States and Canada, 766 towns were nominated in 2012, with at least one in every Canadianprovince and U.S. state. The nomination process runs through April 15. People can nominate their town or favorite fishing destination at www.UltimateFishingTown.com. If a town has already been nominated, participants are encouraged to add additional comments, photos and videos to the town’s wall. Fox Lake? Antioch? Waukegan? Come on, folks! Let’s get out the vote.
“Duck Dynasty” visits Kimmel
Can’t we all just get along? Recently, the vocalist Morrissey from a band called the Smiths, canceled an appearance on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” program at the last minute. His stated reason was that the cast of the popular “Duck Dynasty” show was also going to be on the same program. He said he couldn’t tak ethe risk of being seen with “animal serial killers.” Thankfully, Kimmel went through with the appearance of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family’s appearance.They even put together a skit poking fun at Morrissey.