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Annual spring conservation hearings April 8 in Hammond

Wisconsin residents will be able to nominate and elect local representatives to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and express support or non-support for a range of advisory questions on conservation and natural resources management issues at the Congress' spring meetings held in every county of the state on Monday, April 8, starting at 7 p.m.

The county meeting is held jointly with the Department of Natural Resources Spring Hearings. For those unfamiliar with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, it is a statutorily established advisory group to the state Natural Resources Board (NRB) on all natural resource issues.

"In St. Croix County, the joint DNR and Conservation Congress annual county meeting will be held at the St. Croix Central High School Commons, in Hammond," said Dave Larson, chair of the St. Croix County delegation.

At the meetings, citizens will have the opportunity to comment and register their support or non-support for congress proposals that could someday become the rules that regulate fishing, hunting, trapping and other outdoor recreation activities in Wisconsin. They may also submit resolutions addressing conservation needs or concerns they observe.

"Citizens have the opportunity to weigh in on natural resources issues that may affect them. The Congress asks these questions to gauge the public's support, or lack thereof, on any given issue," Larson said.

Results of the public's input on these proposals will be presented to the Natural Resources Board in May 2013. If there is significant support for a proposal, the advisory question could become a DNR rule change proposal in following years.

This year the Conservation Congress will seek public input on 31 advisory questions on a range of topics, some of which include:

  • a proposal to eliminate backtag requirements for deer and bear hunting;
  • a proposal to expand the definition of artificial lights allowed for predator hunting;
  • a proposal for a statewide bobcat season;
  • a proposal to revise the waterfowl concealment rule;
  • proposals to eliminate some stamp requirements for youth;
  • a proposal to require registration of non-motorized boats;
  • a proposal to end the December antlerless deer season.

    "Conservation Congress advisory questions generally originate from citizens' ideas," said Rob Bohmann, Chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. "If resolutions presented at the county level meetings are supported, the resolution is advanced to one of the Congress' study committees and the Congress Executive Council for consideration.

    "Each year, there are over 200 resolutions submitted locally. Not all pass, but the ones that do have the potential to become a rule, policy or legislative change in the subsequent years," Bohmann said. "It is a true grassroots process that empowers the citizens of this state to shape natural resources policy."

    Anyone submitting resolutions must submit two copies of their resolution typed or neatly printed on 8-1/2 by 11 inch white paper.

    In addition to the Congress advisory questions, the county meeting is also reserved for the election of delegates to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. To vote for Congress delegates, one must be 18 years old and provide identification along with proof of residency in the county.

    "There will be two seats up for election, in St. Croix County in 2013," Larson said. "Any citizen of the county, who is a Wisconsin resident and is at least 18 years of age may be nominated to the Congress for a two or three year term. Nominees must be willing to volunteer their time and represent their local citizens on natural resource issues."

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