Railroad Trespass Hearings by Greg Koelker

Thank you, Greg Koelker for detailed report on Mississippi River Railroad Trespass Hearings. This is a significant issue for all of us along the Upper Mississippi River. If folks are not allowed to cross the railroad tracks. the trains which rattle our countryside constantly will also become a FENCE to separate us from the recreational resources we ALL love most about the river. It is worth paying attention to the discussions. ~Pat

Railroad Trespass Hearings  by Greg Koelker

Some 200 hunters, fishermen, trappers, birders, snowmobilers, business owners, community leaders, government employees and other concerned Mississippi River recreation enthusiasts showed up to be heard by State Senator Jennifer Shilling, Tim Yager from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Railroad Commissioner of Wisconsin, Yash Wadhwa at the De Soto Community Center and Stoddard Legion on April 22.

After introductions, Tim Yager informed the group that there has been investigation into 17 to 18 additional rail crossings along the Mississippi with good line of sight.  He added that these could cost between $15,000 and $250,000 each. He said that the position of the USFW is that they want safe and adequate access to the over 240,000 acres of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge.  The river is bordered by railroad tracks on both shores.

Dan Knapek of De Soto asked what percent of the railroad’s profit would it take to create the needed rail crossings.  Commissioner Wadwa said there were already 26 possible crossings being investigated.  They are looking to define all options and look into shared cost.

Long time member of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Bill Howe of Prairie du Chien said, “The railroad’s desire to limit access entirely impacts the entire rail system in this country.”  Howe called the railroad’s position, “…a great threat.”  He added that 15 to 20% of railroads are not on their own lands.

Dan Trawicke of Waukesha, representing the Safari Club, said, “This is not just a Western Wisconsin problem.”  He said that safety is a number one concern, but he added that it takes common sense.  “Additional crossings are not the answer,” said Trawicke, “we have a constitutional right” to access those lands.

Greg Koelker of Stoddard said, “Safely crossing a railroad track is no different that safely crossing a highway.  Look both ways and listen.  Then cross if it is safe.  Every first grader knows that.”  He added, “. . .  no amount of legislation will change the minds of suicidal people, drunks, idiots trying to beat a train, protesters of whatever, and especially not terrorists.”  Koelker brought up the long tradition of using the tracks to access the river. “I grew up near Cassville and my dad and I would walk the tracks to access ice fishing sports on Bertram Lake. For years, our family members crossed the tracks to trap and hunt ducks and deer and even morel mushrooms.  I used to cross the tracks at Shady Maple to ice fish with my family.  I have friends who cross the tracks to hunt ducks out on peninsulas along the river. There is no other way to get to those waters for much of the year.”  Koelker said he hears from legitimate sources that at least 50% of our legislators already support the change.  He added that, “I understand that the Railroad Commissioner has the power to order placement of railroad crossings.  I urge you to consider directing more pedestrian railroad crossings and to support changing the trespass law to allow direct crossing of the tracks.”

Click this link to continue reading Greg’s report.

Help Needed…Mississippi Valley Conservancy Bird Survey

Birders! Mississippi Valley Conservancy needs your HELP! We are seeking volunteers to look and listen for birds to help determine presence or absence of declining bird species on different sites throughout southwest Wisconsin. Volunteers essentially would go to a Nice Vertical Hummersite in early morning and make a list of any birds seen and/or heard. Sites vary between MVC nature preserves or private lands MVC is working to protect. These bird lists provide invaluable information will help to guide our restoration activities and prioritize sites with breeding populations of declining birds. If interested, email Abbie Church, MVC Conservation Director at achurch@mississippivalleyconservancy.org with your preference for habitat (forest, wetland, grassland); geographical interest (La Crosse County, Monroe County, anywhere, etc) and availability. We’re hoping to schedule site visits throughout May. Sites include woodlands, grasslands, and pastures in Trempealeau, La Crosse, Jackson, Monroe, Crawford, and Vernon Counties.

Mississippi Valley Conservancy | PO Box 2611, 1309 Norplex Drive, Suite 9, La Crosse, WI 54601 | 608.784.3606 ext 2 | www.MississippiValleyConservancy.org

Fabulous Fishing Wanes with High Water

Some 2-3 weeks ago we were are out along the Mississippi and marveled at the number of fishing boats clustered below the dams. I’m starting to see pix that explain the boats! Apparently at this time, with higher water, the perch have cooled, So walleye and sauger are more common. But it sure IS tantalizing!! For updates on fishing, please check our fishing category or the Genoa fishing barge. Photos courtesy Mark Clements.

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perchstringer
familyfishing 

 

Birding POPS at Brownsville, MN

My favorite birder and bird photographer has posted his report on Pool 8, below. According to Alan this is the time to see Tundra swans up close at the wayside south of Brownsville! Lots of ducks, Hawks, eagles, and Pelicans. Check in south of Goose Island on Wisconsin’s Hyw 35 for more of the same!

tundra swans
Greetings!

Things are finally picking up a bit on Pool 8 of the Mississippi with Tundra Swans now in close viewing distance from the Brownsville FWS Overlook. Of course, besides the swans there are plenty of other waterfowl to see as well as pelicans, eagles and other raptors.

My suggestion is that if you are thinking about going to Brownsville, this is the weekend to do it. Next week looks rainy (Mon-Wed) and then look out… It looks like our first taste of winter will be on our doorstep Thu/Fri and into next week. Looking at the computer models, they are consistently showing sharply colder temps and some of the models are showing measurable snow. The cold snap looks to last 5 days or so before moderation once again. Will it be enough to freeze up the river? Could be… or maybe not. If so, say good-bye to the show at Brownsville.

Alan Stankevitz

i wishicouldfly.com

Fall Color Peaks

Backwater and bluff, fall cover idea Pat's best on Walts bestPerfectly gorgeous Fall weather…with day-time highs in the lows 60s… should continue for another week and a half into October. Get out and enjoy! Color will make a steady march south for the next several weeks. Hardwoods (hickories, maples, and finally, oaks) have begun to illuminate the bluffs! Red, and sugar maples (yellow), love the southeast facing slopes near Lansing and Mc Gregor, Iowa.

Check out the march of color in the next post. Call hotlines ahead or check online for best color in the 10 Mississippi River states!

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A few bright yellow aspens and birch still have their leaves, and hickories are sporting some orangish brown. The last leaves to drop are the oaks, so once the bluffs turn a rich uniform brown, we know the color season has nearly ended. Softwoods in the river bottoms are steadily losing leaves that never become really brilliant.

Additionally, Hummers are gone, and Sandhill cranes departed our valley. Pelicans have gathered up along the river and look like heavy clumps of pure white snow. Egrets and Great Blue Herons are still on the backwaters. Duck hunting is in full swing and adult American Bald Eagles are abundant! Color is great, but lots more to see along your route!

Monarch Butterflies Migrate Along the Mississippi River…Destination, Mexico!

Bellevue State Park Butterfly Sanctuary

Bellevue State Park, near Bellevue, Iowa, just south of Dubuque, is located atop a 300-foot high limestone bluff with panoramic views of the Mississippi River valley and Lock & Dam 12. It also shelters the largest Butterfly Garden in Iowa.

The Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies contains over 100 separate plots, each featuring plants which provide nectar for adult butterflies and/or host plants for caterpillars. Pathways allow visitors to enjoy the wide variety of butterflies and flowers. An area has been established next to the garden to allow close-up viewing of the butterflies.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, butterflies found in Iowa are either in the process of migration or are completing one of the various stages of their life cycle. Approximately 60 species of butterfly can be expected to make their appearance at the Butterfly Garden each year. Host plants for butterflies include wild aster, ragweed, goldenrod, lamb’s-quarters, daisy fleabane, milkweed, cottonwoods, wild cherry, hackberry and willows.

ALMANAC, August 3,  MONARCHS IN THE CEDAR TREE
c Pat Middleton. May not be reproduced or used in any format without permission.

beautiful monarch cluster DAVE COLLINS IMAGE

beautiful monarch cluster DAVE COLLINS IMAGE

The gentle shift to fall is palpable around us. The sun sets southward, over the neighbor’s pathway, rather than behind the northern bluffs. Geese fly from cornfield to cornfield in great flocks. 64 degrees today, 40 tonight. We gather firewood.

For the second year in a row, a swarm of Monarch butterflies have set up camp in the old cedar in the side yard. They hang motionless from the branches–like dull brown seed pods–until a late-comer flutters by. Then all gently beat their orange-colorful “hello” and “where’ve you been” until the traveler, too, is accommodated comfortably to its own berth for the night.

September 6, 2015  Each night this week we have had a single Monarch roost in the old Cedar tree and we remember how we once saw 100s. It takes our nightly guest a long time to settle in… perhaps it too “remembers” that there should have been more of his fellows here…

Along the Mississippi by Ruth Nissen, Wisconsin DNR

Monarchs Ready to Head South

About this time of year we begin to notice more monarch butterflies fluttering in the wind and congregating (or staging) in areas where bountiful supplies of nectar are available.

But what isn’t readily apparent is that those butterflies are moving with a purpose and direction. Every year, in late summer and early fall, millions of monarch butterflies from the Eastern United States and Southern Canada find their way to Central America. This is a journey of more than 2,000 miles from the Upper Mississippi River.

The monarchs are heading to the Transvolcanic Mountain Range, located west of Mexico City, to spend the winter. They gather there in huge colonies of tens of millions of butterflies, literally hanging from fir trees in clusters so thick they look like bundles of dead leaves.

The butterflies arrive in November and remain largely inactive until undertaking the return trip north in mid-March. How they find their way is a mystery because the monarchs that leave Mexico in spring are at least three generations removed from those that will make the journey back in the fall.

Monarchs leaving the wintering areas migrate 800 miles to the Southern United States, where they lay their eggs. The next generation on monarchs continues the northward migration to the upper United States and Canada. This continued movement north is necessary because southern milkweed plants die out in June. Two to three more generations are produced during the summer before the monarchs begin to flutter their way back to Mexico.

About 12 wintering sites have been identified in this mountain range of central Mexico. The monarchs are attracted to the high altitude fir forest of these sites because the combination of temperature, humidity, and wind velocity create the conditions essential to their survival. The canopy of the fir trees also protects them from large temperature fluctuations and winter storms.

Unfortunately, monarch experts say bad weather is not the greatest threat to the butterflies. As is the case in other forested areas, habitat destruction by humans is a much more serious concern. A monarch reserve has been created by the Mexican Government, but the reserve on includes five of the known wintering sites. In addition, logging pressure is heavy on 75% of the reserve area. Logging affects the microclimate to such an extent that either the monarchs may not use the site, or if they do, their survival over the winter is dramatically impacted.

In order to insure that the phenomenon of migration doesn’t disappear, it is very important that humans find some way to work together to preserve the livelihood of the local people in the wintering sites, which in turn would lower the economic pressure on the monarch reserve.

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Along the Mississippi is an ongoing series related to the Mississippi River. Articles are prepared by officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and comments can be directed to the DNR office in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

 

Sandwich Islands, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, West Indies1878

DESTINATION MEXICO!!

    We’ve recently added this section for those who wish to follow the Monarchs to Mexico. The most visited sanctuary is El Rosario, and the best place to base yourself is the town of Angangueo, an old mining town. Seeing the butterflies, so thick that they sometimes BREAK tree branches (!) will require hikes of up to three hours, though it is not a strenuous hike. It is recommended that visitors hire a local guide or travel with a guided tour group.

If you travel independently:
If you approach from Brownsville, the first important city you will reach will be Ciudad Victoria, capital city of the state of Tamaulipas. By continuing on south you will cross the Tropic of Cancer at Jaumave, and at every mile you will notice more and more butterflies which often take the attention of even the disinterested tourist. At CiudadMante you will be at the very foot of the Sierra Madre Oriental range. Just south of Ciudad Mante the highway divides — one route goes to Tampico on the coast; the other veers southwest into the mountains towards Mexico City. Be sure to choose the latter route for best butterfly viewing. This route takes you to Nuevo Morelos and CiudadValles, and there is good butterfly viewing all the way from here down to Tamasunchale.

Our guided tour itinerary will give readers and idea what to expect from a journey. Looking for a good organization to travel with? Search the Internet and also have a look here.  Natural Habitat World Wide Tours offers tours (you guessed it!) world wide.

Rosario / Angangueo
From Mexico City, travel through the central highlands to the picturesque mountain village of Angangueo. The nearby Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary offers your first encounter with the king of the butterflies. The path is groomed, but sometimes fairly steep, trail with convenient benches for occasional rests. At the epicenter of millions of monarchs cover the tall oyamel and fir trees! Mexico’s sanctuaries may be the only places in the world where you can actually hear butterflies’ wings beating. Many Mexicans still hold the Aztec belief that the souls of the dead are reborn as monarchs.

Chincua / Angangueo
The Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary offers a second memorable experience with the monarchs. For those who choose, horses are available for this excursion. As Carlos Gottfried, president of Mexico’s Monarca A.C., says, “When you stand in a monarch sanctuary, your soul is shaken and your life is changed.” In Chincua, we ride our horses most of the way then walk down into the area of high butterfly density.

Piedra Herrada Sanctuary / Toluca / Mexico City
Relax in luxury at the luxurious Hotel Avandaro Spa & Resort in Valle de Bravo. A visit to the Piedra Herrada Sanctuary is the newest spot opened for viewing the monarchs. Once again, horses take us most of the way and we then walk, often through thick vegetation, to the spot where the butterflies are located. This area is “wilder” than the other two sanctuaries and often provides a more remote nature experience. During your return trip to Mexico City, stop in Toluca, originally an Indian settlement dating back to the 13th century.

 

Information: The El Rosario Sanctuary is accessible from either Angangueo or Ocampo. Angangueo is approximately 115 kilometers from Morelia and 205 kilometers from Mexico City.

When to Go: August through October

Discover the Historic Mississippi River Ribbon Map

Ribbon Map of the entire Mississippi,
including Lake Glazier, MN.  1887
Drawn by Willard Glazier

This ribbon map was drawn by Captain Willard Glazier to “prove” his premise that the True Source of the Mississippi was Lake Glazier rather than Lake Itasca. Many modern-day towns are included in this survey, including Point Coupee in Louisiana. Many towns noted on the map…such as Waterproof… no longer exist!

 

“Mississippi
River Ribbon Maps”

from an article by Bob Mullen, for The Paddlewheel newsletter. 

Imagine a map of the Mississippi River that shows all of the cities and towns along the river and all the landings where a steamboat might stop. Make the map about three inches wide and in one continuous strip showing the entire river from the Gulf of Mexico to its source at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. If you imagined correctly, you would have a map that is about eleven feet in length, like a long streamer or ribbon. Now roll up the map to a couple of inches in diameter and put into a cylindrical container that can easily fit into your pocket!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE 1887 RIBBON MAP

Such maps do exist. In 1866, Myron Coloney and Sidney B. Fairchild patented and published a map like this in St. Louis. In 1887, explorer Willard Glazier produced another ribbon map that included a lake he called Lake Willard, which he believed was the TRUE source of the Mississippi River. The 1866 map was sold commercially in St. Louis and along the river for a number of years. The maps were housed in a wooden cylinder with a rounded wooden cap at each end. On the side, a slot was cut where the map could be pulled out to give people a way to grasp it when pulling the map from its case. The patent granted the inventors was for  “the idea or design ofmaps upon strips of any material,” as stated on the map itself. Glazier’s 1877 map was folded and printed with the guide to his canoe trip from Lake Willard in Minnesota to the Gulf. It includes most of the river villages we know today, as well as many which have since been washed away by Mississippi River flooding.

These maps both show considerable detail, but could never be used by a steamboat pilot for serious navigation. The river was much to complicated with islands, tricky bends, wing dams, and other obstacles to fit on a map like this. The ribbon map must have been made for the tourist or other traveler on the river who had enough expendable money to pay for such a souvenir. While the boat’s pilot had a detailed map to follow (often only in his memory), these ribbon maps served the traveler with a way to keep track of the boat’s progress on a long trip. It even pointed out a few points of interest. A notice in the July 10, 1866 Missouri Republican stated, “To the traveler, it will be an exciting guide and companion, and will furnish him with more information at a glance than he can secure from a constant questioning of the officers of the boat… to say nothing of avoiding a short answer from, or an immensity of annoyance to, these monarchs of our Mississippi River palaces.”

Only a handful of original ribbon maps exist today, scattered in museums across the country. The Smithsonian has one and the Missouri Historical Society of Missouri owns three Mississippi River ribbon maps. Each of these is extremely fragile and can no longer be handled. One of the maps at MHS is about eight inches wide, and has all the detail a riverboat pilot would need. Housed in a larger wooden box with a glass window, the map winds from a roll on one side of the window to a box on the other side of the window. The map in the window only shows an area some 30-40 miles… new scrolls could be set in place as the pilot traveled the length of the river.

In the 140 years since the first ribbon map appeared, nearly every one has disappeared. The Willard Glazier Reproduction here on www.greatriver.com is the only ribbon map we know of that is still available for sale to the public. Each map is either hand-stained to a sepia tone and parchment feel or is exquisitely hand-painted for framing.

Click here to see ALL of our beautiful antique Mississippi River maps online. Email or phone 888-255-7726 for more information!!

5×7″ notecards with portions of the painted maps are available for $4.95 each. Call for information or to request a certain map portion that is meaningful to you.

Please click here to visit our online Shopping Cart, or Phone 888-255-7726 to Order.
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