Salmon Unlimited Wisconsin has worked closely with the state Department of Natural Resources for more than 20 years to support and enhance the region’s world class Lake Michigan salmon and trout fishery.
A recent $2,500 gift to the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery marks the latest chapter in the Racine nonprofit group’s efforts to ensure the next generation of anglers will be able to pursue the prized coho and chinook salmon reared at the hatchery. The donation will help fund feeders, replacement motors and scales needed for the hatchery’s rearing tanks, raceways and ponds.
“We’re extremely grateful for this gift and for the long-term commitment demonstrated by Salmon Unlimited Wisconsin,” said Randal Larson, the hatchery’s fish propagation supervisor. “The group’s continued support, including volunteer participation and direct charitable giving, really boosts our efforts to ensure opportunities for anglers now and in the future.”
Salmon Unlimited treasurer Allen Scheef said his group asked the hatchery for a wish list of items needed to improve salmon rearing and identified the need for replacement motors in early rearing automatic feeders; hanging feeders for coho ponds; and different scales for accurately inventorying small fish and transferring larger fish.
Previously, Salmon Unlimited has undertaken multi-year fundraising efforts to help pay for significant renovation and construction projects, including $150,000 to support construction of the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine. The weir, built in 1992-93, is used to collect steelhead trout eggs as well as eggs from coho and chinook salmon. Additional support has been provided to the Kettle Moraine Springs Hatchery.
“We’re a bunch of people who enjoy fishing and if we want things to keep going, the fishery needs a helping hand here and there,” Scheef said. “We know it’s a lot of hard work to run these facilities and when we help out, it benefits everyone. We make gifts large and small.”
Larson said the Salmon Unlimited group’s philanthropic focus also has boosted the fishery in other important ways. Through its roughly 200 members, the club has established an endowment to fund scholarships at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for students interested in fisheries management careers. Six of the DNR’s current fisheries team members benefited from Salmon Unlimited scholarships at UWSP.
Scheef said the club’s annual scholarship support generally totals from $3,000 to $7,000 per year, depending on the performance of the endowment.
The scholarship money has proven an important factor in helping motivated students pursue their passion academically, Larson said.
“The more you learn about fishing, the more you realize the resource is not the wild west of years ago,” Scheef said. “There are a lot of things out there that can destroy what we enjoy. We depend on the DNR and knowledgeable staff members to keep important programs going.”