News: Spencer - McMillan Marsh (Wildlife Area - 1974)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Berkhahn, Jonas

----Source: Tribune Record Gleaner (Loyal, Clark Co., WI) 5/2/1974

McMillan Marsh (Wildlife Area - 1974)

Mingling with Mary

With the summer season just around the corner, many people will get in their cars and travel to all parts of the country to see different cultures and beautiful scenery. Some will travel to California, others to Washington, D.C., and others to Texas. But, within Marathon County many people will not travel will have the advantage to see pretty scenes and relax by taking a quiet walk and view different wildlife at McMillan Marsh Wildlife Area.

John Berkhahn of Mosinee, and manager of Mead Wild Life Area Work Unit, and Larry Jonas, Spencer, natural resource assistant, enjoy working in the area trying to improve the natural wildlife and scenery that is found in the present 5,642 acres, located east of Spencer.

Began in 1958 as a state project, McMillan Marsh is made up of 4,030 acres of state owned land, and 1,642 acres of county owned land. Plans in the future are the adding of 400-500 acres, according to Berkhahn. Within the marsh, 500 acres are under the share-cropping program in which five farmers are involved. All the hay and oats are kept by farmers with most of the corn remaining standing for the purpose of feeding the seasonal animals.

Five flowages, making up 1,800 acres, may be enjoyed by walking eight miles of roads and dikes which have been constructed by the Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with Marathon County. It was also stated by Berkhahn that some small “farm” type pools maybe built in the future. Also, in the future, is a snowmobile trail covering approximately 35 miles, beginning in McMillan Marsh, and ending at Dancy.

As for wildlife in the area, Berkhahn pointed out that Mallards, wood duck, and Bluewing Teal ae the most common ducks in the area with a large variety of ruffled grouse, squirrels, pheasant, and deer also in the area. An unusual type of bird that makes its home in the marshland is the Sand Hill Crane, Coon, and Muskrat are also found in the area.

According to Berkhahn, the area gives people the ability to “go and walk, and hunt in an area where no motor vehicles are allowed and enjoy the peacefulness that is provided.” Berkhahn also pointed out that birdwatching is one of the favorite hobbies that one can enjoy while in the McMillan area.

An area of 920 acres has been set aside as a place for waterfowl to nest and this area is closed to all game hunting except for deer season, according to Berkhahn.

Pointing out the advantages in the McMillan Marsh and the recreational facilities that one can enjoy in the area, it was also noted by Berkhahn, and Jonas that the worst problem in the area is dogs. According to the men, dogs killed an estimated 40 deer during one recent winter. However, that year saw worse than normal snow, and crust conditions. This past year the loss of deer to dogs was very minor. Dogs running loose in the area can cause a serious drain on a deer herd, especially when the snow is deep and crusty.

Another problem that was pointed out was the illegal driving of motorbikes on the roads. “Too many motorbikes are on the trails and create noise disturbing the wildlife, and water fowl.” Another problem that can be noticed in the area is littering, and vandalism, something that does not add but distracts from the natural beauty of McMillan Marsh.




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