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Local View: Today in Wisconsin: Cherish those places where you hunt, fish, hike, bike

The warm wind is blowing hard today, and the ice is grinding the lake shore and crumbling into piles of broken crystals. Open water on Shell Lake is my personal guarantee that spring is really here to stay, and it gets me excited for the new season of outdoor adventures.

Later today, when I renew my hunting and fishing (patron) license, I will donate to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund.

Hunting, fishing, sports and conservation patron licenses have just expired and for the next few months, hunters and anglers who are renewing their licenses, like me, have a unique opportunity to help protect the places they most enjoy for hunting or fishing. When you buy your next hunting or fishing license in Wisconsin, you will be asked to donate $2 to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund. I hope your answer will be yes.

The Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund helps pay for critical habitat management throughout the state. Acquiring public land rights is an important first step in protecting critical natural resource areas; but making sure those lands and waters stay healthy and accessible requires careful management, such as controlled burns, invasive species control, trail maintenance and biodiversity projects.

The Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund is managed by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin to support land management of your favorite outdoor places.

No matter what kind of outdoors enthusiast you are — a hiker, biker, hunter, angler, kayaker, birder, ATV rider or skier — Wisconsin provides endless opportunities for each of us to connect with nature in a profound way. The highlights of my past year centered on the outdoors: waterfowl hunting and birding at Crex Meadows, biking the Stower Seven Lakes Trail, fishing Shell Lake and nearby trout streams and paddling the Totogatic River, just to name a few. These outdoor experiences are precious memories for me and my family and friends, and I want to protect and share those opportunities with others for generations to come.

I know hunters and anglers are by nature generous.  In 2014, the Cherish Fund’s first year, more than 25,000 license buyers gave to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund when they were asked to give $2 during license sales.  These are individuals proud of what this state offers, proud of what may be a family tradition of enjoying time together outdoors and proud to protect what they cherish.

This spring I encourage outdoors enthusiasts of all types to follow suit, either by giving to the fund through DNR license sales or by making a donation directly to the fund at cherishwisconsin.org.

I look forward to more quality time at Crex Meadows, Shell Lake and the Totogatic River, and I hope you will join others in Wisconsin in protecting the public lands you cherish.

Bill Smith of Shell Lake, Wis., is retired after 34 years with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He serves on the board of directors for the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

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