Showing posts with label recreation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recreation. Show all posts

Monday, July 29, 2019

Follow the Rules on Golf Carts, County Sheriff’s Office Warns

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the citizens of Hennepin of a few of the rules concerning the operation of golf carts and UTVs within the village.

There have been several complaints recently concerning the number of passengers a golf cart can transport. A golf cart may carry only the number of passengers for which it was designed.

It should also be noted that only a licensed driver, 16 years of age or older, may operate such golf cart vehicles.

Any violations may result in the owner being fined.

Source: Putnam County Record


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hennepin Park District Will Host Free Pickleball 101 Workshops

The Hennepin Park District will soon host free Pickleball 101 workshops that will cover the basics of the game, the rules, player safety, apparel, hydration and equipment needs. After an orientation, there will be time for playing the game. There will be two sessions, one for adults and one for children.

There is a maximum number of 12 people per workshop. If demand is high enough, more workshops will be scheduled. The adult workshop will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 6. The children’s workshop will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 8. Paddles, balls and water will be provided. Court shoes must be worn; absolutely no flip-flops or sandals will be allowed.

To register or for more information, contact the Hennepin Park District at 815-925-7319 or by email to

Source: Putnam County Record


Marshall-Putnam Fair Will Kick off 98th Fair with Tradition

The 98th annual Marshall-Putnam Fair with kick off on Wednesday, July 10, with the longest running grandstand event.

Marshall-Putnam Fair harness racing dates all the way back to 1921 when the first fair was held. Keeping with this tradition, the 2019 “Jurassic-A-Fair” will also be offering harness racing beginning at 5 p.m. in front of the grandstand. Those interested may participate in “Pick-A-Winner.” If they pick the winning horse, they just might win a prize ranging from Fairbucks to a chicken dinner compliments of Kenyon’s Place.

Individuals should get to the fairgrounds earlier so they can challenge their stacking skills by building the tallest tower of cookies. This fun contest begins at 4 p.m. in the Commercial Building. Cookie stacking is open to fair go-ers of all ages, children to adults. After testing their stacking skills, fair goers can stop by the Activity Building to enjoy the annual kickoff dinner, with serving from 5 to 7 p.m. Dinner will be a choice of a ribeye or pork chop sandwich, served with homegrown Illinois sweet corn, green beans, applesauce and peaches.

Top off the evening by visiting the wine tasting held in the Hunt Building beginning at 5:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., the ever-popular decorated hat contest will get underway. Cody Calkins will be providing music for this event from 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, July 11, is T-Rex Thursday at the Marshall-Putnam Fair. The morning is dedicated to the senior members of communities as the Honorable Scott Shore and Judge Mike McCusky host the senior citizens’ program with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the program from 9 to 11 a.m. This program offers fun and entertainment, including music by the Torpedo Boys.

Youngsters can have a roaring good time at Family Fun Night beginning at 4 p.m. Some of the many activities will include face painting, Balloon Artist Allan Adcock, carnival games, inflatables and train rides. There will also be raffle prizes and a 50/50. The Upper Limits rock climbing wall will be there from 1 to 8 p.m. All activities at Family Fun Night are free.

New to the fair this year is the country concert. The Marshall-Putnam Fair is excited to offer the Dylan Schneider Concert with opener, Austin Burke. General admission tickets are available online by following the link on the fair website. There are still VIP tickets available as well. Schneider and Burke are both up and rising country stars straight out of Nashville.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the fair’s website at

Source: Putnam County Record


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Putnam County Baseball/Softball Registration Open

Putnam County baseball and softball registration is now open!

Please view the following PDFs for more information.

Summer Baseball/Softball Flyer

Player Registration Form

Medical Release Form


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hennepin Continues Work Toward Wetlands Bridge

Hennepin’s plans to connect the village to the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge with a bridge is getting closer to fruition.

Wednesday night, Ken Giordano, president of Illinois Valley Surveying and Consultants, gave the village’s board an update on the project.

Stanley Consultants informed Giordano that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources needs $2,690 to finish its review for the project.

The possibility of a walking/bicycling bridge to the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge has been discussed for a couple years between Hennepin Village President Kevin Coleman and Paul Botts, president and executive director of The Wetlands Initiative, the nonprofit corporation overseeing the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

About a year ago, the village board approved a motion to allow the village to work with Illinois Valley Surveying and Consultants to get the project going.

The bridge is planned to go over Coffee Creek from Third Street to the refuge south of Hennepin.

“We don’t want to start design until we get all the permits signed off on,” Giordano said on Wednesday night.

The village needs the IDNR to sign off on the project before Environmental Protection Agency signs off, he said.

The fees are well within the budget for the project, Giordano said.

The board approved the payment to continue the project.

Source: News Tribune


Monday, November 12, 2018

Merkel, Smith Finish Second in Illinois Walleye Trail Tourney

Bob Hausler of Plano and fishing teammate Chris Clemmons of Aurora edged out Gary Merkel of Arlington and his fishing buddy John Smith for the 2018 title in the five-tournament Illinois Walleye Trail series.

Both teams finished near the top in each of the four qualifiers, including Saturday’s Hennepin Marine tournament and Sunday’s championship meet, both at Hennepin.

However, Hausler and Clemmons took first place in Saturday’s event. With the points tight on Sunday, Hausler’s team brought in 8.28 pounds of fish, and Merkel and Smith had a 7.27-pound total.

Adrian Cliffe and Brent Nix of the Quad Cities took first place and earned big-fish honors Sunday. It was their second win, as they also took first place and weighed the biggest fish on Oct. 21 at Barto Landing in Spring Valley.

Dave Puetz and Jason Thies took second on Sunday and Keith McAlpine and Tom Wagner secured the third spot, said tournament director Adam Sandor.

Cliffe and Nix won $1,550 for the event victory on Sunday and their 10.15-pound basket, plus $825 for the 4.54-pound fish. Puetz and Thies brought in a bag of fish weighing 9.84 pounds and McAlpine’s team had 9.78 pounds.

As Sunday was Veterans Day, IWT thanked veterans in the field for their service, including Bob Jones, David Hall, John Smith and David Gossar.

Source: News Tribune


Monday, August 6, 2018

BioBlitz Offers Hands-on Learning for Scientists and Public

Image credit: News Tribune
Kade Gensini visits the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge often, but he had never gotten to take part in the BioBlitz event until this weekend.

“I like to learn about wildlife,” the 11-year-old Hennepin resident said Saturday afternoon at the refuge just south of Hennepin. The refuge is owned and managed by the Wetlands Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring wetland resources of the Midwest.

This is the refuge’s second BioBlitz; the first was in 2015 when participants identified more than 675 species. During the free two-day event with scientists and volunteers surveying the 3,000-acre site for as many species as possible while sharing their findings and knowledge with the public.

The event attracted 40 experts (including their assistants) and 90 members of the public — 40 more than the previous BioBlitz. Illinois scientists volunteered their time, from organizations ranging from Illinois Natural History Survey to Prairie Engineers to Chicago Botanic Garden.

“Part of it was learning more about the biodiversity of the site,” said Vera Leopold, TWI grants manager and development associate. The event allows them to learn more about the species living at the refuge so the initiative can better protect them.

“The second goal was just to get people out to learn about the site and experience it,” she said.

The Friday-Saturday event featured activities for all ages, including an owl prowl, bat hike, educational stations with experts who talked about plants, birds, bats, insects, fungi and more. One outing included a three-hour canoe ride to find “whatever is out there,” such as plants, birds, frogs and more, said Gary Sullivan, senior ecologist with the initiative.

It’ll require some time before experts release what new species may be at the site, said Paul Botts, president and executive director of the initiative. There will definitely be another BioBlitz in the future, he said.
Want to help?

The initiative maintains the site with contributions from people and from grants, Leopold said.

To donate or to volunteer, call (312) 922-0777 or visit You can also send a check payable to The Wetlands Initiative to The Wetlands Initiative, 53 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1015 Chicago, IL 60604.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Remember to Register Your Golf Carts

Village President Kevin Coleman reminded the board that residents with new golf carts need to get registered, and carts with expired registrations need to get new registration with the village.

Registration costs $25 and is good for three years. Stop in to the village hall on Wednesday afternoons to register and bring proof of insurance.

To operate a golf cart or small utility vehicle, you must have a valid driver’s license.

The board decided the village will start using different colored stickers to show that registration was purchased on different years to help show when certain carts are expired.

Stairway to Hennepin

The village board approved work on the staircase leading to the river on Front Street in front of High Street. There are three staircases on Front Street, and all are in need of repair, Buffington said.

The board agreed to choose a wooden structure for the staircase in front of High Street, and the work will cost less than $20,000.

Work on the other two staircases has not been approved yet.

Source: News Tribune


Friday, June 15, 2018

4th of July Celebration

Hennepin is well prepared to celebrate its 42nd annual Fourth of July celebration “Thunder on the Illinois.”

Scheduled for Wednesday, July 4 in Hennepin, the event will have several family friendly activities, including the “Movin’ for Music” 5K run/walk that will be followed by a pancake and sausage breakfast sponsored by the Putnam County Music Boosters.

From noon to 4 p.m. will be the “Cruise-In” car show at Bassi Park. Other events will be a bags tournament, Bingo, a beer garden, inflatables, and water fights for children.

The Putnam County FFA will cook pork chops, and several other food vendors will also be in attendance. The Citizen of the Year will be presented at 4:15 p.m. on the courthouse stage, along with performances by the chorus and the Little Panteras.

“Bagshot Row,” a 1950s-’60s British Invasion band, will perform at 5 p.m., the golf cart parade will be at 6:45 p.m., and “Snap Shot” will perform from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

And the main event, fireworks over the river, will begin at 9:30 p.m. with the band resuming play from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Photo credit: Quentin Buffington

Please view the PDF below for the complete schedule of events.

Hennepin 4th of July Celebration


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

4th of July Cruise-In

Join us for the Annual Cruise-In during Hennepin's 4th of July Celebration! Please view the flyer PDF below for more details.

4th of July Cruise-In


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Illinois Cuts Back on Boating Regulations With June 1 Law Changes

Image credit: News Tribune
Every single one of the 140 canoes at Ayers Landing had a new water usage stamp placed on it at the beginning of the boating season.

But by June 1, the stamps will be useless.

Illinois has repealed the “Water Usage Stamp” required for all non-motorized watercraft (canoes, kayaks, etc.) effective at the start of next month.

The stickers cost $6 plus a 50 cent agent fee.

“We’d already bought (the stamps) before they told us we won’t need them,” said Bickett, who owns and operates Ayers Landing, a canoe rental spot on the Fox River near Wedron.

Bickett said the state still required the stickers before June 1 this year or boaters would be at risk of a ticket. But he said the law change would be more convenient in the future.

“It will save us money,” he said.

Along with the water usage stamp, Illinois has a few new changes to boating laws, which take effect in June.

More on usage stamps

At Debo Ace Hardware in Peru, sales of the water usage stamp have been very slow leading up to its final days of existence.

“We’ve sold a couple of them,” said Dana Debo-Kuhne. “It was never a very popular item to begin with.”

In 2016, Illinois sold about 58,000 of the stamps, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources latest annual boating report.

But if the stamp is no longer needed, what do kayakers or canoers have to do to get on the water?

The answer is nothing — unless they want to.

“It is recommended to register your boat, just in case something were to happen,” said IDNR spokesman Ed Cross.

He said registering a kayak or canoe with the state shows proof that the craft is yours, which can be helpful in the case of loss, theft or accidents. However, it is not a requirement.

Nic Keegan, a partner with Hennepin Marine, said the lack of record keeping could end up problematic if a boat owner does need to be located by IDNR.

“Now we’ll have boats that have no ID other than the hull number,” he said.

That is why both Cross and Keegan recommended the registration process.

Cross said three year registration is $18, which would be a similar price to purchasing the water usage stamp each year.

The state made the change to the stamp provision because it had issues sticking to boats and fading in the sun, Cross said.

“We received a lot of complaints from folks about the stamp,” he said.

Jin Guo of Chicago stretches to get in his boat after launching at the Starved Rock ramp Tuesday morning.
No title necessary

If your boat is under 22 feet in length, you will no longer need proof that you own it.

One change affecting boaters of both motorized or self-propelled boats is they will no longer need a certificate of title if the watercraft is not more than 22 feet long.

“That does affect a lot of our boat owners,” Keegan said. “But we’re going to continue to title these boats. And we encourage all boat owners to do the same thing.”

Again, Keegan said the certificate of title is a good thing to have because it shows proof that you are the owner.

“And it’s a minimal cost,” he said, adding that is a $10 charge.

Longer expiration dates

The final change to the Illinois Boat Registration and Safety Act is the expiration date change for Illinois watercraft registrations. The date change is simply pushed back from June 30 to Sept. 30. For example, all watercraft owners who renew their three-year registrations that are expiring June 30 will have a valid registration until Sept. 30, 2021, according to IDNR.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Hennepin Park District Will Offer Red Cross Swimming Lessons

The Hennepin Park District is having three sessions of Red Cross Swimming Lessons this summer. Each session will be two weeks long. There will still be six levels of swimming abilities.

Level 1 is the beginning class, and participants must be 5 years old by Sept. 1 and be at least 42 inches tall in order to enroll. The morning sessions will run 40-minute classes, Monday through Friday. The night sessions will run 50-minute classes, Monday through Thursday. The sessions are as follows:

Session 1: June 11-22 — 9 to 9:40 a.m., 9:50 to 10:30 a.m., and 10:40 to 11:20 a.m.

Session 2: July 9-20 — 9 to 9:40 a.m., 9:50 to 10:30 a.m., and 10:40 to 11:20 a.m.

Session 3: July 23-Aug. 2 — 5 to 5:50 p.m., and 6 to 6:50 p.m.

The Hennepin Park District will also be offering preschool aquatics again this year. This class for children ages 3 to 5 will be held July 9-20 from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Space is limited. The cost for this class is free for Hennepin/Hennepin Township and $33 per child for all other areas.

Registration for these sessions will begin at noon Saturday, May 12. You must come in person to register at the Hennepin Pool. If you cannot come to register at this time, you will be able to register during normal pool hours up until each session begins. The cost for lessons is $33 per child, per session. Hennepin and Hennepin Township residents will be free for all sessions. Granville, Granville Township, Mark and McNabb town boards will pay the cost of one child for one session. Standard and Magnolia will pay $16.50 for one child for one session.

For more information, call the Hennepin Pool at 815-925-7319 or email

Source: Putnam County Record


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hennepin Bridge Project Has to Span Red Tape

The village of Hennepin was hoping to be able to cut the ribbon for a new bridge onto the Marquis Oak Ridge Trail by the Fourth of July holiday, but there’s a substantial amount of red tape to be cut through first.

The village has the support of the land owners involved in the project, which will begin at the end of Third Street and span Coffee Creek. It will allow hikers and cyclists onto the new 2.7-mile trail, and hikers will also be able to continue on into the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

Additionally, hikers and cyclists could use the trail as part of a loop traveling back toward the village on state Route 26 and onto Hennepin’s new bike path on High Street.

Although Village President Kevin Coleman has previously said the Durley-Boyle Charitable Trust was amenable to the idea of funding the project, the solicitation of donations is also likely. However, no firm estimation of costs for the pre-fabricated bridge project is known yet.

During the Feb. 21 Hennepin Village Board meeting, village engineer Bill Shafer received approval for $15,000 toward continuing the permit process, which has likely become more complicated than expected.

Along with the concept plan and preliminary surveying work, there will also need to be an initial archaeological survey, soil cores will need to be taken, and there will also be a 90-day review period that will include work with the Illinois EPA, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The archaeological survey isn’t expensive, but it takes time,” Shafer said.

There’s additional concern about impacting the habit of Indiana bats, an endangered species. Shafer said he’ll be contacting the Wetlands Initiative, the organization managing the refuge, to see whether any of their services could be used to help expedite the process.

“We’ll also need to determine that it won’t negatively impact the wetlands and we can’t do that until growing season, which will likely be April,” Shafer said.

“I know we were hoping to have it open by the Fourth of July, but that’s just not going to happen,” he added.

Board member Quentin Buffington said that the village had already approved $4,000 for the preliminary work and that with the additional $15,000 approved at the meeting, the costs were becoming a concern without a firm funding commitment from the Durley-Boyle Charitable Trust.

“I don’t think we want to be this financially deep into this project and then have the trust tell us it was more than they wanted to spend,” he said.

While no final costs are known, it was suggested it could easily approach $200,000, if not more.

Source: Putnam County Record


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hennepin Considers Biking Bridge to Dixon Waterfowl Refuge

Hennepin officials are considering the creation of a walking/biking bridge to the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

On Wednesday night, village president Kevin Coleman told the board about plans for the possibility of a bridge that would go over Coffee Creek from Third Street to the refuge south of Hennepin.

Coleman said he’s been discussing the idea for years with Paul Botts, president and executive director of The Wetlands Initiative, the nonprofit corporation overseeing the 3,000-acre Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

Bicycles would only be allowed on the Marquis Trail of the refuge, Coleman said.
Marquis Oak Ridge Trail in Hennepin open to public

The bridge would allow residents to bicycle or walk from the village to the refuge. The bridge still would be wide enough for emergency vehicles to get through. The board approved a motion to allow the village to work with Illinois Valley Surveying and Consultant, Hennepin.

The project wouldn’t be possible without Hennepin Marine Inc., Coleman said. The company owns the property where the bridge would be built, he said.

Coleman said he didn’t know the approximate cost of the bridge yet, and he said they’re working on where the funds will come from.

Source: News Tribune


Thousands of Waterfowl Highlight Area Christmas Bird Counts

Image credit: News Tribune
Thousands of waterfowl were counted in area Christmas Bird Counts this year before the Arctic blast hit Christmas Day, according to John McKee of the Starved Rock Audubon Society.

“Probably the most unusual waterfowl was at Hennepin Hopper Lakes. We counted 451 tundra swans. And we also had six trumpeter swans, which are becoming less unusual. They were at Swan Lake, which was appropriate,” McKee said.

The society held the Hennepin count Dec. 15, which includes Hennepin and Hopper lakes, and found 82 species, a record high for the 16 years of this count, McKee said. Volunteers counted 11,492 mallards, 4,852 Canada geese and 1,801 greater white-fronted geese.

“The Hennepin count gave us the most interesting stuff because it was still warm at that point and the weather hadn’t turned too bad yet,” McKee said.

Lingering late migrants included one eastern phoebe, four sandhill cranes, one gray catbird and one Harris’s sparrow, he said.

A week later, volunteers held the 49th annual count centered at Starved Rock State Park. Volunteers counted 11,607 common grackles, a species of blackbird.

“Probably the most unusual thing was a towhee. Six pelicans but pelicans have become pretty common. They were in backwaters of the canal over by La Salle. A nice flock of cedar waxwings, 25 of those,” McKee said.

The count on Jan. 1 at Illini State Park was a different story.

“The high temp that day was minus 6,” McKee said. “We had 53 species which is about average, maybe just a tad below average.”

The warm weather in the December counts produced scant numbers of horned larks. After the cold blast and snow, hundreds were tallied on the Illini count, McKee said.

At feeders, pine siskins were numerous.

“This has been a year of pine siskins, big time. We’ve had more than 100 at our feeders and have had for weeks,” said McKee of Ottawa. “There are hordes of them.”

The counts attracted about a dozen volunteers, which is about average, he said.

The National Audubon Society holds its Christmas Bird Counts Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 in the Americas. Within each count’s 15-mile diameter circle, volunteers tally numbers and species of birds they find in one day. Audubon and other organizations use the count data to assess bird populations and to guide conservation.

Last year, there were 2,536 counts held in Canada, the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Marquis Oak Ridge Trail in Hennepin Open to Public

Image credit: Wetlands Initiative
After investing $100,000 for a new trail south of Hennepin more than a year ago, Marquis Energy hopes to get the word out so more people start using the trail.

The Marquis Oak Ridge Trail is located at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin and Hopper Lakes and was completed about a year ago, said Danielle Anderson, executive assistant/director of public relations and political affairs for Marquis Energy.

She said the 2.7-mile trail is made for hiking, running and bicycling.

The company is excited the trail allows people to enjoy Hennepin’s natural environment all year round.

The Dixon Waterfowl Refuge’s website states the trail can be accessed from Route 26 and turning west onto the levee south of the Coffee Creek bridge. There’s a lot to park along the levee.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dixon Waterfowl Refuge Thrives With Help of Volunteers

Photo credit: Dave Cook
As farmers worked this past weekend to bring in their harvest and gardeners prepared their flower beds for next spring, there was another harvest occurring at the The Wetland Initiative’s Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

Native seeds have been harvested at the 3,000-acre refuge since the restoration began in 2001 and the public was first invited to help in 2009. Each year since, the refuge has hosted a Fall Seed Harvest event.

“Both for staff and volunteers, the Fall Seed Harvest is one of the most popular and fun events of the year because it’s an easy and satisfying activity. It’s also beautiful to be walking through the prairie in autumn,” Vera Leopold of The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) said.

Before 2001, the land had been farmed and TWI began the area’s return to a natural habitat by disabling the drainage tiles. Within a few months the area filled with water supplied by rain, springs and natural seepage. As the landscape changed, native species began to return.

As the restoration progressed, they focused on nurturing the site’s native plants and stocking the lakes with fish. As the area recovered, some of the land was designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve.

Another sign of success occurred in 2004 when the Audubon Society designated the refuge as one of Illinois’ most important locations for birds. It also helped the Pied-billed Grebe population expand and it played an instrumental part in the species being removed from a threatened status.

Leopold said TWI targets approximately 15 species of native plants during the harvest, including prairie blazing star, compass plant, white wild indigo, pale purple coneflower, and oxeye daisy.

Some of the seeds are common plants which typically have ripe seeds at this time of year, but others are from rare species like the state-endangered royal catchfly, which has brilliant red flowers.

“The amount of seed collected from each species will vary depending on how well the plants did this year and how much of their seed has ripened. Timing is a really important factor in the harvest,” Leopold said.

Dozens of volunteers arrived at the site in the early morning of Oct. 7 and they had traveled from throughout the Illinois Valley to both appreciate the beauty of the refuge and to help restore a vital native habitat.

“I just love being out here at the wetlands and seeing all of the different species of ducks,” William Cattani of Ladd said. Cattani is currently studying wildlife habitat management at Southern Illinois University.

During the seed harvesting, a plant would be identified for the volunteers and then they moved through the area gathering the seeds into a bucket. TWI senior ecologist Gary Sullivan didn’t know how many seeds would be collected, but said it could be hundreds of pounds and that some of the seeds couldn’t be easily obtained anywhere else.

“We expect the seed collected by volunteers during the fall seed harvest will be able to cover roughly 200 acres. After the volunteer day, our site managers will clean the seed and sort it into mixes appropriate for each habitat,” Leopold said.

The seeds are planted where improvement is needed to strengthen the diversity or density of the plant community.

Since 2015, most of the seed collected has been spread at Hickory Hollow, the refuge’s newest parcel TWI is restoring to native prairie and savanna. The seeds have been a vital part of restoring the rare habitat which ranges from sand prairie and sand savanna to wet-mesic prairie.

“Having the volunteers’ help is valuable because buying native seed is expensive. During a typical harvest, a group of volunteers can collect up to $20,000 worth of seed. It allows us to collect a lot of seed from the natural ‘stock’ we have right here at the Dixon Refuge to improve habitats elsewhere on the site,” Leopold said.

In 2018, the Hickory Hollow area will open to the public and will feature trails through the entire range of restored habitats and will follow the same route as the Dixon Dash 5K which was held on Sept. 23. Hennepin & Hopper Lakes will also be open again for a summer public fishing season by permit in 2018.

Each species of native prairie plant which takes root at the refuge helps attract the insects relying on it.

“Every additional species we introduce provides more food for insects, which in turn provide food for other wildlife. A prairie that has a healthy diversity of plant species will also provide a home to a huge variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, bees, butterflies, and more,” Leopold said.

She added that most of the refuge is now covered in a high-quality habitat which has been of crucial help in attracting the 675 species of plants and animals tallied during TWI’s first 24-hour BioBlitz held in June 2015.

“We’ll be holding another BioBlitz in the summer of 2018 and people can join us to help survey all the wildlife found at the refuge,” said Leopold.

For more information on the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge and TWI, visit

Source: Putnam County Record


Monday, June 5, 2017

Wetlands Initiative Does Much More Than Stock Fish at Hennepin

Images courtesy of the News Tribune
About two dozen volunteers planted native plants to give nature a helping hand Saturday on some of the earthier former farm ground at The Wetlands Initiative’s nature preserve south of Hennepin.

Recently, TWI acquired 400 acres southeast of the former Hennepin and Hopper Lakes and is restoring the area it calls Hickory Hollow back to Mesick prairie, sand prairie, oak savanna and hill prairie.

After acquiring the area and attaching Hickory Hollow (still closed to the public) to the 2,600-acre Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, the nonprofit organization planted prairie seed, with more of the wildflowers taking hold on the sandy ground than on the better farm ground.

It was just another restoration step for a group that’s made rapid headway since 2001 toward restoring now-3,000 acres to resemble Illinois of 300 years ago.

Rich Seibert, superintendent for the privately owned site for 16 years, talked recently to the Better Fishing Association about some successes and setbacks in attracting and accommodating native species and re-creating prairie, woodland, wetland and shallow lake habitat.

“We’re not just there for fishing, we’re not just there for ducks, we’re not just there for plants,” he said of TWI’s comprehensive approach.

But many of the BFA members wanted mostly to hear about fishing and the fish in the lake that’s protected from the river by levees that date back to the early 1900s. He reviewed the well-publicized war against common carp, which made up about 98 percent of the fish species in the drainage ditches before pumps were turned off to allow the below-river-level area to refill with water after decades of the drainage district being farmed. He noted if corn prices were $7 back in 1999-2001 rather than in the $2 range, Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge area likely would still be farmland.

Before allowing water to fill the old lake area, the state used natural, plant-based fish killer rotenone to try to kill all the carp. Years, later, they realized the carp ran away from the rotenone and up into the drains that were delivering fresh water from higher ground. Enough of them, some small, were able to stay in the field tiles (pipes) long enough that they survived to overpopulate the lake. So, TWI drained the lake again and this time blocked the tiles so the carp couldn’t get in.

When the lake was drained, the DNR helped net the gamefish and tried to hide them away in the Emiquon refuge and the Hormel ponds at Bureau. Seibert retold a story that when the fish-stocking truck backed up and started dumping in the prized Hennepin-Hopper Lakes gamefish, including trophy-sized bass and walleye, there were two fishermen on the banks. Why they didn’t keep the secret and enjoy the Hormel Ponds for themselves for a couple of years, he does not know.

“I heard about it the next day,” said BFA member Fred Reutner, a former Mendota bait shop owner who fishes almost daily.

Seibert said in five years since then, and since the lake was restocked with many more predator fish — including northern pike, bowfin (dogfish) and alligator gar — no common carp have been found in the lake. And TWI stocked the predators, also including crappie and bass, in part to bring back native species such as alligator gar and bowfin and in part to have plenty of fish that would eat tiny carp if a bird dropped one, perhaps.

Seibert said none of the alligator gar that were stocked have been found during sampling and shocking, but they don’t fit well in nets and they may run from electric current. He said not many northern pike were found during DNR sampling, but fishermen using the lake since it opened for the season on May 16 are catching lots of northern pike in the 24-inch to 3-foot range. He said there are so many that the Wetlands rules allow harvest of northern pike as small as 24 inches. “Some guys catch 20 northerns and keep three,” he said.

The season closes Sept. 1, and people who fish have to sign in and put a parking pass on their dashboards. No boat motors are allowed but many anglers are finding kayaks to be as good as anything for fishing the shallow lake. Fishing from shore is not allowed, as the lake is shallow and surrounded by plant life that TWI wants to protect.

“If the fishing’s good, fishermen will find a way,” Seibert said.

In addition to the gamefish, the lake has become home to a rare type of topminnow that is thriving in extra-shallow weedy areas, as well as rare red-spotted sunfish, which also seem to be thriving.

And the entire 3,000-acre property has rapidly become an attractor of some of Illinois’ rarest birds and wildlife. Yellow-headed blackbirds, common to the Dakotas but not Illinois, can be found in the weedy wetland, and in the past month, sandhill cranes nested at the site. An new trail has been added, due to investment by Marquis Energy, at the north end, and the addition of the 400-acre Hickory Hollow area at the southeast corner of the site will become restored habitat and also buffer a hillside prairie and bluffside seep (springs).

He said the Field Museum’s Doug Stotz has advised The Wetlands Initiative on habitat re-creation and has helped identify the birds, common and rare, attracted to the habitats. He travels the world as an ornithologist, and, says Seibert, “this is one of his favorite places in the world.”

TWI’s Dixon Waterfowl Refuge is a recognized state Important Bird Area under this program administered by the National Audubon Society.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Putnam County Man Lands 60¾-inch Musky

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
An accidental catch is gaining Joe Gensini more fame than anything he’s done over a decade of fishing in tournaments.

The Hennepin resident, with help from teammate Paul Malone, of Iowa, reeled in a 60 ¾-inch muskellunge while practicing for the Cabela’s North American Bass Circuit tournament recently in Green Bay.

He was fishing for smallmouth bass in 7 to 10 feet of water and using a homemade, one-eighth ounce, 1 ½-inch-long black hair jig when he thought the hook snagged on something at a drop-off.

He told Musky Hunter magazine he just felt a little “tink,” without much reaction until eventually the heavy object started to fight.

Since catching the fish, he received attention not only from fellow tournament anglers and Musky Hunter but also was shown on video and his fish appears on the home page for the Fishnstixtv Facebook site of hall of fame angler Bob Mehsikomer.

“This fish has caused quite a stir and I never set out for one of them. I’m a bass fisherman and I happened to catch a musky,” he said.

A very big musky, though.

The fish’s girth was 28 ½ inches. He said Mehsikomer and Musky Hunter estimated it weighed between 57 and 60 pounds.

“At this time of year, coming out of winter, it was a little skinny,” he said. “If I’d have caught that same fish this fall, it would have weighed 8-9 pounds more.”

The fish did not count as a record of any type. He was using 8-pound test line when he hooked the fish in Little Sturgeon Bay, between the cities of Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay. They used the trolling motor to keep moving with the fish and avoid breaking the line.

It took more than an hour to land the fish and he handed the rod to Malone near the end. He also later found out that in spring before May 20, when the musky season opened, they weren’t even supposed to land the fish. They caught it May 9.

“We tried to land it to catch and release the fish — and to get my jig back,” he said.

A couple of days later, Gensini and Malone finished 26th in the tournament.

He said they weren’t disappointed in their catch of more than 20 pounds of fish for two days, five fish per day.

“That fishery is so good. We finished middle of the pack in that tournament but the weights were just phenomenal,” he said of the smallmouth tournament that had a weigh-in at Sturgeon Bay.

The series also has some famous northern-waters competitors, such as Al Lindner and Bob Izumi.

He said it was his first time competing in a tournament there, but he loves fishing for fun on either side of Door County area either in Lake Michigan or in Green Bay.

Last week he and his son caught dozens of smallmouth in the 3 ½- to 6-pound range on the Lake Michigan side of Door County.

“It’s awesome. We just love it. My 9-year-old son just has a ball and I can’t say I’m much different,” he said.

Touring angler

Gensini, a 1996 Putnam County High School graduate, played baseball at Black Hawk Community College and kept playing in semipro and local hardball leagues until he was about 32, when he tore up his arm.

He said he started entering fishing tournaments because he enjoys competition. And his dad fished in some regional bass tournaments when he was growing up.

Gensini is a regular on three tours, pursuing largemouth and smallmouth bass. This year he has fished or will fish in New York, Iowa, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Missouri.

He competes in BASS open and FLW Costa series events, both of which are pro-am events, where he’s the captain and guide for a partner who he might or might not know.

He and Malone travel together, compete against one another in the BASS and FLW tournaments, and share information and tips wherever they go. They’re friendly competitors.

“He’s one of my best friends if not my best friend. If I can’t win, I want him to win,” he said.

In Cabela’s team tournaments they fish together, which made the Green Bay tournament and the musky catch special.

“Typically we’re always fishing against each other,” Gensini said.

Gensini said he has had some good finishes in series points but hasn’t achieved a dream of winning a Bassmaster tournament and qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hennepin Park District Will Offer Swimming Lessons

The Hennepin Park District will have three sessions of Red Cross swimming lessons this summer.

Each session will be two weeks long. There will still be six levels of swimming ability.

Level 1 is the beginning class and you have to be 5 years old by Sept. 1 and least 42 inches tall to join this class. The morning sessions will run 40-minute classes, Monday through Friday. The night session will run 50-minute classes, Monday through Thursday.

The first session is June 19-30. The times are: 9 to 9:40 a.m., all levels; 9:50 to 10:30 a.m., all levels; and 10:40 to 11:20 a.m., all levels.

The second session is July 10-21. The times are: 9 to 9:40 a.m., all levels; 9:50 to 10:30 a.m., all levels; and 10:40 to 11:20 a.m., all levels.

The third session is the night session, and it is July 24-Aug. 3. The times are: 5 to 5:50 p.m., all levels; and 6 to 6:50 p.m., all levels.

Registration for these sessions will start Saturday, May 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. You must come in person to register at the Hennepin Pool. If you cannot come to register at this time, you will be able to register during normal pool hours after May 20. The cost of the lessons is $33 per child. If you live in Hennepin or Hennepin Township, they will pay for all lessons for each session. If you live in Granville, Granville Township, Mark or McNabb they will pay $33 per child for one session. If you live in Standard or Magnolia, they will pay $16.50 for one session.

For questions, call the Hennepin Pool at 815-925-7319.

Source: Putnam County Record