CRAWFORD AND VERNON COUNTIES - The Tainter Creek Watershed Council held a field day at Bruce and Sue Ristow’s farm in rural Crawford County, on Saturday, June 2 to educate people on the watershed and improving water quality. “By coming here, you’ve made our place more valuable,” said landowner Bruce Ristow.
The Ristow farm is nestled deep in Star Valley, with its gorgeous meadows, grazing cattle, and gurgling creek. The property on County C attracted about 150 people of all ages on Saturday.
Visitors participated in fishing and visiting for a while, then gathered together to witness a fish shocking of the stream by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff. The process consisted of three DBR fisheries technicians bringing a floating “fish-shocking barge” up the stream and using electric poles attached to the barge to shock the fish. This temporarily stunned the fish, so they could be easily scooped up with a net.
After the fish shocking demonstration, Kirk Olson from the DNR fishery gave a short talk on the different species of trout and which types are native to Wisconsin.
Then the event moved on to drawing door prizes for the kids. Some of the door prizes included spin-cast fishing poles and fly rods.
Next, people enjoyed a delicious lunch courtesy of the Grassfed Beef Co-op, the Wallace Center, Organic Valley, and prepared by grille master Paul Krahn of Trout Unlimited.
Attendees then listened to a presentation given by Ted Bay and Ben Wojahn. In the presentation, they used a Rainfall Simulator to demonstrate and compare the effects of different types of cover crops. The simulator made it abundantly evident that the Ristows’ use of managed grazing on pastures is a healthy and compatible land use along trout streams.
Finally, the Tainter Creek Watershed Farmers-Tim Erickson, Grant Rudrud, Chuck and Karen Bolstad, Jeff Ostrem, and Josh Engel introduced themselves and emphasized that they were holding the event because they wanted to promote farmers improving the quality of the watershed.
By the end of the day, everybody was tired, happy, and better educated on the Tainter Creek Watershed and about how people are working to make it even better for us to enjoy.
Credit should go to the Ristows, the Tainter Creek Watershed Council, and the Vernon County Land and Water Conservation Department for hosting this entertaining and important event.