- To acquire, develop, maintain, and make available to the inhabitants of Washington County the public parks, preserves, parkways, playgrounds, recreation centers, county forests, wildlife and other conservation area
- To promote and preserve the health and general welfare of the people of Washington County
- To encourage the orderly development and conservation of natural resources
- To cultivate good citizenship by providing programs of public recreation
Voted into existence by its residents in 1962, the Washington County Conservation Board (WCCB) is provided direction by five volunteer board members. The Board has the responsibility to acquire, develop, maintain, and make available public parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, forests, wildlife, and other conservation areas.
Funded through a property tax levy, grants, donations, and gifts, the WCCB manages over 2,200 acres of county, private and state-owned land, accessible to the general public. Management of the areas are carefully configured to provide for outdoor recreational and environmental needs of Washington County. Recreational opportunities include areas in which to picnic, camp, bike, hunt, fish, and more. Every effort is made to conserve all of the land under the WCCB's management for future generations to enjoy. Their annual economic impact is estimated to exceed $5 million.
The WCCB also claims an award-winning environmental education program. Diverse opportunities for groups and individuals to learn about the natural world include scheduled events, one-on-one assistance, newsletters, interactive displays, bulletin boards, nature, library, and more. Annual attendance exceeds 13,000.
Ice Fishing Opportunities Here Are Better Than Those In Texas
by Steve Anderson
Yesterday late afternoon, I followed my hand held gps unit out onto the 7” of wet ice on Crawford Pond. I then lowered my colored camera with “dark water technology” until it was just above the pile of cedar trees we sunk through the ice last year. Even after an entire year, the needles are still on the limbs. After aligning the camera to the adjoining hole, I dropped my jig in and began to fish, and was greeted by an absolute swarm of small bluegills! I took a picture with my “smart” phone of the screen of the camera, a moment in time that I can now share with others. There were not many larger fish on this pile, but I caught all but two of the larger ones I saw over the two hours or so! My sonar unit did allow me to catch the crappies that came through higher.
The cedar tree pile above was placed at the far southeast corner of the deepest pocket of Crawford Pond just last year. Last night, I chose not to clean any, but would have had a nice meal if I had. While I would be very willing to share its location, there are so many out there that you can easily find plenty! Look for the gas bubbles they let off under and through the clear ice. This is now such a well-known fact amongst ice fishermen in our area that you can also simply look at the areas with the most activity. Assisting with fishing success is why we do this, and has made Washington County a destination for numerous ice fisherman.
Each year the WCCB makes an effort to utilize the ice as a platform and place structures over the deeper areas of some of the ponds that we manage. Through the years, we have tried various options for structure, some of which have ended up being lessons. As an example, one lesson is that light wire holding trees to a 500 pound weight results in the trees floating freely around the pond. We only did that one once! What seems to happen is, as the ice fails, the heavy concrete culvert sinks the ice until the ice collapses. The attaching material has to be strong enough not only to sink the attached tree, but also pull the trees into the hole.
My suggestions are that Christmas trees work less well (they deteriorate very rapidly) than larger trees. Cedar trees do seem to be holding their leaves longer, and do seem to be particularly attractive to crappies (betting it is at least partially because lots of minnows hide in there). However, the piles we created out of boxelder trees are now nearly 10 years old, and still working. It does take more weight than you think to sink a tree. We use a chain saw to cut the hole in the tree to tie through, but do not cut holes in the ice to sink the piles (concerned someone would fall in the hole).
It is looking as though the window of opportunity for ice fishing in Washington County will be pretty short this year. Ice thickness is highly variable, and quite a bit less than many past years. Therefore, it is more important than ever that sportsmen use good sense in balancing between safety and fun. The “buddy system” and the ice tong necklace are always suggested.
Weather permitting, I hope to assist with a family based ice fishing clinic here at Marr Park next Saturday (January 21st) starting at 1 PM. We will have our personal toys (camera, sonar, fancy ice rods, etc.) in a concerted effort to collect a commission on each item we convince you is required (teasing- we sell absolutely nothing). Pam has promised hot chocolate and a warm building, even if your kids decide they want to ice skate, play on the playground, or just run around. I guess we are far enough south to exclaim “Ye-all come see us”.