by Mark Walters
I met Mick Mlinar and Dwaine Drewa on March 2nd 2007. We were at the Natural Resources building in Florence, and I was there to talk with these two guys and 7 other people about what would eventually become KAMO (Kids And Mentors Outdoors).
My buddy Jeff Moll was a part of that first meeting and still is a member of what would become the Northwood’s Chapter of KAMO.
This week I traveled to Florence County and observed what happens when some hard working individuals set a goal and achieve it.
Saturday, February 15th
High 22, low minus 15
Here is the scoop! Mlinar is President, Drewa is Vice President and Moll is Secretary of the Northwoods Chapter. I am the President of KAMO, which has six chapters.
Besides one on ones with kids on outdoor experiences, these guys have three annual events. They host what is called Hooked on Fishing and that is held on Lake Emily (where we would be today) and with a whole bunch of locals in pontoon boats they take kids fishing, provide a meal, and give each kid some type of a gift.
In October, they do a shooting class, a pheasant hunt, and the big job comes in the dead of winter.
Four years ago they built three fish cribs on Lake Emily, and the learning process began.
Mick Mlinar has always stressed community involvement, which means working together with non-KAMO members.
In this case it would be working with Gregg Matzke, who is the WDNRs fish biologist for Florence and Forest Counties, and Aaron Nelson along with Brad Shucha who are both fish techs.
For two weeks several KAMO members, as well as Shucha and Nelson, have been gathering and placing all of the material for what would become 18 fish cribs at the end of today, and would give Emily Lake a total of 39 built by KAMO in the last four winters.
I made the 240-mile drive this morning and was amazed at the material and organization required for this project. A semi load of hemlock was milled down to six- foot 8x8s and donated by G&G Lumber.
Ten cement blocks that were recycled from torn down buildings would be used in each of the 18 cribs as weights. Rebar was purchased by KAMO and cut to size to hold the cribs together along with a type of rope that is supposed to last longer than rebar.
After each layer of hemlock, pine boughs are placed in the crib, which is where minnows and small panfish and gamefish will have a secure hiding spot. In other words, what we achieved today was about a 50-yard, long reef that along with the others on Emily Lake is going to insure that this fishery has a solid future longer then most people reading this will be alive.
My goal is to get every chapter of KAMO to work with their WDNR fish biologists and build reefs all over Wisconsin, and in the meantime to load the state up with KAMO Chapters.
We will get kids in the outdoors, adults active with kids, and adults in the outdoors. Today my buddy Jeff Moll could not be here because he broke his leg in a skiing accident. Just to keep his end of the bargain he sent his 19-year-old son Ross along to do what truly was a day of bull work for everyone on the ice. Ross has been on a ton of KAMO adventures and what will be a true sign of success is when we start seeing some of our KAMO kids become mentors.
Think about the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Conservation Corps back about 90 years ago. First it was an idea and then that idea became reality. We can turn the situation around to where more of our youth are spending more time in the outdoors, and like the crib project on Emily Lake, we can help our habitat in the process.
I urge you to please go to www.kamokids.org. We could use more chapters, mentors, and kids.
Smile Lots! Sunset
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Ormson’s SuperValu