Eau Claire man one of five on new Sporting Heritage Council - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire man one of five on new Sporting Heritage Council

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Eau Claire County (WQOW) - Five Wisconsin residents were recently chosen as the first members of the Sporting Heritage Council, and one of them is an Eau Claire resident. The group's goal is to increase access to outdoor recreation.

"This is one of the biggest issues that we're trying to address, is that there's a lot of opportunities on public lands and public boat access that people don't necessarily know about or have access to," said Ben Gruber, a member of the Sporting Heritage council whose specialty is angling.

Gruber has been fishing since he was little; now he has the chance to get others active in the sport as one of five members recently appointed to the Sporting Heritage Council. It's an independent group the legislature created two years ago to focus on increasing access to outdoor opportunities.

"I was nominated by an organization called Kids and Mentors Outdoors, which I'm the state Vice President of," explained Gruber.

Through that program, which helps kids get involved in things like fishing, he is able to highlight barriers to outdoor recreation.

"One of the angling issues that I hear a lot is pay to access. A lot of municipal boat landings have significant charges that they require to launch your boat or even to park there. Its issues like those and feedback like that that really points me in the direction of what we need to work on," added Gruber.

Gruber says they've already identified other concerns.

Located just off of Highway 37, Porterville Road eventually leads to a boat landing. But the only sign you'll see is a dead end sign.

"You know, this is a great spot to come and put a line in the water, sit on the bank. It's right by the bike path, the kids could access it pretty easily...and on a perfect day to sit out here and fish, there's nobody here," Gruber said, walking along a good fishing spot on the Chippewa River.

The state legislature would have to sign off on any changes made that would cost money, but as far as getting the word out?

"One of the biggest things we're looking at is using the online resources and social media and apps, and maybe just making people more aware that those things are available," said Gruber.

There are four other members chosen to the council, including specialists in deer, game birds, bear, and fur bearing animals. The council also includes a DNR secretary, two members each from the state Senate and Assembly, and a member appointed by the governor.

The council won't send a report to the DNR, governor, and state legislature until next spring.

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