Illinois Mixed Bag: Carlyle, Shelbyville accepting Christmas trees to improve fish habitat – Outdoor News

Shelbyville, Ill. — Lake Shelbyville officials are collecting old trees in Sullivan and Shelbyville to reuse to improve the lake’s fisheries next year.

Trees for Lake Shelbyville will be collected in Sullivan 66 Gas Station in Sullivan and the Johnstone Mall in Shelbyville. Officials said to leave the trees in the snow fence area and not in the parking lot.

The collection from the sites will end on Feb. 9. All decorations, stands, tinsel, and plastic bags should be removed before dropping off the tree. Officials ask for people to only donate trees, and not wreaths, tree trimmings or other yard waste. The trees will be bundled and submerged on Fish Habitat Improvement Day, to provide more structures in the lake for fish to escape for cover and breed.

At Carlyle Lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be collecting used, real Christmas trees for the annual Christmas Tree Recycling Project. They will be used for fish habitat in Carlyle Lake.

Christmas trees can be donated through Jan. 28 at Plant Land on Old U.S. 50 east of Breese, Keyesport Boat Ramp, and the Little Prairie Nature Trail parking lot located in the West Spillway at Carlyle Lake. All decorations, including garland and tinsel, must be removed. No artificial trees or wreaths will be accepted.


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Every spring, volunteers from various conservation-minded organizations and clubs donate their time to help submerge the trees in the lake as fish shelters. The fish shelters provide breeding areas, resting places, and protection.

They give young fish much-needed living spaces where they can feed on plankton and avoid being preyed upon by larger fish. The protection provided by the trees allows young fish to grow to maturity and ultimately provide more fish for anglers.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help place Christmas trees in the lake in the spring, please contact the Carlyle Lake Project Office at (618) 594-2484 or email at [email protected]

State’s Pheasant Hunting Program Extended

Springfield — DNR is extending the controlled pheasant hunting program for the 2023-2024 season. Some sites will be extended by one to two weeks in different areas of the state. Hunters should check the permit calendar on the controlled pheasant hunting website for permit availability. Sites with extended opportunities include:

• Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area, Cass County

• Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park (Rend Lake), Franklin County

• Eldon Hazlet State Park (Carlyle Lake), Clinton County

• Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area, Will County

• Silver Springs State Park, Kendall County

• Iroquois County State Fish and Wildlife Area

• Kankakee River State Park, Kankakee County

• Moraine View State Park, McLean County

Pheasant hunters will need to acquire a Reserved Controlled Pheasant Hunting Permit to hunt on controlled pheasant hunting sites. Permits can be acquired through the online reservation system. Hunters will be able to reserve a permit until 9 a.m. the day before a hunt date. On DNR-operated sites, the daily fee for permits acquired online for controlled pheasant hunting is $34 for resident hunters and $39 for nonresident hunters. The daily permit fee applies to each individual hunter.

Non-toxic shotshells are required when hunting at Des Plaines, Jim Edgar Panther Creek, Silver Springs, Eldon Hazlet, and Wayne Fitzgerrell. Hunters are reminded that when hunting at any of these sites only non-toxic shotshells may in possession.

Florida Man Takes 50-pounder from Bass Pro

Fort Myers, Fla. — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said a young man went into a Bass Pro Shops and took a 50-pound live fish from the store’s tank.

According to the sheriff’s office, the young man entered the Bass Pro Shops in Gulf Coast Town Center in Fort Myers. Then, with a fish net in hand, took the tarpon from the store’s indoor fish pond.

Part of the incident, which unfolded Wednesday, also was caught on camera. Bystander video provided by the sheriff’s office showed the man carrying the flopping animal through the sales floor, followed by another man who appeared to be filming.

Detectives were working on identifying the culprit and are working with LCSO’s Animal Cruelty Task Force, MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife, and SWFL Crime Stoppers in an attempt to locate those involved.

“We guess you could say THIS one will o-fish-ially catch your eye,” the sheriff’s office said in a lighthearted social media post. “We’re #FishingForInformation and would love nothin’ more than to chum it up with this guy,” the sheriff’s office wrote in another pun-filled social post. “Don’t get caught aiding and a-bait-ing.”

Callahan Named Interim Director at NAFB

Springfield — Former DNR Director Colleen Callahan has been named interim executive director for The National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

Callahan served as DNR Director for four years before stepping down in January 2023. Before that, Callahan was the director of the Illinois Department of Rural Development and was the agribusiness director at WMBD Radio-TV in Peoria.

Callahan was president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting in 2002 and was inducted into the NAFB Hall of Fame in 2011.

Former NAFB Executive Director Tom Brand resigned at the end of the year.