Tomorrow River Conservation Club turns 80

Celebrating its 80th year in 2022, the Tomorrow River Conservation Club has had a significant impact on the Tomorrow River area over the decades. Club Treasurer Joe Orsund shared information on many of the group’s activities with the Spirit.

Formed in 1942, the group has done many things for the community, including reforestation, hunter safety, fish stocking, lake cleanup, Wood Duck house building, scholarships, and more.

Covering the costs for those activities involves fundraising in the community. Orsund said that the group’s primary fundraiser is the hamburger stand at the Portage County Fair—Amherst each year. “Who hasn’t had one of our great burgers,” he asked. Other fundraising events include two raffles held in June and September each year.

Since its formation, the club has given trees to members every year and planted many, many more around the area. Orsund estimated that an average of 3,000 trees have been planted each year, for a total of more than 250,000. “That number is likely low, since there were years that we planted more than 10,000 in plantation-type reforestations,” he added.

Since 1979, even before it was a requirement to hunt, the Conservation Club has offered a hunter safety course. While numbers were unavailable prior to 2004, Orsund said that 336 students have graduated from the course since that time. In addition to himself, Orsund said that instructors that assisted with the two classes in 2021 were Bill Stoltenberg, Butch Somers, Dave Stoltz, Don Trzebiatowski, John Williams, Matt Kolb, and Ryan Trzebiatowski. Courses are held at the Jensen Community Center over several weeknights.

Another milestone the club is observing this year is the 25th anniversary of its annual stocking of Lake Emily with fish. Since 1997, the group has added 7,500 perch and 17,700 walleyes to the lake. The next stocking is scheduled for November 2022.

One of the group’s most recent activities began in 2021 with the cleanup of Lake Emily and Lime Lake. Orsund said, “I would like to remind everyone to leave the lake and land cleaner than you found it.” The next lake cleanups are scheduled for this spring and summer.

The Boy Scouts have worked with the Conservation Club since 2016 to build and install Wood Duck houses. More than 125 such shelters have been completed in the past five years, and Orsund said that while the first few years had a nearly 75% average hatch rate, the number has dropped to around 50% in the past couple of years due to high water flooding some of the houses.

The Conservation Club’s activities aren’t just limited to outdoor activities. Since 2010, scholarships have been offered to students pursuing outdoors-related fields of study with 33 recipients given $22,250 in that time. In addition, the club has donated to such programs as Walleyes for Kids, Archery in the Schools, the Amherst Wrestling Club, the Falcon Pride Project, the Learn to Hunt Program, the Portage County Sheriff K-9 unit, Vets & Guides, and half of its proceeds from past Ice Fisherees were donated to Amherst Junction Parks. While the club is not running that last event in 2022, the Amherst FFA will continue it.

Additional school outreach comes through support of the Amherst Fishing Club and the Trap Club, the latter a joint effort through Iola. And the club gives a $50 gift card each month to a student that submits a picture to its Fin, Fur and Feather Board.

The Conservation Club’s current Board of Directors is President Bill Stoltenberg, Secretary Ryan Trzebiatowski, Treasurer Joe Orsund, and members Butch Somers, Scott Chandler, Mike Glodowski, and Don Trzebiatowski.

Orsund said, “Talk to any of these men if you’re interested in joining or just looking for more information. We’re looking forward to promoting conservation while serving our community for many years to come.”

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