Recreation expansion coming to Shawano

The city of Shawano is expanding one of its recreation areas Sturgeon Park
The city of Shawano is expanding one of its recreation areas Sturgeon Park

SHAWANO - The city of Shawano is expanding one of its recreation areas.

The new addition will be south of Sturgeon Park and part of the Wolf River Sturgeon Trail.

Right now it might not look like much, but within the next few years, it will offer a fishing pier and a picnic area.

The land was recently purchased for $50,000 with the help of grant money from local organizations and the DNR.

"It's going to be a part of our Sturgeon Trail project in order to try and accommodate a trail that we would hope to extend from the Sturgeon Park area below the dam to the Kuckuck Park just around the corner," said Brian Knapp, Shawano City Administrator.

The city says it's not just about connecting the trails. It's also about catering to visitors. Sturgeon Park attracts thousands of visitors each year. They come to view the sturgeon spawning season.

"It's incredible," said Julie Jaszczenski.

Jaszczenski lives in the area and loves seeing the sturgeon in the water.

"It's incredible. It's better than what they said. You just can't believe how many fish are out there. You can see them all the way across the river. It's like you could almost walk across them," Jaszczenski said.

The prehistoric fish travel 125 miles from Lake Winnebago to the Shawano Dam.

The DNR says more than 20,000 sturgeon are spawning in the upper Fox and Wolf Rivers and that's more than anywhere else in the world.

The season usually starts mid to late April but the DNR says right now it's too early to know when the spawning season will happen.

"This year with the colder than average March that we've had and the projected forecast for the next seven to 10 days, I would guess that sturgeon might spawn toward the later end of that period or even the first or second weekend of May," said Ryan Koenigs, Winnebago fisheries biologist with the DNR.

You'll also notice something else within the next couple of months.

The city's rotary is donating the money to build a gazebo.