MADISON – From the launch of a new Department of Natural Resources website and a launch of a variety of social media tools, to a spring and summer drought that put emergency burning restrictions in place across much of the state, to the first modern wolf hunt of modern times and efforts to implement a plan to expand hunting and allow trapping for the first time in Wisconsin state parks, here is a look back at the natural resources issues and highlights of 2012.
- DNR takes over wolf management; problem areas to be addressed quickly
PARK FALLS, Wis. — Beginning Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, the gray wolf will no longer be considered a federally endangered species in Wisconsin and other parts of the western Great Lakes region. In Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources will manage the wolf population outside of tribal reservation lands. DNR officials said areas where wolves have attacked domestic animals will be addressed immediately.
- Report looks at impacts of silica sand mining in Wisconsin
MADISON – The rapid expansion of sand mining in Wisconsin has generated much interest from members of the public, reporters, local government officials, state legislators and others. In response, the Department of Natural Resources has prepared a detailed report that summarizes the best current information on silica sand mining; its possible environmental impacts; and local, state and federal regulations that address sand mining and processing.
- Aerial observers count 186 bald eagles in the lower Wisconsin River valley
BOSCOBEL, Wis. – An annual mid-winter aerial survey of bald eagles along the Lower Wisconsin River corridor found 186 eagles between the Petenwell dam between Adams and Juneau counties and the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers in Crawford County, a distance of 180 miles. The survey was conducted by Department of Natural Resources biologists.
- Celebrating 40 years of caring for Wisconsin’s natural heritage
MADISON — Wisconsin’s law safeguarding rare wildlife and plants turns 40 in 2012 with eagles, trumpeter swans, osprey and gray wolves among the successful comebacks made under its protections. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and partners will highlight these successes in the coming year and the people who helped make them possible. A new web feature every month will showcase videos, slide shows, an interactive timeline and other multi-media to tell the stories, provide listings of events and places to see and learn about these species, and how people can get involved in restoration efforts on the ground.
- DNR to expand counter service
MADISON – The Department of Natural Resources is beginning to roll out expanded over-the-counter service hours at a number of service centers statewide. When complete later this winter, hours will be increased 40 percent statewide.
- 15 dams in line for $3.5 million in grants for repairs, removal or replacement
MADISON – Fifteen publicly owned dams in 13 counties are in line to get $3.5 million in state grants to maintain, repair, abandon or remove the municipally owned structures, state dam safety officials announced today.
- Hunters register 5,433 birds in 2011 fall wild turkey hunt
MADISON – Wisconsin wild turkey hunters registered a combined 5,433 birds during the regular fall 2011 wild turkey season and the extended season in Turkey Management Zones 1-5. The 5,433 registered birds compute to a success rate of 10 percent, a slight decrease from the 12 percent success rate for hunters during the 2010 fall season.
- 2012 sturgeon spearing season enters record books
OSHKOSH — The 80th consecutive Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season is one for the record books and its fans, as they do in baseball, are already saying, “Wait ’til next year!” The 2012 Lake Winnebago season closed February 26 after running the full 16-days allowed by law, with the poor water clarity and poor ice conditions keeping people off the ice and slowing the harvest; the Upriver Lakes season closed at the end of day Feb. 12 when the number of female sturgeon speared exceeded the trigger to close the season.
- Wisconsin leads nation in trophy whitetail bucks
MADISON — The number of trophy bucks taken in Wisconsin has risen by 857 percent in 30 years, with a record-breaking 383 entries during the five years ending in 2010, according to historical records kept by the venerable Boone and Crockett Club. Wisconsin Buck & Bear Club measurer Marlin Laidlaw of Marshfield with a large buck he shot a few years ago. While impressive, it falls short of record book standards. That makes Wisconsin the number one state or Canadian province in North America for trophy whitetail production, muscling up from its earlier position of third.
- Scientists go underground in effort to save bats
MADISON – State bat scientists are going underground in February to search 120 caves and mines where bats hibernate for signs of a deadly disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern U.S. since 2006 and spurred Wisconsin to add four cave bat species to the state’s endangered and threatened species list.
- 137,000 permits issued through drawing for spring 2012 turkey season
MADISON – Turkey permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources through the spring turkey preference drawing numbered 137,598 for Wisconsin’s 2012 spring wild turkey season. A total of 234,568 permits will be available for the spring 2012 turkey season. This is an increase from the 226,249 permits available during the 2011 spring season.
- DNR unveils new website
MADISON – The Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, has undergone an extreme makeover and now it’s ready for the big reveal. The new layout, global header, footer, topic-based landing and content pages will make it easier for those looking for information or ways to access permit applications and purchase licenses online. This new look and functionality is designed to provide a better customer experience.
- Warm spring means fish are spawning up to a month early
MADISON — March’s record-breaking high temperatures following an unusually mild winter have fish spawning early across Wisconsin and state fisheries crews racing to finish the annual fish surveys that are a foundation for keeping Wisconsin’s fish populations robust.
- Numbers of migrating steelhead up from previous years
GREEN BAY – Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff collecting eggs for state fish hatcheries from steelhead migrating up Lake Michigan tributaries report they are seeing more fish than they have in the past two to three years.
- Reduction in Lake Michigan salmon stocking topic of public meeting
MADISON — Anglers can weigh in online or in person on April 14 to advise Great Lakes states on potential future fish stocking reductions in Lake Michigan to better balance the number of trout and salmon in the lake with the available prey for those angler-favorites. A lake-wide stocking reduction in chinook starting in 2006 has helped but not enough, new research suggests.
- Program to increase lands for hunting, fishing and trapping enrolls 30,000 acres
MADISON – Since becoming available in August 2011, Wisconsin landowners have enrolled more than 30,000 acres in a program intended to increase the amount of land available for public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation. Now the state is expanding the program into 12 additional Wisconsin counties. The Voluntary Public Access program provides incentive payments to private landowners who voluntarily open up their land for public access. Grassland, wetland, forestland, and in some cases, agriculture land, are eligible.
- Citizen volunteers take to the woods, waters and wetlands
MADISON – Volunteers can count sandhill cranes, listen for frogs, owls and hawks, search for freshwater mussels and violets, monitor water quality and join in a host of other efforts now gearing up to help collect information about Wisconsin’s wildlife, plants and water resources. The Department of Natural Resources and other organizations are recruiting citizens to the state’s woods, waters and prairies to help gather information aimed at better understanding and managing these natural resources. Such information is particularly important for managing those rare species protected under the state’s endangered species law, which turns 40 this year.
- State hires new foresters, 100 years after the first forestry employees started
MADISON – The dozen men hired a century ago as Wisconsin’s first foresters would certainly understand the tree planting and fire control duties of the 15 foresters recently hired to help manage Wisconsin forests. But they would likely be amazed by the Global Positioning Systems, Geographic Information Systems, digital aerial photographs, Incident Command System training and modern firefighting equipment that today’s forestry professionals use to carry out their modern duties — and by the changes in the foresters’ duties themselves. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently hired 15 foresters to start to address a very high vacancy rate due to recent retirements and limited hiring for the past several years as the Forestry Division faced the difficult fiscal times with frugality.
- DNR needs partners for loaner life jacket pilot
MADISON — In an effort to help boaters of all ages stay safe on the water this summer, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking partners to help run a loaner life jacket pilot of the Kids Don’t Float program at several boat landings.
- Third highest coho harvest on record, best since 1982
MILWAUKEE — Lake Michigan anglers in 2011 recorded the highest harvest of coho salmon in three decades and the third highest on record since the state started stocking salmon and trout in the 1960s, according to recently released results from angler surveys.
- Open house meetings set on revisions to Wisconsin’s endangered species list
MADISON – The public will have an opportunity to learn more about the process used to revise the “list of species designated as endangered or threatened in Wisconsin at two public open house meetings May 7 and 9. Sixteen birds, plants and other animals are proposed to be removed from the state’s list of endangered or threatened species, while eight species are proposed to be added to the list.
- Wisconsin and Michigan team up to boost Lake Michigan sturgeon population
PESHTIGO, Wis. – Eggs fisheries biologists collected from sturgeon spawning below the Peshtigo dam are now on their way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan under a cooperative effort between Michigan and Wisconsin to boost a naturally reproducing lake sturgeon population in Lake Michigan. There the fertilized eggs will be raised into fingerlings and released this fall into two rivers that tributaries to Little Bay de Noc, on the northern end of Green Bay.
- DNR’s retired Hunt brothers are now hall of famers
STEVENS POINT, Wis. – Two brothers – innovative scientists who retired after brilliant careers with the state Department of Natural Resources – were simultaneously inducted Saturday into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. Robert “Bob” Hunt, 78, of Waupaca, and Richard “Dick” Hunt, 85, of Fall River, were joined by large extended families at the well-attended ceremony.
- “Read to Lead” events being held at Wisconsin State Parks
MADISON — Children ages five to nine are being challenged to read 20 or more nature books in a “Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks” program the Department of Natural Resources has launched as part of a statewide “Read to Lead” initiative. A bipartisan team of teachers, legislators, researchers and advocates worked together to reach a consensus on ways to ensure all Wisconsin children learn to read so they can use reading to learn by the fourth grade.
- 99 waters to be added to special watch category for phosphorus impacts
MADISON – Ninety-nine lakes and rivers exceeding the state’s new numeric phosphorus standards but not experiencing biological impacts to aquatic life – like algal blooms — are being added to Wisconsin’s proposed 2012 list of impaired waters. The Department of Natural Resources is adding the 99 water bodies to a special new “5P” category that has not been used in Wisconsin’s impaired list before this year. DNR will closely monitor these waters for signs of biological impact and will continue to focus on state impaired waters that are currently experiencing biological impacts.
- DNR seeks input from business – retrospective review of rules
MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is responsible for implementing more than 3,700 pages of rules dealing with a wide range of subjects, from flora and fauna to air, water, and land, many of which affect small business. This month, DNR is launching a retrospective review of rules.
- Trumpeter swan success continues 25 years after program started
MADISON — Twenty-five years after efforts began to restore trumpeter swans to Wisconsin’s landscape, state wildlife officials are celebrating a record number of nesting pairs as annual monitoring surveys of the birds begin.
- New rules call for rear license plate on some ATVs/UTVs as of July 1
MADISON – All-terrain vehicles and utility-terrain vehicles that have a public use registration and are used on public trails, frozen lakes and rivers are required to have a mandatory rear license plate, according to new rules slated to take effect on July 1. The rules are part of a regulation package passed earlier this year by the Wisconsin Legislature.
- New online system aims to reduce permit wait while better protecting environment
MADISON – Applicants for some state water-related permits can now use a new online system that state water protection officials say will cut paperwork and deliver quicker, more consistent permit decisions and provide better information to the public about proposed projects. People can access and register for the online system by searching for “water permit” on the Department of Natural Resources website.
- Baiting and feeding banned in Polk, Burnett, Washburn and Barron counties as of May 10
MADISON – A ban on baiting and feeding white-tailed deer in Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn counties will go into effect on May 10, 2012. The Department of Natural Resources is taking the action, in accordance with existing state law, due to the discovery on private land in Washburn County of a wild white-tailed deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
- Helping musky find their way back to Green Bay
GREEN BAY –When state fisheries staff hit the water last week in search of Great Lakes spotted muskellunge, they weren’t sure how many they would find in their nets along the bank of the Fox River just south of Green Bay. It didn’t take long for them to realize they hit the jackpot.
- Wisconsin bats get a clean bill of health
MADISON — For the second year in a row, a statewide survey of more than 100 known bat wintering sites has found no signs of a deadly bat disease — white-nose syndrome — that has killed upwards of 6.7 million bats in the Eastern United States and Canada.
- Wisconsin establishes Lake Michigan Water Trail
MADISON – Kayakers, canoeists and other nonmotorized watercraft will eventually have improved access to 450 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline under a plan to establish a Lake Michigan Water Trail in Wisconsin that the state Natural Resources Board approved this month.
- Kirtland’s warblers return to nest; More birds and more habitat are good signs
MARINETTE COUNTY – State and federal bird experts are singing a happy tune this May as a growing number of Kirtland’s warblers, a federally endangered songbird, alight in the jack pine forests of Wisconsin and get ready to build their nests.
- New DNR activities database helps people find fun in the Wisconsin outdoors
MADISON – Finding fun in Wisconsin just got a whole lot easier with the launch today of a new activities locator that can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website by searching for “Explore Outdoors.” This new interactive tool allows users to search millions of acres of public lands by county, by proximity to a city, by type of property or by one of 22 listed outdoor activities.
- Work underway this summer to keep osprey populations soaring
MADISON – Work continues this summer to help assure that osprey, the diving, fishing raptor that flew off the state threatened species list in 2009, continue to thrive in Wisconsin and return to other states, state endangered species officials say.
- A decade of progress to prevent, control and contain invasive species
MADISON – A decade after lawmakers recognized in statute the threat that invasive, nonnative plant and animal species pose to the environment, economy and quality of life, Wisconsin has increased awareness, adopted comprehensive regulations and built partnerships to try to prevent the invaders from getting introduced or spread within the state, state natural resources officials say.
- Visitors flocking to Wisconsin State Parks
MADISON – The attraction of Wisconsin State Parks as family friendly, affordable and fun places to visit for a day, a weekend, a week or longer continues to grow with advanced camping reservations up 9.3 percent over the same period in 2011.
- 2012 spring turkey harvest up 6 percent from 2011
MADISON – Turkey hunters took advantage of comfortable hunting conditions this spring, judging by the preliminary registration total of 42,612 turkeys, a 6 percent increase over the spring 2011 turkey season. A total of 201,984 permits were issued for this year’s hunt, down slightly from the 2011 total of 210,384. Unseasonably warm weather characterized much of the season, in stark contrast to last year when snow, wind, and rain hindered hunters during the early time periods.
- Grant boosts investigations into why bass are booming, walleye waning in some lakes
MADISON – Work to help understand and respond to why bass are booming and walleye waning in many northwestern Wisconsin lakes just got a big boost. A consortium of researchers and fisheries biologists from the University of Wisconsin’s Madison and Stevens Point campuses and the Department of Natural Resources have received a $760,000 federal grant over five years to help investigate the shifting fish populations and tease out the most likely reasons behind the shift.
- Wisconsin receives $1.4 million to work on brownfield sites
MADISON – Wisconsin has received $1.4 in federal funding that state environmental officials will use to assess and clean up contaminated properties around the state. Each spring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants to states, local governments and tribes to work on contaminated properties, called brownfields. This year the Department of Natural Resources netted $1.4 million for its brownfields program.
- Great Lakes beach improvements, free app a boon for beachgoers
MADISON – Improvements at many of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes beaches and a free smartphone application with the latest weather and water quality information are giving people more reasons to break out the beach towel and the sunscreen and head to the water’s edge, state beach officials say.
- Bassmaster tournament underway in Green Bay
GREEN BAY – The Bassmaster Elite Series’ Green Bay Challenge is off and running in Green Bay. The four day event started June 28 with the nation’s top professional bass anglers in search of their favorite fish on the Bay of Green Bay. At the Thursday weigh-in, the field of 98 Elite Series anglers showed their prowess and the promise of big catches in Green Bay, bringing in 411 fish. Hometown favorite Travis Manson of De Pere, Wis., brought a five-fish limit of 16 pounds, 7 ounces to the scales.
- Drought conditions worsen in southern half of Wisconsin
MADISON – The continued lack of significant rainfall in the southern half of Wisconsin has increased drought conditions and raised the fire danger to extreme, very high or high in 50 southern and central counties. The lack of rain is lowering water levels on streams and rivers, making navigation more difficult and increasing the number of fish kills. There have been reports of private wells going dry, and some municipalities are placing restrictions on water use. The hot temperatures and low water levels are increasing the risk of blue-green algae outbreaks and concentrating waterfowl in areas that have been known to have outbreaks of botulism.
- Wisconsin DNR salutes veterans
MADISON – Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has a special message for active military members and U.S. veterans: We want to help you work and play in Wisconsin’s outdoors. “On behalf of our DNR staff, we want to thank our military service members who have fought for our freedoms and way of life. To show our appreciation we are offering a way for vets to get started in an outdoors career and to enjoy some of Wisconsin’s most precious pass time traditions,” Stepp says. As of the beginning of July 2012, veterans may qualify for a one-time fee waiver for an occupational or professional license.
- Despite drought, Karner blue butterflies recovery making progress
BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — The drought has been challenging for the federally endangered Karner blue butterflies in Wisconsin, but recent surveys are showing they’ve weathered it well so far and are showing signs of the recovery making progress in some sites.
- Master planning begins for former Badger Army plant property
MADISON — The public will have an opportunity at an upcoming open house to contribute ideas and discuss how the Department of Natural Resources-managed portion of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Sauk County –designated as the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area – should be managed for recreation and resources protection. DNR is developing a new master plan for the approximately 3,800-acre Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, which was part of the 7,354-acre former Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
- DNR responds to gasoline spill in Washington County
MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and West Shore Pipe Line Company to respond to a gasoline release from West Shore’s pipeline near Jackson, Wisconsin, in Washington County. The leak occurred along a section of pipeline between the towns of Granville and Elkhart Lake. The release, which occurred shortly before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17, has been contained.
- Get specific advice for specific waters online and with one search
MADISON – It’s now easier than ever for anglers fishing Wisconsin waters to make sure their catch is safe to eat: Wisconsin’s updated fish consumption advice for 2012 is available online and features a new search tool that delivers anglers simplified consumption advice for fish from specific waters to limit exposure to environmental contaminants that may be in the fish.
- Golden-winged warbler’s appearance highlights importance of young forests
LANGLADE COUNTY – Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better: a rare songbird bird alights amidst private landowners on a field trip to see the benefits of managing for young forest to provide habitat for rare and declining bird species. The songbird is captured, fitted with a leg band and released by one of the landowners.
- Eight central Wisconsin counties added to Emergency burning restriction order; Four Wisconsin State Parks ban campfires
MADISON – Emergency burning restrictions will be extended to include Jackson, Monroe, Waupaca, Wood, Portage and Waushara counties and additional portions of Adams and Juneau counties, and campfires have been banned in four Wisconsin State Parks system properties including Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the Lapham Peak unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest, Richard Bong State Recreation Area and Big Foot Beach State Park until further notice due to continued drought and high to very high fire danger conditions.
- Fall migration takes wing as experts keep an eye out for drought impacts
MADISON – The avian parade continues with hummingbirds, warblers and vireos the next species to begin their migration south, providing Wisconsin birders some great viewing opportunities and experts more insight into how the early spring and drought has affected Wisconsin’s winged travelers.
- ‘Virtual Beach’ for real-water safe fun
MADISON — A Wisconsin research scientist is working to inject some real-time information into easily-accessible updates about the condition of your favorite Great Lakes beach. When and why a Great Lakes beach gets posted for a swim advisory or closure in 2013 may be the product of a new virtual beach system that saves money and gets current, accurate water quality updates to the public.
- Drought leaving some freshwater mussels stranded; Concern reflects growing awareness of animal’s importance
MADISON – The drought, now categorized as severe to extreme in the southern half of the state, is stranding mussels in shallow waters this summer and leading to an increase in calls from citizens asking how to help the filter-feeding mollusks.
- Kenosha gets $1.5 million DNR brownfield loan for former engine plant
MADISON –The city of Kenosha will receive more than $1.5 million for environmental cleanup work at the most severely contaminated areas of the former Chrysler Engine Plant, which closed in 2010. This will be the largest loan the Department of Natural Resources has made for the cleanup of contaminated properties under its Ready for Reuse Grant and Loan Program.
- Wild rice gatherers will have to ‘hunt for good rice beds this year’
MADISON – As fall approaches, people who participate in the ageless annual harvest of wild rice or “manoomin” are readying canoes, paddles and baskets. Wild rice is typically found in northern Wisconsin in shallow portions of lakes, river beds, flowages and gently flowing waters. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission annually assesses the wild rice crop using aerial surveys and says rice pickers are going to have to hunt for good rice beds this year.
- ‘Rivers as Bridges’ aims to connect Chinese and American cultures for sustainable rivers
APPLETON, Wis. — A first-of-its kind student foreign exchange is connecting Chinese and American culture, conservation and commerce in hopes of creating sustainable river systems and communities. A dozen Chinese teachers and 24 students from that country’s most elite high schools and their chaperones spent 18 days in the Midwest in late July and early August. Their visit marks the start of a 10-year relationship between the people of the Mississippi and Yangtze river basins. The program, called Rivers as Bridges, is designed to tie together cultural differences with environmental similarities in a hands-on learning environment.
- Report: 96 percent of public water systems met health standards for drinking water
MADISON — Ninety-six percent of Wisconsin’s public water systems served drinking water that met all health-based standards in 2011, a year also notable for a doubling in the amount of financial help provided to upgrade infrastructure and for small systems to address nitrate standards violations.
- State Natural Areas protect some of Wisconsin’s best natural landscapes
MADISON – The nation’s first statewide natural area protection program turns 60 this year and wears it well, Wisconsin’s top land official says. Six hundred fifty-three designated State Natural Areas preserve 358,000 acres of prairies, forests, and wetlands that are among the best of their kind left in Wisconsin and are a vital refuge for endangered plants and animals, says Kurt Thiede, administrator of the Department of Natural Resources’ land-related programs.
- States surrounding Lake Michigan agree to revised stocking strategy
MADISON – Wisconsin and other states surrounding Lake Michigan have agreed to a new stocking strategy to continue the outstanding salmon and trout fishing anglers have enjoyed on the big pond for the last decade, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp announced today.
- Planning begins on Menominee River State Recreation Area
MADISON — The public will have an opportunity provide input at an upcoming informational workshop on how a new recreational area along the Menominee River in northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan should be jointly managed by Wisconsin and Michigan. The Menominee River State Recreation Area encompasses both sides of the Menominee River. Starting just down river from Niagara, Wis., this new recreation area provides more than 9,000 acres of public lands and access to 17 miles of river, offering premier outdoor recreation opportunities.
- Wisconsin seeks to develop strategy to cut phosphorus and nitrate pollution
MADISON – State, federal and local officials will meet in Madison Sept. 26 with agricultural, industrial, municipal and environmental groups to develop a strategy to more effectively reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Nitrates contaminate up to 30 percent of private wells in some Wisconsin counties and excess phosphorus can fuel algae blooms in lakes and rivers and along Lake Michigan shorelines and contribute to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.
- Pockets of dead deer found in Columbia and Rock counties died from EHD
MADISON – State wildlife officials have confirmed that tissue samples submitted from deer found dead in Columbia and Rock counties have tested positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. A number of citizens in southern Wisconsin contacted the Department of Natural Resources with recent observations of small groups of dead deer. Reports came primarily from the Town of Dekorra in Columbia County, but also from Rock, Waukesha and Walworth counties.
- More than 20,000 apply for Wisconsin wolf hunting license
MADISON – A total of 20,272 people have submitted applications for the drawing for a gray wolf hunting or trapping license for Wisconsin’s first wolf season in more than 60 years. It is scheduled to begin Oct. 15. There were 19,788 applications from Wisconsin residents and 486 from non-residents. The state Natural Resources Board approved a quota of up to 201wolves that could be harvested during the first season, 85 of which are reserved for Native American Indian tribes within the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin.
- Sheboygan River cleanup highlighted at bi-national Great Lakes Commission meeting
CLEVELAND, OHIO – The cleanup of the lower Sheboygan River will be in the spotlight this week as scientists, conservationists, public officials and tribal leaders from the United States and Canada gather for the Great Lakes Commission meeting here to discuss the most pressing issues facing the five Great Lakes and to highlight recent successes. The four other Areas of Concern in Wisconsin are: the St. Louis River on Lake Superior; and the Lower Menominee River; Lower Green Bay & Fox River, Sheboygan River; and Milwaukee Estuary on Lake Michigan. Work is underway now at all of those sites.
- Improvements being made to access roads, parking, and signs on 200 public lands
MADISON – A $5 million investment in access roads, parking lots and new signage will create, or improve outdoor enthusiasts’ opportunities to discover, explore and enjoy 200-plus publicly owned state properties — including wildlife and fishing areas — encompassing more than 500,000 acres in locations across the Badger state. In addition, about $2 million will be allocated to expand the number of campground electric sites in state parks.
- 6,265 acres of hay harvested under emergency haying
MADISON –Wisconsin farmers were able to harvest hay from 6,265 acres of state land under emergency haying provisions the Department of Natural resources put in place earlier this summer as part of the agency’s drought relief initiative. The agency issued 286 emergency haying permits and an additional 5 emergency grazing permits for 63 acres for grazing.
- Sandhill Wildlife Area celebrates 50th anniversary
BABCOCK, Wis. — The Sandhill Wildlife Area achieves its 50th anniversary this year, but its roots stretch back to drought-stricken1930 when devastating wildfires scorched a half million acres of already badly damaged land in central Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin bat ecologist receives prestigious national award
MADISON –David Redell, a bat ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and one of the nation’s leading bat researchers and conservationists, was recently recognized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which presented him with their Silver Eagle Award. The award is the service’s highest honor and is given in recognition to people and organizations that have made an impressive contribution to wildlife conservation and management.
- Office of Business Support aims to provide DNR assistance to businesses in Wisconsin
MADISON – Businesses and industries looking to build or expand in Wisconsin now have a new resource intended to provide enhanced and proactive business support to navigate through Department of Natural Resources rules, regulations and permitting, with the official launch of the DNR Office of Business Support and Sustainability.
- When to pull the trigger? Let the new DNR sunrise/sunset app be your guide
MADISON — It’s late in the day and a beautiful night is on the way. You’re in your tree stand and you realize you don’t have the hunting regulation pamphlet with you. You don’t know if it is still legal to shoot. Now what do you do? Look at your Android phone. Tap on the new “Sunrise-Sunset” app and learn immediately the legal times of the day to shoot at your location. It’s so simple you’ll think it’s cheating, but it’s not.
- Friends of Blue Mound State Park donate new all season shelter
MADISON – The Friends of Blue Mound State Park officially donated a new all-season shelter in the park at the state Natural Resources Board’s October meeting in Madison Wednesday. Groundbreaking on the shelter began in July and the shelter is nearing completion at Blue Mound State Park, which is located about 45 miles west of Madison in Iowa County. The friends group hopes to have the facility open in time for the park’s first candlelight cross-country ski on Jan. 8, 2013.
- Whooping crane chicks to be released to the wild later this week
HORICON – Six whooping crane chicks are expected to be released into the wild later this week at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge with the hope they’ll fall in with an adult crane and start their first migration to Florida.
- New DNR video highlights Neenah’s award-winning brownfield redevelopment
MADISON – A new video provides a snapshot into one of the state’s award-winning brownfield redevelopments: a mixed-use redevelopment including the Plexus Corporation’s $16 million headquarters, a $7 million medical clinic and new parks and public amenities along Neenah’s downtown waterfront.
- Cooperative agreement brings sturgeon to Menominee tribal reservation
KESHENA FALLS, Wis. — It was a homecoming along the Wolf River last week as 33 sturgeon took up residence in a stretch of river that, up until last year, had been without sturgeon for 125 years. More than a decade of work brought the prehistoric fish to the river, which runs through the Menominee Indian Reservation.
- Celebrate Wisconsin’s Clean Water Act progress and heroes
When you pull a walleye from the Wisconsin River, cruise along the Fox River or dine overlooking the Milwaukee River, it’s hard to believe that 40 years ago waters had sludge so thick birds could walk across; that Green Bay dumped perfume into the East River to mask the stench, and that a sulfite liquor spill in the Oconto River discolored the paint on houses. What a difference the Clean Water Act has made in Wisconsin!
- More than 150 people attend public meetings on elk management plan revision
MADISON — More than 150 people attended five public meetings throughout the state to hear proposals to boost the Clam Lake elk herd and start a new herd in the Black River State Forest. The Department of Natural Resources along with several tribal and private partners have been formulating proposals to address current conditions that were not anticipated when elk were introduced to the Clam Lake area in 1995.
- Wisconsin companies receive EPA national air excellence awards
MADISON – Three Wisconsin companies are part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 12th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards, honoring projects and companies from across the country for their work on clean air initiatives.
- General permit now available for small projects impacting wetlands
MADISON – A general permit that streamlines and shortens the wetland permitting process for some residential, commercial and industrial projects impacting wetlands is now in effect, state wetland officials say.
- Plan approved to reduce phosphorous pollution in Red Cedar River system
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — A milestone has been reached in the decades-long effort to free Tainter and Menomin lakes – and the Red Cedar River that forms them – of the noxious algal blooms that impair these Dunn County waters. Years of research, monitoring and detailed analysis have culminated in a federally sanctioned blueprint, called a TMDL, to restore the Red Cedar so that once again these waters will be safe and inviting for swimmers, report officials with the state Department of Natural Resources.
- Warden, volunteers join to rid Lower Wisconsin River of dangerous steel debris
SPRING GREEN, Wis. — A 1930s photo provided the only clue Conservation Warden David Youngquist had about the wicked, twisted steel beams that rose like claws from the Wisconsin River only to slither below the water’s surface into eerie silent darkness.
- Wisconsin’s first modern-era wolf hunt begins October 15
MADISON – Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf hunt will commence on Oct. 15, marking the transition from wolf recovery to wolf management in the state. “This is a landmark moment in conservation history,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Hunters and trappers engaging in Wisconsin’s first state-managed season can hang their hats on being part of a pivotal chapter in wolf management, a story that can be shared with generations to come.”
- EHD Confirmed in three additional counties
MADISON – State wildlife officials have confirmed that samples submitted from deer found dead in Jefferson, Marquette, and Iowa counties have tested positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. EHD has now been confirmed in Columbia, Rock, Sauk, Dane, Waukesha, Jefferson, Marquette and Iowa counties.
- The 161st nine-day deer hunt closes, but heritage continues through stories
MADISON – Wisconsin’s deer hunting heritage lives and grows through the sharing of hunting stories. If each licensed hunter created one new story to share at camp this year, there are 633,460 new stories to pass along, with more than 243,000 of them ending with the harvest of a deer. This year’s preliminary tally indicates 243,739 deer were registered by gun deer hunters between Nov. 17 and Nov. 26.
- 40 years of endangered resources successes captured in Web features
MADISON — The 40th anniversary year of Wisconsin’s law safeguarding rare wildlife and plants is winding down with the penultimate feature posted today on the Department of Natural Resources website highlighting successful comebacks and innovative approaches achieved under the law.
- Hunters register 4,400 black bear in 2012 season
MADISON – Hunters registered just more than 4,400 black bears during the 2012 black bear season in Wisconsin, which state wildlife officials say is the second highest number on record. Hunters registered 5,133 bears in 2010 and 4,257 in 2011.
- Social media skyrockets at DNR
MADISON — More than 8,700 new fans, 105,500 video views, 1,070 tweets, and 124,660 views of 2,735 available photos: those are among the analytics from the first year of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ venture into social media.
- Hunting in Wisconsin continues to get safer
MADISON — It’s no accident that hunting in Wisconsin is a safe, fun activity for the entire family, according to Conservation Warden Jon King, who heads the Department of Natural Resources Hunter Education Program. Wisconsin has a fatality rate per 100,000 of 0.28 percent when considering a 10-year period. Going hunting is now safer than driving to work.
- Crossbows now allowed to hunt deer during gun deer season
EAU CLAIRE – Any hunter now can use a crossbow during any Wisconsin gun deer season, including muzzleloader, under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tags, under new rules approved this year that apply to gun seasons only.
- First-time license buyers get a price break on hunting and fishing fun
MADISON – A $5 first-time buyer’s license for Wisconsin residents makes it easier than ever for family and friends to join in Wisconsin’s hunting, fishing and trapping traditions. Under a 2012 law, certain hunting, trapping and fishing approvals are sold at a reduced fee to people who have not been issued that same type of license, or a conservation patron license, or a sports license, in any of the previous 10 years, according to Penny Kanable, Department of Natural Resources licensing.
- EHD outbreak declared over for 2012
MADISON – With the recent onset of hard frosts across southern Wisconsin, state Department of Natural Resources officials are declaring that the 2012 Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreak is over. The disease has been confirmed in samples submitted from deer found dead in Waukesha, Columbia, Iowa, Rock, Sauk, Dane, Jefferson and Marquette counties.
- An investment in tough times pays off for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts
MADISON – Seventy-five years ago, deer and other wildlife were still a rare sight in many parts of Wisconsin and the United States. Despite being in the midst of the Great Depression, U.S. Congress members came together to lay the financial foundation for conserving and restoring wildlife. They approved legislation commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, which established an excise tax on the sale of hunting and archery equipment. That cooperation, and the investments of sportsmen and women, created a key revenue source for conservation nationally and in Wisconsin.
- Hunting and trapping to be allowed in most state parks beginning in 2013
MADISON – Hunting and trapping will be allowed in most Wisconsin State Parks from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 and from April 1 through the third spring turkey period, under a plan the State Natural Resources Board approved Tuesday. In addition deer hunting with a bow will be open Nov. 15 until the end of the archery season in early January. The board modified and approved a plan the Department of Natural Resources presented to carry out a new state law – Act 168 known as the Sporting Heritage Act – the legislature approved last spring that expanded hunting and opened trapping on state park properties. The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, allows the DNR to prohibit hunting and trapping within 100 yards of a designated use area such as a campground, picnic area, or beach, or where there are public safety concerns, or to protect unique habitat.
- Environmental officials find good compliance with first year of ballast water regulations
MADISON – Good news on the waterfront: the state’s first full year of inspections of ocean-going and Great Lakes ships arriving in Wisconsin ports has found good compliance with ballast water regulations and recent legal decisions have cleared the way to more fully implement those regulations to reduce the risk that ballast water will bring invasive species to Wisconsin, state water quality officials say.
- Top 10 unique wildlife photos and stories in 2012
MADISON – Wisconsin’s wildlife and plant species yielded some of the most spectacular photos and stories in 2012, from an exceptional irruption of snowy owls, to a 1-in-a million albino bat found in February, to a bald eagle nursed back to health after winding up in the grille of an oncoming truck while diving for roadkill.
- E-Cycle Wisconsin electronics collection approaching 100 million pounds
MADISON – During the first three years of Wisconsin’s electronics recycling program, households and schools have taken nearly 100 million pounds of old TVs, computers and other electronics to registered collection sites, keeping harmful materials out of landfills and putting valuable resources to new and productive uses.
- Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season to close Dec. 23
MADISON – Wisconsin’s first modern wolf hunting and trapping season will come to a close at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources closes the last remaining zone that was open to wolf harvest. Wolf harvest zone 3 is the sixth and last wolf harvest to be closed this season. All wolf harvest zones are now closed.