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Weekly News Published - September 20, 2016 by the Central Office

 

Visit Wisconsin forests to enjoy the fall color change

MADISON - A warm and wet summer has set the stage for a spectacular fall color change, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forestry experts say.

Fall is one of the best times for a family hike in Wisconsin.
Fall is one of the best times for a family hike in Wisconsin.
Photo Credit: DNR

The beauty of Wisconsin's forests attracts many visitors, especially during the next two months as the showy fall colors begin in the Northwoods and move through the state to southern Wisconsin.

"People often ask us where to go to see the best colors," said Kirsten Held, DNR outreach specialist with the Division of Forestry. "The answer is anywhere in the state. It's all a matter of keeping track where the color is traveling."

Peak fall color varies slightly from year to year depending on the weather conditions, but the shortened day length is the primary trigger for trees to begin changing color. Peak fall color usually occurs in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October. However, the first hints of color typically appear in isolated, lower lying areas by mid-September. Peak color generally occurs in central Wisconsin during mid-October and in southern Wisconsin during the latter half of October.

With state, county and federal forests as well as state parks and natural areas accessible to the public throughout the state, it's possible to follow the progression of fall colors from hundreds of locations. In addition to viewing colors from your car or along walking trails, many of the public forest lands offer the opportunity to enjoy the colors while paddling down a river or on a lake.

Wisconsin's State Forests - Black River, Brule River, Flambeau River, Governor Knowles, Northern Highland-American Legion, Peshtigo River, Point Beach, and Kettle Moraine's six units -- are great for fall color viewing. Find other state forests, parks, trails and recreation areas for viewing options on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov.

Weather during the growing season is critical for the abundant quantity of leaves needed to provide the potential for an excellent fall color display, Held said. In many areas of the state, 2016 has produced a healthy crop of leaves. Already, a few red maples have started to turn in northern Wisconsin, signaling the start of the annual show within the next couple of weeks.

"The intensity of the fall color season is dependent on the weather that Wisconsin receives during September and October," Held said. "To have the most brilliant and vibrant fall color display, a series of fall days filled with bright sunshine and cool, but frost free, evenings are required."

The duration of the fall color season is related to the intensity of wind and rain during late-September and October. High winds and driving rains cause significant numbers of the leaves to fall from the trees, which can prematurely shorten the display.

While the annual fall color show is a huge attraction for the thousands who flock to Wisconsin, and contribute to the state's strong tourism industry, the economic impact of the forests themselves is even more significant.

"While the fall color show, orchestrated by Mother Nature using the state's 17.1 million acres of forests, is an important contributor to the state's economy, wood products from the state's forests contribute $24.7 billion to the Wisconsin economy each year," Held said.

For current information on the current best fall color viewing areas in Wisconsin contact the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-432-TRIP or online at the Fall Color Report (exit DNR) on the Travel Wisconsin website.

What causes trees to turn color?

The timing of fall color in Wisconsin's forests is determined more by the shortening daylight hours than it is by temperature, but temperature and other weather conditions play a big role in the intensity and duration of fall colors, said Held.

There are three types of pigments that are directly involved in producing colorful leaf displays: chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins. Here's how they work:

Certain tree and shrub species are commonly associated with differing colors during the fall: green ash, white birch and aspen turn golden yellow; red maple a brilliant red; oak and hickory become a reddish-brown color; white ash a deep purple; and sumac a scarlet red. Even tamarack turns a beautiful deep golden yellow and loses its needles in the fall, the only conifer (evergreen) tree in Wisconsin to shed its needles.

Learn more about why state forests change colors throughout the year by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "science of fall leaf colors."

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Youth deer hunt Oct. 8-9 will provide great opportunity to introduce young hunters to the outdoors

MADISON -- Youth hunters and those interested in mentoring young hunters are reminded to mark their calendars for this year's youth deer hunt Oct. 8-9.

The youth hunt allows boys and girls ages 10-15 to hunt with a gun or other legal weapon prior to the regular firearm seasons. The youth hunt is open to all resident and non-resident youth hunters with a gun deer license and appropriate tags.

"This is a great opportunity for families and friends to mentor and train young hunters," said Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sports coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The memories made last a lifetime and sharing our our amazing nature with our children is incredibly rewarding - I know from personal experiences with my own daughters."

It is important to note that the Junior Antlerless Deer carcass tag is NOT valid in Ashland, Forest and Sawyer counties. In addition, all hunters in the field are required to wear blaze orange during the Youth Deer Hunt.

All youth hunters must be accompanied by a mentor 18 years of age or older. Youth ages 12-15 with a hunter education certificate may hunt within visual and voice range of a mentor. When accompanying one or two youth ages 12-15 that have successfully completed hunter education, a mentor is not required to possess a hunter education certificate or a current hunting license.

Hunters ages 10 and 11, as well as those ages 12-15 that have not completed hunter education, may gain hunting experience under the Hunting Mentorship Program. This program requires youth to hunt within arm's reach of a qualified mentor who has completed hunter education and holds a current hunting license.

Only one weapon may be possessed jointly between youth and mentor. Mentors may not hunt using a firearm during the youth deer hunt weekend, and must possess a valid Wisconsin hunting license for the current hunting season. License type does not matter, unless the mentor will be hunting other game.

Hunters of all ages are reminded to follow the four rules of firearm safety:

First-time hunters and those that have not purchased a license in at least 10 years are eligible for a discounted first-time buyer license. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "license" for more information.

As in previous years, those new to hunting can celebrate their first harvest with the official first deer or first hunt certificate. Simply follow the instructions on the page to upload a photo of your first deer and describe your experience. For more information, and to create your own first deer certificate, search keywords "first deer."

To learn more about youth hunting and general deer season regulations, search keywords "youth hunt" and "deer" respectively.

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Sturgeon Fest marks another milestone in efforts to restore lake sturgeon to Milwaukee River

NEWBURG, Wis. - Gliding gently around their tanks in a trailer near the banks of the Milwaukee River, some 1,100 young sturgeon await the day when they'll swim free in the waters of Lake Michigan.

Sample Caption and Alt Text
Lake sturgeon hatched from eggs collected on the Wolf River were raised at a streamside rearing facility operated by Riveredge and DNR so they imprint on the waters of the Milwaukee River.
Photo Credit: DNR

The fish, hatched from eggs collected by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Wolf River, have been growing steadily at the streamside rearing facility operated by Riveredge Nature Center and DNR. After receiving tiny tags that will help fisheries biologists track their growth and movement if recaptured, the young sturgeon will be ready for release at the 11th annual Sturgeon Fest, set for Oct. 1 at Lakeshore State Park near the Milwaukee Summerfest grounds.

The free, family oriented event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features the opportunity for participants to sponsor and hand release one of the young sturgeon into the Milwaukee Harbor. Beyond the excitement of the fish, food and fun, the event provides the chance for participants to be part of a 25 year project to restore a naturally reproducing population of lake sturgeon to their native range.

"As we count down the years on this effort, we are gathering evidence that conditions in southern Lake Michigan are suitable for the fish to survive and grow," said Jessica Jens, executive director of Riveredge Nature Center. "In partnership with DNR, the Fund for Lake Michigan and other supporters, we are grateful for the involvement of volunteers and support from citizens who are helping us achieve this shared vision."

Juvenile sturgeon assessments conducted by DNR each summer provide reason for optimism. From 2013 to 2015, crews in southern Lake Michigan captured a total of 31 sturgeon from all sources. The fish ranged in size from 15.4 inches to 34.6 inches, with an average length of 20.3 inches.

This summer, an additional 13 fish were captured. Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor, said that most of the fish being captured are coming from the Milwaukee River lake sturgeon streamside rearing facility but fisheries staff members also are finding lake sturgeon stocked by other facilities on Lake Michigan. In addition, fish originating from the Milwaukee streamside rearing facility have been picked up elsewhere, including some in Michigan waters.

"Young sturgeon are capable of swimming great distances - just last week one of our Milwaukee fish released in 2012 was picked up near Escanaba, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But as they reach maturity, they are likely to return to the waters in which they were raised to spawn," Eggold said. "The streamside rearing facility at Riveredge uses water piped from the Milwaukee River, which should help guide the fish back to the Milwaukee River in the years ahead. Since the streamside trailer began operations in 2006, we've released more than 13,800 sturgeon."


Sturgeon Fest
Video Credit: DNR

For the males, the return could be as soon as four to five years given current growth rates; the females may be ready in nine to 14 years. Meanwhile, work continues to make sure there is suitable spawning habitat in the Milwaukee River whenever the fish are ready. A driving force in this effort has been the Fund for Lake Michigan, which has partnered with DNR and in recent years provided nearly $190,000 for sturgeon rearing and habitat restoration efforts.

"These amazing creatures are an indicator of the health of Lake Michigan," said Vicki Elkin, executive director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. "When children release young sturgeon, they feel the joy of possibility in their hands. Our hope is that years and decades in the future, these fish return to Milwaukee as huge, armored beauties, reminding people that humans can help support nature and that ecosystems are remarkably resilient."

Healthy populations of lake sturgeon were found in southern Lake Michigan as recently as the late 1800s; habitat loss and over-harvest decimated the population.

Families and individuals interested in sponsoring a sturgeon for Sturgeon Fest are encouraged to register online before noon Friday, September 30, although it will still be possible to sign up at the event. The sturgeon are typically released between noon and 2 p.m. following a short presentation and a blessing of the fish by a Native American representative.

To learn more about efforts to restore lake sturgeon in southern Lake Michigan, visit dnr.wi.gov and search for "Lake Michigan lake sturgeon." For more about the festival, visit the Riveredge Nature Center website and the new Sturgeon Fest website. [both links exit DNR]

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Aquatic invasive species prevention efforts show signs of success, DNR study says

MADISON. - There is good news in Wisconsin's ongoing efforts against aquatic invasive species.

A new study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows the spread of aquatic invasive species is stable, indicating prevention efforts may be working. A five-year search of 1,000 lakes -- the largest effort of its kind in the country -- revealed the rate of spread has not increased, but has remained stable.

Water lettuce
After an off-duty DNR employee discovered invasive water lettuce in Lake Mendota during the summer of 2015, a quick response by staff members as well as volunteers from the Clean Lakes Alliance, the UW-Madison's Center for Limnology and the Hoofer Outing Club successfully eliminated the plant along the lake's south shore.
Photo Credit: DNR

In addition, the survey showed that some of the most damaging aquatic invaders are being successfully kept out of the majority of Wisconsin lakes but that good news doesn't mean we've stopped the spread. There is still a great deal of work everyone can do.

"While the stable invasion rate suggests our prevention efforts are having an impact, we would like to achieve an actual decline in the rate of spread," said Bob Wakeman, DNR statewide aquatic invasive species program coordinator. "Our next steps are to identity gaps in our education and outreach program to boaters and others who may unwittingly transport and introduce invasive species."

This fall, Wakeman said DNR is making a special effort to reach out to waterfowl hunters. A few simple steps can help prevent decoys, boats, blinds and dogs from carrying aquatic invasive species from one hunting area to the next, Wakeman said. Before launching or leaving a water body:

The study project, funded largely by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, included efforts by a 150-member team of DNR staff, researchers, partners and volunteers that scoured lakes throughout the state for invaders such as Eurasian water milfoil, spiny water fleas, zebra mussels and purple loosestrife. Efforts focused on lakes with public boat access because boats are a primary pathway for invasive species to spread.

While the researchers discovered at least one undesirable species in nearly 75 percent of the lakes, it appears the most concerning invaders are being successfully kept out of the majority of lakes. For example, 90 percent of the lakes remained free of zebra mussels and 75 percent of lakes did not have Eurasian water milfoil.

"The study's findings are important in a number of ways, including documenting conditions in lakes that have not been sampled before," said Maureen Ferry, an aquatic invasive species monitoring coordinator for DNR and leader of the research effort. "Theoretically, invasion rates should increase over time because each new lake that hosts an invader can contribute to the spread. We found a constant rate, which suggests something - hopefully our outreach and education efforts - is preventing that acceleration from occurring.''

In recent years, those efforts have included campaigns such as Clean Boats, Clean Waters, which uses teams of volunteers as well as some paid staff from the DNR, Sea Grant and other organizations to help with boat and trailer checks to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. DNR also provides a variety of support to lake groups and communities to implement best practices and participate in monitoring and research efforts such as the five year study.

The research also showed that few of the newly detected species were actually new to the lake they had invaded; most had been lurking for some time in lakes that had never been monitored. The finding is important because early detection can lead to improved control with reduced economic impacts over time.

"Detecting invasive species early in establishment leads to much better control over time. So it's really important for citizens to help monitor and report early populations," Wakeman said.

In the months ahead, DNR also will continue its work to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species such as water lettuce and water hyacinth that may escape from water gardens, said Wakeman. For more information on Wisconsin's invasive species rule and what hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts can do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Aquatic Invasive Species."

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Fish ferry serves endangered mussels well on the Wisconsin River

PRAIRIE DU SAC - Nearly 15 years after state and federal biologists first used bass and walleye to deliver endangered freshwater mussels to their new home on the Wisconsin River, biologists from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other state and federal agencies have returned to find good news.

The biologists' diving surveys earlier this summer revealed the federally endangered Higgins' eye mussels are surviving, growing and in good condition at the site. And, they have not succumbed to invasive zebra mussels once feared to threaten their existence.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 9 photos

Looking for the Higgins' eye mussel

Zebra mussels are regarded as the most severe threat to native mussels already suffering declines due to pollution, habitat loss, overharvest and other factors. Zebra mussels can outcompete native mussels for food and attach to their shells in such great numbers they essentially smother the natives.

"It's great to know we can propagate and restore our native mussels and that we can overcome the impacts of zebra mussels at this site," DNR Conservation Biologist Lisie Kitchel said.

Kitchel serves on the multi-state, multi-agency project to jump start Higgins' eye populations. The project's mussel work at Prairie du Sac in Sauk County and downstream in Richland County stems from a partnership involving several federal and state agencies, academics and citizens to assure a species once common and widespread in the Upper Mississippi River doesn't vanish.

Freshwater mussels are an important part of aquatic ecosystems. The mussels help filter water to keep it clean, provide food for fish and wildlife, stabilize the riverbed and provide valuable habitat for many creatures that inhabit streams.

The partners decided to reintroduce Higgins' eye mussels to 10 sites in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois with a goal of achieving self-sustaining populations in at least five of the sites. In Wisconsin, two sites on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway were selected, below the Prairie du Sac dam in Sauk County and in Richland County at the Orion Mussel Bed State Natural Area, recognized as one of 14 Essential Habitat Areas for Higgins' eye.

Higgins' eye mussels were propagated at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery and larval mussels, called glochidia, were placed in tanks with largemouth and smallmouth bass and walleye. In the wild, these fish species serve as hosts to mussels' larval stage. Stocking trucks carrying the fish were backed up to the river and the fish were released into the water. The glochidia later dropped off the fish and settled into the river bed. In addition to the stocking, two- to three-year-old Higgins' eye raised in cages in the Mississippi River and transported to the Wisconsin sites were hand-placed by divers onto the river bed.

Dan Kelner, a St. Paul-based U.S. Army Corps of Engineers biologist leading the mussel project, said the Corps started the Higgins' eye effort in 2002 to meet federal Endangered Species Act requirements that the Corps' Mississippi River navigation channel not jeopardize the Higgins' Eye and other aquatic species.

"One of our main goals was to establish new and protect reproducing populations of Higgins' eye outside of the main channel areas threatened by the zebra mussels," Kelner said. "We feel we're having success here on the Wisconsin (River)."

Data from summer 2016 surveys are still being compiled, but on the Wisconsin River site below the Prairie du Sac Dam, good numbers of Higgins' eye delivered by hand and by fish have been found.

About one-half of the 51 mussel species in Wisconsin are threatened or endangered, and in North America as a whole, 70 percent of the 300-plus mussel species are extinct or imperiled, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says.

The project's biologists say the mussel project has yielded benefits beyond the Higgins' eye: lessons learned from their pioneering work is being used in the planning of other endangered mussel work, specifically for reintroducing the winged mapleleaf to Wisconsin rivers.

"It's been a very fruitful and beneficial team and Wisconsin has been very prominent in the project, particularly in the early years," Kelner said. In 2014, the Mussel Coordination Team was recognized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a "Recovery Champion" for its work with endangered mussels.

Project biologists were from the Wisconsin and Minnesota, DNRs, Genoa Fish Hatchery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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Updated Wisconsin land cover mapping project breaks new ground

MADISON - A new and modernized view of Wisconsin's land cover is now available to the public for use in multiple ways including forest management, conservation and urban planning and particularly in providing effective customized habitat and deer management plans for as many landowners as possible.

The two year Wiscland 2.0 (2-point-0) project combines ground level mapping, satellite imagery, and USDA data in a product produced jointly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources (DNR), UW-Madison and the State Cartographer's Office. The project was authorized by Gov. Scott Walker in the 2013-2015 biennial budget.

"Wiscland 2.0 is the first update of our land map data in nearly 25 years," said Governor Walker. "While deer management and our critical Deer Management Assistance Program were the drivers of this effort, the mapping tools created by this project can also support everything from deer management to emergency response and preparedness to economic development."

The goal of Wiscland 2.0 was to map the current vegetation, water, and urban patterns for the entire state. Having a current land cover dataset is a critical element in research and establishing scientifically based management plans that can also be used by counties, municipalities and the public.

Such a land map project was recommended by Dr. James Kroll in the 2012 Deer Trustee report. "A statewide geospatial information system should be developed which provides seamless support to all state resource managers across agencies. This would permit significant leveraging of research and development dollars by allowing data generated for a specific project to be used by all."

In addition to aiding the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), Wiscland 2.0 can also be used to identify habitat types that may be under-protected so management activities can be adjusted. The data available can be used to calculate forest fire risk and ultimately create a statewide forest fire risk map. It will allow DNR's Forestry Division to locate the various types of trees that are important to Wisconsin's economy. It can also be put to use in watershed and master planning efforts, just to mention a few.

Coordinated through the State Cartographer's Office, this updated view of Wisconsin's land cover was accomplished by using data from the U.S. Government's Landsat series of satellites followed up with a coordinated field collection effort combining DNR staff assistance and a DNR summer field collection crew that visited field locations during 2015 to collect land cover type information.

Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.

Anyone can download the new and improved Wiscland 2.0 data from the DNR website.

For further information on the Wiscland 2.0 project, go to SCO Project: Statewide Land Cover. For information on the wildlife aspects of this application, contact the DNR's Frank Trcka at 608-267-7472.

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August 2016 wildlife survey results for a number of species now available

MADISON - Survey results from the August 2016 Wisconsin Wildlife Surveys are now available.

The following reports can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, at keywords "wildlife surveys":

Small Game

Big Game

Waterfowl

Furbearers

Non-Game

For more information regarding Wisconsin's wildlife surveys and to view past results, search the DNR website for "wildlife surveys."

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Celebrate Wisconsin's public lands on National Public Lands Day

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: this news release has been updated with a link to a Wisconsin proclamation of Public Lands Day.]

MADISON -- With about 5.7 million acres of public land to explore, Wisconsin provides numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation to residents and visitors alike.

National Public Lands Day, occurring on Sept. 24 this year, is an ideal time to get outside, with cooler autumn temperatures, fall color and events occurring on several public lands across the state. In recognition of Wisconsin's public lands, Gov. Scott Walker proclaimed Sept. 24, 2016 to officially be known as "Public Lands Day."

Those interested can also give back to a favorite public land through hands-on volunteer work. Celebrated across the country, National Public Lands Day is a coordinated display of appreciation for the lands that belong to all citizens. For more information about National Public Lands Day and events in Wisconsin, visit www.publiclandsday.org (exit DNR).

National Public Lands Day is also a good opportunity to visit a state wildlife area, which are managed for hunting and trapping and also allow a variety of other types of recreation. This year, several properties are celebrating significant anniversaries marking decades of conservation efforts, including Crex Meadows, Deppe, Fish Lake, Kissick Swamp, Miscauno, Mud Lake (Door County), Nichols Creek, Swan Lake and Tiffany wildlife areas.

Whether you plan to explore one of these historic wildlife areas or visit a local favorite, you can find more information at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "wildlife areas."

Those that want to play a direct role in managing habitat and wildlife on state lands can also sponsor a state wildlife area through the new Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area program. With over 200 properties eligible for sponsorship, this program gives sponsors a unique opportunity to enhance fish and wildlife areas through such hands-on work as habitat restoration, invasive species removal, surveys and more. To learn more or apply, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword "volunteer."

Public Access Lands Atlas

People in search of public hunting and trapping grounds this fall are reminded to check out the department's Public Access Lands atlas. The atlas includes all DNR properties, as well as nearly all federal and county-owned lands. Maps are available to download and print free of charge from a home computer. For more information, search keyword "atlas."

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Natural Resources Board to meet September 27-28 in Black River Falls

MADISON - A request for the approval of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' 2017 - 2019 Biennial Budget including operating, capital, and environmental improvement fund components, a request to start the process for proposed rules related to fish harvest in Lake Superior and informational updates on the chronic wasting disease response plan and a southwest Wisconsin deer and predator study are among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address when it meets September 28 in Black River Falls.

The regular business meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 28, at the Comfort Inn and Suites, W10170 Highway 54 East, Black River Falls.

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the board is scheduled to tour and/or receive presentations on: the history of the elk project and Black River State Forest; habitat management and monitoring of elk; recognition of partners in the reintroduction project; elk damage, fencing, and abatement; and all terrain and utility terrain vehicles trails in the forest.

The complete September board agenda is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for keyword "NRB" and clicking on the button for "view agendas." [http://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb/agenda.html]

The public must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison, to participate in the board tour or to testify at the board meeting. The deadline to register to testify or submit written comments for this business meeting is 11 a.m. on Friday, September 23, 2016. Registration information is available on the agenda on the DNR website.

Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month's meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.

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New Off-Highway Motorcycle Program Begins October 1, 2016

MADISON - When Gov. Scott Walker signed 2016 Wis Act 170 into law, the new Off-Highway Motorcycle Program was created for Wisconsin. Under Wisconsin Statutes, the OHM Program begins on Oct. 1, 2016.

Key Points Regarding the New OHM Program:

Effective October 1, 2016, all OHMs must be registered with the DNR if any of the following apply:

DNR registration will be available beginning Oct. 1, 2016 through the online system at: GoWild.Wi.Gov, at DNR Service Centers, and by mailed-in paper application. One OHM decal will be provided by mail. A temporary operating receipt will be issued both through the online system and at DNR Service Centers to registered OHM owners, which is to be carried by the operator until the decal is received in the mail. If registration is submitted by mail, it is not legal to operate the OHM on lands open to the public until the decal is affixed to the motorcycle.

"Wisconsin Statutes define an off highway motorcycle as any two-wheeled motor vehicle that is straddled by the operator, that is equipped with handlebars, and that is designed for use off a highway, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is also designed for use on a highway," said Gary Eddy, DNR recreational vehicle administrator.

OHMs may include what are commonly known as "street legal, dual-sport bikes" and "non‑street legal trail or dirt bikes." OHMs may operate on public roadways in any of the following situations:

Riders of dual-sport OHMs who wish to operate on public roads and designated trails must be registered with DNR and licensed with WisDOT.

"Not all ATV trails and routes are open for legal off-highway motorcycle use," Eddy said. "Previously open OHM areas should continue to remain open, but riders should check with local trail managers or local governments for any updates on OHM areas or local regulations."

Riders can also check with the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association (www.wohma.com).

Public areas previously open to OHMs may require that operators of OHM obtain a local OHM trail use sticker. This local sticker requirement would be in addition to DNR OHM registration and decal; please check with your local trail manager about any local OHM trail use sticker requirement.

All OHM operators who are at least 12 years old and born after January 1, 1998, must have completed OHM Safety certification to operate an OHM on areas open to the public for recreational use. The DNR will be creating a combined online ATV/OHM Safety Certification training course for operators needing both certifications and an online OHM short-course for previous WI ATV Safety graduates that only need OHM Safety certification.

All OHM manufacturers, dealers, distributors, renters or any combination thereof engaged in OHM business within the State of Wisconsin must register with the DNR and obtain a commercial certificate and decals.

OHMs not licensed with WisDOT and used on areas open to the public for recreational use of OHMs may not emit noise in excess of 96 decibels and must be equipped with a U.S. Forest Service approved spark arrester.

The following information will also be available beginning Oct. 1, 2016 to help introduce you to the new Off Highway Motorcycle (OHM) program:

For all information and periodic updates, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "OHM."

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Help DNR staff monitor Wisconsin's wolf population - become a volunteer carnivore tracker today

MADISON - Wisconsin's wolf monitoring program relies upon volunteers from around the state who help track animals each winter, and people interested in playing a key role in wildlife management are encouraged to sign up for one of a number of clinics offered statewide.

Tracking classes focus on medium to large size carnivores that inhabit Wisconsin, as well as a few other common mammals. Ecology classes cover the history of wolves in Wisconsin, their biology and ecology, how DNR monitors the population, and state management and research. The two classes together provide the required training and prepare participants to conduct formal track surveys as a volunteer tracker.

Department of Natural Resources biologists and volunteers have partnered to provide informative classes focused on aspects of wolf ecology, population biology and field study techniques. Winter tracking is a great way to experience the outdoors in winter and make a contribution to natural resource management. For a list of courses offered, search the DNR website for volunteer carnivore tracking page and select the "training courses" option on the right side of the page.

"DNR staff and volunteers tracked over 17,000 miles last winter searching for wolf, coyote, bobcat, and other medium to large size carnivore tracks in Wisconsin," said DNR large carnivore specialist David MacFarland. "It's a great way to get out and enjoy Wisconsin in the winter while helping the department monitor some of the state's most interesting wildlife."

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The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773