MADISON - Many fall hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin are just around the corner, and the 2016 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] is now available.
"I'm always excited to hear our fall forecast is available, because that means it's almost time to grab my gear and head into the woods," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "The forecast is a great way to get a leg up on other hunters or trappers - we've got season previews for everything from deer to doves."
DNR Customer Service staff is available to assist the public online and via phone from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Spanish and Hmong bilingual customer service representatives are also available. Customers may reach customer service at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463) or by e-mail at email@example.com.
MADISON -- Hunters who were successful in the fall turkey permit drawing are receiving notification in the mail this week.
Hunters can also check their status online by logging into their accounts at GoWild.WI.Gov. A fall turkey license needs to be purchased, along with the turkey stamp, unless the stamp was purchased for the spring turkey hunt. Conservation Patron license holders already have their fall turkey license and stamp privileges and they will receive their fall turkey permits in the mail.
All remaining fall turkey permits will go on sale Saturday, Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. Leftover permits can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone sells out or the season ends. The fall turkey hunting season for zones 1-5 runs Sept 17. to Dec. 31, while the season for zones 6 and 7 runs Sept.17 to Nov. 18.
Leftover permit availability in each zone is as follows - total permits made available prior to the drawing are in parentheses:
Remaining fall turkey permits may be purchased using the online license center or through any one of more than 1,000 license agents. Leftover fall turkey permits cost $5 for 10 and 11 year olds, $10 for residents, and $15 for nonresidents. This is in addition to the cost of the fall turkey license and turkey stamp (if needed).
The 2016 Fall Turkey and 2017 Spring Turkey regulations are included in the 2016 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet, available now on the hunting regulations website and at DNR Service Centers.
For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "turkey."
MADISON - Conservation grazing, a habitat management tool currently being used on a few state wildlife areas, employs a staple in Wisconsin culture--cattle--to meet wildlife habitat management goals and expand partnerships with the agricultural community and local, sustainable food movements.
Department of Natural Resources properties where grazing occurs are closely monitored and assessed by DNR staff and cattle producers. In addition, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is conducting several research studies regarding conservation grazing. The results of these studies and further monitoring will be used to adapt the department's grazing approach to maximize wildlife habitat benefits. At all properties, grazing is done in a way that minimizes negative impacts on recreational users.
Biologists and researchers say the benefits of conservation grazing include:
In its second year, Buena Vista grassland rotational grazing program shows promise
DNR Wildlife Technician Erin Grossman and rancher and grazing specialist William Kolodziej are currently in year two of a five year project to utilize rotational grazing to improve wildlife habitat at Buena Vista Wildlife Area. The project area consists of 320 acres within the Central Sands region.
"Rotational grazing allows for varying rates of grazing pressure to achieve our desired outcome, and I am excited for the potential that this project has on Buena Vista and other wildlife areas around the state," said Grossman. "We've seen positive results so far and I've gained a greater appreciation for what is important to ranchers and developed some great partnerships along the way!"
Grossman and Kolodziej are working to improve habitat with beef cow and calf pairs to apply grazing pressure at varying intensities to increase plant diversity, create a grassland mosaic to benefit a variety of grassland bird species, reduce woody plant species, reduce reliance on costly mechanical and chemical management methods, and foster partnerships with neighbors and the agricultural community.
"When first approached with the concept of fostering a partnership with Wisconsin DNR to utilize grazing on public lands, I saw it as opportunity with many benefits--however, I also had many concerns," said Kolodziej. "Will DNR understand my goals and needs as a producer, will my cattle have enough to eat and adequate water to be healthy and stay in the fence?
"DNR staff have been easy to work with and showed concern for my livestock operation--we rely on each other's knowledge and skills from wildlife needs to livestock needs and we are a team working together to reach both wildlife habitat and livestock production goals. It is rewarding to be a part of a successful project where commercial agriculture works with the environment to improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat."
In 2016, stocking has doubled to 60 beef cow and calf pairs. Kolodziej says cattle performance has been great, with 100 percent breeding success last breeding season. Forage yields are roughly six times higher after one year of rotational grazing and great weather. In addition, the resident grazers have been trained to eat steeplebush, willow, aspen, musk thistle, and goldenrod - this has allowed a diverse set of plants and wildflowers to appear.
Grossman and Kolodziej held a pasture walk Aug. 11 at Buena Vista to teach members of the public about rotational grazing, and attendees were excited to learn more about what they can do on their own properties to better utilize this effective management tool.
Buena Vista Wildlife Area is a 13,700 acre property with predominately grassland and woodland habitat located in southwestern Portage County. In 2006 it was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) [exit DNR]. Several state natural areas are found within the borders of the property including the Buena Vista Quarry Prairie and the Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Meadow.
For more information regarding managed grazing in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "grazing."
MADISON -- Each year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts use Wisconsin's public lands for a variety of activities, ranging from birdwatching to hunting. For those interested in exploring all Wisconsin has to offer, the Department of Natural Resources has a number of tools available to help users find a new favorite spot in the wild.
Most public lands are open to hunting; however, some have closed areas and special regulations and season dates. Be sure to check the property web page or contact a property manager for more information.
Those in search of public hunting and trapping grounds this fall are reminded to check out the DNR's Public Access Lands atlas. The atlas includes all DNR properties, as well as nearly all federal and county-owned lands. Hunters are reminded to contact landowners beforehand to verify that hunting is allowed on a given property. People can download and print these maps free of charge from a home computer. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "atlas."
The Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Incentive program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture NRCS, provides financial incentives to private landowners who open their property to year-round wildlife-dependent recreation. Currently, 257 VPA properties totaling more than 36,000 acres are available for public use this fall through the Voluntary Public Access program. These lands are open to public use under certain guidelines. VPA lands are displayed on the PAL interactive map viewer. Search keyword "VPA" to learn more.
Lands are clearly posted with a 'Private Lands leased for Public Access' sign. Property access is limited to foot traffic only and only portable, temporary blinds and stands can be used. Feedback about user experience is essential to the continued success of this program - users are encouraged to complete an evaluation survey found at each VPA property, or use the QR code found on the sign posting to access the online version of the survey.
Managed Forest Law and Forest Crop Law are landowner-incentive programs that incorporate sustainable forest practices, like timber harvest and wildlife management, while improving public access to these lands.
Landowners who enroll may choose an "open" or "closed" designation for public recreation. Lands open to public recreation are available only for hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and sight-seeing. Hunters are encouraged to contact their local DNR Forester to learn more about these programs-search keywords "forest landowner," then click "find professional help" and use the Forestry Assistance Locator to find a DNR forester who has responsibility for that area of Wisconsin.
A mapping tool shows the approximate location of all MFL-Open and FCL lands in Wisconsin. Here, landowner information, acreage, and enrollment information is also available. To access the mapping tool, search keywords "MFL open land." For more general information regarding these programs, search keywords "managed forest law" and "forest crop law" for an FAQ and other helpful information.
State parks provide a range of recreational opportunities. Fall hunting and archery are allowed in the open areas of state parks during the open season from Nov. 15 - Dec. 15. Be sure to visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "hunting state parks" to learn more and find park hunting maps.
The Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool gives hunters an interactive summary of young aspen and alder habitat to find woodcock and ruffed grouse hunting areas, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and dove fields found on public hunting lands throughout Wisconsin
Features available within the program help hunters locate DNR public parking areas, overlay township descriptions, and provide access to maps and aerial photos of prospective hunting areas. Users can also print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and estimate acreage and walking distance.
The mapping application is compatible with all major desktop and mobile web browsers (internet access is required). Mobile users can use FFLIGHT on-the-go to find habitat suitable for the species they wish to pursue. To learn more, search keyword "FFLIGHT."
The free Pocket Ranger App gives hunters the tools to make it easier than ever to find a place to enjoy the outdoors and stay safe in the field - current features include:
Since the application's launch in November 2013, total downloads have eclipsed 210,000. To learn more and download this free application, search keyword "mobile apps," or search "Wisconsin Pocket Ranger" in the Apple App Store or Android Market from your Apple or Android device.
Participants receive a first-hand look at how DNR staff use management goals to maintain thousands of acres of property throughout Wisconsin and play a key role in enhancing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for others to enjoy.
Whether through habitat and maintenance work on the property or a financial donation, it has never been easier to play a direct role in conservation. Partner efforts are recognized through signage on the adopted property and department outreach efforts.
Those interested in adopting a State Wildlife Area can participate individually, or as part of a group. If you or your organization is interested, please submit an application [PDF] at the nearest DNR office location. To learn more about adopting a Wisconsin Wildlife Area, visit the department website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "volunteer."
The department uses current technology to reach users of all ages and backgrounds and provide for convenience, whether they are already in the field or looking for new places to explore. Be sure to visit DNR's Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn pages to learn more and connect with staff.
People who missed a live chat on finding a place to hunt with DNR staff Thursday, Aug. 4 can review the chat record at keyword "expert" - select "Deer: Available Tags and Where to Hunt" to learn more about these programs.
Straight Lake State Park improvements begin
Contact: Missy Vanlanduyt, state parks capitol development coordinator 608-266-7617 or Matt Densow, Straight Lake State Park, 715-483-3747
ST. CROIX FALLS, Wis. - The first phase of development at Straight Lake State Park will begin within the next two weeks, which will require temporary closures within the park.
Crews will be constructing improved entrance roads and parking areas, 10 rustic campsites with vault toilets; a day-use picnic area with water and vault toilets, an accessible kayak launch and small accessible fishing pier, a small open-air shelter near a look-out spot over Rainbow Lake and 3 miles of new hiking trails.
The work is scheduled to begin the week of August 22 and will continue through the fall. The new facilities will be opened to the public next spring. While the work is being done, the existing entrance roads to the park will be closed along with the areas under construction. Access to the park will be available off 280th Avenue at the adjacent Straight Lake State Wildlife Area.
The work will not affect fall hunting at the park, as the areas under construction had already been identified as day-use areas closed to hunting and trapping. The closure will also not affect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that winds through the property.
Straight Lake State Park, located about 20 miles north of St. Croix Falls in Polk County, is Wisconsin's newest state park, established in 2002. The 2,000-acre park adjacent to the 1,325-acres Straight Lake State Wildlife Area and is currently only open to foot travel. The state Natural Resources Board approved a master plan for the two properties in 2009 that included this first phase of improvements. Later improvements may include the development of a group camp in the park.
Access to the park will also be improved in the near future as the Department of Natural Resources awarded a grant to the county to improve the road leading to the park.
For more information about the park, search the DNR website for keywords "Straight Lake."
MADISON - Four projects in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan Basin will receive more than $400,000 to help reduce phosphorous and sediment pollution in the lake. The four awards are part of nearly $2 million given by the Great Lakes Commission to 14 projects across the region
The Great Lakes Commission is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division Administrator Pat Stevens is a member of the commission.
"These projects are yet another example of the effort underway to reduce phosphorous pollution in the Great Lakes Basin," said Stevens. "These efforts are important for improving environmental and economic conditions in communities up and down our Great Lakes shorelines."
The projects were selected by the Commission's Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program. Funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative under a cooperative agreement between the Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Great Lakes Commission is a public agency established by the Great Lakes Basin Compact in 1955 to help its Member states and provinces speak with a unified voice and collectively fulfill their vision for a healthy, vibrant Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River region. The Commission consists of governors' appointees, state legislators and agency officials from its eight member states.
MADISON - There is still time to enter Wisconsin's Eagle License Plate Giveaway for a chance to be one of 10 Wisconsinites who receive the new Endangered Resources specialty license plate free of charge for the first year.
Enter the giveaway by providing your name and contact information online by 11:59 p.m. Sept. 2 at the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching keywords "eagle plate." Entries are limited to owners of a registered Wisconsin vehicle that qualifies for a special plate: an automobile, light truck, farm truck or motor home.
Winners will be randomly selected Sept. 5. Winners who want to keep their eagle plate in subsequent years will be responsible for the $25 annual donation required to own the plate.
While the design is new, the Endangered Resources license plate has raised money to help care for Wisconsin's native wildlife, plants and State Natural Areas since 1995. Revenue from the $25 annual donation motorists pay for the plate have played an important role in restoring bald eagles, trumpeter swans and other once-endangered species to Wisconsin.
MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for the Shooting Range Grant Program.
Shooting range grants are available to counties, cities, villages, towns, other governmental agencies or units, clubs or organizations, businesses or corporations and education institutions. Grants are awarded every two years for private shooting ranges and twice a year for public ranges. Recipients must provide a cost share amount.
Eligible projects include archery ranges, backstops and berms, target holders, restroom facilities, shooting benches, baffles, trenches, signs, gun racks, platforms, protective fencing and other items the DNR deems essential for a project. Most projects include improving the range to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, increasing safety aspects and developing shooting lanes for a variety of firearms. Indoor ranges may be eligible as well, including classroom, storage and restroom facilities.
This grant program is administered as a reimbursement program. This means grant recipients must incur and pay all costs associated with the project before seeking reimbursement from DNR. No grant advances are possible. It is possible for grantees to request partial (quarterly) reimbursements from the DNR during the life of the project. More information is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Shooting Range Grant Program."
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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