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.
"We created this office to provide a focal point within the department to enhance job creation and economic vitality while maintaining environmental standards under the DNR's environmental and conservation mission," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.
"The Office of Business Support and Sustainability will strengthen working relationships with key designated business sectors by supporting streamlining, economic development and innovation that yields both environmental and economic results," added OBSS Director Al Shea.
Shea said the new office will also focus and coordinate the department's resources needed to enable economic development and support job creation, working primarily on businesses seeking to start or relocate in Wisconsin, and on existing businesses seeking to expand and key business retention opportunities. Routine permitting will be handled through the existing DNR regulatory programs.
To emphasize the importance of the office, Shea reports directly to Secretary Stepp. The office was created by drawing together staff from the department's Energy and Environmental Analysis and Cooperative Environmental Assistance programs. Initially DNR will focus on ten sectors in which to build relationships. Specialists have been appointed to work on: agribusiness; development, construction and building; energy; forest and wood products; green manufacturing; manufacturing; paper; printing; sustainable communities; and transportation.
"Sector development specialists will not only work directly with the sector, but also with a team of individuals from various DNR programs to enable prompt DNR response to business and community needs," said Shea. He noted the specialists and their teams are tasked with developing specialized knowledge about sector needs, and working collaboratively with these sectors to create effective growth and environmental performance strategies.
Partners from other organizations and agencies will play a key role as the Office of Business Support and Sustainability works to align sector work with initiatives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Regional Economic Development Organizations and academic institutions to name a few.
In addition, under Executive Order 69, the office will also grow the Green Tier Program, and OBSS staff will coordinate the work of DNR programs to meet that challenge. Many Wisconsin businesses and communities have embraced sustainability as a strategy for the future and the new office will work to support those initiatives. Staff will pursue flexibility for sustainable businesses in order to make Wisconsin businesses more profitable and get environmental performance that goes well beyond regulatory minimums. "We expect to learn from our business and community partners who have embraced sustainability, and make sure they get the support that they need from DNR," said Shea.
To view the various DNR tools to support businesses in Wisconsin, go to the DNR website and type in key words "sector" to get find business sectors and partnerships or "business" to find other resources for businesses .
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Al Shea, 608-266-5896; Bill Cosh, 608-267-2773
MADISON -- For Sally Kefer, it's changed from how a community responds after the flood to what the community can do to prevent that flood.
It's about analyzing the long-term local damage leveled on private homes and businesses, expensive infrastructure and public waterways by the weather - and then taking Mother Nature's hint to adapt the community to a world where seasons aren't so predictable.
"We can't work in the design environment of the 10-year/24-hour storm event when storms that are more intense and more frequent may be becoming more common," the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Science Services land use team leader says.
Kefer is talking about community adaptation. What's that? Planning for extreme weather.
That's the theme she carries into every workshop she holds in different communities around Wisconsin where local officials, government staff and civic leaders are grappling with the often costly reality of floods in their areas, runoff causing problematic erosion and old trees toppling like dominos in wind storms, challenging road crews, interrupting power and endangering residents.
The workshops began in 2009 when a group of DNR, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (exit DNR) (WICCI) staff held several community workshops to inform local officials about projected changes to Wisconsin's climate and to discuss "climate adaptation." Workshops were held in Eau Claire, River Falls and Madison. DNR and WICCI staff have also participated in federally sponsored workshops in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Superior.
"Community leaders have seen weather events posing new community challenges," Kefer says of those who attend her workshops. "We don't argue about what is causing the changes. We focus on preparedness and prevention."
The local leaders talk about how extreme weather events have demanded a lot of expensive repairs over time. Kefer says: "We ask them to evaluate and project what actions and strategies are needed and then to consider what putting those actions on the ground looks like to avoid the need for the same repairs."
All of this means daily life doesn't necessarily have to be interrupted by damages caused by weather because those damages were anticipated, planned for and possibly prevented.
Adaptation also means helping local farmers to consider what they are able to grow under variable annual conditions such as drought where they might opt to have access to quick growing, drought tolerant seeds that ensure success at some level in a given season. It also can mean planting different tree species in urban and forested areas that are more likely to survive gradual warming temperatures and which grow their roots to a depth that survives extreme weather. "These are ideas that can be discussed, decided upon and incorporated into daily decision-making by the community," she says.
"Another issue communities need to think long and hard about is wind events," she says. "We have seen these throughout the state. We get communities thinking about what it might mean to have to handle one of these. For example, would it start by a unique blast from the siren to warn of a high wind event - when that siren is typically only used for tornados?"
The goal of the workshops is to arrive at local solutions to local emerging impacts and issues. "This is about them, community leaders and overseers of the local economy, and about asking, 'what if' and making choices and thinking ahead to keep residents safe, businesses operational, schools in session and government functioning are key goals for communities."
Kefer says adapting to changes in climate is also an issue for individuals. "There are some very simple things you can do to make sure you are ready for a weather emergency," she says. For example:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sally Kefer, Bureau of Science Services Land Use Team Leader - 608- 267-3128 and Joanne M. Haas, public affairs manager, 608-267-0798
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?
It's very simple. The answer is in your palm. (See below how to get it!)
Sunrise sunset QR code
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.
Tested by Wisconsin conservation wardens, the app has been developed by the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law Enforcement to answer your needs.
Using a GPS system, the app tells you to the second the opening and closing time for various hunting seasons for your current location.
You also can use it to learn the opening and closing times for locations anywhere in the state or for future dates.
Just turn on your phone's GPS.
The app comes complete with a state time zone map tab, an informational tab and an email shortcut to notify the DNR about app needs and issues.
How to get it
Not only is it efficient, it's cheap - that's 99 cents cheap! Here are two surefire ways to get it:
*Note, this app is not yet available in i-Tunes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Brooks, deputy chief warden, 608-266-7820; Joanne M. Haas, public affairs manager, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-267-0798
MADISON - Hunters can again donate deer to help feed the hungry through a partnership that over the past 11 years has stocked food pantries across the state with 3.6 million pounds of ground venison, state wildlife officials say.
The Wisconsin Venison Donation Program and its affiliates, Hunt for the Hungry and Target Hunger, along with more than 120 participating meat processors, are ready to accept and distribute extra venison donated by hunters during this deer hunting season, according to Brad Koele, the Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist coordinating the venison program.
"The generosity of hunters, meat processors, and volunteers has been incredible," Koele said. "We need your help again this season to share the harvest and help families in need."
In the past 12 years, hunters have donated 80,000 deer which were processed into more than 3.6 million pounds of ground venison and distributed to food pantries across the state.
A list of participating meat processors, and instructors for donating, are available on the DNR website: dnr.wi.gov (keyword, "Deer Donation").
Hunters can donate a deer by following a few simple steps:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Koele, 608-266-2151 or Jenny Pelej, 608-264-9248
MADISON - People interested in volunteering to help Department of Natural Resources biologists locate and count timber wolves and other forest carnivores in the coming year, can learn how in a series of upcoming training sessions on animal tracking and ecology.
Wisconsin wolves were removed from the Federal List of Endangered Species on January 27, 2012. In addition to the state's plan to monitor the wolf population, there is a federal requirement to monitor the wolf population for the first five years after delisting.
"The volunteer carnivore tracking program is critical for us to obtain counts of the state wolf population," said Kurt Thiede, DNR Division Administrator of Lands. "With the start of public hunting and trapping season, these surveys will continue to be important for long-term management of wolves and other forest carnivores in Wisconsin."
After completing training, volunteer trackers are assigned survey blocks in forest portions of northern and central Wisconsin, and are asked to conduct three or more surveys in their assigned block each winter. Data they gather can be compiled with those of other volunteers to aid DNR biologists in evaluating wolf populations.
Volunteer tracker training sessions are scheduled as follows:
The weekend-long workshop with Dr. James Halfpenny will cost $185 to $245 depending on the student's interest in having food and lodging provided.
Applicants should register as soon as possible as space is limited.
For more information about the wolf ecology and tracking training sessions and the volunteer tracking program, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search key word "wolf management."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven, DNR Ecologist, 715-762-1363
MADISON - With the recent rule change allowing for the hunting of coyotes statewide during the gun deer season, combined with the ongoing wolf hunt, the Department of Natural Resources has developed a new resource to help hunters identify and be sure of their target before shooting.
A new online species identification slide show highlights the sometimes difficult to distinguish features of a wolf versus a coyote in Wisconsin. The brief slide show focuses on the differences in size, head and snout shape, ears, color, and tracks of the two animals.
For more information on the wolf hunt and to view the slideshow, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wolf."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven, ecologist, 715-762-1363 or Jennifer Pelej, public affairs manager, 608-264-9248
MADISON -- Wisconsin drivers have a 1-in-79 chance of colliding with a deer any month of the year - but even more likely during October and November when bucks are running wild looking for a date.
Reports from Department of Natural Resources offices around the state indicate the white-tail deer are now actively moving into their mating season, known as the rut.
Wisconsin ranks seventh in the new State Farm insurance company annual ranking of states where drivers are most likely to strike deer. The auto insurer uses its claims records and federal licensed driver data to calculate the ranking.
Chief Warden Randy Stark says the increased deer movement, both day and night, due to the breeding season being under way requires drivers to be especially cautious in the next month. This is particularly true at dusk and at dawn. "This is when the deer are on the move from where they've spent the night to where they are going to eat. Deer are the most active when feeding and chasing potential mates," Stark said. "Deer are not looking for cars, which is why drivers must look for deer."
Last year, the Department of Transportation says Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported a total of 18,176 deer versus motor vehicle crashes.
Stark says it pays to remember if you see one deer, it's likely there are more. "It's important vehicle operators drive defensively and anticipate the presence of additional deer when they see a deer along the roadway."
The WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety offers the following advice to prevent deer crashes:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Stark, 608-266-1115 or Joanne M. Haas, public affairs manager, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-267-0798
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.
"This is truly a profound gift to the state of Wisconsin," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp as she asked the board to accept the donation. "This shelter will be used year-round by the many visitors to Blue Mound and will be a great asset to enhance visitors' use of the park."
The Blue Mound State Park Friends Shelter is nearing completion. The Friends of Blue Mound State Park officially donated the shelter to the state last week.
Contributed photo by Al Swain, volunteer park naturalist
Stepp said that as part of the donation, the group has requested the board officially designate the new building as the "Friends Shelter," which the board approved in their motion to accept the donation.
The Friends of Blue Mounds raised $500,000 for construction of the shelter, primarily through sponsorship of the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride, which has been held over the past 10 years, and also through grants from the state Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the Courtier Foundation and the Chris Funk Memorial Fund and direct donations to the friends group.
The Horribly Hilly Hundreds is billed as the "toughest one-day challenge ride in the Midwest" and offers 100, 150 and 200 kilometer alternative rides over some of the highest hills of southern Wisconsin. The ride has grown in popularity from its inception in 2003 when 400 riders took part to as many as 1,300 riders participating in recent years.
The Friends of Blue Mound State Park officially donated the new Friends Shelter to the state at the Natural Resources Board meeting last Wednesday. From left, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, Mark Gnabasik, friends group president, Al Swain, volunteer park naturalist, John Koffel, friends group board, and Kevin Swenson, park manager.
The ride, held in mid-June, begins in the Village of Blue Mounds and ends with riders climbing up Blue Mound and finishing in the park.
"The Horribly Hilly Hundreds has been an extremely successful fundraising event for our group and we hope it serves as a model for other friends groups on how signature events that take advantage of a property's unique features can be used to help support and improve their parks," said John Koffel, Friends of Blue Mound board member.
"With the highest elevation in southwestern Wisconsin, Blue Mound State Park is a destination park for many bicyclists and cross-country skiers," says Dan Schuller, Wisconsin State Parks director. The park attracts 150,000 visitors annually, many coming during the winter months, with the park's cross-country ski and snowshoe trails recognized as some of the best in southern Wisconsin. The Friends Shelter will serve as a warming house for skiers and snowshoers.
The Wisconsin Off-Road Bicycle Association has partnered with the DNR to create off-road mountain bike trails in the park, which has boosted its reputation for offering challenging bicycling. Blue Mound is also the only state park with a swimming pool, which the new Friends Shelter is adjacent to.
Al Swain, volunteer park naturalist and also a member of the friends group, noted the Friends Shelter will likely be used extensively for naturalist programs.
"We're no longer going to have to cancel programs due to rain or bad weather, we will now have a facility where we can move the program indoors," he said.
The Friends of Blue Mound State Park will continue fundraising to outfit the indoor and outdoor needs of the building. Chairs, tables, patio, etc. are all part of making the structure meet its goal of being a family friendly space. The group hopes to raise an additional $30,000 to complete all aspects of the project.
For more information about the Friends of Blue Mound State Park visit their website at fwspbluemound.blogspot.com. For more information about Blue Mound State Park, search the DNR website for keyword "Blue Mound." Information about the Horribly Hilly Hundreds is available at www.horriblyhilly.com (both links exit DNR).
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Schuller 608-266-2185
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Wisconsin's endangered species law (s. 29.604, Wis. Stats.) requires the Department of Natural Resources to notify the public when it proposes to authorize the incidental taking of a state endangered or threatened species.]
MADISON - A number of activities that have no or low impact on endangered or threatened plants and animals would be covered by a new broad incidental take permit and authorization the Department of Natural Resources is proposing to issue for the activities. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
Activities that would be covered under the permit and authorization include things like land acquisitions, wetland delineations, sign installations and transmission pole painting.
"We conduct and approve endangered resources reviews for a wide variety of projects each year, ranging from large development projects to small maintenance projects," said Erin Crain, director of the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Endangered Resources. "However, we know from previous reviews that some of these projects will have no impact or a very low impact to endangered resources in Wisconsin, so we are proposing this broad incidental take permit and authorization to cover these situations."
DNR staff developed specific measures in an associated conservation plan that are intended to minimize any incidental take during these activities. Copies of the conservation plan, jeopardy assessment and background information on the associated species are available by searching the DNR website for "incidental take" or upon request from Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040.
DNR endangered resources staff concluded that: the take allowed for under this permit and authorization is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state populations of any endangered or threatened species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action. They also concluded that the take allowed for under this permit and authorization is not likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival or recovery of these species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part or the habitat that is critical to their existence.
Public comments on the broad incidental take permit and authorization will be accepted through December 1, 2012 and should be sent to Rori Paloski, DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or by email to email@example.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rori Paloski, 608-264-6040
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