MADISON - People looking for a good way to celebrate Earth Day while giving back to and enjoying their favorite Wisconsin state park property will be able participate in any of 20 upcoming Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state.
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (exit DNR) is sponsoring the 5th annual Work*Play*Earth Day, with events scheduled on April 13, 20, 27 and May 4.
"Because Wisconsin has such beautiful natural resources, the friends groups around the state work very hard to sponsor these Earth Day projects and to preserve, protect and enhance the parks, forests and trails for all of the visitors to enjoy," says Patty Loosen, friends group coordinator for the Wisconsin State Parks program.
There are more than 80 individual friends groups for parks, forests, trails, nature centers and other properties around Wisconsin, organized under an overall umbrella group, the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. A friends group is a group of people who have an interest in Wisconsin's natural resources and who volunteer their time, services and support in order to enhance one of Wisconsin's state parks, forests, trails or other properties.
"Last year we had more than 650 volunteers who donated more than 2,000 hours cleaning up and maintaining parks and trails, planting more than 700 trees, doing invasive species work and building benches and picnic tables" Loosen said.
Volunteers plant trees at High Cliff State Park during last year's Work*Play*Earth Day event.
More than 150 volunteers showed up at Kohler-Andrae State Park to help remove sand drifts, conduct trail and building maintenance and removed non-native plants from the state natural area. The Friends of Kohler-Andrae provided lunch, snacks and refreshments.
Volunteers at Hartman Creek State Park picked more than 200 pounds of garlic mustard, fixed eight picnic tables, and cleaned and made ready for the season the park's historic log cabin, the Hellestad House. At the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest volunteers removed honeysuckle to improve nesting habitat for songbirds.
Activities planned this year include planting trees and shrubs, making memorial benches, removing invasive plants, painting picnic tables and other structures, trail repair, raking and cleaning up leaves, picking up litter and getting campgrounds ready for the camping season.
Each work day will run from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The schedule may vary slightly at each location. Volunteers should wear work boots or athletic shoes, long pants and bring their own work gloves. Advanced registration is free and encouraged. People can register through the park, forest, trail or recreation area where they would like to volunteer.
When the work is done, volunteers join staff in hiking or biking park trails, visiting nature centers or interpretive displays, or enjoying any of the recreational opportunities available at the different parks.
These Work*Play*Earth Day are made possible by sponsoring businesses around the state such as REI, Cabelas, Ansay and Associates, and Wild Birds Unlimited and by donations from people who care about the environment and Wisconsin's parks, trails and recreation areas.
People interested in volunteering at one of these events are asked to contact the park, forest, trail staff to sign up. Contact information can be found by searching the DNR website using the park name in the search function.
Saturday - April 13
Saturday - April 20
Saturday - April 27
Saturday - May 4
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patty Loosen, 608-264-8994 or Paul Holtan, DNR parks and recreation public affairs manager, 608-267-7517
MADISON - Visitors to Wisconsin State Parks are being reminded they may encounter hunters on park properties this April, under a new state law that went into effect this year.
There are limited hunting opportunities available in April, mainly spring turkey hunting, according to Scott Loomans, hunting regulations specialist for the Department of Natural Resources.
While the parks are also open for trapping, the only open trapping season is for beaver and otter north of Highway 64. Beaver and otter traps are placed underwater and otter trapping is allowed by permit only.
"The primary reason the board approved opening the parks to hunting in April was for the spring turkey season, and the parks are only open for the first three of the six spring turkey hunting periods," Loomans said. The spring turkey season opens April 10, and the third period runs through April 30.
There were previously 16 state park properties open to the spring turkey hunting season by special permit only, and those 16 remain open only to those hunters who have a park-specific permit to hunt on those properties.
Special permits for these 16 park are issued through the same permit application process as permits for regular turkey zones. Hunters had to apply for those permits by the Dec. 10 application deadline, and all available permits for state park units were issued through the application process, so there are no general state parks zone permits available for over-the-counter sales.
While hunting and trapping would also be allowed in state parks for unprotected species such as opossums, skunks and weasels, there is very little hunting or trapping conducted for theses except to deal with animal nuisance problems, Loomans said.
The Legislature approved Sporting Heritage Bill, Wisconsin Act 168 in 2012. The law is intended to expand and outdoor recreation opportunities and make it easier for people to participate in hunting, trapping and fishing. Among other things Act 168 provided first-time hunters, anglers and trappers discounts on licenses; provided incentives for people who recruit others to buy licenses; increased safety education; and expanded hunting opportunities and opened park properties to trapping for the first time.
Under its authority under Act 168 to restrict hunting in parks for safety reasons, the state Natural Resources Board limited hunting in the spring from April 1 through the Tuesday nearest May 3. This year that is April 30. In the fall, gun and archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the property from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, except that archery hunting is allowed through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6.
Hunting is only allowed within the parks in areas designated as open. Closed areas include within 100 feet of designated use areas, such as parking lots, campgrounds and picnic areas, as well as within 100 feet of certain trails. Additional areas within parks may be closed due to safety concerns. Also some state parks have property that is within municipal boundaries where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.
"It is each hunter's responsibility to know what areas within a park are open to hunting and which areas are closed," Loomans said. Maps indicating closed and open areas are available on the DNR website (search for keywords "hunting state parks"), at park offices, and they will be posted at parking areas and other locations within parks.
Visitors should note that some current state park signs still indicate that hunting and trapping is prohibited on state park properties. Park managers around the state are in the process of removing the outdated signs but some will likely still be in place when the spring turkey season opens April 10.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Loomans - 608-267- 2452 or Paul Holtan, DNR parks and recreation public affairs manager - 608-267-7517
MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on a wide variety of proposed fish and wildlife rule changes, and to propose other changes, at the 2013 Department of Natural Resources spring fish and wildlife rules hearings and annual Conservation Congress county meetings.
On Monday, April 8, there will be 72 public hearings, one in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m. where individuals interested in natural resources management will have an opportunity to provide their input by non-binding vote and testimony to the Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Board and the Conservation Congress on proposed hunting, trapping, and fishing rule changes and advisory questions.
The hearings, held annually, are immediately followed by county Conservation Congress meetings during which residents can vote on and introduce their ideas to address natural resources related concerns. The list of meeting locations [PDF] and the combined questionnaire [PDF]is available for review by searching the DNR website for keywords "spring hearings."
The spring gatherings cover three major areas: elections for county Conservation Congress delegates; proposed wildlife and fisheries rule changes that have been developed through previous Conservation Congress meetings; and Conservation Congress proposals for future rule development.
Among the fisheries rule change proposals are:
Among the wildlife rule proposals being considered are:
In addition to the DNR rule proposals, the Conservation Congress has a variety of advisory questions asking citizens to gauge public support on various natural resource issues including a proposal to eliminate the back tag requirement for deer hunters, expanding the definition of artificial lights for predator hunting, possible changes to the concealment rule for waterfowl hunting, and a proposal to require the registration of non-motorized boats.
During the Conservation Congress county meetings, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their views regarding natural resources issues on the Conservation Congress, the citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board and the DNR. Also, individuals have the opportunity to bring forth new conservation issues of a statewide nature to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process. Information about the spring hearing process is also available on the Conservation Congress pages of the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: wildlife rules: Scott Loomans, 608-267-2452; fisheries rules: Kate Strom Hiorns, 608-266-0828; Conservation Congress: Kari Lee-Zimmermann - 208-266-0580
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated with corrected information about Conservation Warden Tony Young.
MADISON -- They've been trained on every aspect of the complicated and multi-layered job of working the outdoor beat in Wisconsin as a conservation warden. They've learned how to be a valuable partner to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. They've learned how to protect the natural resources and serve the people of Wisconsin. Now they are there are out in the field doing the job.
And after several months of classroom and field experience, the 11 members of the Class of 2012 Recruit Wardens are ready to wear he badge of conservation warden and go to work on their own protecting the public and the natural resources.
"We're very happy to be able to station these very competent and dedicated people in communities in Wisconsin. They will be filling some critical vacant stations in state" said Randy Stark, Chief Warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Below are some quick introductions of the 11 new wardens who will be working in different areas around the state. While the new wardens are assigned to a specific station, it is not uncommon for wardens to travel to other areas to work on special assignments with colleagues and other law enforcement agencies.
Those assigned to stations in the southern Wisconsin are:
Those assigned to stations in eastern Wisconsin are:
Those assigned to stations in the north and west are:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Stark, 608-266-1115 or Joanne Haas, law enforcement public affairs, 608-267-0798
GREEN BAY - The internationally renowned dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, a pioneering federal fish and wildlife official, and Wisconsin's top water leader are among the speakers headlining the annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention set for April 9-11 in Green Bay.
"We've reached out to speakers who bring different statewide, national and international perspectives and ideas for how we can build new and more diverse partnerships to better protect and restore Wisconsin lakes," said Carroll Schaal, Department of Natural Resources lakes partnership coordinator.
David Garman, dean of the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, an Australian and former chair of the International Water Association, will share a "big picture" overview of global freshwater challenges as well as the emerging research and outreach projects at the School of Freshwater Sciences. That school is the only graduate school solely devoted to freshwater science in the U.S. and one of three in the world.
Garman will speak on April 10, along with Ken Johnson, administrator for the Department of Natural Resources water division and current chair of the Great Lakes Commission. Johnson - who oversees 600 DNR staff with responsibilities related to lakes and rivers, fisheries, drinking water and wetlands - will report on the implementation of phosphorus reduction measures to clean up lakes and rivers, progress in addressing aquatic invasive species, and his vision for expanding the model and successes of the Lakes Partnership to other water-related areas.
Mamie Parker, the first African-American to serve as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Regional Director, will speak April 11. Parker started as a fish health practitioner at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin, and served at both the Green Bay Ecological Services Field Office and the National Fish Hatchery at Lake Mills before climbing the ranks in the national and regional offices. Recently retired, Parker is well known as an inspiring motivational speaker.
Also speaking April 11 is six-time Emmy-award-winning documentary filmmaker Allison Argo, known for films that include The Last Frog, The Secret Life of Cats, and Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History. Her closing presentation begins at 2:45 p.m. April 11 and is open to the public; however, people are encouraged to register for the convention online and participate in a wide range of workshops, educational sessions and guest speaker presentations.
In addition to keynotes, attendees to the Wisconsin Lakes Convention can select from a wide range of pre-convention workshops on April 9. The convention is one of the nation's largest gatherings of lake enthusiasts and advocates and is sponsored by the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, which is led by DNR, Wisconsin Lakes, a statewide lakes advocacy group, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
The convention also offers lake enthusiasts the chance to share strategies and projects that have been successful on a particular lake, according to Mary Knipper, president of Wisconsin Lakes.
"It's amazing what people can learn simply from meeting and talking with fellow lake leaders from across the state," she said. "People always come away from the Lakes Partnership Convention charged up and excited to tackle truly difficult lake issues."
To see the full convention agenda including pre-convention workshops, or to register, go to www.uwsp.edu/cnr/uwexlakes/conventions (exit DNR).
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carroll Schaal, DNR, 608-261-6423 ; Eric Olson, UWEX, 715-346-2192
MADISON- Hundreds of keen-eyed young athletes will soon converge on East Junior High School in Wisconsin Rapids for the 2013 National Archery in the Schools state tournament. The two-day event, April 5-6, is open to spectators and admission is free.
The popularity of this sport has grown remarkably in the past few years. Three years ago the tournament attracted 635 archers from 18 schools across Wisconsin. This year, East Junior High School will host 1,180 students from 47 schools, boys and girls in grades 4 through 12.
About 42 percent of the Wisconsin students in NASP are girls. Archery is a sport that rewards concentration and patience rather than size and strength.
DNR Photo by Ed Culhane
"This is a program that doesn't discriminate based on a student's popularity, traditional athletic skills, gender or size," said Dan Schroeder, a natural resources educator with the state Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin state coordinator for the National Archery in the Schools Program, or NASP.
"I get a thrill every time these young archers toe up to the line and start unleashing arrows on the targets," Schroeder said. "Target archery is teaching them self-discipline and patience. They learn to focus. These skills are translating into higher performance in school, which is why teachers and coaches are some of our biggest supporters."
Students compete by grade level and every student uses identical equipment. Students shoot bows with their fingers - no trigger releases are allowed - and without any kind of sighting device or marks. About 42 percent of the young archers are girls. Winning archers from this competition are eligible to compete at regional and national competitions.
The NASP program is usually offered through school physical education departments and coach training is available. There are plenty of opportunities for parent involvement as coaches, organizers, fundraisers and chaperones.
Schroeder was recently named "member of the year" by the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association. He has trained more than 600 people as basic archery instructors, most of them physical education teachers. He's added 60 basic archery instructor trainers - many of them DNR employees, including a good number of wardens - who then train more instructors.
There are now more than 1,300 basic archery instructors in Wisconsin working with youngsters who are finding in archery a new and accessible path to personal achievement.
Schroeder said that while the program teaches target archery, without a hunting component, it nevertheless can spark an interest in the outdoors. He notes that an ever growing number of city and village recreation departments are offering NASP programs.
Bill Vander Zouwen, a DNR wildlife section chief, said the agency's decision to support archery in the schools has proved to be a winner.
"These programs build self-esteem, introduce youth to life-long recreational opportunities, result in new hunters and contribute to Wildlife Restoration Act excise tax funds that benefit wildlife conservation," he said.
More information is available by searching the DNR website for keyword "NASP."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Schroeder, NASP coordinator, at 608-235-4619 or Renee Ann Arndt, tournament organizer, at 608-343-6171
MADISON -- It couldn't get much easier to take a youngster hunting than the spring turkey hunt for youth [PDF]. Parents, guardians, and mentors can take any youth ages 10 through 15 who has a tag and license.
"This is a great chance for all of us adults, parents and hunters to grab a rookie and get in the game," said Keith Warnke, hunter recruitment coordinator for the state Department of Natural Resources. "Now is the time to take the opportunity to take your kids, your kids' friends or your friends' kids and mentor a new hunter."
The 2013 Spring Turkey Youth Hunt will occur statewide April 6 and 7. The two-day spring youth hunt, successfully initiated in 2007, allows one-on-one mentoring of future hunters in a relaxed atmosphere without competition for hunting spots from regular season hunters.
Thanks to the Mentored Hunting Program that took effect starting with the 2009 fall season, youth hunters aged 10 and 11, in addition to youth ages 12 through 15, also may now participate in the 2012 youth turkey hunt.
"To truly be a mentor means a commitment of several years, not a single event. We have a highly dedicated, highly skilled cadre of hunting mentors in Wisconsin," Warnke said. "Now is the time to make that commitment and shine."
Under the Mentored Hunting Program, youngsters ages 10 through 15 may hunt during the two-day youth turkey hunt without first having completed hunter education, so long as they do so with a qualified adult mentor and follow the rules of the program. Youth ages 12 through 15 who have already completed hunter education may hunt during the youth hunt while accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. Each youth must have a valid spring 2012 turkey harvest permit, license and stamp.
Youth are allowed to hunt on April 6 and 7 in the turkey management zone [PDF] for which their permit is valid, regardless of the time period their permit is issued for, and may harvest only one male or bearded turkey during the two-day hunt.
A youth who does not successfully harvest a turkey during the two-day hunt may use the unfilled permit during the time period and in the zone for which the permit was issued. There is no special application procedure for the youth hunt, but young hunters must either be issued a tag through the drawing or purchase a leftover tag. All other spring turkey hunting regulations apply.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke 608-576-5243 or Joanne Haas - 608-267-0798
MADISON -- Wisconsin's teachers can help celebrate Clean Air Month this May by leading students through activities from the "Air, Air Everywhere" teacher's activity guide, which aims to teach third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students about air quality and the importance of clean air.
Teachers can submit the poems and riddles created by their students as part of the "Where's the Air?" activity in the guide to the State Department of Natural Resources. One winner and two runners up will be selected.
The winning poems will be featured on the DNR's Environmental Education for Kids - EEK! website. The winner will receive an award certificate and a class set of "It all adds up to cleaner air" solar calculators. The teacher of the winning student will receive a certificate for a free Project Learning Tree, Project WILD or Project WET workshop!
Mail entries to: Lindsay Haas, Wisconsin DNR, 141 NW Barstow Street, Rm. 180, Waukesha, WI 53188 or email to: Lindsay.email@example.com
Entries must be received by Friday, May 17, 2013 to be eligible. Contest entries will not be returned and will become the property of the contest sponsor. Teachers of the winning students will be notified by June d, 2013.
As part of the "Where's the Air? [PDF]" activity, students will complete simple sensory experiments to discover the characteristics of air and then write a poem or riddle describing air.
The complete Air, Air Everywhere guide is available on the EEK! Web pages. It includes ten activities. Hard copies may also be ordered by sending your name and mailing address to DNRAirEducation@wisconsin.gov.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lindsay Haas, 262-574-2113
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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