MADISON -- Mother Nature is back for her compelling annual fall color tour, starring one of the state's fiercest economic powerhouses - the tree.
And the best part is the admission - free!
"This is one of the most popular science shows running -- from curtain up to standing ovation," said Carmen Hardin, a forest science specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.
While the annual fall color show is always a huge attraction for the thousands who flock to Wisconsin, and contribute to the state's strong tourism industry, Hardin says it is the state's forest industry that is the basis of the show.
"It's all orchestrated by Mother Nature using the state's 16 million acres of forests. When they're not turning colors for all to 'ooh and aah' about, the trees help contribute $2.6 billion annually in forest industry wages," Hardin said.
But the color show doesn't stop with the forest line. This year, the DNR Facebook page will host a fall color photo contest and the DNR Twitter account will issue periodic messages about where tree colors can be found along with some science facts on. People can look for the rules of the photo contest, Wisconsin's Color Contest, on the DNR Facebook page and the DNR Twitter messages to start around September 12.
"We'll help you find the best color - and you can share your finds with everyone on the DNR Facebook page," said Trish Ossmann, DNR social media coordinator.
In late summer, broadleaved trees respond to lengthening nights and cooling temperatures by reducing levels of a green pigment known as chlorophyll that is used in photosynthesis -- the production of sugars in the leaves. When the trees reduce their green pigment, the oranges and yellows in the leaves come through.
Red and purple fall colors have a different origin, and are due to anthocyanin pigments that are actively produced in late summer at the same time as the green chlorophyll deteriorates.
The brightest red and purple colors appear when autumn days are bright and nights are chilly but not freezing. These are the conditions which increase production of the red and purple pigments. Orange and yellow colors tend to be fairly constant from year to year because the orange and yellow pigments are always present in the leaves.
But some people reported they were seeing trees turning color early and dropping their leaves in August.
DNR Forest Health Specialist Bill McNee says this was due to last year's drought and the dry summer some areas of the state experienced again this year.
"Trees without enough water started to shut down early to reduce further water losses. This meant they went through the color change earlier than they normally would," McNee says.
Trees are starting to turn in the northern areas and it will take about a month or so for the color to spread south. Roughly speaking, you can look for the color season to run from about September 10 to October 10.
"People often ask us where to go to see the best colors," Hardin said. "The answer is anywhere in the state. It's all a matter of keeping track where the color is traveling."
Hardin says Wisconsin's State Forests - Black River, Brule, Flambeau, Governor Knowles, Havenwoods, Northern Highland-American Legion, Point Beach, Peshtigo River and Kettle Moraine's six units -- are great for viewing.
State parks and natural areas also offer great viewing. In fact, Wisconsin state parks, forests, recreation areas, trails, and wildlife areas provide more than 2,730 miles of hiking trails. To learn more about these areas search the DNR website for "public lands." The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, with about 600 of an eventual 1,000 miles completed, and about 75 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail are in Wisconsin.
"Remember when you head out to also take your camera," adds Ossmann, the agency's social media coordinator." You can enter the DNR Facebook Wisconsin's Color Contest! You also can enter a great photo from past Wisconsin falls, too."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carmen Hardin, Science Section Chief, Bureau of Forest Management, 608-235-3261; Bill McNee, Forest Health Specialist, Forest Health Specialist - Southeast Wisconsin, 920-360-0942; Joanne Haas, Public Affairs Manager, 608-209-8147
MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the opening of Wisconsin's 2013 duck season in the North and the Mississippi River zones on Sept. 21 should find good numbers of ducks, according to Department of Natural Resources officials.
"Although a few areas have been seeing lowering water levels, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters should have a good season," said Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. "Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 58 years reported near record numbers of ducks this spring. However, even with excellent continental breeding indications, local water levels and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall."
Many of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin come from birds that breed in the state's wetlands. The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin's fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal, and blue-winged teal, Van Horn said.
As hunters prepare for the season opener there are some important regulation details and changes that should be noted, said Van Horn.
The daily bag limit is six ducks in total, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, three scaup, two pintail, and two canvasback.
Two important changes to the daily bag limits, which were made in response to annual population estimates, are a decrease in the daily bag limit for scaup from four to three and an increase in the daily bag limit for canvasback from one to two. The possession limit has also been increased from two times the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit across the country.
The duck hunt in the northern zone opens at 9 a.m. on Sept. 21, and continues through Nov. 19.
The Mississippi river zone also opens at 9 a.m. on Sept. 21 and runs through Sept. 29, followed by a 12-day split, reopening on Oct. 12 and running until Dec. 1. After opening day in each respective zone, hunting hours begin 30 minutes before sunrise. The southern zone duck season will open the following week at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28, run through Oct. 6, then close and reopen Oct. 12 through Dec. 1.
"Because of a shifting federal regulatory calendar these opening days are the earliest possible date so there may be more than the usual number of other recreational users out on the water for opening day of duck season," advised Van Horn. "All lake users should respect others on the waterways. Wisconsin's waters offer a multitude of opportunities, and successful sharing of these areas requires cooperation and compromise from each and every person."
Beginning in 2013, an additional 10 large lakes will be available for open water duck hunting.
"In Wisconsin, we have had a long-standing practice of leaving the open water areas of lakes as a resting area for ducks, while hunting the edges and emergent vegetation of water bodies," said Van Horn. "However, some duck hunters desire to hunt with different methods for the deeper-feeding diving ducks found in open water areas."
For many years, open water duck hunting has been allowed on the Great Lakes, Lake Winnebago, Big Green Lake and Petenwell Flowage as well as portions of the Mississippi River. Several years ago, a citizen resolution requested an expansion of this opportunity to other lakes.
After years of discussion and cooperation among duck hunters, biologists, wardens and lake residents through committees and public meetings, the additional 10 lakes will be open for open water duck hunting this fall, said Van Horn.
Hunters taking advantage of this new opportunity are reminded to stay 1,000 feet from shore and remain securely anchored, which is consistent with regulations for open water hunting on existing lakes.
The additional lakes include:
"As always, waterfowl hunters who are out before the season opener scouting for good wetland conditions and observing what areas birds are using will be the ones having a more successful hunt," said Van Horn.
Required licenses and stamps include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp and a federal migratory bird stamp. The $15 federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at license vendors for an additional $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail.
Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchases their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.
State licenses and stamps, permits, and HIP registration are also available at authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service cethrough Wisconsin's and throught the DNR Online Licensing Center.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841
MADISON -- The opening of the archery deer season on Sept. 14 marks the beginning of the 2013 Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey.
"Deer hunters often ask if there is a way they can tell state wildlife officials what they are or are not seeing from their deer stand, this survey provides them with the means to do that" said Jay Watson, wildlife survey technician with the Department of Natural Resources.
"With the Deer Trustee report recommending more input from the hunting public on herd status, this tool provides the hunter with an excellent way to communicate their sightings," Watson said. "All they need to do is record the date, number of hours, county, deer management unit, weather conditions, and the type and number of animals observed each day of deer hunting. Hunters can also enter their email address along with their observations and I will send them an email summary of their hunting activity at the end of the survey period."
Hunters can find survey instructions, record sightings, and view survey results online at the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey page by searching the DNR website for "deer hunter wildlife." A tally sheet is also available for times when hunters do not have access to a computer.
Wildlife officials ask that hunters record all of their hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made during a hunt. The survey period ends January 2014. These observations have provided the DNR with an index to abundance for many wildlife species.
Many other states in the Midwest and around the country use these types of surveys to gather hunter input into deer and other wildlife abundance.
This is the fifth year of the survey and deer hunters are asked to report their field observations of a variety of wildlife species, hunting conditions and hours spent pursuing game. This year 17,000 deer hunters were selected at random and sent a letter inviting them to participate in Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey. However, if you were not one of the hunters selected to participate we still encourage your participation to help provide insight into Wisconsin's deer herd.
"Whether you hunt opening weekend or all season long, this extra monitoring of our state's wildlife provides us with thousands of observations," Watson said.
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey overlaps another citizen-participation survey. Operation Deer Watch started Aug. 1 and runs through Sept. 30. The primary objective of Operation Deer Watch is to determine trends in deer reproductive success by reporting does and fawns seen together during the late summer and early fall.
Trail Camera Photos Wanted
The wildlife surveys program is also interested in photographs of rare or endangered species hunters may have captured on their trail cameras. Photos can be emailed to DNR Wildlife Management. This information will help document their existence and location within the state. Trail camera photos can be viewed the DNR online trail camera gallery.
Questions about the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, accessing the tally sheet, reporting your observation, or the results of the survey, can be referred to Jay Watson at 608-221-6360.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jay Watson, 608-221-6360
MADISON -- The Wisconsin State Tree Nursery Program is again buying seed on the open market from private collectors. Seed buying stations are located around the state and at the three state nurseries in Wisconsin Rapids, Boscobel and Hayward.
"Jack pine is one of the high priority species for collection this year," says Pat Murphy nursery leader for the Department of Natural Resources. "There are a couple of things to remember about selling your seed to the state."
First, Murphy says, contact one of the purchasing sites to make sure the DNR is buying the species you want to sell.
The DNR is currently purchasing the following seed species. However, please call ahead to make sure there are no changes. The species are: balsam fir, jack pine, basswood with wings attached, butternut, shagbark hickory, sugar maple, swamp white oak, red oak, white oak and walnut.
Second, Murphy says get the necessary permissions before you start picking. Check the regulations before picking on public lands. Contact the property manager to get a permit to pick on state forests.
"It is illegal to pick in state parks," Murphy says. "Permission is required from the county forest administrator to collect from county forests. Federal lands require a permit. Landowner permission is required to collect seed on private property."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Murphy, nursery team leader, (715) 839-3760; Joanne Haas, DNR public affairs manager, 608-209-8147
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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