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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 439 days

Weekly News Published - August 9, 2016 by the Central Office

 

Lead service line replacement program expands to cover 38 communities

MADISON - A first-of-its kind program to replace lead service lines on qualifying private properties is being expanded to ensure funds are available for all 38 communities that requested assistance through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR conceived the funding program earlier this year following a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow the state greater flexibility in allocating loan funds for water infrastructure projects.

DNR initially received approval from the EPA to make $11.8 million available to disadvantaged municipalities to help remove old lead service lines that bring drinking water into homes. However, when the number and size of requests submitted by the June 30 deadline exceeded the initial financing authority, DNR sought and received approval from EPA to increase the funding to $14.5 million, fully funding all municipalities that applied for the first year of the two-year program. Under the program, municipalities determine how to distribute the funds.

"This is another example of Wisconsin's innovative leadership to deliver the services we all depend on more effectively and reliably," said Gov. Scott Walker. "Replacing old lead service lines is a high public health priority and we are pleased to announce an expansion of the funding available this year to assist communities across the state from Milwaukee to Ashland."

The Lead Service Line Replacement Funding program reflects DNR's commitment to safe drinking water and addresses the financial barriers facing communities where lead service lines continue to deliver drinking water to residences, schools and licensed daycare centers. These service lines extend from the main street pipes owned by local utilities onto private property and into homes, schools and day care centers.

"These aging lead service lines have been in place for decades and we are pleased to be working cooperatively with local and federal governments toward an effective solution," said DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp. "We took to heart the public comments we received as the program was being developed and moved quickly to make adjustments that extended the benefits available to daycares and schools while reaching more residents in our largest urban areas. We are particularly pleased that through cooperation with EPA we are able to support projects in additional communities."

The additional $2.7 million comes from re-opening past grants to fully award "principal forgiveness" - a feature of some loan programs that allows DNR to reduce the amount of principal that has to be repaid, in effect decreasing what the borrower owes. Wisconsin had used principal forgiveness sparingly and EPA concurred that this additional allocation of principal forgiveness funding would not jeopardize the state's requirement to maintain the fund in perpetuity for future water infrastructure projects.

As a result, providing the additional principal forgiveness funding does not jeopardize the stability of the fund and ensures that all municipalities that submitted applications this first year will be fully funded based on their application requests. The first round of financial assistance agreements are expected to be signed in mid-September.

The city of Milwaukee will receive the largest total, with eligibility for $2.6 million in funding to cover homes, schools and licensed day cares. A complete list of applicants [PDF] and eligibility can be found by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "lead service line funding."

Robin Schmidt, DNR environmental loans section chief, said department staff members have just completed meetings with all of the municipalities who applied to assist them in ensuring compliance with applicable federal and state requirements. About a dozen municipalities anticipate using the funds this fall, many in conjunction with street or utility maintenance projects already underway.

Lead service lines were gradually phased out of new construction during the 1940s and '50s but remain in some areas developed before that time. Lead service lines may deliver drinking water with elevated lead levels at the tap and even low levels of lead in the blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention and academic achievement.

Homeowners are typically responsible for repair and replacement of service lines extending from the public right of way across their property and into the residence while municipal water utilities bear responsibility for replacing the main lines. However, many private property owners are unable to pay for the replacements, which average about $3,000 per home.

Water utilities in Wisconsin are not allowed to expend user rates to pay for work on private property, leaving a gap in the ability to get the lead service lines out. Despite the cost, full replacement of lead service lines is recommended because a partial replacement can increase the amount of lead being released into the water.

To learn more about the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program Intended Use Plan, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "environmental loans."

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Sept. 1 marks opener for early Canada goose, mourning dove and early teal

MADISON - Migratory game bird hunters are reminded that Sept. 1 marks the opener for Wisconsin's mourning dove, early teal and early goose hunting seasons.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose hunting begins with the early season Sept. 1-15, with a daily bag limit of five geese during this time. Goose hunters are required to complete registration within 48 hours of harvest. During this early goose season, regulations apply statewide, with no zone-specific regulations.

With the transition to Go Wild (exit DNR), the Canada goose harvest registration phone number is now consistent with all other species registered in Wisconsin - this new system also provides for online registration. Hunters can now register online at gamereg.wi.gov or via phone at 844-426-3734 (844 GAME-REG).

In addition, Early, Exterior and Horicon Zone goose permits are now printed on regular white paper, rather than green thermal paper. While afield, hunters must carry their Canada goose harvest permit - department staff encourage hunters to carry these permits in a plastic bag to shield it from any adverse weather conditions.

For more information regarding Go Wild, visit gowild.wi.gov (exit DNR).

Teal

The final year of the three-year experimental early teal-only duck hunting season will run Sept. 1-7, with a daily bag limit of six teal. Opening day shooting hours for the teal season will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the remainder of the season, shooting hours will be sunrise to 7 p.m. Early teal season hunters are not required to purchase any licenses or permits in addition to those required for hunting ducks during the regular waterfowl season. The duck identification quiz, found at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "waterfowl" gives hunters an opportunity to brush up on duck identification prior to this early season.

The final year of the three-year experimental early teal-only duck hunting season provides a great opportunity to spend time in the outdoors with family and friends.
The final year of the three-year experimental early teal-only duck hunting season provides a great opportunity to spend time in the outdoors with family and friends.
Photo Credit: DNR

While the early teal season is offered statewide, some state owned properties have special waterfowl hunting limitations. For example, Mead Wildlife Area does not allow waterfowl hunting prior to the regular duck season, and Lake Mills Wildlife Area (Zeloski Marsh) has unique shooting hour restrictions. Contact a local wildlife biologist or consult the 2016 Migratory Bird Regulations for a list of areas with additional requirements or limitations.

To view a full list of waterfowl hunting seasons [PDF] and the 2016 Migratory Game Bird Regulations [PDF], search keyword "waterfowl."

Mourning Dove

In 2016, the mourning dove hunting season will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 29. This season structure is identical to 2015 - an additional 20 days will remain in place at the end of the traditional 70-day dove hunting season.

Dove hunters are encouraged to check out the Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool. FFLIGHT helps hunters of all types locate young aspen and alder habitat, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and managed dove fields.

FFLIGHT also allows users to print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and provides measuring tools to help estimate acreage and walking distance. Mobile users can use this tool on-the-go to find suitable habitat for hunting.

For more information, search keyword "FFLIGHT."

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Bonus antlerless deer tags available for purchase starting Aug. 15

MADISON - Bonus antlerless deer tags are available for purchase starting Monday, Aug. 15 at 10 a.m.

The fall deer hunt is just around the corner - visit dnr.wi.gov keyword "deer" and get ready for another season in the woods.
The fall deer hunt is just around the corner - visit dnr.wi.gov keyword "deer" and get ready for another season in the woods.
Photo Credit: DNR

Bonus tags will be sold at a rate of one per person per day until sold out or until the 2016 deer hunting season ends. Bonus tags cost $12 each for Wisconsin residents, $20 each for non-residents and $5 each for youth ages 10 and 11.

For a list of units with bonus tags available for purchase, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "bonus availability." These and all other deer hunting licenses and tags are available online through the Go Wild website, gowild.wi.gov, (exit DNR)  or at any of more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.

Hunters will need to know the deer management zone, unit, and determine whether they will hunt on public or private land in order to purchase unit-specific bonus tags.

The first three days of bonus tag sales are management zone-specific and will be available as follows:

As a reminder, Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are now available for distribution. Depending on the deer management unit, one or more Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless deer tags are included with the purchase of each gun and archery deer hunting license.

Hunters are also encouraged to join Department of Natural Resources staff for a series of online livechats:

Each chat will begin at noon - to view a full chat schedule and check out previous chats, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "expert."

Tagging Slideshow

To learn more about how to tag a harvested deer in the field, head to the deer page and check out a brand new tagging slideshow for a step-by-step look at how to correctly tag a harvested deer.

Frequently Asked Questions

The department's frequently asked questions page offers a helpful look at questions that have commonly been asked so far this fall related to deer hunting.

To view the frequently asked questions page, search keyword "deer" and select the "deer hunting resources" menu.

Gov Delivery

Those interested in receiving occasional email reminders can sign up to receive messages about season dates, license and tag types, and other information. Visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select a list of your choice.

For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."

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Two state parks to celebrate 50th anniversaries August 13 & 14

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to correct the dates of the celebrations: August 13 and 14.]

MADISON - Visitors to Mirror Lake and Lake Kegonsa state parks this weekend can help the parks celebrate their 50th anniversaries with events planned Saturday, August 13 at Mirror Lake and Sunday, August 14 at Lake Kegonsa.

Within a four-week period in the summer of 1966, Wisconsin opened three new state parks to the public, joining 29 others that had been established since the first state park, Interstate Park, opened in 1900.

Ho Chunk dancers will perform at the 50th anniversary celebration at Mirror Lake State Park on Saturday, August 13.  Here dancers performed at the dedication of the park's new amphitheater, which the Ho Chunk Nation contributed to constructing.
Ho Chunk dancers will perform at the 50th anniversary celebration at Mirror Lake State Park on Saturday, August 13. Here dancers performed at the dedication of the park's new amphitheater, which the Ho Chunk Nation contributed to constructing.
Photo Credit: DNR

In 1961, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted a long-range program of acquisition and improvement of state recreational facilities known as the Outdoor Resources Action Program or ORAP. The program was funded by a one-cent tax per pack of cigarettes that prompted a wave of new park purchases, maintenance projects and the era of rails-to-trails developments.

Three of those first acquisitions were Hartman Creek State Park, Lake Kegonsa State Park and Mirror Lake State Park in 1962. It took several years from acquisition to opening the parks in that summer of 1966.

Hartman Creek, located in Waupaca County celebrated its anniversary June 4. Mirror Lake and Lake Kegonsa will hold their celebrations the weekend, with both parks waiving admission fees for the events.

Mirror Lake State Park events will take place in the new amphitheater that was built with the support of the Friends of Mirror Lake State Park. It will begin with music by the group Swing Crew at 10 a.m. followed by a park re-dedication with a 50th anniversary plaque, a display of a time capsule that will be buried and a history program. Later in the afternoon, there will be performance by Ho Chunk Nation drummers and dancers and an evening concert.

The Lake Kegonsa State Park celebration will kick off with face painting and t-shirt printing from 10 a.m. to noon followed by an anniversary cake cutting. In the afternoon there will be a falconry program, children's' activities and historical displays of the park.

For more information about the park anniversaries [PDF], see the August 2016 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. For information about the parks, search the DNR website for Mirror Lake or Lake Kegonsa.

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Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial commemorates 100 years of bird conservation

MADISON- The United States and Canada will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Aug. 16 - this historic agreement established bird protection measures across state and international borders.


The Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial recognizes the continued value of birds to nature and society. Birds help pollinate plants, disperse seeds, control insects and rodents, and keep natural communities diverse and healthy. They serve as important cultural icons, add song and color to the world, and provide hunters and wildlife watchers with countless hours of recreation. In doing so, birds help support jobs and recreational spending that contributes billions of dollars in revenue to the economy each year.

The Migratory Bird Treaty was the first of its kind to protect birds across migratory routes encompassing multiple states and provinces. The treaty halted trade in bird meat and feathers and established a framework for legal hunting seasons, joint conservation efforts, and research. The centennial brings together those who have contributed to bird conservation, and inspires efforts to protect migratory birds for the generations to come.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty.
2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty.
Photo Credit: Herbert Lange

Migratory Bird Treaty protection formed the foundation for many of the bird conservation policies and initiatives in Wisconsin today, like annual duck, goose, woodcock and dove hunting seasons, trumpeter swan reintroduction efforts, and Bird City Wisconsin.

Today, the Migratory Bird Treaty connects federal, state, private, non-governmental, tribal and international partners, who share a long, successful history of conserving, protecting, and managing migratory bird populations and their habitats. Thanks to these efforts, previously imperiled species such as wood ducks, great egrets, bald eagles and eastern bluebird populations in Wisconsin are on a successful path to recovery.

The centennial is one of the featured topics at this year's Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative [EXIT DNR]Annual Meeting in Rothschild Oct. 27-29. The overall theme of the meeting, "Protecting Birds through Action and Art," brings together bird conservation partners and Bird City Wisconsin representatives to address threats to birds and art's influence on bird conservation. To attend this meeting, register online by Oct. 11 at http://wsobirds.org/wbci-annual-meeting-2016 [EXIT DNR].

Celebrating the centennial is as easy as spending time outside in search of birds, attending one of Wisconsin's bird-related events or teaching someone new about birds, birding or bird hunting.

To learn more about Treaty impacts and how you can participate in the centennial, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword "bird treaty."

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New DNR staff to work on environmental enforcement for water quality and agriculture runoff

MADISON - In an effort to further support state efforts to protect public health and water quality through increased compliance with agricultural runoff requirements, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has hired two new environmental enforcement staff.

Paul O'Neel will be stationed in the DNR Northeast Regional Headquarters in Green Bay working on environmental enforcement issues for that part of the state. O'Neel earned his Bachelors of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Wildlife Ecology and his experience includes working for Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation and for the DNR's Parks Program.

Sadie Derouin will be stationed in the DNR's Southcentral Regional Headquarters in Fitchburg. She fills an existing vacancy in environmental enforcement and has already been working in the DNR's Bureau of Law Enforcement as a training coordinator. Derouin's undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on science communication and building sustainable businesses and communities.

For more information on CAFOs, agribusiness and small farms search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for keyword "CAFO."

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Volunteers invade Wisconsin State Natural Areas

3,000-plus hours donated a big benefit to rare landscapes and species

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: this news release has been updated with additional photos.]

MADISON - State Natural Areas represent some of Wisconsin's best remaining prairies, oak savannas, wetlands and lakes. In 2015, 18 volunteer groups devoted 3,181 hours of work at 26 of these sites throughout Wisconsin.

The volunteers' work in 2015 directly impacted 467 acres on the sites and represented $74,910 in value, according to the State Natural Areas Volunteer Report [PDF]. The 2015 totals compare to the previous year's 2,400 hours of work at 16 sites.

Volunteers work year-round to help care for more than two dozen state natural areas, including Lodi Marsh State Natural Area, which benefitted from nearly 400 hours of donated labor.
Volunteers work year-round to help care for more than two dozen state natural areas, including Lodi Marsh State Natural Area, which benefitted from nearly 400 hours of donated labor.
Photo Credit: DNR

"The volunteers we have are amazing. So many are people are committed and going out and doing physical work that is challenging and very important to keeping natural areas healthy," says Jared Urban, who coordinates the volunteer program. "They are making a difference on the landscape, one acre at a time and having fun doing it."

Urban started the State Natural Area Volunteer Program in 2011, and new groups have continued to form to supplement work completed by State Natural Area work crews.

"Volunteers really increase the capacity of our program to do management work," says Urban, who also is part of DNR's crew working to manage southern SNA sites. "It allows our crews to do more."

Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area in southern Wisconsin is one of several new sites benefitting from volunteer help in 2015. Here, a volunteer collects wildflower seeds for future prairie restoration work.
Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area in southern Wisconsin is one of several new sites benefitting from volunteer help in 2015. Here, a volunteer collects wildflower seeds for future prairie restoration work.
Photo Credit: Mary Kay Baum

Volunteers' work ranges from addressing threats to natural areas by controlling invasive species, which involves everything from pulling or spraying garlic mustard, to cutting down and burning buckthorn and honeysuckle, to spraying phragmites. As well, volunteers help establish new plant in prairies and oak openings by collecting and planting seeds.

The annual report highlights examples of work being done at the different sites, features photographs and testimonials from volunteers on what they do and why, and salutes the 2015 "Steward of the Year," Tom Mitchell of Monroe, whose efforts have benefitted state natural areas in Green and Rock counties.

New efforts are underway at several state natural areas including Ridgeway Pine Relict in Iowa County, Maiden Rock Bluff in Pepin County and Pope Lake in Waupaca County.

"Perhaps the most amazing stories come from those who have been caring for natural areas for 10 to 20 years and they continue to put their hearts into it," Urban says.

That includes volunteers who have been working for decades to raise money and help care for Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area in Kenosha County. Their efforts are chronicled in "Ecological Treasures" [PDF] in the April 2016 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

State Natural Areas protect the very best remnants of both the familiar, like northern hardwood forests and open bogs, to the unusual, like bedrock glades and Great Lakes dunes, and they provide refuges for many rare plant and animal species. Since Parfrey's Glen was designated the first state natural area in 1952, the Wisconsin State Natural Areas System has grown to 675 sites, two-thirds owned by the state and the rest by more than 50 partners ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to The Nature Conservancy and other land trusts. As often as not, state natural areas are part of larger properties such as state wildlife areas, state parks and national forests. Nearly all state natural areas are open to the public for hiking, hunting, bird-watching, nature study and photography, but most of them are largely undeveloped.

Volunteers cut and bundle giant reed grass at Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area.
Volunteers cut and bundle giant reed grass at Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area.
Photo Credit: Peter Fee

The Wisconsin State Natural Areas System is part of the department's Natural Heritage Conservation Program. To learn more about the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program, view scheduled volunteer workdays, and sign up to receive notices for upcoming workdays, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "SNA volunteers."

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Disabled deer hunters encouraged to sign up for a sponsored hunt before Sept. 1 deadline

MADISON- Eligible hunters with an interest in participating in the 2016 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities are encouraged to contact a land sponsor and sign up for a hunt before the Sept. 1 hunter participation deadline.

Contact a land sponsor today and sign up for a gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities.
Contact a land sponsor today and sign up for a gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities.
Photo Credit: DNR

As of the June 1 sponsor application deadline, 75 landowners have enrolled nearly 77,000 acres of land across 42 counties [PDF] for this year's hunt, which takes place October 1-9. For a complete list of 2016 sponsors, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "disabled deer hunt."

Hunters or assistants should contact sponsors directly to sign up for a hunt. Interested hunters must provide their name, contact information, and DNR customer ID number. To be eligible, hunters must possess a valid Class A, Class B long-term permit that allows shooting from a vehicle, or Class C or D disabled hunting permit. Eligible hunters must possess a gun deer license.

It is important for hunters to note that some properties are able to accommodate more hunters than others. Smaller properties may only support the minimum number of hunters (three), so hunters are advised to contact potential sponsors as early as possible to determine if space is available.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Contact information

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