Weekly News Published - October 14, 2014 by the Central Office
Share your thoughts on Wisconsin's fish and wildlife, their habitats, and outdoor recreation
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is currently revising two key conservation plans - the Wildlife Action Plan and Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Management Plan [PDF]. Through completion of an online questionnaire, the public can give the department valuable input regarding Wisconsin's fish and wildlife resources management.
"We take great pride in our efforts to involve the public in our conservation efforts," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "These two plans are the driving force behind much of the department's federal funding, and will help Wisconsin continue to provide for such a wide range of outdoor activities."
The Wildlife Action Plan and Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Management Plan act as a blueprint for how the department will manage and protect Wisconsin's fish and wildlife resources over the next ten years.
The department must complete each plan in order to receive federal funding that will help support healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. Funding is also key for the creation and maintenance of outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state.
Public involvement is a key piece of the puzzle in ensuring the state remains a leader in resource management and protection.
An online survey is one component of a comprehensive public outreach effort associated with updating the Wildlife Action Plan and Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Management Plan. The survey will close Nov. 14 at midnight.
To complete the survey, click here or enter this address into your search bar: http://22.selectsurvey.net/DNR/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=88KK8pm2.
Translated versions will be made available in both Hmong and Spanish within the next few weeks.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tara Bergeson, DNR conservation biologist, 608-264-6043
Stevens Point gets help from DNR on prime redevelopment site
MADISON - On the north edge of Stevens Point's historic downtown sits a vacant lot that for nearly a century was the home of Lullabye Furniture Co., one of the country's most well-loved makers of infant and children's furniture. Today the property is getting cleaned up and readied for the next chapter, thanks in large part to the Department of Natural Resources.
With the help of a $155,000 Ready for Reuse grant from the DNR, the city will clean up chlorinated solvents and lead on the long-abandoned four acre site. The agency has $1.5 million in Ready for Reuse grants and no-interest loans for communities looking to clean up petroleum or hazardous substances.
"DNR is proud to be a partner in the economic revitalization efforts in Stevens Point," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Partnerships with communities on economic development and environmental protection are a big part of Your DNR. I look forward to seeing the progress made on this site."
The city is matching the Ready for Reuse grant with as additional $34,000 of its own capital. Once the property is redeveloped, city officials anticipate the value of the property will increase by $5 million or more. The city has already listed the site on its website of available properties to purchase, describing it as having "great potential for multi-purpose use" and being "in the heart of the city."
"We are excited at the prospect of turning a once vibrant and important piece of our city's history back into productive use," said Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson. "The closing of Lullabye Furniture was a blow to this community, but we can rebound from that day through our partnership with DNR to clean up this site and get it ready for a future developer."
A separate DNR award of more than $47,000 from the agency's Wisconsin Assessment Monies program helped the city investigate and evaluate the contamination on the site.
"Working with DNR, Stevens Point has a great site on the fringe of its downtown district that is about to become a lot better," said Darsi Foss, director of DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment Program. "City leaders are taking extra steps to ensure that this cleanup work meets high standards and will be very attractive to potential developers."
The city's Redevelopment Authority plans clean ups of the property under the state's Voluntary Party Liability Exemption program. Under the program, the property will be thoroughly investigated for historical contamination and cleaned up with state oversight.
With Voluntary Party Liability Exemption, the DNR provides clear and certain assurance that all contamination on a property has been cleaned up to the satisfaction of the state and provides liability exemption for current and future owners.
In the last decade, DNR has awarded nearly $8.5 million in Ready for Reuse grants or loans across the state to help clean up contaminated properties, also known as brownfields. The Wisconsin DNR's brownfields program is an award-winning national leader in these redevelopment efforts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Darsi Foss, DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program director, 608-267-6713; Christine Haag, Ready for Reuse Program manager, 608-266-0244; Andrew Savagian, communications, 608-261-6422
Waterfront property owners urged to check piers for aquatic invasive species
MADISON - For waterfront property owners, pulling out their dock is as much a part of autumn as fall colors and first frosts. It's a chore that probably isn't as much fun as putting the dock in was last spring but it offers waterfront landowners an opportunity to help in efforts to identify presence of aquatic invasive species and take steps to avoid spreading them to new waters.
"Equipment like docks, boats, boat lifts and swimming rafts that have been in the water for the season can have invasive species attached to them, said Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator at the Department of Natural Resources. "Inspecting them as they are pulled up on shore or placed into storage for the winter provides a wide-area snapshot of the health of our state waters and a check on the spread of harmful invaders like Eurasian water-milfoil and zebra mussels.
"We get more notifications of possible aquatic invasives in our waters in the fall than at any other time of year," added Wakeman.
The process is simple. As each item comes out of the water visually inspect areas that have been submerged during the season and run a hand over the submerged surfaces.
"In the case of zebra mussels, adults may not be present but juvenile stages feel like sandpaper when you run your hand over a surface they've attached themselves to," says Wakeman.
Zebra mussels have been found in less than five percent of the Wisconsin waters suitable for them, but when they do get established in a lake, they can clog water intakes, encrust piers, boats and motors and their sharp shells can cut swimmers' feet.
Reporting a find
People can report suspected invasive species on the DNR website. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search for, "invasive species" and click on the "report" button. There is also a list of DNR aquatic species coordinators you can contact.
Wisconsin has invasive species laws
Wisconsin has laws requiring anyone pulling a boat or other items like docks, lifts and rafts out of the water to clean any plant and animal material clinging to the items before transporting to another location or body of water. The laws were enacted by the legislature to help prevent the spread of harmful aquatic invasives and protect the water resources so valuable to our way of life in Wisconsin.
If the item is only being pulled up on the immediately adjacent shoreline for winter storage it need not be cleaned but if it is being transported to another location for winter storage cleaning is required before transport.
There are businesses that can pull items from the water for a resident and store them for the winter. These businesses need a special DNR permit allowing them to transport items directly to their facility where they are cleaned.
"Keeping our waters healthy and free of invasives is a group effort," said Wakeman. "Early detection is one of our best tools for slowing their spread. For species like the zebra mussel, once they are found, we can notify stakeholders and work with them to take extra precautions to notify boaters about their presence and urge extra care in moving water or anything that comes out of the water in question. For others, like Eurasian water milfoil, steps can be taken to remove it if it has not spread too far."
Wakeman reminds folks that a few simple steps can do a lot to protect our waters:
- Inspect - boats, trailers, boat lifts, piers, rafts and equipment when they come out of the water
- Remove - all attached aquatic plants and animals
- Drain - all water from boats, vehicles and equipment
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, 262-574-2149
Wisconsin residents rake in benefits by composting their autumn leaves
MADISON - That swish and crunch of autumn leaves underfoot is the sound of opportunity as home composting grows in popularity around the state. By composting and mulching fallen leaves, Wisconsin residents are improving the state's air quality, reducing wildfires and making use of a valuable material that would otherwise go to waste.
Department of Natural Resources officials note that Wisconsin residents continue to compost more and more materials each year. Residents generate more than 500,000 tons of compostable waste materials annually, like yard clippings, leaves, branches and food scraps.
As composting becomes more popular, materials are kept out of landfills and reused to make valuable garden products. Composting also reduces leaf burning in the fall, which means fewer chances of errant sparks starting wildfires and cleaner, healthier air.
"When households use their own leaves for mulch and compost, they can save money on fertilizer and reduce the need for municipal yard waste collection," explains Brad Wolbert, Department of Natural Resources recycling and solid waste chief. "It reduces costs for local governments and families and relieves communities of the hazards of burning."
The DNR provides resources to help Wisconsin residents learn about the economic and environmental benefits of composting and how to start their own compost piles. Free tips and resources for composting are available by searching "compost" at dnr.wi.gov
Mulching leaves in place
Leaves are rich in carbon, phosphorus and potassium, which are all essential nutrients needed by plants and turf grasses. Mowing leaves along with the grass during fall can promote healthy, beautiful lawns, and raked leaves can be collected and used as winter ground cover for insulating gardens, tree roots and shrubs.
Checking local restrictions on burning
State air quality and fire rules restrict the open burning of yard materials in Wisconsin. A growing number of communities also have local rules in place that further restrict or prohibit burning of yard waste. Wisconsin residents should check local burn restrictions prior to burning.
There are many easy ways to start a home compost pile. Mixing compostable "browns" - like fallen leaves, dead plants, dried grass clippings and small branches - with "greens" like fresh grass clippings, green plants, fruit, vegetable and bread scraps or coffee grounds produces compost that can be sprinkled on lawns or used in gardens, improving soil properties and providing nutrients that reduce the need for fertilizers.
Keeping leaves handy for next season
Dry leaves keep well in plastic bags, and many people keep a few bags of leaves from the fall to add "browns" to their compost piles or mulch to their yards throughout the year.
For more reuse and recycling ideas to use throughout the year, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "recycling for all seasons."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert, 608-264-6286
Get permission before cutting firewood and avoid moving pests and disease
MADISON - People interested in harvesting firewood for the fast-approaching winter need to have permission to harvest wood off property they do not own, according to state forestry officials, who add that there are updated rules limiting how far and what kids of firewood can be transported within Wisconsin.
A written permit is the first step when it comes to firewood harvest, according to Steve Hubbard, a forest products specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
"Who signs that permit for you depends upon the property you have in mind. It could be a private landowner, the county, the state, a timber company or a township," Hubbard said. Most county forests, federal forests, and state properties offer firewood gathering permits for a minimal fee.
People interested in harvesting firewood from state lands need to complete a state Forest Products Permit (Form 2460-008), which can be found at most state parks and state forests in Wisconsin. The price of the permit and amount of firewood allowed varies among properties. The permit is good for one year.
Firewood harvesting may consist of both dead and downed trees as well as live trees. However, this can vary from property to property. Please contact the county, state, or federal property you would like to harvest on to find out exact regulations along with any permit fees required.
Protect your property - get firewood near where you will burn it
Pests and diseases of trees are commonly moved in firewood. To avoid bringing a new pest to their own land, people should collect firewood from a property near where it will be used.
State and federal quarantines prohibit the movement of firewood out of areas quarantined for emerald ash borer or gypsy moth. A current, color-coded map of where it is legal to move firewood by county [PDF] is available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "firewood." More information on these and other pests that move in firewood is also available from that webpage.
Wisconsin certified firewood has been processed to kill potential pests and diseases hiding inside. It is legal to move this wood around the state regardless of quarantines. People who prefer to buy certified wood instead of getting a permit to harvest wood themselves can find a Wisconsin certified dealer.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Hubbard, 608-264-9218
Farmers encouraged to use available tools for late fall manure spreading
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The following news release is issued jointly by the Wisconsin departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection.
MADISON - With a wet spring and delayed crop plantings this year, farmers need to plan ahead and use the tools at hand in case a late harvest and early freeze narrow the window for manure spreading this fall, advise officials with the departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
State officials warn field conditions in some parts of the state may parallel last year, which resulted in some farmers having frozen fields after corn and soybeans were off. If cold weather arrives early again, that could mean frozen ground conditions and a higher risk for manure runoff.
The Department of Natural Resources is contacting large farms with waste discharge permits and notifying them of their options, adding that livestock farms of any size need to be aware of potential problems.
The online Wisconsin Manure Management Advisory System offers the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast (www.manureadvisorysystem.wi.gov), a tool all farmers can use to assess how high the risk of runoff is for their general location before they spread manure. The tool uses weather forecasts of rain or melting snow, along with soil moisture, slope, land cover and snow cover.
Farmers can also use nutrient management maps included in the system to evaluate which of their own fields are the least or most prone to runoff. The system is a joint effort of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and several federal and University of Wisconsin entities.
Farmers with nutrient management plans need to follow their plans and pay close attention to soil conditions, application rates and setbacks from streams, lakes or drinking water wells.
Farmers without nutrient management plans are also encouraged to contact crop consultants or county conservationists, who can help identify fields and practices that lower risk for runoff.
"These are the times when it really is advantageous for farmers to have nutrient management plans in place," says Sara Walling, chief of the Nutrient Management and Water Quality Section at DATCP. "When you've developed a plan, you know the characteristics of your fields, where you can spread and when and how much. You often already have a relationship with a consultant who can advise you in these kinds of circumstances. It puts you that much ahead of the game."
Contact information for county conservation offices is available at datcp.wi.gov, search for "conservation directory." Information about response planning and prevention of manure spills. is on the DNR website.
Regardless of whether farmers have nutrient management in place, they need to have an emergency plan in case they have a runoff incident, say DNR and DATCP officials. Farmers need to know what steps to take if runoff or a spill occurs, who to call, how to contain it and how to clean it up.
If a spill or manure runoff occurs during spreading, farmers need to report the spill immediately by calling the DNR spill emergency hotline at 1-800-943-0003.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: MaryAnne Lowndes, DNR, 608-261-6420; Sara Walling, DATCP, 608-224-4501
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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