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Weekly News Published - June 19, 2018 by the Central Office


Flooding, washouts close some parks and trails in northwestern Wisconsin

Many properties across the north unaffected and remain open

SUPERIOR, Wis. - Heavy rains across northwestern Wisconsin last weekend and early this week have flooded some roads and caused washouts on some highways, roads, state parks, forests and trails. According to the National Weather Service the area has received 7 to 12 inches of rain from Friday through Monday.

The dam forming Interfalls Lake at Pattison State Park washed out, taking out part of Highway 35 and closing the road.  - Photo credit: DNR
The dam forming Interfalls Lake at Pattison State Park washed out, taking out part of Highway 35 and closing the road. Photo credit: DNR

There are several Wisconsin State Park System property and portions of properties that are closed due to the rain and flooding in Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Burnett and Price counties. Amnicon Falls State Park, located about 7 miles east of Superior, is currently closed but is expected to reopen the afternoon of June 19. Pattison State Park about 13 miles south of Superior is open for camping only; all trails, observation areas, picnic and day-use areas are closed.

The arched bridge at Amnicon Falls State Park has so far survived the torrent of the raging Amnicon River. - Photo credit: DNR
The arched bridge at Pattison State Park has so far survived the torrent of the raging Amnicon River.Photo credit: DNR
The arched bridge at Amnicon Falls State Park has so far survived the torrent of the raging Amnicon River. - Photo credit: DNR
Big Manitou Falls at Pattison State Park was roaring on Sunday following all the rain.Photo credit: DNR

The Saunders Grade, Wild Rivers and Gandy Dancer state trails in Douglas County are currently closed. Several canoe launches, picnic areas and day-use areas at Brule River State Forest are under water and currently unusable. The St. Croix Family Campground at Governor Knowles State Forest will be closed at least until June 20. The bridge at the headwaters of the White River in the Town of Delta is currently closed. Portions of the Tuscobia Trail are also washed out in southern Price County; a reroute will be established soon.

The public is urged to use caution as they recreate in the coming days and weeks. People traveling in the area can check the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's 511 Wisconsin website for road closures and any available detours.

Do not attempt to travel on water covered trails and roads. Stay out of areas, roads and trails posted as closed. Keep a safe distance away from the edge of fast moving water, streams and rivers. Kayaking or canoeing in flood or high water conditions is extremely dangerous.

Conditions at properties in the counties and in the northwest part of the state are changing rapidly was water levels decrease in some areas and increase in other areas downstream. For additional and the most current information continue to follow Wisconsin DNR on social media as well as searching the DNR website, for "Current Conditions."



Private well owners encouraged to check wells after recent flooding in northern Wisconsin

MADISON - Recent heavy rains in many northern Wisconsin counties have affected private property owners and state properties.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering the guidance below as many property owners will begin assessing damage, checking wells and septic systems and removing storm related debris. In particular, heavy rains can create conditions that affect private wells and drinking water.

Private wells and drinking water

Floodwaters and runoff may affect private wells. Well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water should assume their wells are contaminated and should stop drinking the water.

Homeowners are encouraged to make sure their wells are properly disinfected, then sample the well after pumping and disinfection to assure the water is safe.

Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination.

Even without obvious signs of flooding, a well can become contaminated. More recommendations for private well owners whose wells have been inundated are available on the DNR website.

More information on bacteriological contamination of drinking water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installer and labs certified to analyze water samples are available by searching the DNR website,, for the keyword "wells."

Handling debris

DNR has compiled information on how to dispose of specific materials and items. Visit Cleaning up storm debris for more information. You can also contact local authorities to find out if there are special arrangements or resources for cleaning up and disposing of storm and flood debris.

Septic systems

Septic systems are regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Look for more information at, search "private onsite wastewater treatment systems."


People and pets are advised to limit contact and avoid swimming or wading in flood waters and runoff, which may contain bacteria and other contaminants.

Additional information for those affected by the flooding can be found on DNR's website by searching "Coping with Flooding." The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also provides information and links to resources on its Flood Hazards and Recovery page: DNR).



Groundbreaking for Willow River State Park dam reconstruction June 26

HUDSON, Wis. - State and local officials will celebrate the groundbreaking for the reconstruction of Little Falls Dam on the Willow River within Willow River State Park at a ceremony at 1 p.m. on June 26. The public is welcome to attend.

The Willow Falls Dam before it was breached.  - Photo credit: DNR
The Willow Falls Dam before it was breached. Photo credit: DNR
The Willow Falls Dam breached.  - Photo credit: DNR
The dam, which was breached in 2015 due to structural concerns, will be rebuilt beginning this summer. Photo credit: DNR

The Willow River was dammed in the park, forming the 172-acre Little Falls Lake in the 1920s. The lake has been a popular recreation area in the park, offering non-motorized boating, fishing and a swimming beach. In 2015 dam inspections indicated elements of the dam need to be brought into compliance, as well as possible structural issues related to the foundation.

The Department of Natural Resources then began the process of draining Little Falls Lake, including a breach of the dam to fully drain the lake. Later in 2015 the department made the determination that the dam would be replaced. The governor and state Legislature had previously set aside $8 million for the dam replacement. The governor included an additional $11 million for the dam project in the 2016-17 budget after more recent cost estimates placed the project cost at $19 million. Bonding would come from all agency funding sources and from non-allocated Stewardship land acquisition funding.

Contracts have been awarded to Miron Construction to reconstruct the dam. The new dam has been designed by Mead & Hunt Inc., with on-site assistance from Stevens Engineering. Site work will begin late in June to install erosion control measures, security fencing, prepare the site for removal of the remaining dam components and to do stream alignment work. At this time, construction is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

During construction, some area of the park will be closed for staging and construction. There will be areas within the park for the public to watch construction activities. Other than truck traffic there is not expected to be other impacts on park activities.

People can find out more about the Little Falls dam and the reconstruction project by searching the DNR website for keywords "Willow River," and clicking on the link in the right side navigation panel for "Little Falls Dam."



Pollinator Week June 18-24 highlights insects' importance to ecosystems and crops

Plant for pollinators and take other steps at home or on the farm to help them

[Editor's Note: Join us Wednesday, June 20, about 2:30 p.m., for a Facebook Live stream as DNR Conservation Biologist Amy Staffen highlights plants she's added to her yard to benefit pollinators. Catch this live stream via the Wisconsin DNR Facebook Page. Make sure you're notified when we go live by clicking the "Follow" button on our Facebook page. Or view the video at your leisure on our Facebook page under the "Live Videos" tab and in our feed.]

MADISON - Pollinators are critical for Wisconsin ecosystems and crops including cranberries, peppers and tomatoes, and Pollinator Week, June 18-24, highlights steps city and rural residents can take to help protect and increase pollinator habitat.

A pollinator is any animal that visits flowering plants and transfers pollen from flower to flower, aiding plant reproduction. In Wisconsin, native pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flower flies, beetles, wasps, and hummingbirds. Populations of some pollinators in Wisconsin, including several bumble bees and butterflies, are declining and habitat loss is one of the major causes.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 10 photos

A parade of Wisconsin pollinators

Without pollinators, Wisconsin cranberry growers would lose three-quarters of their crop, apple growers would lose 80 percent, and cherry growers would lose 60 percent. In 2015, that would have added up to a whopping $134 million loss, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

"It's all hands-on deck for pollinators," says Owen Boyle, who leads the Department of Natural Resources' species management section. "Our native pollinators are incredibly important to maintaining Wisconsin's native ecosystems and agriculture, and we can all take steps to help them."

"People can plant native milkweed and nectar plants, take it easy on mowing and pesticide use, and get involved in volunteer monitoring to help collect information on where pollinators live and their abundance.

"Even if you live in an apartment and you have a balcony, you can grow flowers that provide food for pollinators."

General best management practices for pollinators and aimed at farmers, homeowners with lawns and gardens, beekeepers and right-of-way managers, are found in the Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Plan [PDF] developed in 2015 and led by DATCP.

Globally, somewhere between 75 percent and 95 percent of all flowering plants - some 180,000 species in all and 1,200 crops -- need pollinators to help reproduce, according to the Pollinator Partnership, the organizer of the awareness week. Many of these flowering plants feed other wildlife and support healthy ecosystems that clean the air and stabilize soils, Boyle says.

Exciting public and private efforts are underway to help pollinators, including a Wisconsin effort bringing together diverse interests to create and carry out a statewide habitat restoration plan for monarchs, Boyle says. While monarchs are not the most efficient pollinators, monarch habitat benefits for other more efficient pollinators as well, like bees. Many habitat and other efforts by Wisconsin governments, nonprofits and utilities on behalf of monarchs are listed in the Wisconsin chapter, pg. 243, of the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy [PDF].

Other ways Wisconsin residents can help pollinators is by participating in citizen-based monitoring projects to help collect information about the location and abundance of Wisconsin's pollinators including bumble bees, Karner blue butterflies and monarchs, Boyle says.

Find more information and sign up for free email or text updates to get videos, photos, plant lists on the DNR website,, by searching keyword "Pollinator."

Follow Pollinator Week on DNR social media.



Operation Dry Water: DNR conservation wardens join local boat patrols for safety weekend

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Additional regional contacts are available: South Central Wisconsin Recreation Warden Marty Stone, 608-778-2035 or; Northeast Wisconsin Recreation Warden Darren Kuhn, 920-615-6075 or, South Eastern Wisconsin Recreation Warden Jason Roberts, 262-903-9399 or; West Central Wisconsin Recreation Warden Matt Groppi, 715-284-1421 or, Northern Wisconsin Recreation Warden Mark Little, 715-492-1047 or]

MADISON -- Boaters and paddlers enjoying Wisconsin's waters June 29-July 1 could see more state conservation wardens and local boat patrols on the water during the 10th annual national Operation Dry Water.

Lt. Adam Hanna of the Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills section says wardens will be on the water with one mission - keep the waters safe for all to enjoy.

"We intend to stop and remove intoxicated boaters from our lakes and rivers. We also will take the time to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of Boating Under the Influence," Hanna said. "Alcohol is a leading factor in boating fatalities."

Wisconsin defines impaired operators as having a blood alcohol level over the state limit of 0.08 percent. Officers will use the field sobriety test to determine the boater's level of intoxication. There also is a breath test.

A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and deadlier for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.

As of December 31, 2017, there were 624,882 registered vessels in Wisconsin that display the state vessel registration number, a 2 percent increase from 2016. Of the 624,882 vessels, there are 13,314 non-motorized vessels registered. In addition, approximately 335,000 non-motorized boats, and over 300,000 non-resident boats are using Wisconsin waterways each year.

Wisconsin reported 106 boating incidents resulting in 79 persons injured and 25 fatalities in 2017. While alcohol involvement increased from 2016, the number one contributing factor in boat incidents is Operator Inexperience. If you need a safety class, visit the DNR website,, and search "Safety Education."

Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.

"We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves," Hanna said. "But there will be zero tolerance for boating under the influence."

The mission of Operation Dry Water is to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water. Operation Dry Water is produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and is a product of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

For more information, visit



All hands are on deck this Fourth-of-July weekend to stop aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin

MADISON -- Thousands of Wisconsinites and visitors will take to the water this Fourth-of-July for the state's busiest boating holiday. During the tenth annual Landing Blitz, June 29-July 4, many boaters will be greeted at landings and access points by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff, volunteers and regional Aquatic Invasive Species partners sharing a simple but powerful message: YOU can protect lakes and rivers from aquatic invasive species.

Eurasian watermilfoil is one of the invasive plants inspectors will be looking for during the Landing Blitz. - Photo credit: DNR
Eurasian watermilfoil is one of the invasive plants inspectors will be looking for during the Landing Blitz.Photo credit: DNR

The Landing Blitz is a statewide effort to remind boaters and users of all other watercraft that they can take actions to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose great risks to the health of our lakes and fisheries.

"Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water resources for outdoor sports and recreation. It's one of the top reasons Wisconsin is the premier travel destination for fun in the Midwest," said Stephanie Klett, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. "We appreciate the commitment of our visitors and residents to help protect our lakes, rivers and streams from aquatic invasive species and preserve our water resources for generations to come."

Volunteers, AIS partners and DNR boat inspectors will be on hand at landings around the state to demonstrate the prevention steps and answer questions about invasive species. Their efforts will build on the success of last year's campaign, when volunteers inspected over 14,000 boats and spoke with over 32,000 people.

"One of the most exciting things about this campaign is the strong volunteer effort. Every year hundreds of concerned citizens participate as volunteers to help us raise awareness and empower boaters," says Bob Wakeman, Statewide AIS Coordinator.

For those who use social media, they can help spread the word about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention by posting photos and messages using #CleanBoatsCleanWaters.

Invasive plants and animals, like Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water fleas and zebra mussels, can spread easily by hitching a ride on boats and other equipment, including trailers, anchors, live wells, buckets and bilges. Because many invasive species can also be hidden in mud, it's vital to clean off anchors. But boaters can also easily prevent this by taking the following simple steps before they leave a boat landing:

Following these steps also helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species.

To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin's waters and economy, visit and search "Invasive Species."



Natural Resources Board to meet June 27 in Madison

MADISON - Information about the 2017 ruffed grouse harvest and 2018 spring drumming survey results, statement of scope approvals related to 1) marten protection closed areas, 2) chronic wasting disease, and 3) site-specific phosphorus water quality criteria, requests for approvals of master plans for the Southern Region Planning Group and Kettle Moraine Waters groups, and a request to initiate a planning process to establish recreational trail uses at Blue Mound State Park for trail are among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address when it meets June 27 in Madison.

The board will convene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 27, in Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 S. Webster St., Madison. On Tuesday, June 26, the board will tour and/or receive presentations at locations around the Madison and Poynette areas beginning at approximately 11:15 a.m.

Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff will provide information to the board about roadside ruffed grouse surveys completed this spring showed statewide drumming activity decreased 34 percent between 2017 and 2018 and will ask whether the department should take action to reduce harvest during the 2018-19 season.

Current rules establish closed season for trapping any species in two American marten protection areas. Martens have recently been confirmed on seven Apostle Islands and the department is requesting the board consider a third protection area on those islands.

The board will also consider a request to approve management plans for the Southern Region Planning group properties, which includes almost 21,300 acres in wildlife areas, state habitat areas, fisheries areas and State Natural Areas in portions of Waukesha, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties and small portions of Rock, Jefferson and Milwaukee counties. The board will consider a separate master plan approval for the Kettle Moraine Waters Property groups that includes the Mukwanago Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lulu Lake State Natural Area and public access parcel on Eagle Spring Lake in Waukesha and Walworth counties. The board will also consider a request to initiate the process of developing a plan to establish recreational trail uses in Blue Mound State Park. The board received a request from two snowmobile organizations to consider including snowmobiling and establish locations for that use within the park boundary.

On Tuesday, June 26 the board will participate in tours of various facilities through south central Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin Emergency Management State Emergency Operations Center, the MacKenzie Center and the state Game Farm pheasant hatchery, and the Columbia County Public Shooting Range. The public must pre-register with Board Liaison to attend scheduled tours.

The complete June board agenda is available by searching the DNR website, for keyword "NRB" and clicking on the button for "view agendas."

The public is welcome to attend. Those that want to attend the tours or testify at the board meeting must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison. Public participation deadline: Board liaison receipt of your request to attend the tours, testify, or submit written comment is 11 a.m. on Friday, June 22, 2018. No late requests or comments will be accepted. Registration information is available on the agenda on the DNR website.

Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month's meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.



Proposed master plan variance designates additional ATV/UTV access routes through Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest

DNR public comment period open through July 3

WOODRUFF, Wis. - The public will have an opportunity to comment on plans for expanded recreational opportunities in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest through the designation of approximately 11 miles of all-terrain and utility vehicle routes on Department of Natural Resources roads in the forest. The roads proposed for ATV/UTV designation will contribute to the eventual completion of a north-south route through the forest, connecting communities and providing additional recreation opportunities.

A master plan variance is a change in the use or management of an area that is consistent with the area's land management classification and objectives. This variance proposal accompanies an October 2017 amendment to the recreation portion of the state forest's 2005 Master Plan. The 2017 amendment designated about 42 miles of existing DNR roads as ATV/UTV routes or trails to connect the larger regional network. It also authorized the department to designate an additional 160 miles of ATV/UTV routes and trails on existing DNR roads that help build the overall network. The proposed variance adds approximately 11 miles to help build the overall network.

The public can review the draft variance and maps that show the proposed routes by searching the DNR website for keywords "property planning" and clicking on the link for "Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest Variance." Questions or comments should be submitted by July 3 to Cameron Bump via email at, phone at 715-839-2786, or mail at: Wisconsin DNR, 1300 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54701.



Kirtland's warbler success, breeding bird atlas and biking featured in Summer Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

MADISON -- Summer is on its way and so is the latest issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. The current edition focuses on everything that's great about summer in Wisconsin, starting with the cover story on a special songbird, the Kirtland's warbler. "A happy tune" tells about state conservation work with this endangered species, an innovative effort that uses Kirtland's song recordings to help draw the bird to areas of northern Wisconsin with optimal habitat.

Birds also are featured in Summer issue stories about the ongoing Breeding Bird Atlas II survey project as well as "Our treasured terns," a look at the challenges faced by Wisconsin's four main species of these natural heritage birds that inhabit Great Lakes shorelines, coastal islands and inland lake marsh areas.

The summer theme continues with a story about biking in the Northwoods that takes readers on a spin through the scenic Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. And lakes get their due in "How lake lovers become lake leaders," which tells about DNR's partnership with UW Extension and the nonprofit Wisconsin Lakes Inc., to offer training through the Wisconsin Lake Leaders Institute.

A historic angle to the outdoors is found in "Paddle tales," featuring details on the early 1900s canoe trips of Milwaukee's Howard Greene, who kept meticulous journals of his adventures that are now reprinted in a book by his daughter. Several of Greene's photos -- striking black-and-white images made with his Graflex camera on the Wisconsin River, St. Croix River, Lake Superior and other places -- are included with the story.

For more on the outdoors, check out "Hunter and gatherer," about a collection of DNR-related memorabilia, and learn about the DNR's new OutWiGo initiative in "Explore the state's great outdoors." Also in the Summer issue, a special section commemorates DNR's 50th anniversary with a timeline "From the archives of a 'superagency,'" highlighting agency accomplishments of the past half-century.

This issue's "Back in the day" regular feature is an excerpt from a 1968 Conservation Bulletin, sharing one family's rather humorous experience with Wisconsin state park camping. And on the back page, "Outside in Wisconsin" heads to 100-year-old Perrot State Park, a beautiful spot known for its breathtaking views from atop the bluffs at the confluence of the Mississippi and Trempealeau rivers.
Other standing features include "Reader's Write" letters and feedback and a message from DNR Secretary Dan Meyer, encouraging readers to get out and enjoy summer in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine is available for $8.97 per year. Subscribe at 1-800-678-9472 or online at



Incidental take notice for State Highway 22 Project, Columbia County

MADISON -- The State Highway 22 Project may result in the "incidental taking" of a rare lizard and turtle under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. 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.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is in the process of developing plans for a proposed project on Wisconsin State Highway 22 that is located in Columbia County. The purpose of the project is to replace the existing pavement surface that has exceeded its service life. The project begins near the U.S. Highway 51 intersection and extends northerly approximately 11 miles to the southern limits of the Wisconsin Highway 16 Interchange.

Proposed improvements include using the Cold In-Place Recycling process to mill and relay the existing asphalt pavement and overlaying the entire roadway width with 4 inches of Hot Mix Asphalt. The proposed typical section for WIS 22 consists of one 12-foot travel lane in each direction with a 6-foot-wide shoulder (5-foot paved) on the left- and righthand sides. Right-of-way acquisition will be required for intersection geometric improvements and roadway sideslope corrections identified through the preliminary design process.

Construction of the project is scheduled for August 2018.

The presence of the state endangered slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) and ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some lizards and turtles.

Department staff concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the 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.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the slender glass lizard and ornate box turtle are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Stacy Rowe (608-266-7012 or The department is requesting comments from the public through July 19, 2018 regarding project-related impacts to the slender glass lizard and ornate box turtle. Public comments should be sent to Stacy Rowe, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or


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Last Revised: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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