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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 22, 2010

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Water guards to be out July 4 weekend educating boaters on new invasive rules

MADISON - State conservation wardens and specialized deputy wardens known as "Water Guards" will be out in full force over the Fourth of July holiday to educate boaters and anglers about a new invasive species law that makes it illegal to leave a boat launch and drive on public roads with aquatic plants and animals attached to boats, trailers, or equipment.

AIS poster
Click on image for a printable handout in portable document format (pdf; 394kb).

"We know that Wisconsinites care deeply about protecting lakes and rivers, and that once they know the right thing to do, they'll do it," says Randy Stark, Chief Warden for the state Department of Natural Resources. "So we'll be out at boat landings across Wisconsin to help educate people about this new law and contacting people we see hitting the highway with plants still attached."

Stark says that recent surveys of boaters show that 90 percent say they are taking some steps to prevent spreading zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil and other aquatic invasive species. "Most people are doing a great job and the vast majority of lakes and rivers don't have invasive species," Starks says. "We all want to keep it that way, so we need everyone to take all of the prevention steps. That includes all boaters and all anglers, and those who fish from shore."

Bob Wakeman, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator, says the new law will make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and when, and for wardens to enforce. For more than a decade, boaters and anglers have been asked to inspect their boats and remove any aquatic plants attached to them, and since 2001, a law has required that boats be clean of aquatic plants and animals before they are launched, he says.

But some boaters are still inadvertently moving equipment around the state with invasive species attached: of the 52,777 boats inspected by volunteers and paid inspectors in 2009, 16 percent had plants attached. Local lakes groups and lawmakers in northern Wisconsin pushed hard for many years to get this new law, known as the "transport law," on the books.

"With this new law, boaters will know that not only must their boat be clean when they launch, but they can't leave the landing and hit the highway with aquatic plants or animals attached." Wakeman says. A first citation of the transport law carries a penalty ranging from $232 to $767.50 and a second offense within three years carries a penalty that ranges up to $2,657.

Conservation wardens have been working with statewide and local law enforcement organizations to inform them about the new transport law so they can help enforce it. Over the long holiday weekend, conservation wardens and water guards will focus their efforts on waters that already have multiple aquatic invasive species to keep those invaders from being taken to new lakes. They'll talk to boaters who are launching their boats and explain the new law, and will be stopping cars and boat trailers found to be leaving landings with aquatic plants or animals contrary to state law.

Volunteer boat inspectors and paid county and state boat inspectors will be working at boating landings as well, helping educate people about the new law, inspecting boats, and demonstrating the required prevention steps. Those steps are:

Before launching and before leaving a launch:

More information on these rules and related exceptions for minnow use, is available on the invasive species pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Stark (608) 266-1115; Greg Stacey (608) 576-9123 Bob Wakeman (608) 574-2149.



Woodland owners should see DNR foresters to renew Managed Forest Law participation

MADISON - Owners of Wisconsin woodlands who were part of the first wave of Managed Forest Law participants should contact their local Department of Natural Resources forester now to discuss re-enrolling in the program.

Earlier this year, letters were sent to an estimated 1,600 landowners who had originally signed up for the Managed Forest Law program in 1987. Their agreements will expire on Dec. 31, 2011. Landowners who wish to continue in the program need to develop a proposed management plan and submit it with an application by June 1, 2011.

"We are ready to assist all landowners who want to continue enjoying the benefits of the MFL program. Our foresters can explain program details and options to help landowners prepare their application materials to meet application deadlines," said Kathy Nelson, natural resources forest tax law policy chief.

If landowners do not renew their agreements, the land will go back on the regular property tax rolls, Nelson said.

The Managed Forest Law is an incentive program to encourage sustainable forestry on privately owned woodlands to keep forests "working" to provide timber products and ecological benefits (clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, carbon sequestration, etc.). In exchange for a landowner's commitment to follow forest management practices that are specific to their wooded property, participants pay reduced property taxes on the enrolled lands. Nelson said MFL landowners also pay deferred property taxes when timber is harvested.

The letter landowners received included information needed to start the renewal process, the name of the county and municipality where the MFL-enrolled parcel is located, and contact information for their DNR forester, according to Nelson.

"In light of recent legislative changes, working with a DNR forester is particularly important for an MFL landowner," Nelson said. "The DNR forester is familiar with program requirements and can help guide landowners through the renewal process. The DNR forester can also help landowners understand the various issues that play a role in sustainably managing forested lands."

In addition to helping landowners meet MFL deadlines, Nelson said DNR foresters can also help landowners understand any ramifications involved in selling MFL-enrolled land or in withdrawing the wooded land from the MFL program altogether. The DNR forester can also help landowners understand how specific owner objectives - attracting wildlife to a forested property, ensuring the property remains undeveloped, supporting forest health, encouraging timber productivity, etc. - can be achieved through the written management plan.

"One of the most important things we do as DNR foresters is answer landowner questions," Nelson said. "DNR foresters can help MFL landowners make an informed decision."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Kathy Nelson (608) 266-3545.



Roche-A-Cri State Park "stairway to heaven" closed until a replacement is built

FRIENDSHIP - The stairway to the top of 300-foot-high Roche-A-Cri Mound at Roche-A-Cri State Park in Friendship has been closed due to deteriorating lumber, the state Department of Natural Resources reports.

Roche-A-Cri Mound
The 300-foot high Roche-A-Cri mound rises above the wooded landscape.
WDNR Photo

Park officials have a plan to replace the stairs, said park supervisor Joe Stecker-Kochanski, but the condition of the existing steps renders them unsafe for public use.

In the meantime, the 605-acre park remains open and welcoming to visitors.

"People can still see the Native American petroglyphs and pictographs and visit the other features of the park," Stecker-Kochanski said.

These include 40 rustic camp sites, one handicapped accessible site, an accessible ramp and observation deck at the rock art site, a picnic area, Carter Creek and a restored upland prairie. An accessible nature trail leads to Chickadee Rock, a 0.68-mile round trip featuring six interpretive signs.

The 303-step staircase that has been closed is part of the Top of the Mound Trail that has offered visitors access to panoramic views since 1994. The 380-foot-long stairway project began in late fall 1992 and continued through spring 1994. A Wisconsin Conservation Corps crew hauled most of three semi-loads of lumber up the steep slope, with some of the rough-sawn, white oak timbers weighing 200 pounds apiece. A helicopter airlifted several loads of timber to the top of the mound.

The replacement project will be put out for bid later this year with $354,600 approved to complete the work. Park staff estimates it will be completed in August 2011.

Roch-A-Cri State Park is located in central Adams County, 1.5 miles north of Friendship on State Highway 13.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Joe Stecker-Kochanski, park supervisor, (608) 565-2789 or Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, (715) 839-3715



Fish farms seek renewal of permits to operate in public waters

MADISON - More than 160 fish farms operating in natural waters in 51 Wisconsin counties have applied to renew their permits to operate in those waters under a 1997 state law governing aquaculture in Wisconsin.

The state Department of Natural Resources will be issuing notices this week to media in each affected county. The public has 30 days to file an objection and request a hearing on the permit application. The DNR will grant the permits if there is no objection filed and if the agency finds that no substantial public interest exists in the waters where the fish farm is located and that the operation does not have a negative impact on public or private rights to those waters.

Public rights include plant and wild animal habitat or populations; water quality and quantity in lakes, streams or rivers, threatened or endangered species or their habitats, wetlands and the public's right to navigate and associated incidents to navigation including fishing, swimming, wading and canoeing. Because all navigable waters in the state belong to the public, state law requires the DNR to request if anyone has objection to the permit.

The entire list of permit applications can be found on the Environmental Permits for Aquaculture pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric J. Eikenberry (608) 264-9257 or Paul Cunningham - (608) 267-7502


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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