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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 29, 2010

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Fire activity in Manitoba prompts assistance from Wisconsin firefighters

MADISON - Wisconsin is sending fire fighting crews to Manitoba at the request of the Canadian province to assist with wildfires in The Pas region.

Wisconsin and Manitoba are members of the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact, along with Michigan, Minnesota and Ontario. When requested and when possible members of the compact provide fire fighting assistance to each other. All expenses are paid by the requesting state or province. Manitoba requested assistance on June 24.

"Requests such as this come as a compliment to our fire control program and we are always willing to help provided we can safely spare the needed staff and equipment here at home," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank. "When we see our neighbors in need, it's important for us to provide what resources we can and the Compact allows us to do just that."

The DNR is sending a 20-person hand crew of fire control staff from around the state. Most departed for Winnipeg and then on to The Pas in northwest Manitoba on Monday, June 28, for a 14-day assignment. The crew will likely be broken down into four, five-person squads that will focus their efforts on pump and hose laying efforts in remote areas.

Wisconsin's spring fire season has wound down with an abundance of rainfall and humidity, resulting in greener vegetation and lower fire danger statewide.

Manitoba has been battling extensive fire activity as a result of dry vegetation and numerous wildfire starts likely caused by lightning in remote areas. British Columbia and Minnesota fire agencies have already answered the call, prompting a request to the Wisconsin DNR as well.

The Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact is made up of natural resource agencies in Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, Manitoba, and Wisconsin. The partnership created a formal association in 1998 in order to promote effective prevention, pre-suppression and control of forest fires in the Great Lakes Region of the United States and adjacent areas of Canada. The compact promotes the sharing of ideas, new technology, tools, personnel and resources throughout its member agencies. Mobilizing a fire crew such as this allows the opportunity for fire agencies, to participate in resource sharing.

More information on the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact and their mission is available on the compact website at www.glffc.com. Anyone traveling into Canada for recreational purposes should check with local fire officials before conducting any outdoor burning.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ralph Sheffer, Fire Operations Specialist, (office) (608) 935-1925 or (cell) (608) 279-3621

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Improving water quality in the Lower Fox River and Green Bay

Public has until July 26 to comment on the draft Total Maximum Daily Load

MADISON - The public has an opportunity to comment on a new report that explains efforts to improve water quality in the Lower Fox River and Lower Green Bay and tributary streams. Fourteen water bodies in this watershed do not currently meet water quality standards.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with local stakeholders, has developed what is basically a "pollution budget," for the Lower Fox River Basin and Lower Green Bay. Known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), the plan establishes the total amount of phosphorus and total suspended solids that water bodies covered by the TMDL can receive and still meet water quality standards.

A public informational hearing to learn about the draft TMDL and to provide oral comments is set for July 12, 2010, in Grand Chute. People also may submit written and electronic comments through July 26, 2010, with details provided below.

"This is an important step forward in cleaning up the Lower Fox River and Green Bay," says Bruce Baker, DNR's top water quality official.

"In order to improve water quality, all sources of total phosphorus and total suspended solids will need to be reduced," Baker says. "DNR will work together with stakeholders to find solutions and reduction strategies to meet the water quality goals of the TMDL in concert with the cost effective framework that is in the proposed phosphorus rules."

The TMDL document details the amounts of phosphorus and total suspended solids each of those waters can receive and still meet water quality standards, and identifies the reductions needed from each source of those pollutants, says Nicole Clayton, DNR coordinator for the lower Fox River TMDL project.

"Once we determine the total amount of a pollutant a body of water can receive and still meet water quality standards, we can calculate needed reductions from specific sources," she says.

Phosphorus is a naturally occurring nutrient that also is found in soils, livestock manure, commercial fertilizers and wastewater discharges. It fuels algae and plant growth, sometimes leading to excessive levels of both. Total suspended solids include small particles of materials such as soil and leaves that get washed into streams and make the water look muddy and cloudy and degrade habitat for fish and other aquatic life. These pollutants reach rivers and streams from polluted runoff from farm fields, barnyards, residential yards and wastewater treatment plant discharges.

DNR developed the TMDL with help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a private consultant, the Cadmus Group, Inc., and with feedback from science, technical and outreach teams including various stakeholders groups and the public.

The goal for Lower Green Bay is to improve water clarity to support a diverse biological community and expand the area of beneficial bottom-dwelling plants. To meet established targets, a certain percentage reduction is needed in different types of pollutants. Upon reaching these goals the local streams and Green Bay will have better dissolved oxygen levels, less turbid water, and fewer algae blooms. This is expected to improve habitat for fish and aquatic life and improve recreational opportunities, Clayton says.

The public informational meeting begins at 1 p.m. Monday, July 12, at the Grand Chute Town Hall, 1900 Grand Chute Blvd.

As part of the review and submittal process for TMDLs, a 30-day public comment period runs through July 26, 2010. People may submit written or electronic comments to Nicole Clayton at the DNR, WT/3, 101 S. Webster, Madison, WI 53703 or nicole.clayton@wisconsin.gov.

People can view the draft TMDL report and formal public notice on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Nicole Clayton - (608) 266-0152

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New email alert system to recent wolf activity available

Dog training season opens July 1

MADISON - Dog trainers, pet owners and others interested in keeping track of recent wolf activity can now sign up for an e-mail or wireless service that will send an alert anytime wolves attack hunting dogs or pets.

The new feature relies on an easy-to-use service called GovDelivery. From the DNR home page search for "dog depredation by wolves" and follow the simple instructions for subscribing to the alerts. It is possible to unsubscribe at anytime.

The alert will be sent to a subscriber's e-mail and/or wireless addresses of choice and will include a link to details of 2010 depredations and a caution map based on the location of any attacks.

Wisconsin's dog training season opens July 1 and runs through August 31 leading up to the opening of the 2010 Wisconsin Black Bear Hunting season on Sept. 8. The bear hunting season runs through Oct. 12. It is legal during this training period for hunters with a class A or B bear hunting license to train dogs on wild bear on public property open to bear-dog training.

"This new system will give dog trainers rapid alerts to problem areas with information that can help them avoid attacks on their dogs," said, Adrian Wydeven, wolf ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "We will post new alerts just as soon as attacks are confirmed. We'll also continue to maintain our wolf alert web pages with documentation of all attacks throughout the current season."

Wolves with pups leave the den area where the pups were born and occupy one or more rendezvous sites within the pack territory during summer months. A wolf pack changes rendezvous sites somewhat unpredictably but will defend the current site and pups from any hunting dogs that get too close.

Alerts on other topics are also available through the GovDelivery feature. At the DNR home page select "Subscribe to DNR Updates" and select the topics you want to follow.

Wisconsin's closely monitored wolf population continues to grow

Wisconsin's gray wolf population at the close of the 2009-2010 winter is estimated to be 690 to 733, a roughly 10 percent increase over the 2008-2009 end-of-winter estimate.

Wolves continue to be listed as endangered in Wisconsin and elsewhere. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted to remove the wolf from this list in portions of the Great Lakes states, so that management of the wolf could be handed over to the states.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources submitted a petition to the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging them to complete the delisting process and return management authority to the state. So far, attempts to delist the wolf have been blocked by the courts.

The annual winter wolf count relies on aerial tracking of radio-collared wolves, trail cameras, and snow track surveys by DNR and volunteer trackers. Also included are wolf sightings by members of the public. The agency has conducted these counts since the winter of 1979-1980 when there were 25 wolves in the state.

A total of 180 wolf packs were detected in Wisconsin during the winter count consisting of at least 2 adult wolves each. Biologists found 30 packs distributed across central Wisconsin and 150 packs in northern Wisconsin. The largest packs in the state were the Moose Road Pack Douglas County with 11 wolves, the Crotte Creek Pack in Douglas County with 9 wolves and the McArther Pine Pack in Forest County with 9 wolves. At least 52 packs had 5 or more wolves in them.

The Wisconsin wolf population is considered to be one of the most closely monitored and managed animal species in the nation, according to Adrian Wydeven, a DNR conservation biologist and wolf specialist.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on Wisconsin's wolf population contact Adrian Wydeven - (715) 762-1363; on the GovDelivery notification service contact Dawn Hinebaugh (608) 266-5243

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DNR to host series of Winnebago walleye management meetings this summer

Aim is to collect input for next 20 year management plan

GREEN BAY - The Winnebago System walleye population and its world class walleye fishery are the topic of four public meetings in northeastern Wisconsin in July and August as the state starts updating its plan for managing both.

"We've worked closely with the public to improve the walleye fishery on the Winnebago System for the last 20 years, and the result has been a tremendous success," says Kendall Kamke, a Department of Natural Resources senior fisheries biologist in Oshkosh.

"But it is time to take a thorough look with the public at the progress we have made in understanding and managing our walleye population and fishery and look ahead to the next 20 years."

So DNR will be holding four meetings in July and August to provide people information about the status of the Winnebago System walleye population, fishery, and management program and to collect public input to update the Winnebago Walleye Management Plan.

The Winnebago System, which includes lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, and the connected rivers upstream, the upper Fox and the Wolf, is known nationally for its outstanding walleye fishery. A 2007 study (exit DNR) by the UW Extension and DNR showed that anglers annually spend up to 2 million hours on the Winnebago System pursing primarily walleye, as well as other gamefish in a fishery that generates a total economic impact of $234 million annually and 4,300 jobs.

Topics to be discussed at the meetings include walleye population and harvest estimates, adult walleye size and age distributions by sex from springs 1989-2010, the impact of spring water flows and levels on walleye recruitment, the walleyes' movement and migrational patterns, and the assessment techniques DNR uses to develop population estimates.

The meetings are set for the following dates and locations:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kendall Kamke (920) 424-7880

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Most fireworks illegal in state forests and parks

MADISON - Camping in a state park or forest for the Fourth of July? If so, enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities - not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks and forests.

Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Jason Fritz, chief ranger for the Wisconsin State Parks program.

"For the safety of our guests and our resources, our rangers strictly enforce the no fireworks laws," Fritz said. "Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as 'fireworks' per Wisconsin state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents would rather not see them at all because they are a fire hazard."

A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost the lawbreaker up to $200 and parents could be liable for the full costs of putting out a fire started by their children playing with or setting off fireworks.

In fact, anyone responsible for starting a forest fire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out but also for any damages, notes Catherine Regan, forest fire prevention specialist with the DNR Division of Forestry.

As of the last week of June, fire dangers levels throughout Wisconsin were low across the state, but even in low fire danger times, fireworks can start wildfires. So far in 2010, DNR records show 995 fires have burned more than 1,700 acres in Wisconsin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fritz (608) 266-2152 or Catherine Koele, DNR forest fire prevention specialist - (608) 266-2359

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Air quality notices now available by county

MADISON - People can now receive notices by e-mail, RSS feed or text messages whenever their county has an air quality watch or advisory. The Department of Natural Resources has improved its Air Quality Notification system to include this feature. Previously, people could only sign up to get a message for all air quality watches and advisories, no matter where they occurred in the state.

"We wanted to streamline our notices so that people know when they receive a message it means the air quality in their area is a health concern," noted John Melby, Director, Bureau of Air Management. "If people want to receive air quality notices for multiple counties, they can do so."

The DNR has been providing air quality notices for fifteen years. It began with faxes sent to companies and organizations in Southeast Wisconsin participating in the summertime-only Ozone Action Days program. That early program was updated to today's readily available e-mail and electronic communication and was broadened in 2006 when the DNR, in partnership with the National Weather Service, began issuing Air Quality Watches and Advisories statewide and year-round for fine particle pollution in addition to the summertime ozone.

To subscribe to air quality notices by county, multiple counties or statewide use the links at the top of the Wisconsin Statewide Air Quality Notices page of the DNR website. The subscription page for the county option also includes air quality web pages tailored to each county. Current subscribers who want to continue receiving notices for all counties do not need to take any action.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Bogar, (608)266-3725

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Video shows boaters steps to meet new invasive species law

MADISON - A new online video shows anglers, boaters and others the steps they need to take to avoid accidentally spreading aquatic invasive species and diseases to new waters.

The Department of Natural Resources video includes information about a new law that requires people to remove any aquatic plants and animals attached to their boats, trailers and equipment before leaving a boat landing and driving on public roads.

DNR conservation wardens and Water Guards will be stationed at boating landings on many popular waters that already have invasive species to help educate people about the new law. A 30-second public service announcement.

The Fourth of July holiday is traditionally the busiest boating weekend of the year in a state with more than 600,000 registered boats and several hundred thousand more coming in from other states. Following the prevention steps can help keep Wisconsin lakes and rivers healthy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Stark (608) 266-1115

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 29, 2010




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