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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published March 22, 2011

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Thanks to DNR employees

In less than three short months since I had the privilege to take over as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, I have gained a deep sense of admiration for the work our DNR staff does.

I am proud of the dedicated men and women who have committed their careers to our great state. There is no doubt this has been a tumultuous time in our economy and state government, but I wish people could see what I see. Throughout controversy, DNR employees have stayed focused on their duties and responsibilities, and they have never lost sight of the fact that the work they do is critical to the well-being of us all.

DNR employees do more than manage permits, count deer and stock fish. They respond to threats to public safety—fires, floods, tornadoes and spills. They provide a line of protection for our air, land and water.

At this moment, DNR employees are monitoring air quality in southeast Wisconsin, rehabbing lakes, designing and implementing plans to restore impaired streams, and sprucing up our park campgrounds and bike trails for spirit-restoring summer recreation. They are working with local officials to make sure your drinking water is safe, your landfill is engineered well, and your forest is providing sustainable wood products to fuel Wisconsin's huge forest industry.

Some will work tonight and throughout the weekend staffing customer service telephones, teaching recreational safety to your children, or meeting with local organizations to help with projects. And DNR conservation wardens, most working alone, will be out in the field performing one of the most dangerous law enforcement jobs in the nation.

Bottom line, your DNR employees are working in every county of the state in the finest traditions of public service to assure the sustainability of our resources for recreation and business and to protect and enhance our environment and public safety. Their work is vital to our quality of life.

As taxpayers and license buyers, I want you to know DNR has the utmost respect for each tax and user dollar we receive and that we are keenly aware your dollars fund our work. I pledge we will strive to invest your dollars efficiently, to produce the high level of customer service you expect, and continue to work hard for you.

So next time you turn on the tap to get a drink of water, boat that lunker fish or marvel at a turkey call in the distance, I hope your mind will flash on the men and women of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


Cathy Stepp, Secretary



No traces of Asian carp found in Milwaukee waterways

MILWAUKEE -- No traces of Asian carp DNA have been found in water samples collected from major Milwaukee waterways, according to the University of Notre Dame researchers who did the sampling.

The researchers notified the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of the results in a letter last week. The DNR provided boats and boat operators to help collect the water samples from the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers and nearby creeks and ponds in November 2010.

"The great news is that all samples were negative for the presence of Asian carp DNA," says Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Wakeman says the results are also an important contribution to the baseline information we're gathering on aquatic invasive species within the state."

Last January, the Notre Dame researchers had identified for the first time in Lake Michigan genetic material from Asian carp. The DNA was found in water samples collected from Calumet Harbor on the lake, near the Illinois-Indiana border, with a second DNA match turning up in the Calumet River in Illinois, within a half-mile of the lake.

Those earlier findings raised concerns that the carp had found its way beyond the barrier system built to prevent the fish from entering the Great Lakes.

The new sampling was conducted and analyzed by the University of Notre Dame. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided funding for the sampling through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Mike Staggs, DNR's fisheries director, says these new results are great news, "but all the more reason to make sure we block access from the Mississippi River now. Asian carp have the potential to be a serious threat to our Great Lakes fisheries and ecosystem."

An estimated 235,000 anglers fish 3.7 million days every year for fish in Wisconsin's waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, Staggs says. They caught 766,000 fish in 2008, and generated an economic impact of $419 million. Wisconsin's Great Lakes waters also support commercial fisheries.

There are three species of Asian carp that are considered invasive and a threat to the Great Lakes -- the bighead, silver and black carp -- because of their feeding and spawning capabilities. Bighead carp are capable of consuming 20 percent of their own body weight in food each day, and so compete with other fish and aquatic organisms for food. Silver carp are smaller, but pose a greater danger to recreational users because of their tendency to jump out of the water when disturbed by boat motors. They can severely impact fishing and recreation. They can spawn multiple times during each season and quickly out-compete native species by disrupting the food chain everywhere they go.

Asian carp were imported to the southern United States to help keep aquaculture and wastewater treatment retention ponds clean, Staggs says. Flooding in the 1990s allowed them to spread to the Mississippi River basin and other large rivers. They have been found occasionally in Wisconsin waters of the Mississippi River, but are not established or abundant in them. Now, these invaders are in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, built over a century ago to artificially connect Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman - 262-574-2149



2011 Wisconsin Fishing Report now available online

MADISON - Fishing forecasts from around the state are now available online in the 2011 Wisconsin Fishing Report.

The report will be available soon at DNR service centers and regional offices, and will be inserted in the April edition of the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

"We've got fishing forecasts for more areas than ever, which is what readers told us last year they wanted," says Karl Scheidegger, a Department of Natural Resources fish biologist who leads DNR's fisheries' outreach efforts and was the report's primary editor and graphic designer. "We hope this information can lead you to the kind of fishing experience you're after, whether it's a shore lunch, a lunker, or great panfish action for the kids."

The report features 14 pages of forecasts submitted by local fish biologists and technicians, most of whom report the results of recent fish population surveys, habitat improvement projects, and what both will mean for fishing prospects in the coming season.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger (608) 267-9426



Apply for 2012 fishing tournament permits starting April 1

MADISON - Organizers of fishing tournaments planning events for 2012 can apply for their permits starting April 1, 2011.

"If you plan on holding a tournament in 2012, we recommend that you apply in the open period that starts April 1 and runs through June 30 to have the best chance of getting your desired dates and waters," says Jon Hansen, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who coordinates the fishing tournament permit system.

Under the new tournament rule, effective May 2009, there is a cap on the maximum amount of tournament fishing pressure allowed on some waters. To give tournament organizers a fair shot at reserving their spots, an open application period will run from April 1 through June 30.

All applications received during the open period will be reviewed by Aug. 1, 2011, and in the unlikely event that another tournament conflicts with an organizer's choice of dates or waters, DNR fisheries staff will discuss options with the tournament organizers, Hansen says.

Permit applications from tournament organizers applying after June 30, 2011, for events in 2012 will be considered on a first-come first-served basis.

Organizers can still apply for 2011 tournaments

Tournament organizers can still apply for 2011 tournaments, but the DNR must receive completed applications at least 30 days before the start of the applicant's tournament. These applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the caps have been reached.

Tournament organizers will need a permit if any of the following apply:

An application fee must accompany all permit applications. The fee will vary depending on the type of tournament and the value of prizes awarded.

For more details on the tournament rules and fee structure, to submit an application, or to view a tournament event calendar, visit the fishing tournaments page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon Hansen for questions about the online application system, (608) 266-6883, For other tournament related questions contact local fisheries biologists.



Workshops will train people to conduct angler education courses


MADISON - Adults who love to fish or care about Wisconsin lakes and streams can help pass on a favorite Wisconsin tradition to a new generation by attending angler education training workshops set for the Madison area, Dodgeville, the Wisconsin Dells, and Waukesha in April and May.

The Department of Natural Resources Angler Education Program introduces children to basic fishing skills and connects them to Wisconsin's lakes and streams. Adults who attend the workshop receive free materials that they can use to teach their own angler education courses and help guide adventures in local water resource investigations.

Fishing equipment and other materials are available for loan to instructors for their programs, according to Theresa Stabo, DNR aquatic resources education director. More workshops are listed as they are scheduled, so check back frequently to the angler education workshop schedule web page or sign up for Angler Education updates to receive e-mail alerts when new sessions have been added.

Unless otherwise noted, all workshops are free of charge and include lunch or dinner, however, there is a $15 workshop commitment fee to ensure good attendance by registrants. Pre-registration is required and forms can be downloaded from the angler education workshop schedule page of the DNR website and returned to the address on the registration form.

Instructor certification requires a background check; forms will be available at all workshops and certification confirmed within a few weeks of the workshop, Stabo says.

Additional multi-day, for-credit workshops are also found on the web site as are notices of workshops at statewide teacher conferences.




"Look for the Loon" to make a contribution to the Endangered Resources Fund

MADISON - This past winter, nearly 300 trumpeter swans were counted overwintering on open water near the confluence of the St. Croix and Hudson rivers in Hudson, Wisconsin, attracting weekend crowds of birdwatchers.

A mid-winter aerial survey along the Lower Wisconsin River corridor last January found 473 bald eagles along the 180-mile survey route running from the Petenwell dam between Adams and Juneau counties to the river's confluence with the Mississippi River in Crawford County. Bald eagle watching events in Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, Cassville and Prairie du Chien attract hundreds of visitors to those communities.

These two large and impressive bird species are emblematic of the state's efforts in the recovery of endangered species. While both were once listed as endangered, successful recovery plans led to significantly increased populations and both have been removed from the endangered and threatened species list.

Like much of the work conducted to protect and manage rare species and habitats, a significant amount of the funding for these efforts has come from the Endangered Resources Fund, which state residents can voluntarily contribute to through a checkoff on state income tax forms.

But the state's endangered resources program is much broader than these high-profile success stories.

This past week, biologists entered the Neda Mine in Dodge County, the site of the largest bat hibernaculum in the Midwest, to survey for white nose bat syndrome, a fungus killing cave bats across the eastern United States. This was just one of more than 100 sites that have been surveyed for the disease. So far the disease has not found it in Wisconsin, but results from these surveys won't be know for several weeks. These surveys are part of a broader effort to save Wisconsin bats.

While there are more than 200 animals and plants listed as endangered or threatened in Wisconsin, a primary goal of the program is to keep species off the list in the first place.

"It's much more effective to manage land and resources to keep species off the endangered or threatened list than it is to develop plans to aid in their recovery after they are listed," says Laurie Osterndorf, director of the Endangered Resources program in the Department of Natural Resources.

This may involve conducting controlled burns to maintain prairie habitat, working with landowners to control and remove invasive and exotic species that threaten native species, and protecting unique habitats through dedication or designation as State Natural Areas.

In the last year, an additional 45 State Natural Areas have been added, bringing to the total number of areas protected in Wisconsin to 653. State Natural Areas include outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. More than 90 percent of the plants and 75 percent of the animals on Wisconsin's list of endangered and threatened species are protected on State Natural Areas.

Among those added this year is the Apostle Islands Yew Forest on parts of Raspberry, Rocky, Cat, and York Islands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. These sites are unique in that they still retain Canada yew in the understory -- a plant that is negatively impacted by deer browse.

At Moose Lake in Iron County, the state purchased 2,600 acres of one of the largest blocks of mature to old-growth hemlock-hardwood forest remaining in Wisconsin. This site may also be the best habitat in Wisconsin for American marten, a state endangered animal.

2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the State Natural Areas Program, created by legislation in November 1951. Wisconsin's in the oldest state-sanctioned natural areas protection program in the nation and a model for other states' programs.

"With the arrival of spring, this is a great time to get out and visit some of our State Natural Areas to view spring ephemeral plants, and look for the return of Neo-tropical and other migratory birds," Osterndorf says. "But spring also brings on tax time, and we hope that residents who haven't yet filed state income taxes will 'Look for the Loon' to help support the protection of Wisconsin's natural heritage. Every contribution, big or small, adds up to make a huge impact on Wisconsin's quality of resources and quality of life. It is a vital investment in the health and well-being of the environment, economy and quality of life. These are benefits everyone can appreciate and enjoy, now and for generations to come."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bureau of Endangered Resources (608) 266-7012



Horicon Marsh lecture series now available online

HORICON, Wis. - Throughout the year visitors to the Horicon Marsh International Education Center located at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area can attend public lectures on the geology, history, wildlife and management of the Horicon Marsh ecosystem, as well as international efforts to protect wildlife. Now anyone with access to the Internet can do the same thing.

From learning the latest about black bear research and management in Wisconsin, to landscaping for birds, to efforts to survey the Ganges River floolplains in northern India for cranes and storks, visitors to the Horicon Marsh Education page on the Department of Natural Resources website can now view online videos of the lecture series.

"We're very fortunate to have a wide variety of biologists and researchers willing to do presentations on their work for our visitors," says Liz Herzmann, assistant naturalist at the Horicon Marsh. "Our new Horicon International Education Center is equipped with the technology to video tape these presentations and to share them with an even broader audience through our website."

The Horicon Marsh Naturalist Program and Lecture Series schedule is also available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann - (920) 387-7893


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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