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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 1, 2011

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Cool, rainy weather benefitting trout anglers

MADISON -- Trout anglers are finding this spring's cool, rainy weather to their liking.

Anglers in southern and western Wisconsin in particular report having an outstanding start to the 2011 trout fishing season, say state fisheries management and stream monitoring officials.

trout fishing
Trout anglers of all ages reported success in May from a variety of waters.
WDNR Photo

"The cool spring has kept both stream-side and in-stream vegetation down, allowing good access to most streams," says Mike Miller, a stream ecologist who helps coordinate stream monitoring for the Department of Natural Resources and is an avid trout angler.

"Continued above average stream-flows have created more habitat for trout allowing for higher fish reproduction and greater trout densities. And there have been good hatches of mayflies and caddisflies throughout the early season as well," he says.

Heath Benike, senior fisheries biologist for Chippewa and Eau Claire counties, reports that trout fishing has been very good in western Wisconsin. "Streams are in good condition and no major flooding has occurred this spring," he says.

"With the cool spring trout were very active and water temps are lower than normal for this time of the year. This is good news for trout anglers, since trout are a coldwater fish they generally bite best when water temperatures are in the 55-65 degree range and most streams are in that temperature window at this time."

With a few weeks left before spring officially ends, Miller passes on these tips to help trout anglers maximize their time on the water:

More good news for trout anglers

Trout Stream
Improved mapping techniques are revealing that there are more miles of trout water to love in Wisconsin.
Len Harris Photo

The total 10,651 miles of classified trout water used on older DNR web pages and publications were derived from using a ruler or map wheel to estimate stream lengths on a paper map. DNR staff updated that figure using a geographic information system (GIS) line feature with many more bends and meanders than a person could accurately measure, according to Matt Rehwald, a DNR surface water data analyst.

The result? There are 13,175.82 trout miles in the state based on these improved mapping techniques and updated trout waters work. Of that new total, 5,400 miles are Class 1 waters, high quality trout waters that have sufficient natural reproduction to sustain populations of wild trout, at or near carrying capacity.

Slightly more waters, 5,911.6 miles are Class 2, which may have some natural reproduction, but not enough and stocking is required to maintain a desirable sport fishery. These more nutrient-enriched streams often produce larger trout since they often have higher densities of minnows and other trout food. The remaining 1,864 miles are Class 3, where there is marginal trout habitat with no natural reproduction occurring. These waters require annual stocking of trout to provide trout fishing.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Miller (608) 267-2753 or your local fish biologist



Volunteer efforts show success in controlling garlic mustard

Key is early and frequent monitoring

PRESQUE ISLE, Wis. -- Located on Wisconsin's border with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in Vilas County, this "almost an island" town's name even sounds like an idyllic vacation spot.

But if not for the sharp eyes and determination of a few local residents, the area would have quickly lost some of its Northwoods charm as it became infested with garlic mustard, an exotic, invasive plant that has become all too well known in much of southern Wisconsin.

The rapidly growing plant with small white flowers and a strong garlic odor has infested woodlots around the state. Once garlic mustard gains a foothold, it spreads rapidly and crowds out native wildflowers and tree seedlings.

garlic mustard pull
DNR forest ecologist Colleen Matula (left) with a group of Sierra Club volunteers and the bags of garlic mustard they pulled near Presque Isle.
WDNR Photo

"Fortunately, extensive public education efforts are helping residents of Presque Isle and other northern communities to spot new populations of garlic mustard," says Colleen Matula, a forest ecologist and silviculturist with the Department of Natural Resources.

Matula says that for the last four to five years, local resident Merrill Horswill has recruited friends and neighbors to pull every garlic mustard plant in and near Presque Isle.

With help from volunteers and Lee Shambeau, a contractor that specializes in invasive plant control, they now have the population down to a small enough number that a few volunteers can hand pull the plants that start to flower each spring.

"Working with volunteers and neighbors is key," says Horswill. "I enjoyed working with such a dedicated group. We will need to monitor it every year for at least the next 10 years, but as long as we don't let any plants go to seed we will be able to eliminate garlic mustard from the area."

Farther west, in the Flambeau State Forest, another new population was spotted early at a campsite and in a remote location, thanks to regular monitoring by DNR staff. After a few years of pulling flowering plants, this garlic mustard no longer even survives its first year to overwinter as a green rosette.

DNR staff use a propane torch to kill the newly emerged seedlings. This technique allows land managers to kill young plants without using herbicides.

"We try to educate local staff on why this is so important to control and they all take part in helping out," Matula says.

For those landowners in the southern part of the state, Kelly Kearns, a DNR native plant specialist, says there is no need to despair.

"If you have property that does not currently have garlic mustard, you can easily keep it out. Learn to identify it in all life stages and monitor for it regularly, Kearns says. "If the patch is small enough, pull every plant larger than a seedling. Larger patches require more hand pulling or a combination of pulling, targeted herbicide use and/or torching."

Kearns cautions that plants pulled during flowering can continue to develop seedpods, especially if they are stacked in piles where the plants stay moist and continue to grow even once they are out of the ground. Any plants with flowers or seedpods should be disposed of carefully. Drying the plants out and burning them where appropriate as well as burying works for those with larger properties.

City dwellers and others may need to send these plants to the landfill. As of 2010, a new state law allows plants legally listed as "invasive" to be sent to the landfill. Plants should be bagged and labeled "invasive plants - approved by DNR for landfilling."

"All sites that have been infested with garlic mustard require regular monitoring, several times a year to locate new patches that have emerged wherever a deer, squirrel or hiker inadvertently dropped a seed," Kearns says.

More information about controlling garlic mustard and other invasive plants is available on the invasive species pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Matula - 715-274-6321 or Kelly Kearns - 608-267-5066



Family Fun Days scheduled for Wisconsin State Parks

MADISON - Get Outdoors and Play! Wisconsin State Parks will offer a number of activities at locations around the state as they launch their Family Play Days program in 2011. The play days offerings are part of the ongoing "Get Outdoors! Wisconsin" promotion designed to provide a wide range of state park-based outdoor activities for families and individuals, all intended to encourage healthy outdoor activity.

In all, 17 state parks will offer nature-based recreational programs on either June 5, which is also Free Admission Day for all state parks, or throughout the summer on scheduled weekends. Family Fun Day events are listed under the Parks, Forest, Trail and Nature Center Events calendar on the DNR website.

Programs include nature art, eco-scavenger hunts, fishing, animal tracks, nature building, wildcard games (wildcards are business-card sized information keys to Wisconsin flora and fauna) and geocaching. Participating parks will have materials available and events will be led by park staff or volunteers.

"More green time, less screen time," is our slogan for getting out and enjoying state parks and trails and healthy lifestyle activities," said Sherry Klosiewski, chief naturalist for Wisconsin State Parks. "Recent surveys indicate that kids today spend an average of six-and-a-half hours per day with television, computers and video games. What we're doing here is offering alternatives that combine nature exploration and social interaction with family, friends and others."

Gov. Scott Walker has declared June to be Great Outdoors Month in Wisconsin. Along with appreciating our state's bountiful natural and cultural resources, he urges Wisconsinites to take "an opportunity to celebrate and experience the many outdoor activities that Wisconsin has to offer and to renew our commitment to conserving our air, water and land."

Wisconsin's first state park was established in 1900. Today, the Department of Natural Resources - State Parks and Trails System consists of 48 state parks, eight southern forests, 42 state trails and seven recreation areas. On June 25, 2011 Devil's Lake State Park, one of the most heavily visited parks in the system, will observe its 100th anniversary with events and dignitaries.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherry Klosiewski - (715) 356-8966



Comments sought on federal program that provides grants for public recreational access on private lands

MADISON - The public has until July 1, 2011 to submit comments on a federally required environmental assessment that will clear the way for spending federal grant dollars to lease public access rights for hunting, fishing, trapping and other wildlife-dependent recreation from willing private landowners.

The federal dollars were received in the fall of 2010 through a new program called the Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Improvement Program. This new program will complement the current Public Hunting Ground lease program in southern and southeastern Wisconsin. More recently, Wisconsin learned that it will likely receive a second round of funding toward this effort.

The new program will encompass a total of four focus areas.

Three of these focus areas will be in the northeast, south-central, and west-central portions of the state. A fourth new focus area in southwestern Wisconsin, will concentrate on stream and fishing access.

All of the proposed focus areas will overlap with Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program eligible counties. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has chosen to focus the program near population centers in Wisconsin to maximize recreational use.

"The establishment of focus areas will allow for more effective implementation and will alleviate pressure on any single, isolated property," said Missy Sparrow, DNR wildlife biologists and project coordinator. "Creating blocks of properties or access sites will ensure a concentration of habitats and fish and wildlife populations suitable for recreational opportunities."

The federal dollars were appropriated in the most recent federal Farm Bill, which is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a condition of receiving the funds, the agency is required to complete an environmental assessment in accordance with National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

A copy of the document can be found on the [] website (exit DNR) . Comments will be accepted until July 1, 2011. To request a hard copy of Wisconsin's Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Improvement Program environmental assessment or to submit comments, contact Melissa Sparrow via e-mail at or via U.S. mail to 1155 Pilgrim Road, Plymouth, WI 53073.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Missy Sparrow - (920) 892-8756 ext. 3041



Registration deadline for larger piers is extended

MADISON - Waterfront property owners now have another year in which to complete a free, one-time registration if they have a larger pier that exceeds size standards set in 2004. The registration deadline has been extended to April 1, 2012, under a bill passed by the Legislature and signed May 27 by Gov. Scott Walker.

The vast majority of piers statewide do not need to be registered because they already fit the size standards that lawmakers established for piers to be exempt from state permitting processes, according to Martye Griffin, who coordinates the pier registration program for the Department of Natural Resources.

Exempt piers: are a maximum of 6 feet wide but can have a loading platform area up to 8 feet wide located on the water-ward end of the pier; don't interfere with neighbors or public boating and fishing; and have no more than two boat slips for the first 50 feet of shoreline frontage owned and an additional boat slip for every full 50 feet owned thereafter.

Lawmakers created the free, one-time registration process for piers that were first placed in the water before Feb. 6, 2004, to grandfather in most of the larger existing piers that exceeded the size standards. Having the pier registered protects property owners if neighbors or others complain about the pier's size in future years, allows DNR and local governments to know the larger pier is legal, and is helpful if there is an eventual property ownership transfer, Griffin says.

Now waterfront property owners have another season to learn if their pier qualifies to be grandfathered through registration, and to complete the process if it does. Only piers first placed in the water before February 2004 qualify for registration if they meet specific size criteria.

A very small number of large piers will not qualify to register but can be downsized by their owners to a size that qualifies for registration or must go through the individual permitting processes with no fee, Griffin says.

A downloadable registration form and other materials to complete the registration process are available on the pier registration page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Martye Griffin (608) 266-2997



Rasmussen takes reins as deputy director of DNR Water Division

MADISON - Russ Rasmussen has been appointed to the position of Deputy Administrator for the Department of Natural Resources - Division of Water. Rasmussen has worked for the State of Wisconsin for 19 years, spending the last 13 years with DNR in several capacities, most recently as the Director of the Bureau of Watershed Management.

"I'm pleased that Russ accepted the offer of this leadership position and I look forward to working closely with him," said Ken Johnson, Division of Water administrator. "Russ' experience in private business and government, his knowledge of water resources and issues and his management skills are a great asset to the management team."

Rasmussen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Edgewood College in Madison. He has 16 years of private sector experience.

"I'm exited to work with such a great staff and management team to continue to maintain and improve the water and fisheries resources that make Wisconsin such a great state in which to live," Rasmussen said.

Previously, Rasmussen worked for the state Department of Administration and Department of Transportation. He has been director of the DNR Bureau of Watershed Management since 2004.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Russ Rasmussen - 608-267-7651


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Wednesday, June 01, 2011

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