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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 18, 2011

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Removal of contaminated sediment aims at improving Marinette harbor water quality

State funds to aid in cleanup, rejuvenation of area

MARINETTE -- A Marinette harbor that was key in Wisconsin's historical development will be restored to good health through a state-city partnership to remove contaminated sediments and, officials hope, spark improvements in habitat, water quality, recreation and economic development.

"Cleaning up Menekaunee Harbor has been a goal for the city for the past 20 to 30 years," says Mayor Robert Harbick. "We are happy to be a partner with the DNR to make the Menekaunee Harbor cleanup finally become a reality. We expect this project to enrich the environment around the harbor area and ultimately create many outdoor recreation opportunities."

"It's a win-win for everyone," says Cheryl Bougie, Department of Natural Resources sediment and monitoring coordinator for Lake Michigan.

The city and DNR have signed an agreement to remove more than 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Menekaunee Harbor at the mouth of the Menominee River where it enters Green Bay. DNR has agreed to reimburse the city for 65 percent of the total project cost up to $1.1 million for the safe excavation, transport, and disposal of the sediments. The money comes from environmental repair funds set aside to remove contaminated sediments in Great Lakes harbors and estuaries. The city agreed to pay up to at least 35 percent of the eligible project costs.

"The Menekaunee Harbor cleanup project would not have happened without the DNR's help," says Brian Miller, Marinette's public works director. "The project would have been too costly for the city to undertake without this financial assistance. The city is confident that the harbor cleanup will generate recreational opportunities and have a positive economic impact on the city. We are hopeful this project will become the catalyst for redevelopment in the Menekaunee area."

Menekaunee Harbor Site is part of the Menominee River Area of Concern, a geographic area identified by the federal government as severely degraded due to water contamination from chemicals in lakebed sediments. The harbor is one of three contaminated sediment sites on the Wisconsin side of the river, and restoring its water quality will help remove the Menominee River from the federal list of impaired waters, Bougie says.

Once the sediments are dredged from the bottom of the harbor and other work is done, the city's restoration plan calls for additional boat launches and fish cleaning facilities, work to restore fish spawning habitat and better public access around the harbor, Miller says.

Survey work will start this fall and dredging may begin as early as next summer. Removal and management of the sediments must be done through environmental, rather than navigational, dredging techniques, he says.

Menekaunee Harbor has long played an important role in the state and region,. The site was home to a small fishing village of Algonquin Indians, and to fur trading posts in the 1600s and 1700s. It was an important lumbering and mill town in the late 1800s and early 1900s and Menekaunee Harbor had an active commercial fishing industry in the 20th century, according to accounts of the city's history. Additional information is available on the City of Marinette website [] (exit DNR).

Chemicals released over the years in the river, sawdust, logs, and other materials have accumulated in the harbor, transported by the river as it makes its way to Lake Michigan. That accumulation, or sedimentation, has hurt fish and wildlife habitat and has restricted recreational and commercial use of the harbor for boating and fishing, and consequently has hindered economic growth in the area, says Jim Killian, a DNR water resources management specialist.

Sediment contaminant levels in Menekaunee Harbor are not as high as in other areas of the lower Menominee River, but elevated concentrations of arsenic, copper, cyanide, lead, zinc, mercury, PCBs, oil and grease, phosphorus, and ammonia-nitrogen have been found. And the levels of these chemicals affect the growth and development of aquatic organisms, Killian says.

"Water quality will respond really quickly once sediments are removed," he says. "Toxic risk to the aquatic ecosystem will be eliminated and fish habitat will improve because of increased depths and better water circulation in the harbor. A clean harbor also will benefit the existing habitat for migratory waterfowl."

Miller hopes the restoration work, and the improvements that follow, help bring more tourists and business to the area. The new city boat launch is aimed at helping anglers take advantage of an expanding walleye fishery in the Menominee River and surrounding area of Green Bay.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Miller, City of Marinette (715) 732-5135; Jim Killian, DNR, (608) 264-6123; Cheryl Bougie, DNR, (920) 662-5170



State parks offer family Halloween activities over next two weekends

MADISON - People looking for family friendly fun for Halloween can check out a variety of events scheduled over the next two weekends at Wisconsin state parks and other Department of Natural Resources properties.

From hayrides, to jack-o-lantern carving, to candle-lit trails with spooky encounters, more than a dozen Halloween and fall festival events are scheduled at parks across the state. Unless noted otherwise, events are free, but a state park admission sticker is needed for entrance to state parks. Here's a list of Halloween and fall festival events:

At Halloween at Heritage Hill at Heritage Hill State Park in Green Bay, history and Halloween will come to life, as young costumed visitors will be able to trick or treat throughout 13 historic buildings. Other activities include: scary storytelling, s'mores, a Halloween craft, a shadow play, costume contest and many other family friendly activities. Safe family fun and the festive fall beauty of Heritage Hill will make for an experience to remember. Heritage Hill is managed by the Heritage Hill Foundation and different admission fees apply. Friday and Saturday nights Oct. 21-22 and 28-29. For information call (920) 448-5150.

Haunted Hay Rides at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette offer visitors fun and spooky hay rides around the MacKenzie Center property that will feature zombies, witches, graveyards, ghosts and more from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday Oct. 21 and 22. There is a $5 fee for adults and $3 for children age 3-8; which includes a campfire with snacks. For information call (608) 635-8105.

A Halloween Night Hike at Governor Nelson State Park near Waunakee is a self-guided, 1.5-mile hike along an illuminated trail on Saturday, Oct. 22. There will also be a bonfire by the beach. The event runs from 6-9 p.m. and is depending on the weather. For information call (608) 831-3005.

A Halloween Candlelight Hike at Harrington Beach State Park near Belgium, will dare visitors to hike the "Haunted Trail" or enjoy the ghost-free "Unhaunted Trail" From 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. There will be a Best Costume Contest at 7 p.m. and Pumpkin Carving at 8 p.m. Sponsored by the Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. Meet at the Welcome Center. 6-9 p.m. For information call (262) 285-3015.

A Halloween Candlelight Mystery Hike at Mirror Lake State Park near Lake Delton will offer an easy 1-mile torch-lit mystery hike for kids of all ages to enjoy from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. Participants will follow clues and help rangers discover a Mystery Guest. It's sponsored by the Friends of Mirror Lake State Park, who will offer food, beverages and goodies for sale. For information call (608) 254-2333.

A Blossomburg Cemetery Walk at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek will allow visitors to discover the park's storied past through biography and legend during a hike of the Blossomburg Cemetery, which is located within the park. The hike will be from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. On Saturday Oct. 29 from 1 to 2 p.m. Peninsula will offer Campfire with the Soil Witch at the Nature Center, where visitors can enjoy Halloween songs, spooky, and silly stories with the Soil Witch. Meet Clyde, her magic shovel, and learn about Peninsula geology. Then roast some stones (marshmallows) and sample dirt (chocolate and graham crackers). For information call (920) 854-5976

An Eco-Halloween Hike at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area near Kansasville on Saturday, Oct. 22, is a non-scary, family event with jack-o-lanterns, Halloween skits, campfires, refreshments, games and crafts. Visitors may arrive anytime between 6:30 and 8 p.m. to sign up for a hike. Hikes take about a half-hour. For information call (262) 878-5600

The Annual Pumpkin Walk/Haunted Hay Rides at Roche-A-Cri State Park near Adams-Friendship will celebrate fall from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, with games for kids, a pumpkin and torch lit walk around the mound, non-haunted hayrides and haunted hayrides, and a naturalist presentation by the campfire. Food sales will be provided by the Friends of Roche-A-Cri. Park and ride the free shuttle bus from corner of Highway 13 and Czech Ave. Free park admission. 3-9 p.m. For information call (608) 565-2789

A Fright Hike at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest near Delafield will offer dark and scary scenes performed along the family friendly 1-mile long hike (takes 20-40 minutes) from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29. Music, food, beverages and bonfire are available at the beginning or end of the hike. There is a $5 per vehicle fee to enter the park and $5 per person fee (6 years of age and older) to hike the "Fright Hike" trail loop. Entrance gates will close at 8:45 p.m. Adults with young children are strongly encouraged to use their own discretion. For information call (262) 646-3025

A Halloween torch-lit hike at Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo will take visitors along the north shore of the popular lake leaving from the Rock Elm Shelter on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. Costumes are welcome, but not required. Following the hike there will be a campfire with treats sold by the Friends of Devil's Lake State Park and information about a Halloween favorite: bats. For information call (608) 356-8301 ext. 140.

"The Great Pumpkin Event" is part of a Fall Park Open House at High Cliff State Park near Sherwood on Saturday, Oct. 29. The event begins at 3 p.m. with a Kids' Pumpkin Carving Contest. Wagon rides through the park run from 3 to 5 p.m., followed immediately by the Kids Costume Contest. The torch-lit trail will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. The Sherwood Lions and Friends of High Cliff will be sponsoring the event and visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to help the Sherwood Lions Food Drive and used eyewear will be collected for the Sherwood Lionesses programs. A state park vehicle admission sticker is not required for the Fall Open House Day. For information call (920) 989-1106.

Halloween Events and Kinni Fall Fest at Kinnickinnic State Park near River Falls, begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 with pumpkin painting, a nature scavenger hunt, a kid's costume contest, a bonfire, ghost stories and more. From 7 to 9:45 p.m. the "Haunted Trail" will be ready for exploration. For information call (715) 425-1129.

Campground Halloween Event at Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan will invite visitors to come to view the campers' Halloween lights and decor and bring children for trick-or-treating from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. The electrical loop of campground closed to vehicular traffic. For information call (920) 451-4080

Halloween Bash at Willow River State Park near Hudson is a non-scary event for young kids at the Nature Center on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 29 with kid's games, storytelling, and a hike to meet some of the wild things that live at the park. Costumes are encouraged. For information call (715) 386-5931

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Wisconsin State Parks - (608) 266-2181



Hunters may harvest deer with tags and collars

Wisconsin wildlife researchers ask for basic, valuable information in return

MADISON -- Wildlife researchers are looking for assistance from Wisconsin hunters who may harvest any of the more than 335 white-tailed deer marked with ear tags and radio-collars during the archery and gun-deer seasons.

The researches say hunters' help may play a role in how Wisconsin's white-tailed deer herd is managed for generations to come. That's a big impact for help that may take each hunter who harvests a marked deer only a few minutes to provide.

"These deer were marked back in January as part of a study to better understand how long deer live and how they die," said Chris Jacques, a research scientist with the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Science Services. "Hunters are free to harvest these marked deer. And if they do, we would like some basic information that shouldn't take more than a minute to provide."

The requested information about marked deer include:

Hunters are being asked to call Jacques at (608) 221-6358 to report this information.

Jacques and his colleagues marked the deer in the northern counties of Rusk, Sawyer and Price, and the east central counties of Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie 10 months ago as part of the buck mortality study sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stevens Point campuses, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Wildlife Restoration, Union Sportsmen's Alliance, Whitetails Unlimited, Applied Population Laboratory, Menn Law Firm, and private donations from Wisconsin citizens.

"To date, we have not heard from any hunters who may have harvested a tagged deer," Jacques said. "I do want to stress that you should treat these deer like any other you might see. They may be harvested, but the information that hunters provide is important to the future of our deer herd."

Jacques says researchers are monitoring weekly survival status of radio-collared deer across east central Wisconsin, including 42 adult males, 32 adult females, and 33 fawns. In the northern counties, researchers are monitoring the survival status of 44 adult males, 30 adult females, and 11 fawns.

While the DNR uses a deer population modeling system built upon sound science and data, Jacques says challenges remain.

"Years ago, the presence of predators of deer wasn't an unusual issue. However, that's changed today as predator populations across Wisconsin are expanding and deer are sought by more than just the orange-clad hunters," Jacques says. "Not only is this a wildlife issue, it is an economic issue - Wisconsin's tourism relies upon its healthy and abundant natural resources. Deer hunting season is part of that tourism industry, not to mention the heritage of the state. Our deer hunters have expressed concerns about the impact that predation may be having on deer population growth and recruitment rates across the state- they can be rest assured that the department is listening to their concerns and trying to better understand predation impacts with our ongoing collaborative research."

And this is where the hunters come in, Jacques says.

"There is no way we will be successful in our deer herd management without the hunters' participation," Jacques says. "And the research partners who make it possible for us to increase our ability to gather this key information."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Jacques - (608) 221-6358 or Joanne Haas - (608) 267-0798



Survey looks at why anglers stopped fishing for trout

Mail survey part of ongoing review of trout program

MADISON -- More than 800 anglers who haven't fished for inland trout the past three years will have a chance to tell the state why they've hung up their fly rods and spin casting rods and are no longer seeking the wily trout in Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources mailed out surveys earlier this month to more than 800 randomly picked fishing license holders who had once been trout anglers but who had not bought a trout stamp that would allow them to fish for trout in Wisconsin's inland waters since 2008.

"What we're trying to find out is what are the reasons that people are no longer fishing and is there anything we can do about that," says Marty Engel, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist stationed in Baldwin.

"Obviously, angler retention is as important to us as any business. We want to know what the reasons are, and if there is anything we can do to address things like access or regulations, or anything else under our control."

The survey is part of Wisconsin's ongoing review of inland trout fishing. Participants at public meetings last spring got to tell DNR fish biologists what they like about trout fishing now and what they think could be improved. Meeting participants also filled out a survey to give more specific feedback on all aspects of trout fishing and management in Wisconsin, and nearly 2,000 completed the same survey online.

A second mail survey will go out later this fall to randomly selected trout anglers. DNR researchers are using results from the previous surveys available at the public meetings and online to help fine-tune the questions for the mail survey, which also will ask about angler effort, catch and harvest.

Jordan Petchenik, a DNR social researcher, is working with trout researchers, on the survey that seeks to find out why once avid anglers quit.

Petchenik worked with DNR's licensing staff to run a query of the automated licensing system to see how many people bought a trout stamp for every year 2004-2008 but stopped buying the stamp after 2008. That total was 2, 268. Those people received a letter to verify their address was still current. The survey design called for 800 of them to get a survey in the mail to fill out and return. The surveys were mailed out the second week of October.

"We know that the people who dropped out for the last three years had been dedicated trout anglers at one time because they had purchased trout stamps for five consecutive years," Petchenik says.

Results from the mail survey of anglers who have fallen away from the sport in Wisconsin's won't be available until the end of the year, he says.

Engel hopes the results will offer DNR important insights into trout fishing and trout management, and how DNR can work to improve both. "It's been more than 20 years since we surveyed trout anglers, and I don't think we've ever surveyed people who hung it up to find out why they did or what we can do to get them back."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: about survey methodology contact Jordan Petchenik (608) 266-8523; about how survey results will be used contact Scot Stewart (608) 273-5967 or Marty Engel (715) 684-2914 ext 110



With increased wildfire danger, hunters, others urged to be extra cautious

61 wildfires reported so far this fall

MADISON - With 61 wildfires already reported this fall in areas of Wisconsin where the state Department of Natural Resources is responsible for fire protection, state officials are cautioning the public that wildfire activity could be a significant problem this fall and they are asking hunters, recreational vehicle operators and other outdoor recreationists to use extra caution in the outdoors this year.

Traditionally, the primary fire season in Wisconsin is in spring after the snow disappears. However, when summer ends and the leaves fall, the risk of wildfire increases again. A dry summer and unseasonably warm fall temperatures are increasing the risk this fall.

Only two weeks into October, the 61 wildfires reported have burned one building and threatened at least 24 others, according to Jolene Ackerman, a wildfire prevention specialist with the DNR Division of Forestry.

The dry conditions are an even greater concern across Polk, Burnett, Washburn, Douglas and Bayfield counties due to the July 1, windstorm that damaged more than 106,000 acres of forest and left many landowners with major damage to woodlands. The salvage of blown down timber is underway to reduce fuel loads for wildfire potential. People in the blow down area can check a storm recovery page on the DNR website or call the toll free DNR information line at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) for information on how to deal with wind damaged timber.

"This recent fire activity has been attributed to people burning debris, working with equipment, having campfires or warming fires, and dumping ash outdoors," Ackerman said.

During fall and early winter months, hunting is a common activity. Unfortunately, this leads to wildfires from abandoned cooking or campfires or improperly disposed of smoking materials, and hot exhaust systems from trucks and ATVs.

Additionally some hunters have been known to use fire in the base of a hollow tree in an attempt to smoke out game animals. Using fire in this manner is a hunting violation. It is also an illegal breach of burning regulations. It can cause fires in remote locations after the hunter has left the area.

Forestry officials encourage people planning to spend time outdoors to check on the latest fire conditions and restrictions. Anyone deciding to have a campfire or warming fire should maintain at least a 3-foot clearing around the fire and keep the fire small. Always keep water and a shovel handy and keep the fire attended. When finished, drown and stir the fire with water and a shovel until the fire is out. Before leaving the area, check the ashes with the back of the hand for any warmth and repeat the wetting process until the fire is 100 percent dead out.

Improper ash disposal is another cause of wildfires this time of year. When disposing of ashes from a stove or fireplace, fire prevention specialists recommend placing ash and coals into a steel bucket or metal garbage can until completely cold. The ash can then be disposed of by spreading on bare ground such as a tilled garden or plowed field. Otherwise ashes can be spread out, wetted down and stirred to extinguish any embers that may still be smoldering.

ATV and other vehicle users in the forests should check around their mufflers for dry grass, leaves and pine needles. This debris can turn to a smoldering cinder, fall off on a grassy backwoods trail, and start a fire.

All people working or playing outdoors are asked to be aware of the wildfire potential in the fall with the abundant dead and dry vegetation all around and to use caution with anything that could start a wildfire. For more information on how to prevent wildfires, and for obtaining current information on any fire restrictions in effect, contact your local DNR Service Center, Ranger Station, or visit thhe forest fire program pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jolene Ackerman - (608) 267-7677



Brewers hit a home run for tree planting and greening Milwaukee

MADISON - The Milwaukee Brewers recently donated 150 landscape-sized saplings to the Department of Natural Resources as part of the team's "Root, Root, Root for the Brewers" tree planting campaign. For every 20,000 tickets sold during the regular season, the team donated a tree to be planted on the neighboring state-owned Hank Aaron State Trail. The goal of the initiative was to offset the number of trees used to print the club's season ticket sales.

"What a fantastic opportunity to work with the Brewers, celebrate the value trees have to the environment and enhance one of our most popular state trail corridors," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Fifteen native species, including serviceberry, pagoda dogwood, hackberry, hawthorn, and Kentucky coffee tree will be located along the bike trail and pedestrian bridge. Half of the trees were planted in mid-October with the balance to be put in the ground next spring. McKay Nursery of Waterloo provided the nursery stock and are responsible for the planting. The DNR will oversee future care and maintenance of the saplings.

"We enjoy developing close working relationships with partners like the Milwaukee Brewers in the metro area," said Melissa Cook, Hank Aaron State Trail property manager. "The trees being donated by the Brewers add more green space and beauty to our trail visitors' experience. It's a gift that will be enjoyed for many years to come."

According to the National Tree Benefit Calculator, each young sapling, depending on species, will off-set from six to 12 pounds of carbon during the first planting season. As the trees grow, their contributions to greening Milwaukee will increase.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Murphy (715) 839-3760



Commercial whitefish season on Lake Michigan extended six days for 2011

MADISON -- Wisconsin's commercial fishermen will have another week to fish for whitefish, a season extension that levels the playing field with Michigan commercial fishers and stands to bring fishermen an estimated $161,000 in additional sales.

The state Natural Resources Board on Oct. 17 approved extending the commercial whitefish season to Oct. 31 in Green Bay and Lake Michigan for 2011.

"Wisconsin commercial fishermen deserve to have the same season as their Michigan counterparts," says Bill Horns, Great Lakes fisheries specialist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The board's action levels the playing field and allows them to compete, to support their families, and to sustain a longstanding industry in Wisconsin."

DNR estimates that extending the whitefish season by six days will benefit a dozen commercial fishers and would generate an estimated $161,300 in additional wholesale value, which would increase if some of the catch is marketed retail. Assuming an even catch distribution, each business stands to gain $13,583 per year before expenses as a result of this rule.

DNR proposed extending the season at the request of the Lake Michigan Commercial Fishing Board, which advises DNR on commercial fishing issues in Lake Michigan. DNR biologists who manage the Lake Michigan fishery reviewed the request and concluded that extending the season for 2011 would not likely threaten whitefish stocks in Wisconsin waters.

"We're confident the added harvest allowed by this extension will still leave the total harvest below the safe harvest level," Horns says.

The fishery is managed through a quota system that controls the total annual harvest. The October 25 closure date was set around 1970 and was implemented when whitefish populations were in a much more reduced state, but recovering. Current abundance and recruitment data indicate Wisconsin's population is healthy, Horns says.

In addition, anecdotal information indicates that fish are spawning at a later date than they have historically, possibly as a result of increasing average water temperatures, he says.

The emergency order extending the season to October 31 is limited to the current fishing season. DNR biologists have raised some concerns that will be reviewed further during consideration of a parallel permanent order, but they believe that the population can support the additional six-day season. Biologists will monitor the whitefish population for any adverse effects of the extended harvest season.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Horns (608) 266-8782; Kate Strom Hiorns (608) 266-0828



Visitors to Wisconsin can purchase nonresident trail passes at more than 725 businesses

MADISON - Nonresident all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile operators who come to Wisconsin to enjoy their trail riding have more than 725 outlets available where they can purchase non-resident ATV and snowmobile trail passes.

The Department of Natural Resources has recently added an additional 220 locations where visitors to Wisconsin can purchase the nonresident trail passes.

Wisconsin residents who register their ATVs or snowmobiles in Wisconsin do not need trail passes to operate their machines on public trails, as registration fees help contribute to trail maintenance costs. The $35 nonresident trail pass was established in 1998 as a mechanism to ensure that people who do not register their machines in Wisconsin but who use Wisconsin trails help pay to maintain and police the trails.

Nonresidents who need a Wisconsin trail pass can look up sales locations on the DNR website. Sales locations are located throughout Wisconsin as well as in Illinois and Minnesota. Along with issuing the Nonresident Trail Passes, the registration agents can renew ATV, snowmobile and boat registrations for in Wisconsin and can transfer registrations to new owners. Customers walk out with decals in-hand and have everything they need to legally operate their recreational vehicles in Wisconsin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan K. Cook (608) 261-0742


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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