NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 3,869 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 3, 2012

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DNR to expand counter service

MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources is beginning to roll out expanded over-the-counter service hours at a number of service centers statewide. When complete later this winter, hours will be increased 40 percent statewide.

Hour changes will be phased in center by center as staff is fully trained and ready to help customers. Please check with the DNR's Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) or service center pages of the DNR website to confirm when new hours for your local center will start.

"Excellent customer service is a top priority for DNR. Having many of our centers open only two or three days a week made it tough for our customers to know when to come in. These changes assure customers will be able to get help at predictable hours, five days a week," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "By making some internal adjustments, we are able to improve our customer service, and make our knowledgeable, friendly staff more available to help you."

DNR is providing two customer service counter options:

Satellite service centers located in Ashland, Baldwin, Dodgeville, Hayward, Oshkosh, Sturgeon Bay, and Sturtevant and Waukesha are tentatively scheduled to begin the expanded hours on Feb. 6.

The Janesville service center will continue to operate as it has - two days per week; DNR is working to partner with other state agencies to provide services in that area. Also, starting Jan. 3, the Poynette and Wautoma DNR offices no longer provide counter service.

"The hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. were chosen because our customers told us they wanted us to be available during their lunch hours," said Customer Service Director Diane Brookbank. "The new hours offer greater consistency in the hours open to the public and we hope will allow DNR to maintain strong ties with local communities across the state."

DNR is combining the new hours while also expanding services through new registration agents.

"We have newly contracted with 250 businesses statewide to register boats, ATVs and snowmobiles. The public no longer has to go to a DNR center to do basic registrations," Brookbank said. "In addition, we have 1,400 license agents statewide that are available during their broad business hours to sell licenses. Hunting and fishing licenses, as well as recreational vehicle registrations can also be completed online. Hunting and fishing licenses that do not require a tag can be printed at home. Visit the DNR's website at dnr.wi.gov to use our online services or to find an agent location near you.

Customers can talk to DNR customer service representatives by phone at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. - making DNR more accessible than any resource agency in the country. Live chats are available the same hours.

DNR customer service representatives are highly trained to interpret regulations, resolve license and registration problems, and are very knowledgeable about resources and recreational opportunities at the local level.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh - (608) 267-2773

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Winter bald eagle watching events to be held around the state

Eagle watching kicks off Jan. 13-14 in Prairie du Sac

MADISON - Sauk City and Prairie du Sac on the Wisconsin River will hold the 25th annual Bald Eagle Watching Days on Jan. 13-14 in partnership with event sponsor, the Alliant Energy Foundation. Cassville will hold its 18th annual Bald Eagle Days on Jan. 28-29 and Prairie du Chien will hold Bald Eagle Appreciation Day on Feb. 25.

Each winter, hundreds of bald eagles congregate along areas of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers where they feed on fish in the open water below dams. Wildlife officials say this is the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states, offering some of the best eagle viewing in the nation.

Volunteer spotters from the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council www.ferrybluffeaglecouncil.org [exit DNR] counted 176 eagles on Dec. 18, 2011.

In 2010, DNR biologists documented 1,247 known eagle nest territories. Data from the 2011 breeding season are still being compiled.

In 1971, Wisconsin banned the use of DDT after scientists determined eagle numbers were dropping as the birds, impacted by DDT, failed to reproduce because their eggshells were weak. The bald eagle was listed as both a state and federally endangered species.

A major milestone was reached in 2007 when the bald eagle was removed from both the federal and state endangered and threatened species lists. Wisconsin's large and successful population played a significant role in that delisting.

The Endangered Resources tax check-off found on Wisconsin state tax returns gives taxpayers the option of donating a portion of any tax refund toward the protection and management of endangered resources in Wisconsin.

Many of the best eagle viewing destinations are featured in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guides available from the Department of Natural Resources.

Bald Eagle Watching Days at Sauk City-Prairie du Sac

The 25th Bald Eagle Watching Days will be held Friday evening and all day Saturday (until 4:15 p.m.), Jan. 13 and 14. Events begin at 7 p.m. Friday with a live birds of prey show featuring hawks, eagles, owls and falcons put on by The Raptor Center from the University of Minnesota. The show will occur at the River Arts Center at Sauk Prairie High School, 105 Ninth Street. Information is also available by calling 1-800-683-2453.

The raptor show will be repeated at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.

One of the main events this year will be the release of a rehabilitated eagle by Marge Gibson from The Raptor Education Group, Inc. The release will occur between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. at the VFW Park, off Water Street, and about mile north of the Highway 60 bridge.

Also on Saturday, Wollersheim Winery, the event's Conservation Partner, will offer Eagle White Wine tasting throughout the day. At 3:15 p.m., Wildlife humorist David Stokes will do a show titled "Fun Animal Adaptations." DNR staff will run kids activities and give talks on eagles in Wisconsin and eagle conservation efforts. There will be eagle tours throughout the day led by Ferry Bluff Eagle Council members and DNR staff. A complete schedule of activities www.ferrybluffeaglecouncil.org/eagledays (exit DNR) can be found on the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council website: www.ferrybluffeaglecouncil.org [exit DNR] .

Open water below the dam on the Wisconsin River at Sauk City and Prairie du Sac is a customary winter gathering place for bald eagles. The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council maintains an overlook for viewing eagles, preserves habitat for eagles, conducts eagle programs, educates people on how to watch eagles yet maintain the bird's safety, creates educational material for schools and works with landowners to manage habitat. Council members also monitor forested eagle roosts during the winter.

Cassville Bald Eagle Days

The 18th Annual Bald Eagle Days Celebration will be held Jan. 28 and 29 in Cassville on the Mississippi River in Grant County. Every year hundreds of eagles spend the winter in the Cassville area where the birds can be seen along the village's waterfront. Each day, from 8 a.m. to noon, knowledgeable volunteers from the Cassville area will assist birders in locating eagles at the Wildlife Observation Deck at Cassville's Riverside Park. Education programs will be held Saturday, January 28 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Cassville High School, 715 E Amelia St.

More information is available at Cassville's website www.cassville.org [exit DNR] .

Prairie du Chien Bald Eagle Appreciation Day Saturday, Feb 25

The City of Prairie du Chien will hold its annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. The event includes live bald eagle and raptor programs, various birding and nature exhibits and displays, birding experts on hand, outdoor viewing of bald eagles through spotting scopes, life-size bald eagle nest, and activities for children.

The main event location is the Prairie du Chien Regional Tourism Center/Prairie du Chien Chamber 211 South Main, Prairie du Chien. More information is available on the Prairie du Chien chamber of commerce www.prairieduchien.org/visitors/eagles [exit DNR] website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on bald eagles in Wisconsin contact Sumner Matteson, (608) 266-1571; on Sauk-Prairie Eagle Watching Days - 1-800-683-2453; on Cassville Bald Eagle Days - (608) 725-5855; on Prairie du Chien Bald Eagle Appreciation Day - Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce 800-732-1673.

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Candlelight events scheduled at Wisconsin state parks, forests and trails

Minimal snow cover in southern, central Wisconsin may result in candlelight hikes

MADISON - While a New Years snowstorm brought much needed snow to northern Wisconsin, a lack of snow in southern and central Wisconsin means many scheduled upcoming candlelight ski events at Wisconsin state parks, forests and trails may be held only as candlelight hikes.

More than 30 candlelight events are scheduled this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas, beginning with five events Jan. 7. The events have become increasingly popular in recent years, with some attracting several hundred visitors. A candlelight ski and snowshoe hike at Blue Mound State Park last February attracted an estimated 1,500 people.

While the events have benefited from good early snowfalls in Wisconsin the past several years, this year's lack of snow across much of Wisconsin means many events will likely be held as just candlelight hikes. And some events could be cancelled if icy, frozen ground presents a hazard to hiking. People interested in attending events should call ahead to confirm the event will be held and to find out if there is enough snow for skiing.

A New Years snowstorm dumped as much as a foot of snow in far north central Wisconsin, but snow cover across much of southern and central Wisconsin was minimal as of the first week of January. Additional snowfall could improve conditions for events that are held later in the winter.

Most events held throughout the winter include additional activities, including bonfires and hot chocolate and other refreshments for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows.

Candlelight events are free, but 2012 Wisconsin State Park annual or daily vehicle admission stickers are required. Pets are prohibited on the trails at most candlelight events, except on the Blue Mound snowshoe/hiking trail were leashed pets are allowed.

The complete list of candlelight events with times and more details is available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

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

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15 dams in line for $3.5 million in grants for repairs, removal or replacement

MADISON - Fifteen publicly owned dams in 13 counties are in line to get $3.5 million in state grants to maintain, repair, abandon or remove the municipally owned structures, state dam safety officials announced today.

"These dams scored the highest on the priority list and have money set aside for them to address dam safety issues," says Meg Galloway, chief of dams and floodplain management for the Department of Natural Resources. "Unfortunately, we don't have enough money to meet the needs of all the communities that applied, but we are helping address the most pressing needs to keep people and property safe."

The money for the grants was appropriated through the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget and DNR administers the grant program. Eligible projects including the maintenance, repair, modification, or abandonment and removal of dams owned by municipalities.

The priority rankings are based on a point system that looks at criteria including whether the dam poses a threat to people or property downstream, the project cost and community indebtedness. The 15 dam owners must take additional steps before receiving the grant money, including submitting detailed plans for their project, according to Bill Sturtevant, state dam safety engineer.

A DNR water management engineer will be contacting each of the communities to visit its dam site and meet with its community officials to discuss its project. The maximum grant award allowable is not to exceed $400,000.

A similar allocation for municipal dam grants was made in 2009-2011, following flooding in 2008 that constituted the state's costliest natural disaster ever.

June 2008 flooding in southern Wisconsin caused estimated damages of at least $765 million dollars to businesses, residences, farm crops and public property; August 2007 floods in southern Wisconsin also caused significant damages.

In addition to dams damaged by flooding last decade and already in this decade, Wisconsin has aging dams that are in need of repair; roughly one-third of Wisconsin's 3,800 dams were built before 1940; the next third have been constructed since then. The age of the remaining third is unknown.

Municipally Owned Dams Slated to Receive Funding, listed in order of priority ranking.

Dam name, dam owner and county location

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Meg Galloway - (608) 266-7014 or Eileen Trainor - (608) 267-0848

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Recycle your Christmas tree, don't trash it!

MADISON -- As the holiday season draws to a close, people across the state are hauling their Christmas trees to the curb and waiting for pickup day.

But state solid waste and recycling officials say there are other ways to dispose of holiday trees that not only reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill, but also help the environment. Cut trees can be reused in a variety of ways. People can help keep the holidays green by trying one of the suggestions below:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Elisabeth Olson, (608) 264-9258

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 03, 2012




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