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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published April 17, 2012

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Activities around state provide opportunities to celebrate Earth Day 2012

MADISON - People will have multiple opportunities to help celebrate Earth Day 2012 by participating in a wide variety of events and activities that will be held around Wisconsin. While Earth Day is formally celebrated on April 22, which will be the 42 anniversary of the original Earth Day on April 22, 1970, many events are scheduled on other late April days.

Wisconsin played a leading role in the original Earth Day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded what became the nation's largest grassroots gathering to demand action to clean up and protect our air, land, water and wildlife. Learn more about "Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: The Making of the Environmental Movement [] (exit DNR) on a website from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

While the original Earth Day was largely a combination of festival, political and academic discussions, and coalition building, in subsequent years much of the focus has been on hands-on opportunities for people to get involved with protecting or restoring natural resources in the area where they live.

One way people can help celebrate while helping out Wisconsin state park and forest properties is to participate in the fourth annual Work*Play*Earth Day volunteer events sponsored by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. The remaining events will be held April 21, 27, 28 and May 5.

Some of the work volunteers will help out with include planting trees, raking campsites, repairing picnic tables, cleaning-up trails, and pulling invasive species.

When the work is done, volunteers join staff in hiking or biking park trails, visiting nature centers or interpretive displays, or enjoying any of the recreational opportunities available at the different parks.

Each work day will run from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the schedule may vary slightly at each location. Volunteers should wear work boots or athletic shoes, long pants and bring their own work gloves. Lunch and snacks, donated by area businesses, will be served at many locations. And Cabela's outdoor outfitters stores have donated gift cards, mulit-tools, hats, water bottles and other merchandise that will be distributed randomly as prizes to participants.

Advanced registration is free, but required. People can register through the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website [] (exit DNR).

A sample to 2012 Earth Day activities around Wisconsin

April 16-22

April 20

April 20-21

April 21

April 21-22

April 22

April 27

April 28

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurel Steffes - 608-266-8109; Bill Cosh - 608-267-2273; or for Work*Play*Earth Day - Patricia Loosen - 608-264-8994;



"Read to Lead" events being held at Wisconsin State Parks

MADISON -- Children ages five to nine are being challenged to read 20 or more nature books in a "Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks" program the Department of Natural Resources has launched as part of a statewide "Read to Lead" initiative.

A bipartisan team of teachers, legislators, researchers and advocates worked together to reach a consensus on ways to ensure all Wisconsin children learn to read so they can use reading to learn by the fourth grade.

The Wisconsin State Parks and environmental education programs have developed a "Read to Lead" that pairs a state park with a nature book. The weekly featured book is available on loan at the featured park. Along with the featured book, special nature programs are being held at some of the parks during their "Read to Lead" week. Kids don't have to read the book during the week it's featured, and all of the books are available through the public library.

Once a child has read, or someone has read to them, 20 or more books from the list, they are eligible to enter a drawing for a Kindle Fire or other prizes. Entries must be postmarked by January 7, 2013. Funding for the prizes is provided by The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.

The department hopes campers with young children will take advantage of the books available in 49 of the state parks and read in a tent, on a log, while fishing, and when they need a quiet moment to relax.

"Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks" book lists are available in many state parks and by searching for "Read" on the DNR website

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Morgan - 608-267-5239



Communities and schools will celebrate Arbor Day April 27

MADISON -- Arbor Day, a day set aside for planting trees, is celebrated each year on the last Friday of April in Wisconsin and on a day during the appropriate tree planting season in all 50 states and around the world. Arbor Day was started by Nebraska journalist J. Sterling Morton and the first official Wisconsin observance of this holiday was in 1892.

The 2012 proclamation of Wisconsin's Arbor Day" and Forest Appreciation Week (April 22-28) notes the social, cultural, ecological and economic importance of trees and encourages citizens in their awareness and appreciation of this valuable natural resource.

Planting trees is good for both the environment and those planting the trees, according to Paul DeLong, chief state forester.

"Trees improve our quality of life in so many ways and are vitally important to our communities. Like electricity and water, an urban tree canopy is an essential part of community's infrastructure, providing a multitude of benefits. Planting a tree on Arbor Day can help community residents of all ages appreciate the trees where they live and encourage them to help maintain the resource," De Long said.

"Learning new skills and being part of something that will have a long-lasting impact are a couple more ways that planting trees helps kids," he adds. "Most importantly, it gets them outdoors and gives them a sense of community."

Hundreds of local Wisconsin communities will be holding tree planting ceremonies over the next couple of weeks. In fact, holding an Arbor Day celebration is one of the requirements for communities to earn and maintain certification as a Tree City USA, a national program that provides technical assistance and public recognition for urban and community forestry programs. Wisconsin ranks third in the nation with 182 communities with Tree City USA certification.

DNR will be inviting the schools and communities - and anyone else who is celebrating Arbor Day - to share a photo of their tree planting activities on the DNR Facebook page.

The Wisconsin Nursery Association and The Bruce Company are donating a large sugar maple tree and use of a large mechanical tree planting spade for a tree planting ceremony on the State Capitol lawn, supporting the landscaping plan to replace large trees at the capitol building that are nearing the end of their lifespan.

More than 150 students will participate in this event, joined by Smokey Bear, Bucky Badger and Alice in Dairyland Friday, April 27 at 11:45 a.m. on the Capitol Square at the corner of East Mifflin and North Pinckney streets. Additional supporting sponsors of this event are Wisconsin DNR, Wisconsin Arborist Association and the Blackhawk Chapter of the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association.

Thousands of Wisconsin school children will also be celebrating Arbor Day and planting small tree seedlings provided at no charge to fourth grade classrooms in Wisconsin.

The DNR nursery program has grown more than 1.5 billion tree seedlings during its 100-year history. Those trees have been planted by Wisconsin forest landowners for reforestation. As a special treat for Wisconsin students, DNR is offering a recording of the song "Why Plant Trees" with singer/songwriter Ken Lonnquist on YouTube .

For more information search for "Arbor Day" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kirsten Held - 608-264-6036



Wildfire Prevention Week April 15-21

Wildfire control officials offer top 10 reasons not to burn!

MADISON - Spring arrived early, quickly leaving many areas very dry and at high risk for wildfire.

The third week in April is designated as Wildfire Prevention Week and state wildfire control officials are asking the public to delay residential burning, on the ground or in a burn barrel, until conditions improve. The Department of Natural Resources has been and will continue to suspend burning permits in many counties throughout the spring. The safest option is to not burn at all or wait until trees and fields are green with new growth.

People can find alternatives to burning by searching "open burning" on the DNR website.

Fire danger conditions are updated everyday during Wisconsin's fire season. The department's website also directs citizens through the burning permit process and offers tips for making a home survivable from wildfire. For information search "fire" on the DNR website.

"Warmer temperatures, the start of local farmers markets, longer daylight hours, turkey season, and the anticipation of a big catch on the fishing opener all signal spring," said Trent Marty DNR chief of forest protection. "The early spring conditions and warmer temperatures motivate residents and visitors to do annual clean-up around their yards. "Don't let the recent rain lull you into season can rekindle quickly."

Here's the top 10 reasons not to burn:

  1. SAFETY: Burning places firefighters and civilians at risk. Every year, civilians are injured and even die while trying to suppress fires that have escaped. And, fire control personnel place their lives at risk with each fire they fight.
  2. STRUCTURES: Burning places homes and communities at risk. On average, Wisconsin loses nearly 80 structures every year. Firewise practices help homes survive on their own without suppression efforts.
  3. FORESTS: Unplanned and uncontrolled wildfires place natural resources at risk. Wisconsin's trees and forests support jobs and the wildlife we love to see.
  4. HISTORY: Statistics show that people cause nearly 98 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin. Debris burning is the number one human-cause and typically started by well-intended citizens who were "just cleaning up."
  5. WEATHER: More than 75 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin occur in the months of April and May alone. This time of the year, vegetation is dead and dry; winds are dry and strong and humidity is low.
  6. HEALTH: Burning can be smelly and unhealthy and your neighbors will thank you if you choose a more environmentally friendly option.
  7. ALTERNATIVES: Composting, recycling, chipping or simply leaving yard waste in the woods for wildlife habitat are smart alternatives to burning. Most communities have transfer sites or garbage pick-up and drop-off locations - pdf. Check locally before burning.
  8. COST: Anyone found responsible for starting a wildfire is liable for all suppression costs. This could mean the cost of firefighters, fire trucks, air planes and even the cost of damages. Visiting a transfer site or paying a minimal fee to dispose of yard waste and garbage is a worthwhile investment.
  9. LAWS: It is unlawful to burn garbage. DNR burning permits are only good for the burning of brush, leaves, pine needles, grass, clean wood and unrecyclable paper or cardboard.
  10. RESPONSIBILITY: Burning is not the only option these days. If you must burn, wait until the fire danger is LOW. Always obtain proper permits and check with local fire officials for the best time to burn and other tips to make your fire safe. Follow Smokey's lead: "Only you can prevent wildfires!" See Smokey's playlist on the DNR YouTube channel.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Koele - 608-266-2359 or Bob Manwell - 608-267-9248



99 waters to be added to special watch category for phosphorus impacts

Public comment accepted through May 18, 2012

MADISON - Ninety-nine lakes and rivers exceeding the state's new numeric phosphorus standards but not experiencing biological impacts to aquatic life - like algal blooms -- are being added to Wisconsin's proposed 2012 list of impaired waters.

The Department of Natural Resources is adding the 99 water bodies to a special new "5P" category that has not been used in Wisconsin's impaired list before this year. DNR will closely monitor these waters for signs of biological impact and will continue to focus on state impaired waters that are currently experiencing biological impacts.

The public comment period on these proposed additions is open through May 18, 2012.

"Right now, we aren't seeing algal blooms or problems with the fish or insect communities on these waters like we did on the 21 lakes and river segments we originally proposed for listing due to high phosphorus levels," says Aaron Larson, the DNR water resources management specialist who coordinates updates of the water body list.

However, after reviewing Wisconsin's impaired waters recommendation, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked DNR to list 121 more lakes or river segments because they exceeded the state's new numeric phosphorus standards, even though available information showed no signs of aquatic life impacts, including harmful algal blooms. DNR is seeking comment from the public before finalizing the list. Under the federal Clean Water Act, all states are required to submit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every two years a list of water bodies that do not meet water quality standards.

In developing its original proposed list of waters that did not meet water quality, DNR had determined a water should be listed as impaired if phosphorus levels exceeded the new numeric phosphorus standards and if other biological information verified that aquatic life or recreation were impaired as a result of phosphorus. Most other states list water bodies based solely on biological standards. This is the first time Wisconsin is using the "5P" category to identify a water body for listing solely because sampling exceeded numeric standards. Wisconsin is currently the only state to have adopted numeric phosphorus standards for both rivers and lakes.

DNR staff reviewed the available data again on the lakes and river segments EPA wanted re-examined and recommended that 99 more waters be listed for the first time in a special "5P" category. Twenty-three waters that EPA asked DNR to consider will not be included in the new category because DNR staff concluded the high phosphorus levels were likely temporary, due to the floods in 2007-2008.

Excessive phosphorus levels can grow harmful algae, excessive plants and muddy water in many lakes and rivers and is one of Wisconsin's most common causes of water quality problems. It can also harm fish and insect communities and other parts of the food web.

The 30-day public comment period on the revised list will run from April 17 to May 18, 2012. A small number of other updates were made to the list in response to public comments, and are also available for public review. Search the DNR website for impaired waters and click on the button for View 2012 list of modified waters, as well as the rest of the list that is being submitted to EPA. Comments on these new listing updates may be submitted via e-mail through May 18, 2012, to or by U.S. mail to Aaron Larson, DNR, Water Evaluation Section (WT/3), P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Aaron Larson - 608-264-6129; Nicki Clayton - 608-266-0152



Wisconsin residents can drop off prescription drugs for safe disposal

"Take Back Initiative" scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2012

MADISON -- Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp urge Wisconsin residents with expired or unused medications to safely dispose of them this Saturday, April 28, 2012, during the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Special agents from the DOJ will be on-hand Saturday at some of the more than 100 law enforcement sites throughout the state to assist the DEA with collection efforts. Last fall in Wisconsin, 9.91 tons, or 19,820 lbs, of prescription drugs were turned over to Wisconsin law enforcement and the DEA for safe disposal.

The service is free and anonymous, and will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, 2012. To find a drop-off location near you, visit

"Prescription drugs, when abused, can be as harmful as street drugs. Keeping them on hand long after they're needed can lead to theft and in some cases, overdose and death," Attorney General Van Hollen said. "I'm thankful for the continued partnership of the DEA on this issue and urge people to take a few minutes and work with us to dispose of these drugs properly."

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp added, "Everyone who uses medications can help keep Wisconsin's environment healthy. Taking unused medications to a collection program ensures that pharmaceutical waste is managed properly through approved disposal methods instead of ending up in our waterways and harming our natural resources."

Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines -- flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash -- pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information on how to reduce the impact of unused medications on the environment, visit the DNR website ( and keyword search "healthcare waste."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dana Brueck, DOJ - 608-266-1221 or Bill Cosh, DNR - 608-267-2773



Changes in the Wisconsin wolf depredation payment program

MADISON - Recently enacted legislation has changed the process and timeline and may impact the compensation schedule for livestock, hunting dogs and pets proven to have been killed or injured by gray wolves.

Act 169, signed into law in April 2, created a new wolf harvest season and shifted administration of wolf depredation payments to the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Wildlife Management with funds for payments coming from sale of wolf hunting and trapping licenses.

New guidelines for wolf depredation payments will be developed over the next few months. With the removal of the wolf from the federal endangered and threatened species list, the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources will no longer be paying for wolf depredations.

"With license and application fees now funding the wolf depredation program, we will administer this program consistently with how we provide reimbursements for other species under the agricultural damage program," said Brad Koele, DNR agricultural damage specialist. "As with deer, goose, turkey or bear, eligible reimbursements are paid all at the same time, following the season, once we know how much money we have available to reimburse claims."

Several changes in wolf depredation payments will go into effect immediately including the following:

Additional rules on the new wolf reimbursement program will be developed in upcoming months and may include changes in claim eligibility requirements and changes in maximum compensation amounts. Until new rules are finalized the department will continue to use existing claim eligibility requirements including:

Once depredation claims are received by the wildlife damage specialist in Madison the department will return a letter acknowledging it has received the request, and notifying the claimant whether they will be eligible for payments at the end of the year.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Koele, DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management - 608-266-2151



Learn to Hunt Bear application process open

MADISON - People interested in learning to hunt Wisconsin's largest game animal have until May 25 to apply to participate in a Learn to Hunt Bear outing featuring classroom and field instruction capped with a real hunt with skilled mentors.

"The Learn to Hunt Bear program represents an opportunity of a lifetime for novice hunters of any age," said Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sport coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "Working in partnership with many dedicated bear hunters and local conservation organizations, wardens and wildlife managers, successful Learn to Hunt Bear events have been held across northern Wisconsin during the last several years."

Participation in the DNR Learn to Hunt Bear program is limited, so qualified applications will be evaluated and winners drawn and notified in mid-June. Documents and applications for the Learn to Hunt Bear program can be found by searching the DNR website for "LTH."

The program is limited to novice bear hunters only. A novice hunter is anyone age 10 and older who has not participated in a Learn to Hunt Bear event and has not previously purchased a Class A or Class B bear license. Applications must be postmarked by May 25

In 2005, the DNR began the Learn to Hunt Bear program as another outreach program for novice hunters. Other Wisconsin wildlife featured in the Learn to Hunt program includes turkey, deer, pheasant, upland game and waterfowl.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, Hunting and Shooting Sport Coordinator, 608-576-5243 or Joanne M. Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-267-0798



Closed areas surrounding Mazomanie Beach expanded

MAZOMANIE - The area of land surrounding the popular Mazomanie Beach on the Wisconsin River that is closed to public access is expanding, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced. The beach itself will remain open.

New signs marking the closed areas were installed this week and the closure limitations will be in place effective immediately through September 15.

"The goal of the additional closures is to reduce user conflicts and to make this a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone who visits the Riverway," said Conservation Warden Jeremy Plautz.

DNR made changes to the management of the property to curb the illicit sexual activity the public and conservation wardens have encountered on the property. Due to unwanted publicity on some national websites, individuals from states as far away as Florida have traveled to the beach, commonly referred to as Mazo beach, looking for a sexual encounter.

Generally, behavior on the beach has been well behaved, Plautz said. These steps are in response to conduct that is occurring in the areas off of the beach.

The beach along the Lower Wisconsin River located in the northwest corner of Dane County in the Town of Mazomanie has attracted people to its open and expansive shoreline for decades. Property along the river was acquired in parcels by the State of Wisconsin since the 1950s to provide primarily for hunting, angling, and nature appreciation. The beach was acquired by the state in 1949 for hunting, fishing and land conservation and is part of the Mazomanie Unit - Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.

Mazomanie beach will remain open during the same hours it has in the past, which is 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"Law enforcement staff will be working this summer to increase law enforcement presence and will be enforcing laws pertaining to inappropriate conduct in public as well as entry into the newly closed areas," said Plautz.

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



Public meetings to discuss potential Lake Michigan trout and salmon stocking reduction

MILWAUKEE -- Public meetings are set for May 1 in Milwaukee and May 8 in Green Bay for anglers and others who want to learn more about, and weigh in on, potential stocking reductions in Lake Michigan that scientists say are necessary to balance game fish with the available food source.

The meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. May 1 at the WATER Institute in Milwaukee and 6:30 p.m. on May 8 at the Brown County Library in Green Bay. The Wisconsin meetings follow a lake-wide conference in Benton Harbor, Mich., on April 14, on the same topic that drew 60 people in person and another 25 who participated online.

"We want to go over the information covered at the lakewide meeting in Michigan and give more Wisconsin anglers a chance to weigh in on future stocking policies," says Bill Horns, the Department of Natural Resources Great Lakes fisheries specialist.

Despite an exceptional coho harvest and good size-at-age among chinook salmon in 2011, lake-wide forage assessments and computer modeling conducted by Michigan State University researchers suggest that the number of trout and salmon being stocked in Lake Michigan exceeds what can be supported by the available prey fish in the future, Horns says.

"The modeling suggests that we risk a future collapse in both alewives and game fish if stocking levels stay the same," he says. "Concern about the stability of the Lake Michigan alewife population has increased in recent years as we have watched the dramatic declines in Chinook salmon harvest in Lake Huron after alewife populations there crashed."

Biologists in the four states bordering Lake Michigan are reviewing the models and consulting with interested anglers regarding future stocking policies. The Wisconsin meetings, as did the Benton Harbor meeting, will examine five options pulled together in workshops over the last year by the states' fisheries biologists and representatives of fishing and other interested groups.

The options include sticking with current stocking levels and four alternative patterns of reduction in stocking of chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and lake trout. According to the models, the probability of reducing alewife abundance to an unacceptable level can be reduced seven-fold, from 23 to 3 percent by implementing one of the stocking options.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Horns (608) 266-8782



New laws approved regulating use of utility terrain vehicles

MADISON -- A new Wisconsin law providing for permanent registration and updated regulation of utility terrain vehicles will go into effect on July 1, 2012. The law has grown from popular UTV pilot programs the Department of Natural Resources conducted over the last several years.

Any UTVs registered during the pilot program will continue to be registered with the previously assigned registration identification number and registration period. The Department will be providing more detailed information to the public in the future through their website, press releases and informational pamphlets.

The major changes include:

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on laws and safety contact Gary Eddy, Law Enforcement - 608-267-7455 ; for registration and trail passes contact Penny Kanable, customer and outreach services - 608-264-8985; for trail grants, maintenance and signage contact Diane Conklin, community financial assistance - 715-822-8583


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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