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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 17, 2012

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Drought conditions worsen in southern half of Wisconsin

50 counties now at increased fire danger levels

MADISON - The continued lack of significant rainfall in the southern half of Wisconsin has increased drought conditions and raised the fire danger to extreme, very high or high in 50 southern and central counties.

Coping with drought

The lack of rain is lowering water levels on streams and rivers, making navigation more difficult and increasing the number of fish kills. There have been reports of private wells going dry, and some municipalities are placing restrictions on water use. The hot temperatures and low water levels are increasing the risk of blue-green algae outbreaks and concentrating waterfowl in areas that have been known to have outbreaks of botulism.

"The drought is affecting everyone - with farm crops in jeopardy, fire danger, and well impacts, and more," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "DNR is doing everything it can to share information and expedite approvals for wells and pumping when we can without endangering the long term health of natural resources. Our hearts go out to people struggling with the dry conditions."

The Department of Natural Resources has launched a new Web page intended to help the public find drought-related DNR information and assistance. People can go to dnr.wi.gov and search for the keyword "drought."

Fire conditions

Fire danger levels as of July 17 were at extreme in 25 southern counties and very high or high in another 25 central counties. DNR fire control officials have been responding to 10 to 15 fires a day, and since June 1 there have been more than 275 fires. A 40-acre fire closed a westbound lane of Interstate 90-94 Monday. An Army National Guard helicopter assisted in fire suppressing the fire with water drops.

"With these tinder dry conditions, equipment caused fires have become the number one cause of fires, mostly with hot vehicle exhaust systems or farm equipment," says Trent Marty, DNR fire prevention director.

Emergency burning restrictions remain in place in all or parts of 19 counties. The restrictions prohibit any outdoor burning -- outside of fire rings in campgrounds -- smoking outdoors or disposal of ash or charcoal. In addition, even campfires within fire rings have been banned at four state park and forest properties including Southern and Lapham Peak units of Kettle Moraine State Forest, Richard Bong State Recreation Area and Big Foot Beach State Park. Park officials caution that without rain soon, the fire prohibitions may be expanded to other properties.

Water concerns

DNR officials are receiving and reviewing applications for emergency permits to pump water for crop irrigation from lakes and rivers. DNR is approving permits for irrigation from lakes and rivers where the withdrawal will not have a negative impact on fisheries or other aquatic life or on other users of the waterway.

The agency has been receiving six to 10 applications a day for new high capacity wells for irrigating crops and is approving the applications where the new wells will not have a negative impact on other private wells. To date there have been numerous reports of private wells going dry, but as of yet no reports of municipal wells going dry.

State dam safety officials are notifying dam operators of their responsibility to maintain a minimal flow of water below dams, as some operators have reportedly begun to hold water back to maintain water levels on lakes, flowages and impoundments.

"Dam operators need to ensure they maintain minimal flow from their dams to ensure fish health and to ensure there is adequate flow for the dilution of wastewater from municipal treatment plants and other industries and operations downstream," said Bill Sturtevant, state dam safety engineer.

Fish kills

State fisheries biologists have entered more than 31 verified fish kills since the beginning of June, with more being investigated.

"The earlier fish kills were primarily due to low water levels resulting in low dissolved oxygen levels," says Paul Cunningham, DNR fisheries habitat coordinator, "but lately we've seen more thermal-related fish kills. The water has just gotten too hot for many of our cold-water species like northern pike."

Fisheries biologists have started to deny some applications for chemical control of aquatic weeds, because of the additional stress the control may have on fish populations.

Beach and swimming concerns

The hot, dry weather is fueling excessive algae growth as the increased water temperature speeds up cell growth and division. Blue-green algae, which are found naturally in Wisconsin lakes and can produce toxins that pose a health threat to people, animal and pets, are becoming a problem in waters with a history of blooms, like Lake Winnebago and Tainter/Menomin lakes, but are in places where blooms are normally not a problem, DNR water leaders report.

DNR staff are fielding more calls on the algae Cladophora from property owners and beachgoers all along the Lake Michigan coast, says Steve Galarneau, who directs the DNR Office of the Great Lakes. The algae, naturally found in Lake Michigan, breaks off from the rocks on the lake bottom and washes ashore, where it smells and looks foul as the algae and aquatic life it carries decompose.

Zebra mussels and quagga mussels proliferating in Lake Michigan are helping create the conditions for more of the algae to grow, along with the warm water temperatures and sunny skies. "Cladophora has been a problem for decades. There are good blocks of time and bad blocks of time during a year, and this is a particularly bad period of time," he says. "We empathize with people concerned about how it looks and smells. We encourage people to avoid swimming through cladophora or coming in contact with the algae that's washed ashore because it may harbor harmful bacteria."

Boating safety

With low water levels on lakes and rivers (USGS Wisconsint streamflow) (exit DNR), boaters need to be especially cautious of navigational hazards that may not have been apparent with higher water levels. Stumps and sand and rock bars may all be closer to the surface, especially on river systems. The Rock and Wisconsin rivers in particular are very low and navigation is difficult in some stretches.

Wildlife health concerns

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff have collected approximately 50 dead birds, primarily mallards, wood ducks and teal as well as pelicans, shore birds, and great blue herons on the northern end of Horicon Marsh. Specimens have been submitted to the National Wildlife Heath Center for confirmation, but officials highly suspect that botulism is the cause. They will be conducting daily monitoring of other state and federal wildlife areas where botulism has caused waterfowl deaths in the past.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson - 608-267-2773 or check the DNR drought Web page of a list of contacts by subject

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Master planning begins for former Badger Army plant property

DNR property designated as Sauk Prairie Recreation Area

MADISON -- The public will have an opportunity at an upcoming open house to contribute ideas and discuss how the Department of Natural Resources-managed portion of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Sauk County -designated as the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area - should be managed for recreation and resources protection.

Sauk Prairie Recreation Area
Sauk Prairie Recreation Area
WDNR Photo

DNR is developing a new master plan for the approximately 3,800-acre Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, which was part of the 7,354-acre former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. The Army is slated to transfer portions of the property to the DNR, Ho-Chunk Nation, U.S. Department of Agriculture Dairy Forage Research Center, and Bluffview Sanitary District.

The Badger Plant was constructed in 1942 following the nation's entry into World War II. At the time of its construction, 80 farm families were removed from the area. The plant provided ammunition propellant for the duration of the war effort, and was again operative during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The plant was decommissioned in 1997, and clean-up of buildings and other materials continues today. In 2002, the Natural Resources Board approved establishing the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area as part of the decommission activities.

This master planning process will focus on DNR-owned Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, which will be adjacent to Devil's Lake State Park. DNR staff have prepared an initial analysis of the property that discusses: landscape-scale management opportunities; enhancing habitat for grassland birds; protection of rare plants and animals; bat conservation; and maximizing compatible recreational use opportunities.

The analysis, maps of the property and other information can be viewed by searching for "master planning" on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and then clicking on Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.

Department staff will share information about the property and the planning process at the open house that will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 30, 2012 in the Lange Student Center on the UW-Baraboo/Sauk County campus, 1006 Connie Road, Baraboo.

The public will have an opportunity to review the geography, history and current status of the property and provide input on issues they would like to see addressed in the plan.

DNR establishes master plans that define the level and type of public uses for properties it manages. The plans detail the authorized resource management and facility development. It also acts as a blueprint for the property, providing for consistent, long term management, regardless of personnel changes.

Comments can be provided at the July 30 public open house or submitted in writing or email by August 17, 2012 to: Diane Brusoe, DNR Planner, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area property contact Mark Aquino, DNR South Central Regional Director - 608-275-3262; on the master planning process contact Diane Brusoe, DNR master planner - 608-261-6445

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August 1 deadline approaches for many hunting seasons

MADISON - August 1 is an important harvest permit application deadline for hunters and trappers. Applications are due for the following seasons: fall wild turkey, Canada geese in the Horicon Zone, sharp-tailed grouse, bobcat, fisher, and otter. Any fall turkey permits remaining after the initial drawing will go on sale beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 25, a departure from previous years when sales didn't start until noon. Leftover fall turkey permits will be sold by zone until sold out or the season ends.

2012 Fall Season Dates:

Permits can be applied for through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236). A bobcat permit application costs $6; all other permit applications cost $3.

The live operators at the DNR Call Center can help answer any questions folks may have about the permit application process. The Call Center is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and can be reached at (888) WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463).

Fall turkey

There will be 96,700 wild turkey permits available to hunters for the fall 2012 turkey hunting season, 1,000 more permits than were offered in 2011. Permits were increased by 600 in Zone 2 and 400 in Zone 7 in order to better accommodate demand by hunters. Harvest for the 2012 spring season increased by 6 percent compared to the 2011 season, largely due to the unseasonably comfortable weather that characterized most of the season. As well, the increased harvest may have partly been due to relatively mild conditions during the 2011-12 winter. Observed turkey numbers may increase further given the warm and dry conditions during the critical June brood-rearing period. Turkey hunters can therefore still expect excellent opportunities to pursue turkeys during the fall 2012 season.

The 2012 fall season will run from Sept. 15 through Nov. 15 for all seven of Wisconsin's turkey management zones. In addition, an extended fall turkey season for Zones 1-5 ONLY will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31. Hunters who receive a fall turkey permit in Zones 1-5 will be able to fill their unused permits during the extended season in the zone for which they were issued. Hunters may use dogs to hunt wild turkeys during the fall season throughout the state of Wisconsin. The bag limit is one turkey of any age or sex per fall turkey hunting permit (also known as a carcass tag).

New turkey harvest registration procedures

Starting with the fall 2011 turkey season, hunters have been able to register their turkey by telephone or online. In-person registration stations are no longer available. All harvested turkeys must be registered either by calling the DNR's Harvest Registration System at 1-888-HUNT-WIS (1-888-486-8947) or online via the DNR website (go to dnr.wi.gov and search for "turkey registration"). The phone-in system will accept touch tone entry only. Hunters will be asked to record a harvest registration confirmation number on their hunting permit at the end of the call or on-line session. Hunters will still have until 5 p.m. on the day after harvest to register their turkey. The wild turkey page of the DNR website will have updates regarding specific registration procedures.

Sharp-tailed grouse

For 2012, 235 sharp-tailed grouse hunting permits will be available. This is a slight decrease from 2011 when 250 permits were available. However, the decision has been made to re-open sharp-tailed grouse hunting in DMU 8 for 2012, the result of some promising survey numbers seen in the spring of 2012. "Because sharp-tailed grouse occur at low densities across the landscape, they are often challenging to locate," said Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist. "Anticipating and allowing yourself to enjoy the experience of the hunt is encouraged and likely more realistic than the prospect of finding and harvesting a sharptail." Sharp-tailed grouse management units use the same boundaries and designations as deer management units (DMUs). In 2012, two units will have permits available. DMU 2 will have 200 permits, and DMU 8, which was temporarily closed in 2011, will have 35 permits. DMUs 9 and 10, open in the past, will remain closed.

"Although there were a few more birds observed this spring in a couple areas, some of our traditional sharp-tailed grouse dancing grounds and managed properties continue to hold relatively few grouse, warranting a cautious and conservative approach in our harvest framework," said McGinley.

Hunters are reminded to carefully review the zone map and apply only for units that are open. Applying for closed units will result in an invalid application.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Rappe, permit sales coordinator - (608) 261-6441; Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist - (608) 267-7861; James Christopoulos, assistant migratory bird ecologist - (608) 695-1220; or John Olson, furbearer ecologist - (715) 685-2934

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Fishing in the Neighborhood program reels in new anglers

MADISON - Smiles shared, fish caught, and new licenses bought are testimony to the growing success of a partnership to introduce fishing to Wisconsin's growing number of Latino and Hmong youngsters, state fisheries officials say.

High schoolers, buying fishing licenses
These high schoolers, shown buying fishing licenses, have been recruited as "fishing buddies" to help younger kids fish with the Club de Pesca offered by Centro Hispano of Dane County and partners.
WDNR Photo

"Our goals are to welcome new people into the community of anglers, to help them establish a relationship with the resource and adopt Wisconsin's tradition of stewardship," says Theresa Stabo, Department of Natural Resources aquatic resources education director. "We're very excited that our Fishing in the Neighborhood program is growing and that partner groups are getting important recognition and funding to expand their local efforts."

Centro Hispano of Dane County, one of the partnering groups, recently received a $30,000 grant from the national Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (exit DNR) for its bilingual fishing club, Club de Pesca.

Centro Hispano Executive Director Kent Craig says the organization is very excited about the national grant and the ongoing relationship with DNR and other program partners. "What we're hoping is to see young people get more opportunity to spend time on water fishing and learning more science," he says. "In addition to expanding the program, we're hoping to develop a replicable, culturally competent curriculum for offering fishing clubs in Latino communities."

DNR has long trained volunteer instructors in how to start their own fishing clubs for youngsters and others new to fishing. In recent years, DNR has focused more attention on working with partners to help start fishing clubs within minority communities, as was successfully done at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee and the Boys & Girls Club in Madison.

This year, DNR has provided angler education training to college interns and is paying them stipends to work with five different youth organizations that serve low-income people of color. Andrea "Tess" Arenas at the UW-Madison Office of Service Learning and Community Based Research recruited the interns and identified organizations willing to partner with the state and supervise the interns.

Bad River fishing partner
A youngster and an intern try their luck during a fishing club offered by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe in Odanah, DNR and other partners.
WDNR Photo

Interns have been placed at five community centers: Centro Hispano of Dane County, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison, Hmong Assistance Association in La Crosse, and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe in Odanah.

DNR is providing fishing equipment for the interns to use with the youngsters. The interns recruit members for the clubs, instruct the youngsters in basic fishing techniques, set up fishing trips and bring in guest speakers to talk to the participants about aquatic resources topics. In addition to a stipend, they earn college credit for their work.

DNR pays for the costs of the clubs through the Sport Fish Restoration money it receives from the federal government from an excise tax on the sale of fishing equipment. Madison South Rotary Foundation provided additional funding for the Madison groups. It's welcome seed money, says Centro Hispano's Craig.

"We wouldn't have a program without the DNR," he says. "Getting the national RBFF grant shows it was a wise investment."

Stabo says that DNR's Fishing in the Neighborhood initiative recognizes that Latino and Hmong immigrants represent the fast-growing segments of Wisconsin's population. "We want club members and their families to see fishing as a good choice for weekend or afterschool activities, once summer ends and everyone is back at school."

Club de Pesca shows how the program seeks to make fishing a good choice by tailoring it to a specific culture. "Having a program which is free, based at a known agency and run by bilingual staff makes fishing much more accessible to the Latino community," says Jannet Arenas, the intern who is leading the Centro Hispano program.

Another way Club de Pesca fits with the Latino culture is relying on older Latino high school students to teach younger kids how to fish. The older "Fishing Buddies" are paired up with younger students and serve as their coaches during outings. In return, the older students get community service hours.

"Right now, the club meets twice a week and for the first session consists of 25 anglers ages 6-9," Jannet Arenas says. "So far we have fished at Tenney Park, Vilas Park and Jenny & Kyle Preserve in the Madison area. The last week of the first session features a visit to the local fish hatchery. The next session will be for kids ages 10-13. Both sessions conclude with a graduation in which the participants receive their own fishing rod/reel and parents are invited."

Jannet Arenas says the national RBFF grant - layered on top of the financial and training support DNR has continued to provide -- has allowed her to get more kids out fishing and to provide them transportation directly to the fishing sites. Last year, club members took the city bus and walked to their fishing spots.

"The participants' feedback has been great -- the kids always show up excited to go fishing," she says. "My favorite part of fishing club is seeing the kids' excitement when they catch their very first fish. It is a priceless moment and one that I feel blessed to be part of."

Organizations interested in learning more about how to start a fishing club for new anglers, including Latino and Hmong organizations can contact Theresa Stabo at 608-266-2272.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Theresa Stabo 608-266-2272; Tess Arenas, UW 608-890-0876

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Fallen Beloit soldier's dream fuels warden scholarship, award

FORT McCOY, Wis. - As part of the July 6 graduation ceremony of the 2012 Recruit Conservation Warden Class at Fort McCoy, the parents of the Beloit soldier killed in action who dreamed of joining the conservation law enforcement service were on hand to honor their son's career goals.

David and Mary Kreinz lost their son, Tyler Kreinz, on June 18, 2011, when he was killed in action serving in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tyler's 2011 obituary detailed his impressive service that earned him a rank of Specialist and to be part of the U.S. Army Armored Division as a Tanker - and as an Army Scout. Tyler and his team would provide forward support for units moving into unsecured areas to make sure it was safe for the units to follow.

"Tyler became an expert in American and German weapons and was an expert marksman," his parents said in a statement included in the July 6 graduation program of the Warden Recruit Academy Class of 2012.

And it was Tyler's extraordinary marksmanship that fueled his parents' long-term commitments to keep their son's dream alive for others. David and Mary Kreinz last year met with Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark and John Daniel, a retired warden now with the Wisconsin Conservation Warden Association, to put into motion their two ideas.

The first was the creation of the Tyler Kreinz Memorial Scholarship, created from donations after their son's death and with the help of Chief Stark, John Daniel and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The first scholarship was presented on March 30 to UW-Stevens Point student Courtney Adair, who plans to become a park ranger with the U.S. Park Service.

The second became a reality July 6 at Fort McCoy when the Tactical Proficiency Award in Tyler's name was presented to newly graduated warden Kyle E. Lynch.

One member of each future warden recruit graduating class will receive the award based upon demonstrated tactical proficiency, Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark said.

"The Kreinz family will be involved in every presentation at the class graduation ceremony," Stark said. "It will allow people to learn about Tyler and his legacy. Tyler will be part of the warden service through this tradition."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff King, Assistant Training Director, and Joanne Haas, Public Affairs, 608-267-0798

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Sign-up under way for October deer hunt for hunters with disabilities

September 1 registration deadline set for landowners sponsoring event

MADISON - Hunters with disabilities wanting to participate in a special October gun-deer hunt are encouraged to contact as soon as possible any landowner sponsoring an event to make arrangements.

Landowners are required to submit their lists of participating hunters in the Disabled Deer Hunt to the Department of Natural Resources by September 1. The list of sponsoring landowners for the 2012 hunt is available on the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, keyword search: "disabled deer hunt."

Now in its 22nd year, the Disabled Deer Hunt aims to give hunting opportunities to those facing mobility issues when temperatures are milder. Most of the hunts are on private lands and are sponsored by private citizens or organizations.

Hunters with a valid Class A permit, a long-term Class B permit that authorizes shooting from a vehicle, a Class C or Class D Disabled Hunting permit are eligible to participate in this special hunt, which will take place Oct. 6-14.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert - (608) 264-6023

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 17, 2012




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