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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 11, 2012

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2012 Wisconsin archery deer season opens Sept. 15

MADISON - Cooler evening temperatures are a signal to many bow hunters that the Sept. 15 opening of Wisconsin's archery deer season is just around the corner.

"What a great time of year," says Kevin Wallenfang, the states big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources and ardent bow hunter. "For those of us who love to bow hunt, it's like Christmas eve. The greatest time of year is almost here!"

Wallenfang is enthusiastic about the prospect for bow hunters this fall, saying with good conditions, hunters can hope to see plenty of deer in most areas of the state. Archers shot the third all-time highest number of bucks last year, which he says, could mean this will also be a very good year.

"In general, the past couple of years have had conservative antlerless quotas in the north to allow herds to increase, and there are good numbers of deer in most farmland areas as well," he said. "Combine that with one of the mildest winters on record and good fawn production this spring, everything should add up to give bow hunters a great season."

Many archers in the CWD management zone will be pleased to see the absence of a four-day October gun hunt, which has been the norm in recent years, but will not take place this year. The only interruption of the archery season will be a two-day statewide youth hunt Oct. 6-7.

Wallenfang also stresses that all properties are not created equal and that deer are not evenly distributed through a deer management unit.

"Doing your homework, as always, is important," he says.

The 2012 archery deer season runs from Saturday, Sept. 15, through Thursday, Nov. 15 and then from Saturday, Nov. 17, the start of the gun season, through Jan. 6, a Sunday.

Archery deer hunters will again be allowed to hunt during the regular nine-day gun deer hunt in November, and new this year, they will be able to fill a gun license deer tag with a bow or crossbow during the gun deer seasons. During the gun deer season, bow hunters will be required to follow the same blaze orange clothing regulations as gun hunters.

As always, there is be no deer hunting of any kind on the Friday preceding the gun deer hunt. This single day separates the early and late bow deer seasons.

There were 255,423 licensed archery hunters in 2011 who harvested a total of 90,200 deer, up from 254,014 archery hunters who harvested 83,833 deer in 2010.

Wallenfang wished all of Wisconsin's bow hunters a safe and fulfilling season. "Wisconsin is one of the best states in the country to bow hunt deer. Be safe in your stand, wear a harness, and enjoy

More information about deer hunting in Wisconsin is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589



Online chat to focus on Wisconsin archery deer season

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The Department of Natural Resources this Wednesday will host an online chat with big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang of the Bureau of Wildlife Management. Wallenfang will be online at 11 a.m. Sept. 12 to answer questions about deer, bear, and elk, and the archery opener. To participate, visit the DNR home page,, and look for the advertisement or search the word "chat." Participants will be able to see the questions and answers as they happen. For more information contact Ryan Marty at 608-264-8976.]



Using a full body harness best way for hunters to prevent falls from tree stands

Three types of hunters when it comes to harnesses, but only one knows safety

MADISON -- It's one thing for a hunter to own a tree stand harness and another to actually use it to prevent what studies have shown to be the leading cause of hunter injuries during the deer hunting seasons.

Studies in the last 10 years document the willingness of hunters to understand the importance of using the harness to ensure a safe trip up and down from a tree stand. To the disappointment of safety specialists, those same studies show the majority of hunters have yet to make the mental leap to actually put the thing on.

And as a result, falls from tree stands remain bad news in Wisconsin.

"Falls are the leading cause of injury during the gun-deer hunting seasons. That's the bad news. The good news is falls are preventable," Hunter Education Administrator Jon King says. "Any hunter who uses the tree stand can increase their safety substantially by following a few simple tips."

Two studies and one survey from two states - same result

A 2010 study of Ohio hunters shows the leading cause of injuries during the gun-deer season is a fall from a tree stand. That also was the conclusion of a 2008 Wisconsin study.

"Using a full body harness is your best bet to ensure your safety when using a tree stand," King said. The Tree Stand Manufacturers Association says their studies show 82 percent of the hunters who fall from their stands are not wearing the full-body harnesses.

In Wisconsin a 2003 survey of state hunters found roughly two-thirds who use tree stands own a harness. However, less than one-third actually used it. Another third of the gun-deer hunters did not own a full-body version.

King says the harnesses are easy to use and provide hunters with support to go up and come down from the stands.

Learn more by completing this free 15-minute online course: (exit DNR). More information about tree stand safety is also available on the DNR website.

Here are more steps to stay safe when using your tree stand:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon King, hunter education administrator 608-575-2294; Joanne M. Haas, Office of Communication law enforcement public affairs manager, 608-267-0798



2012 deer hunter wildlife survey begins

MADISON -- The opening of the archery deer season on Sept. 15 marks the beginning of the 2012 Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey. Hunters can find survey instructions, record sightings, and view survey results online at the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey page by searching for "deer hunter wildlife" on the Department of Natural Resources website A tally sheet is also available for times when hunters do not have access to a computer.

"Deer hunters often ask if there is a way they can tell the DNR what they are or are not seeing from their deer stand, this survey provides them with the means to do that" said Jes Rees, DNR wildlife survey technician.

Wildlife officials ask that hunters record all of their hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made during a hunt. The survey period ends January 2013. These observations have provided the DNR with an index to abundance for many wildlife species.

"With the recently released Deer Trustee report recommending more input from the hunting public on herd status, this tool provides the hunter with an excellent way to communicate their sightings," Rees said. "All they need to do is record the date, number of hours, county, deer management unit, weather conditions, and the type and number of animals observed each day of deer hunting. Hunters can also enter their email address along with their observations and I will send them an email summary of their hunting activity at the end of the survey period."

Many other states in the Midwest and around the country use these types of surveys to gather hunter input into deer and other wildlife abundance.

This is the fourth year of the survey and deer hunters are asked to report their field observations of a variety of wildlife species, hunting conditions and hours spent pursuing game. Thousands of observations are reported each year.

The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey overlaps another citizen-participation survey. Operation Deer Watch started Aug. 1 and runs through Sept. 30. The primary objective of Operation Deer Watch is to determine trends in deer reproductive success by reporting does and fawns seen together during the late summer and early fall.

Trail Camera Photos Wanted

The wildlife surveys program is also interested in photographs of rare or endangered species hunters may have captured on their trail cameras. Photos can be emailed to DNR Wildlife Management. This information will help document their existence and location within the state. Trail camera photos can be viewed in our online trail camera gallery (exit DNR).

Questions about the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, accessing the tally sheet, reporting your observation, or the results of the survey, can be referred to Jes Rees at 608-221-6360.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jes Rees at 608-221-6360



State wildlife officials will again be sampling deer for CWD

MADISON - Wisconsin wildlife officials will again be gathering samples from hunter-harvested deer to test for chronic wasting disease in southern and central Wisconsin and in areas around where a deer tested positive for the disease last year in Washburn County in northwestern Wisconsin.

"Our overall goal is to detect trends in prevalence and distribution of the disease." said Brian Glenzinski, a wildlife health specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Glenzinski said the sampling and testing of deer for disease is one of the key components of DNR's disease management strategy. Assessing the extent and distribution is a critical first step in dealing with the disease. DNR's disease surveillance plan focusses on implementing recommendations of the Deer Trustee Report while maintaining a strong scientific approach to monitoring CWD, he said.

"It is crucial we know where the disease is and what it is doing for containment efforts to be effective," he said.

As well an important disease monitoring tool, the sampling is also a service to hunters.

Active surveillance within the CWD - Management Zone relies on hunters voluntarily submitting samples and will be conducted in western Racine and Kenosha, eastern Walworth, western Sauk counties, and all of Richland County. Hunters should check, key word "CWD" for sampling locations. As in years past, veterinary clinics are offering CWD testing services for a fee.

Sampling of adult deer will also take place in parts of Dane and Iowa counties and parts of Rock and Walworth counties, and around Washburn County northwestern Wisconsin where a wild adult doe found on private property just west of Shell Lake in Washburn County tested positive for the disease. The location of this deer was more than 100 miles from the nearest known cases of the disease in either wild or captive deer.

Testing will also continue within an 84 square-mile area that encompasses Devil's Lake State Park "where long-term monitoring of disease patterns is important to understanding the dynamics of this disease," Glenzinski said.

In addition, testing in the area that is being discussed for potential elk range expansion will begin this year, to determine whether or not the disease is present at reasonable confidence levels. This is the first of two years of sampling needed to accomplish those confidence levels.

This year DNR will continue to implement new strategies aimed at detecting changes in the location and trends in prevalence of the disease, Glenzinski said. Additionally, DNR will continue a pilot program that began last year to focus surveillance on adult deer along the outer fringe of the CWD-MZ. If CWD is in an area, adult deer are the ones most likely to have it. Taxidermists will be used to provide testing in three areas: Grant, Juneau/Adams, and Dodge counties.

More information and a link to a map of the 2012 sampling area is available by searching the DNR website for "CWD prevalence."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Glenzinski, Wildlife Health Specialist, Madison: 608-267-2948



More than 20,000 apply for Wisconsin wolf hunting license

MADISON - A total of 20,272 people have submitted applications for the drawing for a gray wolf hunting or trapping license for Wisconsin's first wolf season in more than 60 years. It is scheduled to begin Oct. 15. There were 19,788 applications from Wisconsin residents and 486 from non-residents.

The state Natural Resources Board approved a quota of up to 201wolves that could be harvested during the first season, 85 of which are reserved for Native American Indian tribes within the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources plans to issue 1,160 licenses for the 2012-13 season. Those permits will be awarded by random choice in a drawing that will be held this week. Successful applicants will be notified by letter and then be able to purchase a wolf harvest license for $100 for residents and $500 for nonresidents.

The DNR received nonresident applications from people in 38 other states from Maine to California and Alaska to Texas, with the largest numbers from Illinois (179) and Minnesota (102).

Applicants who are not successful in the drawing will be awarded a preference point toward future drawings.

Starting with the 2013-14 season, one half of available permits will be issued randomly among all permit applications and the second half will be issued through a cumulative preference point drawing.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Peter Anderson last month temporarily blocked wolf hunters from using dogs or training dogs to hunt wolves while he considers the lawsuit. A DNR motion to dismiss the case is scheduled to be heard on Sept. 14.

As a result of this ruling, the Department of Natural Resources is advising people that the use of dogs for tracking and trailing of wolves is not authorized when hunting wolves under a wolf harvesting license. Also, the use of dogs for training to track or trail free ranging wolves is not authorized at this time. As this is a temporary injunction, the injunction on the use of dogs for wolf hunting and training could be lifted at a future date.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Thiede, DNR Land Division administrator, 608266-5833 or Bill Cosh, DNR spokesman, 608-267-2773



Wisconsin's northern and Mississippi River zone duck seasons open Sept. 22

MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the opening of Wisconsin's 2012 duck season in the northern and Mississippi River duck zones on Sept. 22 should find good numbers of ducks, according to state wildlife officials.

"We will see what fall water conditions look like, but there is the potential for Wisconsin waterfowlers to have a really enjoyable hunting season," said Kent Van Horn, migratory game bird ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources.

"Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 57 years reported record high numbers of ducks this spring. However, even with excellent continental breeding indications, local water levels and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall, Van Horn said. "Though many areas are still dry, these conditions have promoted excellent growth of wetland vegetation. This means if water levels rise, migrating waterfowl will find plentiful food on the landscape. Wisconsin is fortunate to have 15,000 lakes and many miles of large rivers that will provide water for fall migrating ducks even during dry conditions."

Many of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin come from birds that breed in the state's wetlands. The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin's fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal, and blue-winged teal, Van Horn said.

The daily bag limit is six ducks in total, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, four scaup, two pintail, and one canvasback. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five to include no more than two hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coot is 15.

The duck hunt in the northern zone opens at 9 a.m. Sept. 22 and continues through Nov. 4 followed by a five-day split (closure) from Nov. 5-9. This Monday through Friday closure to the duck and goose seasons was proposed by hunters during the public involvement process in order to extend the end of the north zone duck season to Nov. to allow for late season hunting, Van Horn said.

"According to harvest data about 90 percent of the duck harvest in the north zone is over by Nov. 1, so the remaining hunters are those that are very passionate about duck hunting and this change came from those hunters. We will see how this season goes and we can decide next year if the hunters would like to continue with this change," he said.

The Mississippi River zone also opens on Sept. 22nd and runs through Sept. 30, followed by a 12-day split, reopening on Oct. 13 and running until Dec. 2. Aside from opening day in each respective zone, hunting hours begin 30 minutes before sunrise. The southern zone duck season will open at 9 a.m. on Sept. 29, run through Oct. 7, and then close and reopen Oct. 13 through Dec. 2

"As always, hunters who do the early legwork - scouting for good wetland conditions and observing what areas birds are using -- will be the ones having the best hunt. Hunter survey data in Wisconsin show that duck hunters who scouted three or more times harvested an average of 14.7 ducks while those who did not scout harvested an average of 4.8 ducks per season," Van Horn said.

Licenses and stamps required include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp and a federal migratory bird stamp. The $15 federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at license vendors for an additional $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail.

Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP), which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchases their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.

State licenses and stamps, permits, and HIP registration are also available through Wisconsin's Online Licensing Center.

Additional information on the waterfowl in Wisconsin is available by searching for "waterfowl" on the DNR website

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR Migratory Game Bird Ecologist - (608) 266-8841 or James Christopoulos, Assistant Migratory Game Bird Ecologist - (608) 261-6458



Game bird brood production up from 2011 levels

MADISON - Mild winter conditions, early spring green up and a warm and dry summer have led to an increase in brood production for pheasants, ruffed grouse and wild turkey according to state wildlife biologists.

"Brood production surveys for these species were conducted during the months of June, July and August as they went about their normal work duties," said Brian Dhuey, Department of Natural Resources wildlife survey coordinator. "These data are still preliminary and may change," adds Dhuey, "but they can be used as an index to production and help in the forecast of fall hunting prospects."

Brood rearing conditions favorable

"A mild winter and an early spring green up meant game bird survival and physical condition should have been good going into the 2012 breeding season," Dhuey said.

"Brood rearing conditions in Wisconsin in 2012 were above average for temperature with much of the state seeing temperatures 2-4 degrees above average for the months of June through August. Precipitation was generally average to below for the northern half of the state and much of the southern half was below to much below average, with some areas in the south receiving little to no rain for extended periods of the brooding rearing season. Early June weather is the most critical for turkey, pheasant and grouse broods as this is when recently-hatched chicks are most susceptible to hypothermia if they get wet. A large rainfall event in the far northwestern part of northern Wisconsin could have affected brood survival, otherwise much of the summer was excellent for brood rearing and survival."

Ruffed Grouse

Statewide, ruffed grouse broods seen per observer hour were up 11 percent compared to 2011 levels. Ruffed Grouse production was up in two of the three regions that compose the primary range for ruffed grouse, central (94 percent), northern (5 percent), and southwestern (-1 percent). Ruffed grouse brood size rose slightly from 4.2 in 2011 to 4.3 young per brood in 2012.

"While production was good this spring, spring breeding grouse numbers were down 25 percent in 2012," said Dhuey. "Grouse production in 2012 was above 2011 levels, but it was still 42 percent below the long-term mean. While some areas of the primary ruffed grouse range will be better than others, it appears that ruffed grouse numbers are on the decline from their cyclic high of the past few years."


The number of pheasant broods seen per observer-hour was up 78 percent in 2012 compared to last year. Pheasant production was up in both the primary (108 percent) and secondary (67 percent) pheasant range from the 2011 levels. Pheasant brood size was down, with an average of 4.0 young per brood in 2012 vs. 4.5 in 2011.

"While pheasant brood numbers rebounded in 2012 from 2011 levels, they were still 39 percent below their long-term average," says Dhuey. "And although brood rearing conditions were improved over the past couple of years, overall pheasant numbers are likely impacted by declining grassland habitat due to losses in conservation reserve program acres and increases in commodity prices throughout the pheasant range".


"Wild turkeys were the real bright spot with a 104 percent increase in the number of broods seen per observer-hour and an increase in the size of the broods seen compared to 2011," says Dhuey.

All 5 DNR regions showed an increase in the observation rate in 2012 from 2011 levels with sizeable gains in northern (151 percent), northeast (77 percent), south central (136 percent), southeast (176 percent), and the west central regions (26 percent). The statewide observation rate was 34 percent above the long-term mean and the 3rd highest since 1987. The average size of a brood seen in 2012 was 4.9 young per brood, up from the 4.5 young per brood seen in 2011.

"It would appear that wild turkeys had a good brood year across much of the state".

All survey results are preliminary and subject to change upon the collection of further data and additional analysis.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey (608) 221-6342 or Scott Walter (608) 267-7861



Sheboygan River cleanup highlighted at bi-national Great Lakes Commission meeting

CLEVELAND, OHIO - The cleanup of the lower Sheboygan River will be in the spotlight this week as scientists, conservationists, public officials and tribal leaders from the United States and Canada gather for the Great Lakes Commission meeting here to discuss the most pressing issues facing the five Great Lakes and to highlight recent successes.

Efforts to remove contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Sheboygan River recently got a big boost with the federal government's announcement that it would target up to $50 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds for dredging and habitat restoration projects in the river. There are 31 U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern and the Sheboygan AOC is one of a few to be targeted for such priority funding and clean-up by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sheboygan River cleanup
A dredging projects in the Sheboygan River received federal funding as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
WDNR Photo

Steve Galarneau, who leads the Department of Natural Resources Office of the Great Lakes, is a speaker at EPA's session on designated Areas of Concern, those "toxic hot spots" along the Great Lakes where severe, historic pollution has degraded habitat and water quality and resulted in levels of environmental contaminants in fish and wildlife that make them unhealthy for people to eat.

Galarneau has been invited to share how Wisconsin partners worked together to place the Sheboygan Area of Concern in a strong position to secure the priority status and funding, which has allowed them to jumpstart a range of projects that when completed, will finish a transformation of the river and harbor area started more than 30 years ago.

"That federal GLRI funding is a game changer for the Sheboygan cleanup," Galarneau says. "The possibility of getting the kind of funding to fully restore the lower Sheboygan River galvanized everybody. Our partners worked hard to do what was needed and overcome obstacles to make it happen."

Some of the partners include the city of Sheboygan, Sheboygan County, EPA, DNR, the state Department of Transportation and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Galarneau hopes Wisconsin can use the same approach to secure federal money for cleanup of other contaminated harbors and rivers along its Great Lakes shorelines. In addition to the Sheboygan River, Wisconsin has four other areas designated in 1987 as Great Lakes Areas of Concern - as part of an international agreement between the U.S. and Canada known as the "Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement," and revised just last week.

The four other Areas of Concern in Wisconsin are: the St. Louis River on Lake Superior; and the Lower Menominee River; Lower Green Bay & Fox River, Sheboygan River; and Milwaukee Estuary on Lake Michigan. Work is underway now at all of those sites.

Sheboygan dredging underway with ultimate goal relaxation of fish consumption advisory

In Sheboygan, some of the projects receiving federal funding will focus on dredging contaminated sediment from the river. Those projects, along with others already underway on the river, will remove more than 400,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the river.

Although originally planned to start earlier in the summer, due to a variety of unanticipated contracting and funding issues, the project was delayed. The contractors plan to work up to 24 hours per day and up to seven days per week until December to complete these projects in 2012, according to Victor Pappas, DNR Lake Michigan field supervisor.

The dredging, and the silt curtains and bubble line erected at the 8th Street Bridge to prevent the downstream movement of contamination during dredging, may affect fishing at that spot this year and upstream but won't affect future fishing. DNR staff have evaluated the potential impacts and believe salmon and trout will still be able to move upstream to the first dam in Kohler, which is a permanent barrier to further movement. Furthermore, there is very little natural reproduction by Great Lakes trout and salmon in Wisconsin's tributaries and the department collects eggs from spawning fish making their runs at three egg collection facilities on the Root and Kewaunee rivers and Strawberry creek.

"These dredging projects are a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to remove contamination in the Sheboygan River and restore the fishery along with recreational use," Pappas says. "The goal is that over time, we can remove the "do not eat" advice for resident fish so anglers can again safely enjoy eating their catch."

In addition to the dredging projects, a multi -faceted habitat project that DNR is also receiving AOC grant funding to improve and re-establish habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species. This work includes seven projects that will restore an island complex, manage invasive plant species, improve in-stream fish habitat, establish native vegetation, stabilize shorelines and restore wetlands.

Altogether, the projects are expected to complete the Sheboygan River's transformation and allow it to ultimately be removed from the federal list of AOCs in the future. Re-vitalization of waterfront areas has occurred, including a 40-acre portion remediated and redeveloped with new restaurants, retail shops and condominiums, a new convention center and hotel-waterpark. Site restoration was achieved in part through DNR Remediation and Redevelopment funds.

More information about the Great Lakes Commission meeting, Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and other activities can be found on DNR's web site by searching for "Great Lakes."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Galarneau (608) 266-1956; Vic Pappas (920) 892-8756; Stacy Hron, DNR, (920) 892-8756 x 3051



DNR water official to chair Great Lakes Commission

MADISON - Wisconsin's top water official has been elected to chair the Great Lakes Commission (exit DNR), the interstate compact agency that promotes the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water and related natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River.

Its members include the eight Great Lakes states with associate member status for the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec.

Ken Johnson, administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources water division, brings to his role as chair more than 30 years of working in -- and leading -- water-related programs for the DNR. He oversees more than 600 professional DNR staff working to provide safe drinking water and protect groundwater, to manage state fish populations and provide fishing opportunities, and to manage surface waters programs across the state.

"Wow! What a great honor it is to be the chair of the GLC," Johnson says. "As a lifelong resident of Wisconsin growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, this is dear to my heart.

"The commission does great work and important work and I look forward to working with other members of the commission. I want to thank the previous chair, Jim Tierney, for his gracious service and hope I can serve as well as he did."

Johnson, a civil and environmental engineer with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, started working for the DNR in 1976 on public and private drinking water system issues. He later reviewed and processed hydrologic and hydraulic analyses of bridges, dams and other water resources projects before leaving DNR in the 1980s to join the private sector as a consulting engineer.

Johnson returned to public service in 1985 and has since held a variety of managerial positions involving water regulation permit, watershed, and most recently, as the supervisor of 100 staff in south central Wisconsin who worked on water-related issues.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Ken Johnson, 608-264-6278



Improvements being made to access roads, parking, and signs on 200 public lands

MADISON - A $5 million investment in access roads, parking lots and new signage will create, or improve outdoor enthusiasts' opportunities to discover, explore and enjoy 200-plus publicly owned state properties -- including wildlife and fishing areas -- encompassing more than 500,000 acres in locations across the Badger state.

In addition, about $2 million will be allocated to expand the number of campground electric sites in state parks.

"The legislature recognized the need to invest in properties the state already owns but has not been able to improve since they were purchased," said Scott Gunderson, executive assistant of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "They designated an additional $7 million in Stewardship bonding to fund these projects in the current state budget."

The projects will be completed in the next two years.

"There are a number of public properties that are not signed so it is easy to miss them," said Steve Miller, director of the DNR facilities management bureau. "They may have limited access due to no roads, rough roads, or no parking lots. This will change with these improvements. We will be improving existing roads, constructing new gravel surfaced roads and gravel surfaced small parking lots so citizens from birders to hikers, from hunters to anglers, can enjoy the lands they own."

Big Foot Beach State Park electrical
New electric pedestals like this one at Big Foot Beach State Park are being installed at 10 state park and forest properties.
WDNR Photo

Four state parks -- Interstate, Big Foot Beach, Kohler-Andre and Roche-A-Cri -- have added electrical pedestals to 56 existing campsites this summer. Another six state properties -- Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Devil's Lake, Peninsula, and Wildcat Mountain state parks and the northern and southern units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest -- will add new or upgraded electrical pedestals to 363 campsites with work beginning this fall. An additional 52 electrical sites will be upgraded from 15 amp service to 50 amp service at various campsites throughout the Wisconsin State Park System. The affected sites will be temporarily unavailable for reservations during construction. Newly electrified sites will be opened for reservations when the installation of new or upgraded electrical pedestals is completed. Campers can sign up to receive updates on the electrification projects by visiting the DNR website and searching for "camp."

"Wisconsin has an amazing variety and wealth of public lands," Miller said. "The goal of this effort is to increase and enhance access to DNR owned lands by targeting high use lands and lands that until now have had poor or limited signage and access."

When finished, Miller says there will be an additional 294 parking areas, another 90 miles of improved or new access roads and 2,300 property and boundary signs to help citizens identify and enjoy public lands. There will also be 471 campsites throughout the state with new or upgraded electrical pedestals.

Gunderson said the improvements will make already special places even better.

"This is a great opportunity to get out and explore," said Gunderson. "These are the public's lands and are there to enjoy."

Sites to be improved were identified by local DNR land management staff through a screening process that whittled down an estimated $12 million in needed improvements to the budgeted $5 million. Where possible, the work will be bid out to local contractors and businesses.

Gunderson feels that efficiencies in the bidding process will provide enough savings over initial estimates to allow additional projects from the "cut" list to be included in the final project tally.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR spokesman, 608-267-2773; Steven Miller, DNR bureau director, 608-266-5782



DNR names two top Land Division field managers

MADISON -- The Department of Natural Resources has announced two new field managers responsible for overseeing its Land Division programs in the northern and northeastern parts of Wisconsin. The Land Division includes the wildlife management, parks and recreations, facilities and lands and endangered resources programs.

Paul Bruggink will be overseeing the Land Division in northern Wisconsin, replacing Bill Smith who recently retired from the agency, and Aaron Buchholtz will be overseeing the Land Division programs in the northeast, filling the position formerly held by Jean Romback-Bartels who is now DNR Northeast Region director.

They will be responsible for direct supervision of the Land and Facilities staff in the field, including property managers, engineers, construction representatives, real estate staff and endangered resources ecologists, according to Kurt Thiede, DNR Land Division Administrator.

"In addition to their supervisory roles they are also key points of integration for the wildlife, parks and endangered resources programs in the field on important agency initiatives that cross program and division boundaries, like master planning, agency enterprise implementation and forest certification," Thiede said.

Bruggink started with the DNR in 1981 as a seasonal park ranger at Harrington Beach State Park and progressed through a number positions within the DNR, including forestry technician, land and forestry team leader, area wildlife biologist, assistant park superintendent, park superintendent, recreation specialist, Northern Region Lands And Facilities team supervisor, and most recently serving as the parks program supervisor in the northeast.

Buchholtz graduated from UW-Stevens Point in 1994 with a degree in Wildlife Management and has been with the DNR since 2001, serving as the wildlife biologist in northern Marinette County in Wausaukee and in Mishicot covering Manitowoc, Kewaunee and Door counties. He previously worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Thiede - 608-266-5833



6,265 acres of hay harvested under emergency haying

MADISON -Wisconsin farmers were able to harvest hay from 6,265 acres of state land under emergency haying provisions the Department of Natural resources put in place earlier this summer as part of the agency's drought relief initiative. The agency issued 286 emergency haying permits and an additional 5 emergency grazing permits for 63 acres for grazing.

The special harvest ended on August 31. This allows time for adequate regrowth of the grass to provide habitat for wildlife and hunting cover to sportsmen and women in the fall.

"Overall, I'd say it was a super-human effort on the part of the many field people that dropped what they were doing to answer phone calls, meet with farmers, and issue permits," said Alan Crossley, DNR public lands wildlife management specialist. "By any measure I think we should deem the effort a success. "

"Farmers really appreciated the hay, couldn't believe it was free, and in many cases property managers were able to achieve some level of needed habitat management on land that at least some years is hard to get to," said Kurt Thiede Division of Lands Administrator. "Win-wins can sometimes be hard to come by. This was clearly one of them."

The last time the DNR issued such permits was during the drought of 1988.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alan Crossley - 608-266-5463


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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