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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 23, 2013

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Public hearings set on changes to statewide shoreland zoning standards

MADISON - Proposed changes to minimum statewide shoreland zoning standards aimed at providing more flexibility for property owners and making the standards easier for counties to implement are the topic of public hearings in August. People also may file comments electronically or by U.S. mail through Sept. 5.

Since Wisconsin revised the minimum statewide shoreland zoning standards in 2009, some counties expressed concerns that the revisions would be administratively difficult to implement and enforce, according to Russ Rasmussen, deputy administrator for the Department of Natural Resources Water Division.

To respond to those concerns, DNR convened a stakeholder group and developed proposed changes that answered the concerns while attempting to meet the standards' original intent of preserving and restoring natural shoreline plants and limiting hard surfaces near the water to help protect water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and provide natural scenic beauty.

"We think the stakeholder group has helped us achieve a balance between answering the concerns of some counties and providing more flexibility for property owners while continuing to protect clean water and habitat," Rasmussen said.

Specifically, the changes propose greater flexibility for properties along developed shorelines. Under the current rules, properties within 300 feet of any lake, river or stream face limits on the amount of roofs, pavement, and other hard or "impervious" surfaces. Under DNR's proposed changes, base limits on impervious services would remain at 15 percent in most places statewide, but could be up to 40 percent for residences, and up to 60 percent for commercial, industrial or business land, within those urbanized areas where the shoreline is highly developed.

Property owners can seek a permit for projects that would add impervious surfaces to their land, or seek a variance. The proposed changes would raise the levels at which such permits or variances are required in urbanized areas and allow more flexibility for properties where the impervious surfaces are draining away from the lake or to a storm-water system designed to treat the runoff.

The proposed changes also allow for more expansion of homes built before the late 1960s, when the statewide minimum shoreland standards were originally set and established that structures needed to be set back 75 feet from the water's edge.

Under the proposed changes, property owners of existing structures closer to the water than the longtime state standards would be allowed to expand their structures beyond the 75 foot setback in any direction. The current rule limits people to expanding vertically in the same footprint.

There are three ways for people to weigh in on the proposed changes - testify at public hearings, file comments electronically, or provide them by U.S. mail.

Public hearings are set in five communities in August, with all hearings starting at 2 p.m. with a brief presentation and lasting until 6 p.m.

People may also send comments on proposed permanent natural resources rules over the internet at through the DNR website or through the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website (exit DNR). Written comments can be sent by U.S. mail to Bureau of Watershed Management P.O. Box 7921 Madison, WI 53707 or by email to DNRNR115COMMENTS@wisconsin.gov. For more information on the shoreland zoning program search the DNR website for "shoreland."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Russ Rasmussen - 608-267-7651

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Successful calving year good for state's growing elk herd

CLAM LAKE, Wis. -- Despite a very late spring and hordes of biting insects, more than 250 hardy volunteers joined Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists to search the forests near Clam Lake for elk calves during May and June. This effort revealed that the year has started out exceptionally well for Wisconsin's growing elk herd.

Forty-five potentially pregnant cows were monitored this spring. From them, 35 to37 new calves were expected to join the herd this spring. Of the calves that were born, a total of 23 were found by volunteers and fitted with tracking collars that will provide future information about their survival. At least five additional calves have since been seen and not captured.

"Generally, late springs are tough on Wisconsin elk calves. But this year was different." said Laine Stowell, DNR elk biologist. "For the most part the elk found this spring were in great shape."

Stowell says there were two particularly encouraging characteristics of the 2013 elk calving season.

Of significant importance is that for the first time, more females were observed born than males which will help with future growth of the herd, according to Stowell.

Also of note is that no newborn calves have been lost to predation to date. Black bears are the most likely predator during their first six weeks of life. Within a week or two after giving birth, cows group together with other cows to provide added protection to newborn calves against predators.

"This is the type of calving year we always hope for," Stowell said. "A few more like this and we'll really see some significant herd growth."

More good news for Wisconsin's elk herd came recently with the signing of the state budget where authority was given to DNR to bring in additional wild elk to boost the Clam Lake herd and start a second wild herd in the Black River Falls area of Jackson County. Both plans have seen significant public support and financial backing from partners outside of the DNR. As a result, more elk may be arriving from a donor state starting in 2015.

For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "elk."

CONTACTS: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589; Laine Stowell, DNR elk biologist, 715-634-9658, ext. 3527

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Deadline to apply for wolf season permit is Aug. 1

MADISON -- Interested wolf hunters and trappers are reminded that Aug. 1 is the deadline to apply for a 2013 wolf season permit.

The permit application fee is $10 and applications can be purchased from authorized license agents, over the Internet through the Department of Natural Resources Online Licensing Center or toll free by phone at 1-877-945-4236.

The department has maintained the 10-to-1 license-to-quota ratio for the 2013 season. The season quota is set at 275, though the amount of wolves harvestable by state trappers and hunters may be adjusted dependent on state response to tribal declarations.

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.

Successful applicants will be notified by letter, likely in mid to late August. Applicants who are not successful in the drawing will be awarded a preference point toward future drawings.

The 2013 wolf season starts Oct. 15 and will run in each of six zones until the zone is closed by the DNR or the last day of February, whichever occurs first.

For more information and season regulations, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wolf."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave MacFarland, 715-365-8917

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Continental waterfowl surveys show healthy duck populations

MADISON - With high continental total duck and wetland numbers, state waterfowl biologists expect a 60-day duck season similar to recent years but with the possibility of bag limit changes for certain species.

This information comes after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released continental duck numbers in the Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report [PDF] [exit DNR] on July 12.

"This continental survey information is an essential piece in determining Wisconsin's waterfowl season frameworks," said Kent Van Horn, migratory game bird ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The information we are seeing is promising for the upcoming season."

The 2013 North American total duck population estimate was 45.6 million, which is the second highest on record and 33 percent above the long-term average. The 2012 estimate was the highest estimate on record and 6 percent above 2013.

Wetland numbers across the survey area were up from last year and 35 percent above the long-term average.

Mallard numbers were estimated at 10.4 million, similar to last year and 36 percent above the long-term average. Most other species estimates were above or at the long-term average.

"With high mallard numbers and good wetland conditions, we are confident there will be a 60-day duck season," said Van Horn. "However, hunters should be aware of potential bag limit changes for canvasback and scaup."

"While canvasback and scaup make up a relatively small percentage of the overall Wisconsin harvest, these species are important to many duck hunters," said Van Horn. "We may see changes to their daily bag limits in 2013."

Breeding canvasbacks were estimated at 787,000, similar to 2012 counts and 37 percent above the long-term average. This may allow for an increase to a two canvasback daily bag.

Scaup estimates were at 4.2 million, which was 20 percent below 2012 and 17 percent below the long-term average. This is similar to most recent years. The scaup harvest strategy is expected to call for a return to a two bird daily bag limit from last year's four bird bag.

The Canada geese that breed in northern Ontario, and known as the Mississippi Valley Population, make up about 60 percent of Wisconsin's regular season goose harvest. These geese had a late start to the breeding season, but surveys indicated good production and low nest predation. Breeding estimates for 2013 were at 319,693. This is up 16 percent from last year but 10 percent below the long-term average after several prior years with lower recruitment.

Wisconsin DNR staff are currently in discussions at the Mississippi Flyway Council meeting and will have more information in time for the early August public waterfowl meetings and hearings [PDF]. For more information on waterfowl hunting, search the DNR website for "waterfowl."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841; James Christopoulos, DNR assistant migratory game bird ecologist 608-261-6458

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State grants available to develop a model urban forest in your community

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Application materials for this grant program are not yet available. This news release will be re-issued on August 6 when materials become available. We regret the error.

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Hunting for Sustainability: A course for novice hunters now open for enrollment

MADISON - People who like to eat good food while supporting the environment and learning something about their state can register for a Hunting for Sustainability course being offered this fall.

"Natural resources conservation, sustainability and hunting naturally fit hand in hand," says Keith Warnke, Department of Natural Resources hunting and shooting sports coordinator, who created the course. Since its launch in 2012, the course has grown in popularity and more sections are expected to be added.

"Hunting is an integral part of the fabric of Wisconsin life and a great source for locally produced food," Warnke says.

The Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Madison College is offering at least two continuing education courses that aim to show how hunting plays into conservation and healthy living. Students will learn hunting skills, ethics, tools and techniques from experienced hunters. And, students may have the opportunity to participate in a mentored-deer or -pheasant hunting experience.

Be a healthy eater; learn from experienced hunters

Warnke says the course's objective is to reach adults who have never had a chance to hunt to experience one of the state's traditions. "There are barriers in knowledge and equipment needed to get started if you weren't raised a hunter. This course is an opportunity for adults to get started with guidance from experienced hunters."

The program is the result of a few pilot events aimed at recruiting adult hunters - also known as Learn to Hunt events. Learn to Hunt events have proven popular with kids and in particular with the children of hunters. "But when we offer them to adults, interest went through the roof,"

Warnke says. "In particular, young adults have jumped at the opportunity. So we realize there is a demand to learn to hunt and last year offered this course to 20 people. This we are expanding and hope to have even more courses coming soon."

Telephone registration is available through Madison College at (608) 246-6210. The Madison College fall 2013 course schedule [pdf] (exit DNR; class on page 14) is available on the Madison College website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - 608-576-5243; Joanne M. Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement public information officer, 608-267-0798.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 23, 2013




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