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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 27, 2013

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Wild rice outlook mixed for 2013

MADISON - After three consecutive years of below average wild rice production across the north, the 2013 outlook is not much different. Early reports from aerial surveys indicate mixed results in rice production amongst known rice producing waters.

Some lakes appear to have better than average production, while most others appear to have less rice than historic presence, according to Jason Fleener, a wetlands biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. Overall, harvest is expected to be below the long-term average in 2013, but production appears to be a little better than 2012.

Fleener says wild rice productivity is influenced by several factors including climate, water quality, invasive species, wave action, and water level manipulation caused by humans and beaver. The presence of brown spot, a fungal disease that negatively affects rice production, does not appear to be very prevalent this year according to aerial surveys. This may be attributed to cooler weather during the growing season.

September 1 is often the time one can expect to find ripe rice ready for harvest. However, Fleener says, rice may still be "green" in many areas come September 1 this year. A prolonged winter has resulted in a later growing season and later maturity of the seed.

Wild Rice waters are divided into two separate categories for harvest: date-regulated, and non-date-regulated. A total of 51 date-regulated lakes are only located within the Chippewa Indian Ceded Territory in northern Wisconsin, in off-reservation areas. The exception is Lake Noquebay, a date-regulated lake outside of the Ceded Territory.

Date-regulated lakes will have "opening" harvest dates that are determined jointly by DNR and tribal officials. The season length will run 60 consecutive days on these lakes. All date-regulated lakes will be posted at boat landings at least 24 hours in advance of the opener. Lake openers and a list of date-regulated lakes will also be posted at Wisconsin DNR Service Centers located within the Northern Region, and on the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, wild rice Web page [both links exit DNR] at least 24 hours prior to season openers. Several date-regulated lakes are expected to be closed for the season in 2013 due to absence or lack of wild rice.

All other waters in the state are not date-regulated. Rice harvesters may harvest rice on these waters whenever they feel rice is ready to harvest with the appropriate equipment. State Wildlife managers recommend to harvest rice only when it's ripe. Attempting to harvest rice in a green or immature stage will likely cause damage to the plants, reducing the harvestable crop and seed source needed to generate more rice in future years. Rice is considered ripe when it drops from the plant after a gentle stroke from a wooden flail.

Regulations

All waters, date-regulated and non-date-regulated, may only be harvested between the hours of 10 a.m. and sunset.

Wild rice harvest is only permitted to Wisconsin state residents. Harvesters between the ages of 17-64 must purchase a wild rice license harvest license for $8.25 at any DNR licensing location. Immediate family members of a licensed harvester, living in the same household, may obtain a wild rice identification card for free at a DNR licensing location. Those who wish to sell rice must apply for a wild rice dealers permit from the Wisconsin DNR.

Harvest methods

Rice must be harvested from a canoe or boat that is no longer than 17 feet in length, and no wider than 38 inches. Canoes or boats must be propelled manually by a push-pole or canoe paddle. Wild rice must be harvested using smooth, rounded wooden sticks or rods (flails) no longer than 38 inches. These sticks are used to gently bend the rice stalks and then to gently rake, stroke or tap the seed head until ripened seeds drop. Only a few kernels ripen on any given day with additional rice kernels progressively ripening over an average of three weeks.

Additional details on wild rice can be found by searching for wild rice on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener, DNR Wetland Habitat Biologist, Madison, 608-266-7408

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2014 Wild Turkey, Pheasant and Waterfowl Stamp design contest winners announced

MADISON - Close to 30 pieces of wildlife artwork were on display for the combined judging of the designs to be featured on the 2014 Wisconsin Wild Turkey, Pheasant, and Waterfowl Stamps. The judging took place on Saturday, August 24, at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo. There were 8 entries for the Wild Turkey Stamp, 7 for the Pheasant Stamp, and 13 for the Waterfowl Stamp, all submitted by talented artists from around the state of Wisconsin.

2014 turkey stamp
2014 Wild Turkey Stamp by Virgil Beck of Stevens Point

2014 pheasant stamp
2014 Pheasant Stamp by Caleb Metrich of Lake Tomahawk

2014 waterfowl stamp
2014 Waterfowl Stamp by Caleb Metrich of Lake Tomahawk

A woodland scene of a strutting gobbler, submitted by Virgil Beck of Stevens Point, took the top prize for the 2014 Wisconsin Wild Turkey Stamp design contest.

The winning entry for the 2014 Wisconsin Pheasant Stamp design contest is painting of a pair of pheasants set in a Wisconsin farmland landscape, submitted by Caleb Metrich of Lake Tomahawk.

Metrich also took first place in the 2014 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp design contest with his painting of a swimming wood duck drake. This is the fifth time in the history of the three stamp design contests that the same artist has painted the winning design for both the Pheasant and Waterfowl Stamps.

The judging panel for the three contests included Earl Duckett, president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation; Craig Schlender, president of the Sauk County Chapter of Pheasants Forever; and Jim Gronowski, state chairman of Wisconsin Ducks Unlimited.

2014 Wild Turkey Stamp design contest

Virgil Beck, an artist and naturalist, resides in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He's been painting since 1967, giving him over four decades of experience. Beck began painting at home at the age of 13, later attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earning a degree in Fine Art. He spent a number of years working for the Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles before returning to the woods of Wisconsin.

Beck lists Robert Kuhn as an artist whose work he admires, particularly Kuhn's ability to capture the essence of an animal's movements. Beck used his observations of turkeys at the Marshfield Zoo and at Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point when composing his submission, and advises beginning artists to draw what they see from life as much as possible rather than rely on photographs. He believes it's better to see your subject and make a quick sketch, stating that first-hand experiences tend to stick with you. The amount of effort an artist puts into research will be reflected in their final product.

Beck has had previous success in Wisconsin's wildlife stamp contest, taking first place in the contest for the 1987 Wild Turkey Stamp. He has also won first place for the 1996 and 2002 Wisconsin Great Lakes Salmon & Trout Stamp and the 1999 and 2008 Wisconsin Inland Trout Stamp.

Two artists tied for first runner-up for the 2014 Wild Turkey Stamp contest: Robert R. Wilkins of Kiel and Steven A. Hovel of DeForest. The second runner-up was Robert Leum of Holmen.

Sales of the Wild Turkey Stamp help provide future opportunities for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin. All turkey hunters are required to purchase the $5.25 Wild Turkey Stamp to legally hunt turkeys in Wisconsin. Sales of the Wild Turkey Stamp bring in over three-quarters of a million dollars annually for habitat management and restoration projects, education, research, equipment purchases and the management of the wild turkey program in our state.

2014 Pheasant and Waterfowl Stamp design contests

Caleb Metrich, 30, resides in Lake Tomahawk. He's been painting for as long as he can remember, and virtually all of his skills were self-taught through trial and error and experimenting with various media. Metrich grew up in a home that placed great value on spending time in the outdoors, and one of his favorite activities is hunting with his father; the two of them have travelled across the Midwest in pursuit of turkeys, deer and waterfowl.

Metrich likes to paint what he's observed in nature. In order to gather reference material for his Waterfowl Stamp submission, he used a ghillie suit to sneak up on flocks of wood ducks on the lake behind his parents' house, allowing him to observe these beautiful birds from only 4 feet away. His Pheasant Stamp submission is a composite of several scenes he photographed while traveling through Merrill.

Metrich's advice to beginning painters is to paint what comes naturally - don't try to force it. Being accurate in your depiction of nature is also crucial, and Metrich says he is particularly grateful to his father, a retired taxidermist with years of wildlife knowledge, who provided mounted wildlife specimens to work from as well as helpful critiques.

Metrich previously took first place in the 2012 Wild Turkey Stamp design contest.

For this year's Pheasant Stamp design contest, the first runner-up was Brian Kuether of Greenfield, and the second runner-up was Steven A. Hovel of Deforest.

Sales of the $10 Pheasant Stamp bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the development, management, conservation and maintenance of wild pheasants and their habitat in the state and also help to support the stocking of pen-reared pheasants on Wisconsin's public hunting grounds. A Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants in the state of Wisconsin.

The first runner-up for this year's Waterfowl Stamp contest was John Nemec, Jr. of Peshtigo, and the second runner-up was Craig Fairbert of Ladysmith.

Proceeds from the sale of the $7 Waterfowl Stamp are used for managing, restoring, and protecting habitat in Wisconsin and Canada for waterfowl and other wetland-associated species. Duck and goose hunters are required to purchase the Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp in order to hunt waterfowl in the state.

Please note that an electronic "stamp approval" is printed on the licenses of wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl hunters at the time of purchase. Hunters will not receive an actual stamp unless they request it. DNR service centers have the state stamps available free of charge for hunters with stamp approval. Anyone else interested in collecting the Wisconsin wildlife stamps may purchase one directly from the DNR. For more information, call the DNR Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) or use the online licensing center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist, at (608) 261-8458 or Krista.McGinley@Wisconsin.gov.

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Reduce, reuse and recycle during back to school shopping and moving

MADISON - As summer winds down, many families have already started their back-to-school shopping or are moving their college-aged kids to a new city or apartment. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recycling specialists have extra tips to help you reduce, reuse and recycle more and throw away less.

"We know it's a busy time for students and their families," said DNR Recycling Outreach Coordinator Elisabeth Olson. "But with just a little planning, you can reduce waste and save money."

Olson said the DNR's back-to-school suggestions include:

More information and ideas are available by searching the DNR website for Recycling for all Seasons.

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

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New publications provide advice for proper disposal of medical sharps

MADISON - A new series of publications to help the public properly dispose of medical sharps are available from the Department of Natural Resources.

Medical sharps, such as needles, syringes and lancets, pose an injury risk for anyone who comes into contact with them.

"These new publications will help people safely and properly dispose of medical sharps," said Barb Bickford, DNR medical waste coordinator. "Proper disposal will help protect public health, save money from improper disposal and keep sharps out of our environment."

The publications are available in three different languages, English, Hmong and Spanish by searching for medical sharps on the DNR website.

Safe disposal saves money and lowers injury risk

According to the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, about 9 million syringe users nationwide annually administer at least three billion injections outside of health care facilities.

To reduce public health risks, Wisconsin laws require all residents to manage sharps safely. It is illegal to put sharps in the trash or with recyclables. Sharps must be packaged safely and treated either at a licensed medical waste incinerator or by methods that render the sharps non-infectious, broken and unable to be reused. The best way to ensure the proper management of medical sharps is to take them to a registered sharps collection station. These stations can be found at many pharmacies and clinics statewide.

However, state and local officials say medical sharps are often found in household garbage and recyclables or improperly flushed down the toilet.

"When these needles end up in the solid waste stream, they can injure waste haulers, landfill operators and recycling workers," said Bickford. "When they're flushed down toilets, they may cause problems in plumbing and wastewater treatment plants, or may end up on our beaches."

Bickford noted that needle stick injuries are one of the most common workers compensation injuries in Wisconsin's waste collection industry. Needle stick injuries demand costly testing, may cause emotional stress and increase the risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B.

Some of the suggestions mentioned in the publications include:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Barb Bickford, 608-267-3548

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Consider certified wood for your camping trip this weekend

MADISON -State properties are working hard this season to help everyone do their part and avoid spreading harmful forest insects and diseases.

"Insect pests such as emerald ash borer and gypsy moth and diseases like oak wilt and Dutch elm disease can spread easily by hiding in your firewood bundle and hitching a ride with you to your destination," said Andrea Diss-Torrance, forest health specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Collectively, these invasive species have already killed millions of urban and forest trees in Wisconsin."

State properties that sell firewood have only two types of firewood for purchase:

"This helps to reduce the spread of invasive species to our public lands," said Diss-Torrance.

Although Wisconsin has found many new emerald ash borer attacks this summer, there are still more places in the state without the pest, as far as we know. It is important that everyone do their part to keep it that way for as long as possible.

People who are camping at a state property this holiday should consider buying firewood where they will burn it.

At the very least, all travelers should follow quarantine rules [PDF] (exit DNR) to help protect Wisconsin's trees and to avoid fines. Second homeowners are advised not to move firewood long distances between their properties, to reduce the risk to their trees. The only exception is firewood Certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection because it is free of invasives. Certified wood is free to move around the state and is labeled with a certified number. The current year and one of three treatments will be listed on the label to tell you that the wood has either been seasoned for two years, debarked, or heat treated. A list of certified dealers [PDF] (exit DNR) is available online at emeraldashborer.wi.gov (both links exit DNR).

To help protect the health of public land we all share in Wisconsin, firewood is only allowed to be brought onto state managed properties if it is:

  1. from within 25 miles of the property, AND
  2. from within Wisconsin, AND
  3. from outside an area quarantined for emerald ash borer (unless the property is also in the same or a connected quarantined area).
  4. OR
  5. Certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Most state parks and forests have local firewood available for sale on site or from sellers nearby the property. To check availability, contact the property. Contact information is online. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "parks". Many federal, county and private campgrounds also restrict firewood on their properties. Call for details before you travel.

For more details about firewood in Wisconsin visit dnr.wi.gov and search the keyword "firewood" or call 1-877-303-WOOD (9663).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Robinson Klug, DNR Forest Health Educator, (608) 266-2172 or Andrea Diss-Torrance, DNR Forest Health Specialist, (608) 264-9247

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Silviculture Guidance Team to help oversee forest management recommendations

Forest industry reps think ahead: They see the forest and the trees in state's economy

MADISON -- Representatives from nearly every sector of Wisconsin's job-supporting forest industry will meet in Mellen August 29 to discuss how best to use the latest in science and real life experiences to ensure forests sustain their economic and environmental vitality.

The new Silviculture Guidance Team, a 16-member panel, will provide on-going review and recommendations of forest management strategies. Their work will be incorporated into what the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry calls its Silviculture Handbook. Silviculture is the practice of controlling forest composition, structure and growth to maintain and to enhance the forests' utility for any purpose.

Chief Forester Paul DeLong says Wisconsin's forests are the base of one of the state's most diverse and strongest economic sectors.

"It is imperative we work with our public and private sector partners, including those the forest industry, to sustainably manage this natural resource statewide and to create more jobs," De Long said." Earlier this year, new figures from the 2011 U.S. Census showed Wisconsin's forests were growing jobs to approaching 60,000 statewide in nearly 1,300 businesses."

Silviculture Guidance Team Co-Chair Carmen Hardin, chief of the DNR Forest Management Science Section, calls the Silviculture Guidance Team an invaluable partnership that will foster a unified approach to implement management updates to maintain—and to strengthen - the forests' economic, environment and social benefits.

"Continual improvement in how forests are managed should be expected," Hardin said. "This guidance team is a way to accomplish this - and that's good news for the entire state."

Doug Brown, assistant county forest administrator in Marathon County, who serves as the team's other co-chair representing the Wisconsin County Forest Association's 2.3 million acres, says it is great the department has decided to take a more inclusive approach to reviewing and updating the Silviculture Handbook.

"The Silviculture Handbook establishes what practices are acceptable when managing forests in Wisconsin - whether it's for a publicly-owned county forest like I manage or for a private landowner participating in the Managed Forest Law Program. With the new Silviculture Guidance Team, people who need to use and follow the Handbook will be involved in determining what management practices and considerations are appropriate," Brown said.

The Silviculture Guidance Team includes representatives from: professional loggers, landowners, saw timber industry, paper and pulp industry, researchers, national forests, county forests and conservationists.

The team will be meeting quarterly to assess progress on the Silviculture Handbook and to provide input on other forest management related guidance.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carmen Hardin, Division of Forestry - Forest Management, 608-235-3261, Carmen.Hardin@wisconsin.gov; Joanne Haas, public affairs manager, 608-209-8147, Joanne.Haas@wisconsin.gov.

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Sanitary sewer overflow rules to benefit public health, state waters, property owners

Changes effective Aug. 1 require preventative maintenance and management

MADISON - Measures that build on Wisconsin's progress over the past generation in reducing sanitary sewer overflows to state lakes and rivers are now in effect and are expected to better safeguard public health and the environment while helping communities protect their sizeable investment in wastewater collection and treatment systems, state water quality officials say.

"We are really excited about these rules going into effect for many reasons," says Susan Sylvester, who leads the Department of Natural Resources water quality bureau. "They will help communities preserve their investment in vital infrastructure, better protect public health and Wisconsin lakes and rivers, and help property owners through reducing sewage backups into their homes and other buildings."

Also, importantly, Sylvester says, the rule revisions update Wisconsin's regulations to be more consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory approach regarding sanitary sewerage overflows. "This was EPA's number one concern" in its July 2011 letter identifying 75 issues concerning Wisconsin's statutory and regulatory authority for its wastewater permit program.

The rules, effective Aug. 1 and found in Natural Resources chapters 110, 205, 208 and 210 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, emphasize long-term preventative maintenance and management of sewage collection systems to reduce or eliminate sanitary sewer overflows and the human health and environmental risks they may present, Sylvester says. The changes were developed with help from an advisory group including EPA officials as well as representatives from Wisconsin's local governments and environmental groups.

"The revised rules will help communities identify problems before they become crises," she says.

State and federal law have long made sewage overflows into lakes and rivers illegal and, together with improvements in sewage treatment facilities, these laws have resulted in significant reductions in the number of overflows since the early 1970s in Wisconsin and nationally.

However, overflows have continued to occur both nationally and in Wisconsin. EPA has estimated the annual number of overflows nationwide between 23,000 and 75,000. In Wisconsin in 2013, a year with above-average precipitation in most places, 65 different communities in the state have reported one or more overflows, according to Duane Schuettpelz, the lead DNR staff member who developed the rule changes.

Sanitary sewer overflows most often occur when rainwater or groundwater entering sewer pipes through cracks or joints in the sewage pipes overwhelm the sewerage system. The system releases the excess flow in one of several ways: sewage may back up into basements through building sewers, or untreated or partially treated sewage may be released through manhole covers or at the treatment facility.

Discharges of untreated sewage can make waters unsafe for swimming and other recreational uses, contaminate drinking water supplies drawn from lakes, add nutrients that can fuel excessive algae blooms, and decrease dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.

The revised rules affect 900 municipalities that own and operate sanitary sewage collection systems that are separate from storm water pipes. Milwaukee, the Village of Shorewood in the Milwaukee metropolitan area and Superior have combined sanitary and stormwater sewers and are already required through their permits to establish a management and maintenance program to reduce the number of overflow events.

The revised rules for sanitary sewer overflows specifically prohibit sanitary sewer overflows and create a consistent set of factors DNR will use to determine when and what enforcement will occur if there is noncompliance with this prohibition, Schuettpelz says.

The rule also requires public notification so that swimmers, canoeists and other outdoor enthusiasts are aware of overflows that may present a health risk.

Most importantly, the rules recognize and require in the wastewater discharge permit "common sense" activities that all permittees must do to protect the large monetary investment they have in their sewage collection systems, Schuettpelz says. Previously, such requirements were imposed through an enforcement action after a sanitary sewer overflow violation occurred.

"Many communities already have in place preventative maintenance practices that essentially meet the principles of the new requirements," he says. "These rules level the playing field so that all systems will need to have them.

"Basically, it's the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Public health and our waters will be better protected by this kind of proactive work and it is much more cost effective over the long-run for the systems and their ratepayers."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jack Saltes, 608-264-6045

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Broad incidental take permit and authorization proposed for activities with no or low impact to endangered resources in Wisconsin

MADISON -- A number of activities that have no or low impact on endangered or threatened plants and animals would be covered by a broad incidental take permit and authorization the Department of Natural Resources is proposing to issue for the activities. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.

Activities that are covered under the permit and authorization include things like land acquisitions, wetland delineations, sign installations and utility maintenance activities.

The Department has concluded that the take allowed for under this permit and authorization is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action. The Department has also concluded that the take allowed for under this permit and authorization is not likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival or recovery of the species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part or the habitat that is critical to their existence.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered and threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Permit and Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the species are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040 or Melissa Tumbleson at 608-267-0862. Public comments will be taken through September 26, 2013 and should be sent to Rori Paloski, WI DNR Conservation Biologist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040 or Melissa Tumbleson at 608-267-0862

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 27, 2013




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