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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published March 18, 2014

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New Facebook contest generates excitement for Wisconsin State Parks

MADISON - Sixteen of Wisconsin's lesser known and used state parks properties are ready to go head-to-head in the first ever "Wisconsin State Park Treasures" contest. Up for grabs are bragging rights for the winning state park and a prize package for one lucky winner.

Wis. State Parks facebook contest

Beginning Wednesday, March 19, the public will have an opportunity to vote for one of the parks in the contest on the Department of Natural Resources Facebook page facebook.com/WIDNR. Parks selected for the contest represent different geographical regions of the state and are ones people may not be as familiar with as some of Wisconsin's highly visited parks.

"The concept is similar to a basketball tournament bracket with state parks facing off against each other," said Trish Nitschke, DNR social media coordinator.

Parks with the most votes by the end of each voting period move on in the competition until only one park remains. Everyone who votes is entered in a random drawing.

"The first round of voting runs March 19-25 with the 'Green 16' teams. March 26-April 1 will be the 'Great 8' teams. We will be down to the 'Fabulous 4' teams April 2-4 and the final round will be held April 5-7," Nitschke said.

The winning park will be announced on April 8, and one person will be randomly selected to win a prize package. That package consists of a $50 Wisconsin state park campsite gift certificate, donated by Active Network, Inc., a 2014 resident annual state park sticker, a 2014 annual trail pass, and a campfire cookbook, all donated by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.

There is no cost to enter the contest, but entrants must "like" the Wisconsin DNR Facebook page to enter. People can vote once a day during each day of the contest.

To learn more about Wisconsin state parks properties, search the DNR website for keyword "parks."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Trish Nitschke, DNR social media coordinator, 920-360-3252. or Paul Holtan, Wisconsin State Parks public affairs manager, 608-267-7517

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DNR State Nursery Program gets new name, continues advocacy for tree planting

MADISON - In an ongoing effort to protect and sustainably manage Wisconsin's forests, the Department of Natural Resources is planning changes to increase efficiencies in the state tree nursery program and better reflect its broad spectrum of statewide reforestation duties.

The State Nursery Program, established in 1911, is being renamed the Reforestation Program, to reflect that the program provides multiple services in addition to seedling production, according to Chief State Forester Paul DeLong.

"We have a strong reforestation monitoring program that assesses factors influencing plantation survival rates. Our staff provide a wealth of technical information to landowners interested in improving their lands through tree planting. We have a number of research projects underway and maintain an important education and outreach focus," DeLong said.

The Reforestation Program will merge seedling production into one nursery within the coming year, though the specific location is yet to be determined. There are currently nursery facilities located at Boscobel, Wisconsin Rapids, and Hayward, though Hayward no longer produces seedlings.

DeLong said that consolidating the production at either the Boscobel or Wisconsin Rapids facility will allow for more cost-effective production and availability of high quality native trees and shrubs to meet demand for conservation plantings from public and private landowners. The state produces stock to ensure that an adequate supply of native trees are available to reforest Wisconsin, home to the nation's largest forest products industry and a vibrant forest-based recreation economy.

"Our long-standing Arbor Day free seedling program for all fourth grade students in the state will be maintained," DeLong says.

As part of the consolidation effort, the DNR will release a Request for Proposals this spring for non-DNR groups interested in leasing portions of one or more of the state's nursery properties for reforestation and conservation purposes. DNR expects to maintain offices, storage buildings, and other critical functions at these properties under any potential leasing agreement.

"Our responsibilities are to complement the private sector's production and to work together to ensure the state's forests are healthy, strong and sustained for generations to come. Changing landowner objectives and product preferences, economic influences and lack of strong federal cost-share programs have resulted in fewer trees being distributed from the state nursery facilities in recent years," DeLong said. "Given the important economic, environmental and social benefits all Wisconsinites derive from our forests, it is important that we continue to promote reforestation in the Badger State," DeLong added.

Lease proposals will be evaluated by a team of DNR and external parties based on pre-established criteria to determine whether they meet department needs. The evaluation team will develop recommendations on whether to pursue proposals, if any. This step is expected to be completed by late summer with leasing started potentially as early as this fall.

"In the public's interest we want to ensure the use of these state properties is maximized," DeLong said.

DeLong says the department is committed to work in concert with private nurseries, landowners and resource related businesses and organizations to advocate for healthy and vibrant forests for the future with tree planting being one avenue.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carmen Hardin, forestry science section chief, 608-267-3139 - office, 608-235-3261 - cell;

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Deer herd status meetings and annual spring fish and game hearings combined in 2014

MADISON -- Planning for the 2014 deer hunting season is underway and wildlife biologists with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources invite anyone interested in discussing Wisconsin's deer herd to attend deer herd status meetings.

In 2014, these meetings will be held in conjunction with DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress' annual spring fish and game hearings on Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties.

DNR wildlife staff schedule deer herd status meetings annually and will once again seek public input on a variety of deer-related issues. Herd status meetings provide an early opportunity for hunters and other interested individuals to discuss the current status of the deer herd and ask other deer management questions.

Local wildlife biologists will present information about new deer hunting rules and regulations that were recently adopted as part of the deer trustee report's two-year management review. Wildlife biologists will attend each meeting to listen to ideas and observations from the public and discuss possible strategies for managing Wisconsin's deer herd.

"We annually rely on hunter input to help inform our decisions, especially as they relate to antlerless permit levels," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist.

"With all the changes as to how we approach deer management now, plus a tough winter and the impacts it will have on the herd, we hope that by holding the meeting jointly with the spring hearings, we will see an increase in public participation."

The spring fish and game hearings present an opportunity for anyone interested in natural resources management to share their input through non-binding vote and testimony to the DNR, State Natural Resources Board and the Conservation Congress on proposed hunting and fishing rule changes and advisory questions.

Those unable to attend a local meeting are encouraged to provide their personal input using an online herd status summary and survey, which will be active from March 25 to April 18. To participate, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "Deer Hunter Forum." Comments and survey results will be compiled and provided to the wildlife biologist responsible for each county before final permit levels are set for the 2014 deer season.

To find a meeting location [PDF] search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "spring hearings."

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

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Spring snowmelt and rain can contaminate private wells

MADISON -- As spring approaches, warming temperatures, snow melt, residual frozen ground and rain events all create conditions that can affect private wells and drinking water.

"Now is the time of year for well owners to watch for signs of flooding and to notice any change in the color, smell or taste of their drinking water," said Liesa Lehmann, private water section chief for the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR drinking water staff advises well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water to assume their wells are contaminated and to take the following steps:

Flood waters and runoff contain bacteria and other contaminants that can affect water supplies and cause water-borne illness. Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination. Even without obvious signs of flooding, a well can become contaminated.

"Disinfection and sampling is best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer," said Lehmann.

Any water supply system that has been submerged by flood waters should be pumped out once the floodwater recedes, then thoroughly disinfected and tested to determine that the water is safe.

Well owners are encouraged to test their wells annually for bacteria and nitrates, to check for problems and ensure the water is safe to drink. More information on bacteriological contamination of drinking water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installers and labs certified to analyze water samples is available by searching for keyword " wells" on the DNR website.

For individuals who receive their drinking water from a public water supply, these systems are designed and operated to keep out contaminants. Anyone with concerns about the safety of their community's drinking water, contact your public water supplier.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liesa Lehmann, DNR private water section chief, 608-267-7649 OR Tom Puchalski, DNR private water policy coordinator, 608-264-6139

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To help prevent oak wilt, don't prune oaks April through July

MADISON - To protect oak trees and help prevent oak wilt, the Department of Natural Resources advises people with oak trees on their property not to prune them from April through July. Spring and early summer pruning makes oak trees vulnerable to oak wilt, a fatal fungal disease of oaks.

oak wilt
Oak trees infected with oak wilt.
DNR Photo by Kyoko Scanlon

In fact, homeowners should take special care and avoid wounding oaks in any way from April through July. Any action that provides an opening into the tree, such as carving initials into the tree, accidentally cutting exposed roots with a lawn mower, or attaching a birdfeeder or clothes line, could provide an opportunity for the oak wilt fungus to invade and establish itself in the tree.

"Pruning deciduous trees in general should be avoided in the spring, as this is the time when tree buds and leaves are growing and food reserves are low," according to Don Kissinger, a DNR urban forester.

Builders and developers also need to be very careful, as many oak wilt infections occur through inadvertent damage during the construction process.

While using tree paint or a wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruning cuts or wounded surfaces on most trees, oaks are an exception from April through July. An immediate light painting of wounds on oak trees is recommended during this time to help protect against the spread of oak wilt by beetles. "Just 15 minutes could be enough time for the beetles to land on a fresh wound and infect your tree," said Kyoko Scanlon, DNR's statewide forest pathologist.

While the risk of spreading oak wilt is low after July, homeowners should avoid pruning or wounding oaks until November, to be on the safe side. Check with your municipality to find out if they have their own oak wilt ordinances that you should follow as well.

Oak wilt is found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Bayfield, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Price, Sheboygan, Taylor and Washburn counties. The disease was confirmed in Rusk County for the first time in 2013. .

More information about oak wilt and other forest pests is available on the Wisconsin DNR website. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search the words "oak wilt" or "forest health." Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from your community forester, a University of Wisconsin-Extension agent (exit DNR), or DNR urban forestry coordinators.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Kyoko Scanlon (Fitchburg) 608.275-3275, Don Kissinger (Wausau) 715.359-5793 or Brian Schwingle (Merrill) 715.536-0889.

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Volunteer to listen for frog calls to aid the annual frog and toad survey

MADISON - Learn to tell a ribbit from a croak and help conserve Wisconsin frogs and toads by listening for their calls this spring to help track their population numbers and trends.

The Department of Natural Resources is now recruiting volunteers for the statewide Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey, one of the nation's oldest and longest running survey for amphibians.

"People often wonder how they can help conserve frogs because they have fond memories of catching frogs in their childhood," says Andrew Badje, a DNR conservation biologist.

"One great way to help is to join the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey this spring. We're looking for night-loving volunteers who want to listen for frog calls in wetland areas to help us assess how frog populations are doing in Wisconsin.

"It's a fun family event, a way to learn the breeding calls of all the species and a new adventure to enjoy," he says.

Wisconsin has 11 frog species and one toad species, all of which have their own unique breeding calls that echo throughout the state's massive network of wetlands. Volunteers participating in the survey spend one to three hours stopping at 10 locations a night in each of three periods: early spring, late spring and summer. Listening during the three periods helps assure volunteers are surveying frogs during the peak calling windows for each of the 11 frogs and one toad species. Volunteers record the relative abundance of different species' calls and information about the weather conditions at the time.

Look for open routes on the Wisconsin Frog and Toad website (exit DNR) and watch a video about what volunteers do.

Frog and toad populations worldwide have drastically declined in recent decades as a result of pesticides, herbicides and habitat fragmentation. Wetland loss and emerging diseases including the chytrid fungus have taken their toll as well. Wisconsin started organizing volunteers in 1981 for the surveys in response to known and suspected declines in several Wisconsin species, particularly northern leopard frogs, Blanchard's cricket frogs, pickerel frogs and bullfrogs.

"The information volunteers collect helps us determine the status, distribution, and long-term population trends of Wisconsin's frogs and toads," Badje says.

"When volunteers report their survey findings, they have taken proactive steps to catch declines before species levels become too low and subsequently more expensive to manage," he says.

Hop on these other frog survey options

Other frog survey options are available if all routes for the Wisconsin Frog and Toad survey are filled in a particular area or for people who would rather survey a wetland from the comfort of their porch or a park bench at a favorite wetland nearby, Badje says.

A related DNR phenology study is underway to help benefit future conservation work by allowing more insight on the adaptation strategies of frogs. Volunteers select one wetland, lake, or stream of their choice and listen one to seven times a week, for a 5-minute interval. The volunteers record frog calls and weather conditions throughout the frog and toad calling season.

People more interested in simply increasing their knowledge about frogs and toads are invited to visit the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey website (exit DNR) to view interactive maps showing trends for specific species, watch videos of all the frogs and toads in Wisconsin, and to test their breeding call identification skills by taking a challenging quiz!

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SIGN UP FOR THE WISCONSIN FROG & TOAD SURVEY CONTACT: Andrew Badje, 608-266-3336, WFTS@wisconsin.gov; Tara Bergeson, 608-264-6043; Rori Paloski, 608- 264-6040

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University Bookstore's Digital Storefront provides new opportunity to acquire Wisconsin Public Access Lands Atlas

MADISON - The Public Access Lands Atlas of Wisconsin, recently released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is now available for purchase through The University Book Store. The atlas highlights the significant increase in public access to Wisconsin lands made possible through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, as well as other lands open to the public for outdoor recreation.

Public Lands Atlas of Wisconsin

The University Book Store's digital storefront provides a web-based option for those interested in purchasing a Public Access Lands Atlas of Wisconsin. The original atlas, with 441 maps, two indexes and a glossary is available for $89.95. Separate atlases for each of Wisconsin's 72 counties are also available for $24.95. Lastly, a DVD with more than 450 pages of public lands access data is available for $5.95.

A mail order form [PDF] is available also on the University Book Store's website (exit DNR) for people who would like to purchasare also available e the atlas by check. People should not send cash or credit card information with a mail order form.

To place an order by phone using a credit card, call: 1-800-993-2665 EXT 5929. In order to simplify the purchasing process, be sure to mention the item number (099127660) in your call.

For more general information, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword "atlas." To order the Public Access Lands Atlas via DNR's website, simply click the "buy" button. You can also download and print the maps from your home computer.

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Images for the cover of the Public Access Lands of Wisconsin and of one of the maps are available by contacting Sawyer Briel, communications specialist, at 608-261-0751

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ann Runyard, 608-267-7471

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Last Revised: Tuesday, March 18, 2014




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