NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 3,025 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published April 29, 2014

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Newest DNR data confirms air quality continues to improve

Interactive map helps public view air quality from around the state

MADISON - Wisconsin's air quality continues to improve - that's the latest message coming from the most recent data in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Trends Report.

The April 2014 report provides current monitoring data and an assessment of improving air quality in the state, along with the trends in air quality dating as far back as 1997, depending on the site.

The report is available on the air quality trends page of the DNR website, which includes an interactive map where the user can look at concentrations from sites around the state.

"Wisconsin's air quality has shown significant improvement over the years," said DNR Air Program Director Bart Sponseller. "This report makes air monitoring data more accessible to the public and displays longer term trends."

The report comes on the heels of a recent EPA announcement that Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha counties meet all federal Clean Air standards, representing years of public and private action to reduce pollution emissions.

The updated trends include data from 2012. The summer of 2012 was the hottest on record for Milwaukee and the third hottest summer in Madison. Extreme heat and a lack of rain are prime conditions for ground level ozone formation, and these conditions contributed to increased ozone concentrations statewide, as compared to 2011.

The report also includes draft 2013 ozone data, which is currently under review. When 2013 draft data is included, overall ozone concentrations decrease, reflecting a summer with more normal conditions.

Sponseller noted that, even with the weather challenges from the 2012 summer, air quality continues to show improvement in Wisconsin. Some of the report's key findings:

"These trends demonstrate that Wisconsin's Air Program has been very successful with citizens of Wisconsin in enhancing the state's air quality," said Sponseller. "Wisconsin's Air Program is a national leader in implementing strategies to improve air quality."

Go to the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search for keywords "air quality" to learn more.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gail Good, 608-266-1058

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Open burning hazardous to health, leading cause of wildfires

State officials urge alternatives to burning

MADISON - Options such as recycling and composting can replace open burning of trash and yard debris, which Department of Natural Resource officials caution can be a fire and pollution danger, especially this time of year.

While it is legal to burn some yard waste in certain areas, forestry officials caution that debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin, triggering about 30 percent of the state's wildfires each year.

"Open burning of any material produces a variety of air pollutants," said Brad Wolbert, section chief with the DNR Waste and Materials Management Program. "Children and people with asthma are especially harmed by smoke from burning garbage. If you burn trash, you're affecting your health, your neighbors' health and the environment more than you know."

It's also illegal in the state to burn recyclable materials such as glass, plastic, metal containers and clean paper, as well as agricultural and horticultural plastics such as silage film, haylage bags, bale wrap, woven tarps and nursery pots and trays. If these materials cannot be recycled, officials recommend they go to a landfill or other legal disposal facility, not a burn barrel or pile.

"Every community has a recycling program for plastic, glass and metal containers and paper," Wolbert said. "And for yard debris, composting is the best option."

Composting and recycling are the preferred alternatives to burning - search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "open burning" to find more information. To learn more about ways to handle waste materials, search "waste" on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov. Information on recycling of agricultural pesticide containers is available at www.acrecycle.org (exit DNR).

Burn permits help protect against wildfire

If burning is the only option for yard waste, burning permits may be required to burn yard debris piles or for broadcast burning any time the ground is not completely snow-covered.

In DNR Protection Areas, permit holders are authorized to burn vegetative materials, such as leaves, brush and pine needles. Permits are designed so that people burn safely when and where the risk of wildfire is minimal.

Customers can obtain DNR burning permits online or by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. They may also visit their local ranger station or emergency fire warden to receive permits.

Once an individual has a burning permit, he or she must call or go online after 11 a.m. on the day of the planned burn to check daily fire restrictions.

For more information on burning permits and the current fire danger in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search "fire."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert, 608-264-6286

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National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 3

MADISON - The old saying "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," can be especially true in Wisconsin, and state forestry officials caution that can have devastating consequences during wildfire seasons.

"Our conditions in the spring can go from wet and snowy one day to dry and windy the next," said Jolene Ackerman community wildfire prevention specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "This range in conditions can often leave people confused as to how spring can be prime wildfire season in our state."

Clearing confusion and promoting community-wide projects to reduce wildfire risk is the reason for the first-ever National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (exit DNR), launched by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit National Fire Protection Association dedicated to fire prevention and public safety.

Ackerman said the May 3 national day is to bring awareness to the high fire risk in spring and to teach people how to live compatibly with nature when they live or own property in wildland areas. Homeowners are encouraged to join others throughout the nation to take little actions that will make big changes when it comes to Wisconsin's wildfire season.

Wisconsin's springs are marked by an abundance of dead vegetation that was last year's leaves, pine needles, grass, and food crops. "This dead vegetation cannot hold moisture and once it's dry, it will easily ignite and carry fire," she said.

Only have an hour? Here are some things Ackerman says can easily accomplished with a little time:

Want to give back to your community?

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jolene Ackerman, DNR community fire prevention specialist, (608) 267-7677; Joanne M. Haas Public Affairs Manager, 608-209-8147

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Browning on evergreen trees being reported across Wisconsin this spring

DNR forest health specialists advise a wait-and-see approach before removing

MADISON - People across Wisconsin have been contacting state forestry officials noting they are seeing some unsightly brown on the evergreen trees along roadsides, parks and yards.

The harsh winter created some serious challenges for cone-bearing conifers and other evergreens this year due to salt and winter drying. Todd Lanigan, plant, pest and disease specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, says there a few telltale signs to look for in determining the source of the damage and appropriate next steps.

"Coming through a difficult winter that forced many communities to increase salt use on the roads, we expected to see some effects," Lanigan says. "As the surrounding vegetation starts to 'green up,' the contrast is even more noticeable to homeowners and motorists used to seeing healthy pines, cedars and junipers."

The use of de-icing salt affects vegetation along roadways through runoff and salt spray. As the snow melts and salty runoff accumulates, entire groups of trees or shrubs near the puddles may show off-color needles. Scattered reddish brown streaks and spots typically result from salty slush that has been splashed up by plows and fast-moving traffic.

In both cases, the discolored needles may eventually fall off. Spruce trees tend to be more tolerant of salt spray and runoff than native pines.

Winter injury - also known as winter drying - represents another contributor to the high number of discolored conifers this year. When the ground is frozen for long periods, the trees are unable to replenish moisture in needles exposed to harsh winds and the winter sun.

Is it possible to tell the difference between salt damage and winter drying? Lanigan says if the tree or shrub is green below the snowline, winter drying is likely the culprit. Discolored needles on the south sides of trees and shrubs also indicate winter drying.

Unfortunately, many evergreens are likely suffering from a combination of salt and winter injury this year. But there is hope.

If the buds are not affected, new green growth will soon appear. Some trees and shrubs are able to sustain damage covering up to half of their surface area and still recover.

"Trees are pretty resilient and do have the ability to recover from some injuries," Lanigan says. "Unless they pose a hazard to a structure or vehicle, don't be in a hurry to remove them. You may find they'll surprise you."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Lanigan, plant pest and disease specialist, todd.lanigan@wisconsin.gov; (715) 839-1632; Jennifer Sereno, communications, (608) 770-8084

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Next day camping reservation to be piloted this summer at five Wisconsin State Parks

MADISON -- Beginning May 12, 2014 the Wisconsin State Park System will be running a pilot program on allowing customers to make next day campsite reservation at the following five state parks.

Currently, reservations may be made for camping up to 11 months in advance or as late as two days before the date of occupancy for reservable campsites at state park properties.

Under this pilot program, customers will be able to reserve an available reservable campsite for the next day, according to Dave Benish, state parks camping program manager for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"So on a Thursday, if available, a camper would be able to reserve a site for Friday night and up to 13 additional nights if available. If the pilot project is successful and customers find it helpful, the State Park program plans to add additional campgrounds to this project this summer," Benish said.

Benish says many park campsites are already filling up for the summer camping season, especially on weekends. Through March 2014, advanced camping reservation were up almost 2 percent over the same time last year.

"The next day reservation program will be most beneficial for people to take advantage of camping reservations that are cancelled at the last minute, and to camp for shorter periods that may be available in between reservations for a campsite.

There are two ways to make campsite reservations at Wisconsin State Parks. You may call 888-947-2757 or on the web at wisconsinstateparks.reserveamerica.com.

For more information on Wisconsin State Parks, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword "parks." To find a park location, search for "find a park."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave Benish 608-264-8960 or Paul Holtan, 608-267-7517

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Stick Your Neck out for Wisconsin's Turtles

MADISON - With Wisconsin's 11 turtle species soon starting their journey to higher ground to lay their eggs, state turtle conservation officials are calling on motorists to slow down by wetlands and report all turtle road crossing hot spots to aid conservation measures for the turtles.

"One of the greatest threats to turtles in Wisconsin is road mortality -- too many turtles are killed when they cross roadways to reach upland sites where they lay their eggs," says Andrew Badje, a conservation biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. "Luckily, it's a threat we can correct and proactively fix.

"We're asking for citizens' help in identifying hazardous turtle crossing so we can team up with road maintenance agencies to make these roads safer for turtles, people, and other wildlife."

Citizens can report the hazardous crossings by filling out an online reporting form or by printing and mailing in a form. Both can be accessed through the web pages of the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program (exit DNR), a citizen-based monitoring initiative managed by the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR launched the initiative last year to help conserve turtles. "Turtles all over, including in Wisconsin, are fighting an uphill battle against many threats," Badje says. "In addition to traffic mortality, habitat loss, fragmentation, and alteration are big threats, as well as newly emerging infectious diseases such as ranavirus, which has decimated populations in the Northeastern United States," he says.

Other dangers to turtles include water pollution, overharvesting of wild populations for food and the pet trade, and egg predation by increasing populations of raccoons, coyotes, opossums, and skunks. Collectively, such threats to turtles mean that many fewer females are living to adulthood and contributing to population growth, Badje says.

Read more about the initiative in an article in the April Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, "Wisconsin turtle populations at a crossing; How the public is helping them find a safe path to protection."

Last year, hundreds of citizens responded to the call for help in identifying particularly deadly road crossings for turtles. This included DNR helping dedicated citizen conservationists to incorporate turtle road crossing signs at hazardous corridors in the cities of Oregon and Pell Lake.

"The success of the turtle conservation program is beyond anything that could have been imagined within its first few years," he says. "Turtle conservation in Wisconsin is gaining steam and can be credited to its passionate citizens."

While the group's primary goal is to identify and address hazardous turtle crossings, the initiative, the only citizen-based turtle reporting program in the upper Midwest, is much more than a road crossing database, Badje says.

The initiative also allows volunteers to submit photographs of turtles and report general observations and nesting grounds. DNR incorporates the reports into a statewide turtle database to help identify critical nesting grounds, turtle crossing hot spots, and help refine the understanding of the ranges of all species of turtles within the state.

Tips for helping keep turtles safe on the open road

Late May and into August is when people primarily will see turtles out on the roads. To help reduce traffic mortality of turtles, Badje notes that turtles can normally be found near roads that bisect wetlands, lakes, and rivers from the sand-filled uplands or barrens where females lay their eggs. He encourages motorists and others to help conserve turtles by taking a few simple steps:

"Turtles are widely beloved by people all over the world and they are a critical link in the food chain," Badje says. "In some cases they are keystone species, where all other species in the ecosystem rely on them for some form of survival. So let's all do our part and help keep them around and at healthy levels for future generations to enjoy."

Website, wildlife app good sources for more information

Find more information about Wisconsin's turtles, view videos on all 11 species in Wisconsin, and watch tutorials on how to fill out and submit online reports through the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program website.

Download DNR's free fish and wildlife app and explore its watchable wildlife portion for a simple identification guide to the 11 turtle species. The app also includes a simple identification guide for non-game birds and mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mussels, and dragonflies.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Badje, 608-266-3336; Rori Paloski, 608-264-6040; Tara Bergeson, 608-264-6043

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Great Wisconsin Birdathon takes flight; premier way to donate directly to benefit birds

MADISON - Every day in May is a great day to go birding and now bird lovers can put their passion to work raising money for their feathered friends.

The Great Wisconsin Birdathon www.wibirdathon.org (exit DNR) takes flight May 1 with an ambitious goal of raising $75,000, new ways for young people to get involved, and participants including a 15-year-old Mount Horeb girl who was one of last year's top individual fundraisers and a birder who is leading a walk from Kenosha to Marinette that counts birds along the way to raise money.

"Whether you're a backyard birder, a serious bird watcher or you simply love birds, this is the premier way to directly give money to support birds in Wisconsin," says Ryan Brady, who leads monitoring efforts for the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

"This year, there are more ways than ever to get involved. You can donate directly online to an existing team, bird on your own or start your own team, or join a birding field trip. And new this year, schools and youth groups can join in our Oriole Count to win the chance at great prizes for their school."

During the birdathon, birders spend any portion of a 24-hour period in May observing birds and asking for pledges per species seen. Donations and pledges are tax deductible and are handled simply and securely online. To pledge, form your own team or learn more about the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, visit the website at www.wibirdathon.org (exit DNR).

Last year, 155 birders and 850 pledgers raised $56,000 through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, soaring above the $40,000 goal. They collectively identified 252 species, including a whopping 188 species identified by a southeastern Wisconsin team. Participants back for 2014 include Lydia Martin, a Mount Horeb teenager who raised more than $400 in 2013, and Bill Mueller, who aims to top last year's 246-mile walk across Wisconsin that raised more than $10,000 by leading a walk from Kenosha to Marinette and doubling his pledges.

Read more about Martin and Mueller and learn more about the 2014 Great Wisconsin Birdathon in the April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

Proceeds from the event go to the Bird Protection Fund, which was created in 2007 and is a partnership of DNR, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, WBCI.

WBCI partners and Bird City Wisconsin communities that stage birdathons get to keep half of the money they raise for local bird conservation efforts, with the other half going to the Bird Protection Fund to support statewide priorities including the second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, Bird City Wisconsin, Citizen Science for Birds, Kirtland's warbler monitoring and management, the Important Bird Areas Program, the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative, and the whooping crane reintroduction program.

Baltimore Oriole Count gives youngsters a way to learn and win

New this year, any school, scout, 4-H, home school, or other youth group is welcome to join the Oriole Count, count orioles and compete for prizes. The first 60 teams to register by May 9 will win a free oriole feeder provided by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, says Carl Schwartz, president of WSO, which this year became a partner in the birdathon.

Baltimore oriole
Baltimore oriole
Jack Bartholmai Photo

Schwartz says the oriole count was the inspiration of the late ornithologist Noel Cutright, a longtime, well-known WSO leader.

"Noel had hoped for several years to include within the birdathon an educational piece to reach out to young people to teach them about one of the most numerous Neotropical migrants traveling through Wisconsin," Schwartz says.

"Orioles are a good candidate to bring young people in. Partners in Flight estimates that 470,000 orioles come through Wisconsin every year, and orioles are a good feeder bird. Oranges and grape jelly will bring them right in and the birds are easy to identify."

The school or youth group with the highest oriole count averaged over two days will win one of two $1,100 prizes donated by Eagle Optics: five sets of binoculars and a spotting scope and tripod. A second such set will be awarded to one of the other participating teams through a random drawing.

"We hope that many schools and youth groups will take this opportunity to help young people learn more about orioles and win these bird kits for their school or group," Schwartz says.

Learn more about the Oriole Count on the Wisconsin Birdathon website. www.wibirdathon.org/nrfw/oriolecount (exit DNR).

Field trips yet another way to help support bird conservation

With 62 teams already registered to participate, there are plenty of groups to sponsor through pledging, says Maria Sadowski, communications director for the Natural Resources Foundation.

Another way people can participate in the Birdathon is to spend the day in the field with recognized birding experts at one of Wisconsin's best birding hotspots. "These trips will be a three-quarter speed birdathon, finding as many species as possible, with some bird and natural history education along the way," Sadowski says.

The $87 registration fee includes a $75 tax-deductible donation to support the Bird Protection Fund. Register online through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin's Field Trip Program at WisConservation.org (exit DNR). People must become a member of the foundation to register.

Space is available on these Birding Blitz trips:

Other Special Field Trips

Space is also available on these special birding trips:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Brady, 715-421-9018; Maria Sadowski, Natural Resources Foundation, 608-264-6267; Carl Schwartz, 414-416-3272

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Blue heron nest-cam up and running

HORICON, Wis. - Department of Natural Resources wildlife management staff at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center have set up a nest-cam overlooking the property's great blue heron rookery and front and center is an active heron nest with at least two eggs.

Spring in Wisconsin means that native wildlife are starting to hatch and give birth to their offspring in a seasonal pattern as old as their species. Wildlife naturally seek protected and isolated places where they will be undisturbed and their young will be safe from predators making observation of this annual event difficult.

"This nest camera gives a sneak peak at one of Wisconsin's common wildlife species whose nesting behavior isn't easily observed," said Bret Owsley, DNR's Horicon area wildlife supervisor. "Also, this nest cam is a great educational tool for people who are interested in learning more about the trials and tribulations that a heron experiences while incubating eggs.

"The heron rookery on Horicon reached its pinnacle in the 1970s with an estimated 4,000 birds using the site," continued Owsley. "Over time, a combination of bad weather and Dutch elm disease caused the trees that supported the rookery to decline which resulted in a decrease in the number of tall sturdy trees the birds use for roosts. Wildlife management staff placed artificial nests, near the original location during the winter of 1992-93 consisting of telephone poles and angled slats of wood to bring the colonial nesting birds back. We repaired and added additional structures and took the opportunity to add the nest-cam this year."

Initial problems with providing sufficient bandwidth for a stable high quality video picture have been resolved and wildlife officials invite anyone interested in watching the show to link in. Many viewers have already found the new feature by word of mouth but the signal was frequently interrupted. With those challenges resolved, thanks in large part to work performed by AT&T technicians, the nest cam is ready for all people interested in wildlife around the state to watch the progress.

"We're confident the problems we were having with our signal have been addressed," says Owsley, "and we're ready for business and the stars of the show - the herons - are already at work, incubating eggs. It's really fun to watch and just a start to the improvements that are coming to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center over the next year."

The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between the towns of Horicon and Mayville on Highway 28. In 2015, the center will open a brand new "Explorium" in the lower level. The Explorium will feature interactive museum-quality learning exhibits tracing the human and natural history of the marsh from the time of the last ice age.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, Horicon wildlife educator, 920-387-7893 or Bob Manwell, DNR communications, 608-275-3317

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Gypsy moth aerial spraying to start soon

MADISON—Some Wisconsin residents will see and hear loud, low-flying planes as early as sunrise beginning in late May. Planes will be spraying for gypsy moth caterpillars, invasive and destructive pests that feed on the leaves of many species of trees and shrubs.

Stay updated

Gypsy moth spraying
Residents will see and hear low-flying planes as gypsy moth spraying begins soon.
WDNR Photo

Spray dates and times are weather dependent. People can sign up to receive e-mail notifications about spray plans at gypsymoth.wi.gov (exit DNR). There is also a recorded message about spray plans available by calling the toll-free Gypsy Moth Information Line at 1-800-642-6684. Press menu option 1 for updates.

Spraying is expected to begin in southern Wisconsin in the second half of May and end in northern Wisconsin in August. Maps of the specific spray areas are available online at gypsymoth.wi.gov (exit DNR).

Spraying will be completed by two programs:

Know what to expect

Timing

Spraying depends on favorable weather conditions--calm winds, no precipitation and high humidity. Planes may start spraying as early as 5 a.m. The planes fly very low and loudly over treatment sites and surrounding areas. Planes will remain in the area until the completion of the day's spray plans and as long as weather conditions remain favorable. Spraying may last into the late morning or afternoon.

Spraying could occur any day of the week, including weekends.

Spray Treatments

Most sites will be sprayed with Foray, which contains Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk). Btk is a naturally-occurring soil bacteria that kills gypsy moth caterpillars when they ingest it.

Btk is not toxic to people, bees, pets or other animals. However, some people with severe allergies may wish to stay indoors during nearby spray activities or avoid areas to be sprayed on the day that spraying occurs.

The formulation of this bacterial insecticide used by the state's cooperative gypsy moth program is listed with the Organic Materials Review Institute as acceptable for use in certified organic food production.

In areas with endangered species of butterflies and moths, a gypsy moth-specific product called 'Gypchek' will be used instead of Btk.

The Slow the Spread program will also spray a mating disruptor to additional sites in western Wisconsin between mid-June and mid-August. The pheromone in the mating disruptor makes it difficult for male moths to find female moths in low, isolated populations, preventing reproduction.

For more information about the programs or gypsy moths, visit the website gypsymoth.wi.gov (exit DNR) Or, call the toll-free Gypsy Moth Line at 1-800-642-MOTH (1-800-642-6684) to hear a recording of the programs' current spray plans or talk to staff.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Robinson Klug, DNR 608-266-2172 or Rick Hummell, DATCP 608-224-4591

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Tough new trees in trials

Six Wisconsin communities work with DNR, UW-Madison and McKay Nursery to test new maple and alder trees

MADISON -- Residents in six Wisconsin communities have more reason than most to welcome spring this year.

They're participating in a study coordinated by the Department of Natural Resources that could improve the curb appeal of urban parks and tree-lined streets nationwide.

Using 16 new varieties of hybrid maple and alder trees developed by Brent McCown, an emeritus professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and William Hoch, an associate professor of plant sciences at Montana State University, experts from McKay Nursery Co. have established plantings in Eau Claire, Lodi, Menasha, Port Edwards, West Allis and West Bend. Dick Rideout, urban forestry partnership specialist for DNR, says the first big test of the trees will come this spring when they begin to leaf out and grow in their urban settings.

"This will be the first telltale sign of which trees are going to be able to make it through a particularly nasty winter," Rideout says. "It will be an important step in evaluating these trees, which have been carefully bred for superior pest resistance, ornamental beauty and survival characteristics."

The cooperative research effort aims to increase the number of tree varieties available to forestry professionals and citizens eager to improve the green infrastructure of their communities. Through the years, attacks from Dutch elm disease, oak wilt and the emerald ash borer have reinforced the need for tree diversity in Wisconsin's urban areas to minimize catastrophic loss of tree canopy.

In addition to improving the variety of trees available for urban planting, the hybrid program may help overcome some limitations with existing trees. For example, Rideout says, Norway maples have been used extensively on residential street terraces thanks to their attractive appearance and ability to withstand soil compaction and pollution. However, they can become invasive due to their heavy seed production and their deep shade limits homeowners' ability to grow grass underneath.

While officials involved in the experimental plantings expect some signs of success in the weeks to come, this spring's leaf-out represents only the midpoint in research that started in McCown's university lab more than 10 years ago.

"Trees are some of the most difficult plants to work with in breeding programs because of the complex genetics, long periods of time involved and gaps in our knowledge about the inheritance of certain desired traits," McCown says. "The cooperative nature of this research project is critical because it leverages our most recent genetic advances in the lab with agency, business and community resources that permit well-monitored trials to take place in specific urban environments."

Together, McCown and Hoch, who is also an honorary associate fellow in horticulture at UW-Madison, created the hybrids using two maple species and two alder species.

The maples were developed from the Norway and the Shantung, which has better landscape characteristics and doesn't show invasive qualities. The two alder species included the black alder, which is urban tolerant but invasive and pest prone, and the Japanese alder, which is pest resistant. The hybrid alders are sterile and will not display invasive tendencies.

The crosses were all performed "naturally" using pollinations that produced seed. Variations of the cross-bred trees were planted at McKay Nursery in Waterloo under the supervision of Thomas Buechel, head of production.

Sixteen of the most promising young plants were then selected and more than 200 clones of these selections were planted in the participating communities. When they were planted last year, the 16 varieties were already displaying some notable differences in size and canopy shape.

West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow says participating in the trials offers an opportunity for his community and others to continue improving the look of city streets and recreational areas. While the best performing hybrids from the experiment may not be available in commercial quantities for another five to seven years, Sadownikow looks to the example set by previous community leaders in their long-term commitment to the urban landscape.

"With extensive terrace plantings, 18 parks and a beloved riverwalk, healthy trees play a central role in West Bend's community identity," Sadownikow says. "We applaud the collaborative spirit among state agencies, the university, the private sector and Wisconsin communities that is making this visionary work possible. We're pleased to be a part of the project and excited about what it will mean for the future."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Dick Rideout, 608-267-0843, richard.rideout@wi.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084.

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Program offers compensation for crop, livestock producers experiencing wildlife damage

MADISON -- Crop or livestock owners who have experienced or anticipate any agricultural damage caused by white-tailed deer, elk, black bear, wild turkeys, cougar or Canada geese may be eligible for damage compensation by enrolling in the Wisconsin Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program.

"The program's primary goal is to provide damage abatement assistance to limit losses, but it also provides partial compensation for losses in exchange for producers allowing public hunting access for the species causing damage," said Brad Koele, the Department of Natural Resources wildlife damage specialist who oversees the program.

Enrollment in the program is free of charge and several enrollment options are available.

In order for farmers to be eligible for damage compensation they must provide hunting access to the public for the species they are enrolled under during the regular open hunting season(s) for that species. Public hunting access requirement may apply to property a farmer owns or leases.

Producers experiencing problems with one or more of these species should contact the wildlife damage technician for their county. A list of county contacts can be found on the DNR website. For more information, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "WDACP county contacts." Agriculture damages caused by animals not listed above are not covered under the program.

A list of properties enrolled in the program and open to the public for hunting can also be found by searching the DNR website for dnr.wi.gov for keywords "Damage Permit Hunting."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Koele - 715-356-5211 or Dan Hirchert 608-267-7974

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Wisconsin residents can learn and benefit during International Composting Awareness Week

MADISON - Many Wisconsin residents perform the routine task of taking out the garbage once a week, but state environmental officials say that almost one-quarter of what is thrown out isn't really garbage at all.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, nearly 25 percent of the trash produced in households weekly is organic material that could be composted. That's why the agency is inviting people all over the state to learn and compost more during International Composting Awareness Week May 5-11.

"Composting has a lot of benefits and can be done in a variety of easy and problem-free ways," said Ann Coakley, Waste and Materials Management director for the DNR. "This is a worldwide event, and it's a great opportunity for folks to start composting at home or work, or learn more about the benefits of composting."

Organic materials that have traditionally been considered waste - grass clippings, leaves, vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, for example - can sidestep the trash can and become a household staple in the garden or backyard.

"The end result of composting is a nutrient-rich, soil-like material that can be used in many ways," said Brad Wolbert, Recycling and Solid Waste chief for the DNR. "People can sprinkle compost into their lawn soil or use it in their gardens. It can also be used as mulch around trees and shrubs. The benefits are just great."

Wolbert noted that compost improves the health of lawns and gardens by providing organic material and nutrients to soil. Home composting ultimately saves people money by reducing the need for fertilizers, and municipalities spend fewer tax dollars collecting trash and yard material. Compost also saves water, since it helps soil hold moisture and reduces water runoff.

Since state law bans yard material from Wisconsin landfills, composting is also an environmentally-friendly option for managing leaves, branches, grass clippings and other yard trimmings.

Home composting isn't complicated, and the DNR website has helpful resources for people to learn more and get started. Here are some quick tips to remember.

To find more information about composting, go to the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "compost." You can also get a free copy of the DNR's poster titled "Garbage to Gardens: Compost Grows" by contacting Elisabeth Olson at 608-264-9258 or elisabeth.olson@wisconsin.gov.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert, 608-264-6286

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Changes in Wisconsin snowmobile laws designed to boost sport's heritage, strengthen state trails

MADISON -- Two changes in Wisconsin snowmobile laws in recent weeks promise to enhance enjoyment of the sport's heritage and encourage support for the voluntary trail maintenance efforts that make Wisconsin a standout winter recreation destination.

Cathy Burrow, snowmobile grant manager with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, says snowmobile enthusiasts provided important support for 2013 Wisconsin Act 233, a law designed to spur interest in Wisconsin's rich snowmobile history and promote tourism by encouraging owners to showcase their vintage sleds. Modern snowmobiles trace their roots to the Motor Toboggan invented by Carl Eliason in Vilas County in 1924 and today, antique snowmobiles fill numerous sheds and storage rooms around the state.

Burrow says Act 233 expands on a previous law that enabled owners of snowmobiles with a model year of 1966 or older to register as an antique. The new law expands the definition of antique to include all snowmobiles 35 years and older.

It also provides incentives for collectors to register their sleds 35 years and older by establishing an initial registration fee of $20 and a renewal fee of $5 every two years. Under this new structure, owners will receive a distinctive antique registration certificate and decals and will be able to participate in special rallies and trail rides organized by Wisconsin clubs without purchasing a separate trail pass.

"Antique snowmobile shows are growing in popularity and we believe the expanded historic designation will highlight the unique role snowmobiles have played in recreation as well as our economy through the years," Burrow says. "Our vintage enthusiasts probably won't be taking their older models for long trail rides, but with the expanded designation, we do anticipate seeing more of the machines out of storage and back on the snow from time to time."

By encouraging more collectors to register their vintage snowmobiles, enthusiasts also hope to generate additional revenue for trail development and maintenance - a goal shared by supporters of 2013 Wisconsin Act 142. Burrow says this law establishes a new trail fee system that includes opportunities for club members to purchase discounted passes.

Under Act 142, which goes into effect on July 1, 2015, snowmobile registration will cost $30 and will be extended to three years from the current two years. Meanwhile, all snowmobiles operating on public trails will now be required to display a trail pass.

To encourage enthusiasts to become involved in local clubs and help with trail maintenance, members who belong to both a club and the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs will be able to purchase an annual trail pass for $10. Snowmobile owners who don't hold memberships in these groups will pay $30 for the required trail pass. Non-resident trail passes will increase from $35 to $50 per year.

Burrow says the new fee structure recognizes the important role volunteer members of snowmobile clubs play in maintaining the state's 25,000 miles of snowmobile trails.

"Volunteers provide, maintain and keep trails open. Without volunteers, the state's snowmobile trail resources would be far more limited," she says. "Revenue generated from the sale of the new trail passes will go into the state snowmobile program's segregated fund. It's our hope this effort will establish a consistent source of dedicated funds so that trails can be properly maintained over time."

Dave Newman, president of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs, says clubs statewide are preparing for implementation of the new laws and anticipate renewed support for trail initiatives in the years to come.

"We are pleased to be able to work with our members, affiliated clubs and the DNR to keep snowmobile trails safe and accessible," Newman says. "We appreciate the effort by legislators, the governor and the DNR to seek ideas from key stakeholder groups that enabled development of these important new laws."

For more information on snowmobiling in Wisconsin, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword "snowmobile."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Cathy Burrow, snowmobile grants manager, 608-267-0494, catherine.burrow@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, jennifer.sereno@wisconsin.gov, 608-770-8084.

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3M Prairie du Chien welcomed into Green Tier

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. - 3M Prairie du Chien was formally welcomed into the state's Green Tier program at a flag raising celebration event at their facility Tuesday, April 29.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials congratulated 3M for its commitment to environmental protection during the celebration, which included staff and management from the facility, community representatives, and 3M Corporate officials. Green Tier recognizes and rewards companies who are committed to going above and beyond compliance to achieve superior environmental performance.

"We are pleased that 3M Prairie du Chien is part of Green Tier," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Through the flexibilities afforded through our Tier 2 contract we look forward to efficiencies that will benefit both 3M Prairie du Chien and the environment."

3M Prairie du Chien is one of 3M's key manufacturing and distribution hubs, with more than 550 employees producing products for numerous 3M businesses. The facility is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The facility has an Environmental Management System in place to effectively manage environmental impacts, operate more efficiently, minimize waste, and reduce pollution. In addition, 3M Corporation has established 2015 Sustainability Goals, which set five year goals of reducing volatile air emissions and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, and improving energy efficiency. 3M Prairie du Chien is currently meeting all Sustainability 2015 goals, has consistently achieved Platinum Energy status, and is continually working to reduce its environmental footprint.

3M Company has been a participant in innovative, environmental performance-based programs with DNR since 2002 when 3M Menomonie became one of only seven participants in DNR's Environmental Cooperation Pilot Program, and more recently when 3M Cumberland was accepted into Green Tier as a Tier 1 participant. At the corporate level 3M has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year-Sustained Excellence Award for its comprehensive worldwide energy conservation efforts. No other company has achieved this distinction as frequently as 3M.

Tier 2 participants negotiate customized environmental contracts with the DNR. These flexible agreements enable significant environmental improvements and support both government efficiency and business competitiveness. Part of the Tier 2 contract between 3M Prairie du Chien and DNR is a combined construction and operation permit that allows flexibility in installing and/or modifying specified equipment and operations. It covers the entire facility and requires only a three-day notice to the DNR. This flexibility is granted in exchange for superior environmental performance.

As part of this superior environmental performance, 3M Prairie du Chien has agreed to a cap for volatile organic compound emissions that is more than six times lower than what it was previously. In addition, the company will maintain an environmental management system, maintain an interested persons group, conduct annual compliance audits, commit to sustainability goals, and continue developing internal 3M environmental stewardship goals.

"We live and work in a very scenic area, and we value the beauty of the rivers and bluffs," said Tom Harris, Plant Manager of 3M Prairie du Chien. "Our Energy Team has implemented projects to improve energy efficiency, and our Sustainability Team continues to identify new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The plant Green Team focuses on volunteerism and other projects, such as Adopt-a-Highway, to make a positive difference in the community. Acceptance into Green Tier allows us to collaborate closely with the DNR, the local community, and other interested parties. We thought it fitting to plan our recognition event very close to Earth Day. We're very proud of our environmental sustainability track record and are committed to future improvements to lessen our footprint."

More details about 3M Praire du Chien can be found at solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/PrairieduChien/Plant (exit DNR).

More information about Green Tier and 3M Praire du Chien's participation is available by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "Green Tier."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kimberly Ake, DNR, 608-267-6743; or Tom Harris, 3M Plant Manager, 608-326-2466

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 29, 2014




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