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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published December 30, 2014

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Thrills on the line as ice fishing season ramps up

Madison lakes provide fishing opportunites in all seasons.Madison lakes provide fishing opportunites in all seasons.

DNR again offering Winter Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 17-18

MADISON -- Whether you prefer a high-tech, low-tech or no-tech approach, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can help you hook into some fun this ice fishing season.

If you haven't visited the aisles of your favorite sporting goods retailer lately, you'll be amazed by the array of underwater cameras, sonar fish finders, portable ice shelters and high-torque augers available for ice fishing enthusiasts. With participation in the sport growing - some 590,700 state residents now take part, up from 479,900 in 2000 according to the most recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment - it's no wonder the gear options continue to expand.

"There's a lot of innovative equipment out there that makes ice fishing more comfortable, particularly in extreme winter conditions," says Justine Hasz, DNR section chief for fisheries services. "But all you really need for fun during the hard water fishing season is a pole, a bucket and some bait. And a fishing license, of course. I actually go for the low-tech approach myself because it means you don't have to haul as much out on the sled. "

In addition, Hasz notes, anyone who would like to give ice fishing a try can pursue a completely no-tech option by borrowing equipment through DNR's tackle loan program during the third annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend on January 17 and 18. Ice fishing gear is available at 19 loaner site, eight of which are at state parks with fishing access. Augers are in short supply, however, so you may have to make friends with someone who can drill you a hole once you get out there. Call ahead to verify equipment is available, with numbers listed on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov by searching "fishing equipment for loan."

While you can fish without a license or Great Lakes salmon stamp on all Wisconsin waters during the Free Fishing Weekend event, state park entrance stickers are required and other fishing rules still apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish anglers can keep. Theresa Stabo, Wisconsin's angler education director, said the event offers a great opportunity for families to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin's waters without a boat.

Ice Fishing
Free Ice Fishing weekend is a great opportunities to introduce families to ice fishing.
WDNR Photo

"Free Fishing Weekend provides a great introduction to ice fishing and we hope to lure in families as well as young adults who enjoy the outdoors and would like to give it a try," Stabo says. "Whether you are after consistent action with panfish or something bigger like walleye or northern pike, it's quite a thrill to see what's on the end of your line when you haul it up through the ice."

At the moment, DNR fisheries experts are reporting strong activity in the northern part of the state including Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior as well as lakes in Burnett, Iron, Marathon, Portage Sawyer, Shawano and Washburn counties. Max Wolter, DNR fisheries biologist in Sawyer County, reports walleye and northern pike have been biting consistently in 5 to 15 feet of water.

Al Niebur, fisheries biologist in Shawano and Waupaca Counties, reports good action on some of the shallower lakes or impoundments where anglers are catching bluegill, crappie, perch, bass and northern pike.

"You don't need a lot of fancy gear to fish these waters - simple jig poles for panfish and a few tip ups for pike or bass," Niebur says.

In the southern part of the state, Hasz notes, lack of consistent ice means anglers are eager to get out and enjoy a sport that is part of Wisconsin's fishing heritage. "We also hope to see lots of new faces giving it a try during the Winter Free Fishing Weekend," she says.

Groups encouraged to host Free Fishing Weekend events

Stabo encourages fishing groups, local chambers of commerce, youth group leaders and others to consider hosting a Free Fishing Weekend event.

"We really hope that event organizers will pitch their events to adults who have never had the opportunity to ice fish and to families who want to learn together. Every weekend is Free Fishing Weekend for kids - they just need someone to take them," she says.

Several events are already scheduled on Saturday, January 17 at:

To host an event, fill out an electronic form with details so DNR can help publicize activities that are free and open to the public. In addition to making equipment available at the DNR tackle loaner sites, the department can supply limited quantities of age appropriate materials about ice fishing, fish populations and fishing in general. The event planning form is available on DNR's Free Fishing Weekend web page. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search "Free Fishing Weekend."

Learn more about ice fishing at online chat Jan. 15

Join DNR ice fishing experts for a live online chat set for Tuesday, Jan. 15 from noon to 1 p.m. Get the latest on the 2014-15 ice fishing season, the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend and ask questions about Wisconsin fish populations.

Participate live by visiting dnr.wi.gov and look for the box on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts." Or, enter via DNR's Facebook page by clicking the "Cover it Live Chat" box at the top. The online chats are archived and available for viewing after they are held.

Enjoying your catch

With ice fishing, the fun doesn't stop once you've landed your catch. Some of Wisconsin's most frequently caught fish during the winter months - including panfish and walleye - are also some of the tastiest.

Candy Schrank, an environmental toxicologist who coordinates the fish consumption advice issued by DNR with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, encourages ice anglers to check on the current guidance. An online search tool allows anglers to use a drop down menu to select the county and lake or river they are fishing to bring up consumption advice for fish species on that water. An advice booklet, videos and other materials are also available on the "Eat Your Catch" pages of the DNR website.

Ice safety information available

This winter's unpredictable weather means all winter sports enthusiasts including anglers should exercise care while out on the ice. A variety of tips to help assess ice conditions can be found on DNR's ice safety page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Justine Hasz, fisheries services section chief, 715-896-9558, justine.hasz@wisconsin.gov, Theresa Stabo, DNR angler education director, 608-266-2272, theresa.stabo@wisconsin.gov; Candy Schrank, 608-267-7614, candy.schrank@wisconsin.gov

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More than 30 candlelight events scheduled at Wisconsin parks, forests and trails

Candlelight ski events are at many DNR parks in winter.Candlelight ski events are at many DNR parks in winter.

MADISON - If Mother Nature cooperates, there will be more than 30 candlelight events at Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and nature centers this winter.

Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight have become some of the most popular winter events at state park properties, with some events attracting more than a thousand visitors. Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others are just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Following some early cold and snowy weather, a mild December has much of Wisconsin moving into January with limited snow on the ground. Many of the scheduled events will proceed as hikes if there is not enough snow for skiing or snowshoeing, but some could be cancelled -- especially if conditions are icy - so it is always best to call ahead and confirm an event will be held.

Candlelight events kick of Jan. 3, 2015 with ski, hikes or snowshoes scheduled for Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks. Both parks plan to hold hikes if there is not snow for skiing or snowshoeing. Events run through mid-February.

People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keywords "get outdoors" and clicking on the "type" button and then checking only the "candlelight" box under listed activities. For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords "find a park."

Many of the events held throughout the winter include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Blue Mound State Park Candlelight ski, hike or snowshoe - Ski one trail, hike or snowshoe another! Ski 1 or 2 mile groomed candlelit loops and/ or snowshoe or hike 3/4 mile candlelit loop. Guided hikes at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. by a park naturalist. If there is not enough snow for skiing, there will be a 1-mile candlelit trail for hiking. Leashed pets allowed on the hike/snowshoe loop only. Sorry, no pets on ski trails. Stay warm in the Friends Shelter or by the bonfire! Free hot drinks, marshmallows and roasting sticks provided by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. Brats, chili, hot dogs and baked goods for sale by "Kathy's Kause" fundraiser for the M.S. Society. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 608-437-5711

Mirror Lake State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoes - An easy 1 mile trail lit for skiers and another easy 1 mile trail lit skiers, hikers & snowshoers. The Friends of Mirror Lake will have the bonfires roaring and refreshments for sale for a fundraiser for the park. Meet at the Winter Recreation Area (a.k.a. Beach/picnic area). 6-8 p.m. 608-254-2333

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wildcat Mountain State Park Candlelight Ski cancelled due to lack of snow. 608-337-4775

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe - Easy 2 mile loop with shortcuts available. Heated Trecker Lodge warming shelter with wood burning fireplace, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, popcorn, desert items, bonfire, charcoal grill for those who wish to picnic and lighted ice skating pond (TBD based on ice conditions). Meet at the Homestead Hollow parking lot. 5:30-9 p.m. 262-646-3025

Copper Culture State Park Candlelight Hike - Rescheduled to February 28.

Kohler-Andrae State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike cancelled. 920-451-4080

Lake Kegonsa State Park Candlelight Ski - Rescheduled to February 14. 6-9 p.m. 608-873-9695

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center 5th Annual Horicon Candlelight Hike/Snowshoe - Hiking and snowshoeing by candlelight, a roaring bonfire, roasted marshmallows and warm refreshments. The Education Center will be open for people to warm up, view the 20 minute "Horicon Marsh Story," visit the gift shop, or have the kids do a fun craft to bring home! The Northern Cross Science Foundation astronomers will be on site to help you view the night sky through telescopes or to talk about the stars if it is cloudy. Members of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club will be on the trail conducting short owl talks and calling for owls. Learn about Wisconsin's mammals on the short "Family Loop" trail! Warm beverages and light snacks will be available inside the center as well as a bake sale. Hot chocolate will also be available outside in the new picnic shelter. Snowshoes will be available to the public on a first come first serve basis at no charge. Snowshoers may have to wait until a pair is turned in. There must be at least 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground to loan out snowshoes. Leashed pets are allowed on the trails but not in the building. Admission to the event is free; however, please consider bringing a non-perishable food item or hats/gloves/mittens for our food drive and mitten campaign to be donated to local schools and local food pantries. A winter themed basket will also be raffled off to help support the Friends group. The event is Sponsored and hosted by the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. 6-9 p.m. 920-387-7890

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hartman Creek State Park Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike and Snowshoe Event - Candles will alight 1.3 miles of the Pope Lake ski trail and 1 mile of the upper and lower dike trail of for hikers and snowshoers. The friends of Hartman Creek will again provide free cookies and treats along with coffee, hot chocolate and cider at the park's enclosed (Hartman Lake) shelter. Ski and snowshoe rentals will be available at the event. 5-8 p.m. 715-258-2372

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit Candlelight Ski & Hike - The purple loop at the Nordic Trailhead will be a lighted winter wonderland. Cozy up by the fire or warm up inside the warming shelter. 6-9 p.m. 262-594-6200

Governor Dodge State Park 16th Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe - Ski, walk, or snowshoe a trail lit with glowing candlelight. Warm up by the bonfire after enjoying the trail. Hot beverages will be available. Weather and snow conditions determine trail location. Please, no pets. Sponsored by the Friends of Governor Dodge. 6-9 p.m. 608-935-2315

Friday, January 30, 2015

Red Cedar State Trail Annual Candlelight Ski Event - Activities start at Depot Visitor Center area, off highway 29, west side of Menomonie. Trail fee is waived for Friday night ski; warming fire, prize drawing and hot chocolate available. 6-9 p.m. 715-232-1242

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lake Wissota State Park Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe/Hike - Lighted ski, snowshoe and walking trails will be available as well as refreshments. Call 715-967-2800 to reserve a pair of snowshoes for this event. Event sponsored by Friends of Lake Wissota State Park. 5-8 p.m. 715-967-2800

Whitefish Dunes State Park Winter Candlelight Event - Ski, hike or snowshoe candlelight trails at the park. Ski among the forested dunes for 1.5 miles. Hike or snowshoe a 1.5 mile loop. Warm up in the shelter building with hot beverage and fresh popcorn. Visit the nature center for delicious baked goods, new exhibits or purchase a book. Limited number of snowshoes will be available (first-come-first serve basis). Sponsored by the Friends of Whitefish Dunes. 5-8 p.m. 920-823-2400

Big Foot Beach State Park Candlelight Hike & Owl program - Enjoy an evening hike, snowshoe, or ski along a 0.9 mile trail lit by the flickering light of candles. Also, there will be an owl program with Naturalist Christee Reince starting at 6 p.m. There will be a bonfire and S'more kits will be available for purchase. Meet at the Shelter. 6-8 p.m. 262-248-2528

Black River State Forest Candlelight Ski - A 1.5 mile ski trail and a 1 mile snowshoe/hike trail will be lit with candle luminaries. Warm up around a large bonfire or in the heated shelter. Hot chocolate and hot dogs will be available for purchase. Meet at the Smrekar shelter located 4 miles east of Millston off County Road O. Sponsored by the Black River Forest Trail Foundation. 6-9 p.m. 715-284-4103

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Peninsula State Park Candlelight Ski or Hike - Ski or hike a 1-mile candlelit trail through forest and meadow. Warming fire with refreshments provided at the shelter. Pets are not allowed at the event. Enter at Highland Road., 1 mile north of Fish Creek at Hwy. 42 and County Road A. Park in Lot 5. Event will be cancelled if weather is severe. 5:30-8 p.m. 920-868-3258

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit Candlelight Ski/Hike - Cross-country ski or hike in the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit by candlelight. The trail is perfect for novice skiers with no steep hills or sharp turns. The Zillmer shelter building will be lit and heated. Join fellow hikers and skiers at the bonfire for hot drinks and snacks provided by the Friends of the Kettle Moraine. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 920-533-8322

Blue Mound State Park Candlelight ski, snowshoe or hike - Ski 1 or 2 mile groomed candlelit loops and/ or snowshoe or hike 3/4 mile candlelit loop. Guided hikes at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. by a park naturalist. Leashed pets allowed on the hike/snowshoe loop only. Stay warm in the Friends Shelter or by the bonfire! Free hot drinks, marshmallows and roasting sticks provided by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. Brats, chili, hot dogs and baked goods for sale by "Kathy's Kause" fundraiser for the M.S. Society.5:30-8:30 p.m.

High Cliff State Park Candlelight Ski/Hike - The Forest Management Trail is torch-lit for skiers and hikers alike. Stop by the bonfire to warm up along the trail and visit the Friends of High Cliff concessions stand for some hot beverages and snacks. Pets not allowed for this event. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 920-989-1106

Mirror Lake State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoes - An easy 1-mile trail lit for skiers and another easy 1-mile trail lit skiers, hikers & snowshoers. The Friends of Mirror Lake will have the bonfires roaring and refreshments for sale for a fundraiser for the park. Winter Recreation Area (a.k.a. Beach/picnic area). 6-8 p.m. 608-254-2333

Harrington Beach State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike - Tiki torch lit hike around Quarry lake. Skis, hiking or snowshoes allowed. Food and Beverages will be offered by the Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. 6-9 p.m. 262-285-3015

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit - Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe Event - Easy 2-mile loop with shortcuts available. Heated Trecker Lodge warming shelter with wood burning fireplace, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, popcorn, desert items, bonfire, charcoal grill for those who wish to picnic and lighted ice skating pond (TBD based on ice conditions). Meet at the Homestead Hollow parking lot. 6-9 p.m. 262-646-3025

Flambeau River State Forest 23rd Annual Candlelight Ski - A 1.8-kilometer loop of trail will be groomed, tracked and lit with more than 600 candles. The trail is wide enough for diagonal striders and skate skiers and winds through the heart of the forest. Hiking and snowshoeing are also permitted during this event. Picnic tables and a large barbecue grill will be available near the trail head for persons who wish to cook their food, and hot dogs, chili and spiced tea will be provided. Large warming fires will also be built and maintained throughout the night 6-9 p.m. 715-332-5271

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lake Kegonsa State Park Candlelight Ski - Approximately 2 miles of trail will be lit with hundreds of glowing luminaries. Warm up by the bonfire and enjoy refreshments sold by the Lake Kegonsa State Park Friends Group. This a ski event only. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are prohibited on groomed cross country ski trails. This event is weather and snow conditions permitting. 6-9 p.m. 608-873-9695

Rib Mountain State Park Snowshoe Walks - Start your hike from the Friends' Concession Building. Some snowshoes will be available to borrow but we suggest you bring your own or rented snowshoes; donations to cover costs are welcome. There will be hot chocolate and a campfire. Parking is limited, so please consider carpooling if possible. Sponsored by the Friends of Rib Mountain. 5-7 p.m. 715-842-2522

Newport State Park Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe Event - Ski, hike, or snowshoe an easy 1.2 mile trail lit by homemade candles. Bonfire, refreshments and lit fireplace and grill will greet participants at the end of the trail. If you'd like to volunteer for the event contact the park office. This event is Sponsored by the Newport Wilderness Society.5:30-8:30 p.m. 920-854-2500

Willow River State Park Candlelight Ski - Approximately 2 mile of lit ski trails, 1/2 mile lit hiking trail, bonfire and refreshments. 6-8:30 p.m. 715-386-5931

Interstate State Park Valentine's Day Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe - Hundreds of candles will be lit to guide skiers, snowshoers and hikers on separate trails. If snow cover permits, cross-country ski on the Skyline Ski Trail (intermediate level) or snowshoe on the Ojibwa Trail. Both trails begin at the Ice Age Center. There will be hiking opportunities no matter the snow conditions. Beginning at the Camp Interstate Shelter, hikers can enjoy a candlelit walk beside the St. Croix River. There will be warming fires at the trailheads. At the Ice Age Center listen to live music provided by The Geezers while enjoying food and refreshments served by the Friends of Interstate Park. 6-9 p.m. 715-483-3747

Richard Bong State Recreation Area Return to Romance Candlelight Walk - Candlelit walk, fine homemade desserts, warm drinks, a fire and live music. Please pre-register and pre-pay by calling 262-878-5601. Fee is $5/adult and $1/child. Meet at the Visitor Center. Don't wait, this program fills quickly! 6-7:30 p.m. for families; 7:30-9 p.m. for adults only. 262-878-5601

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit 26th Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike - More than 300 luminaries to guide skiers, snowshoes and hikers along the two 0.75 mile loops of trail. The Northern Cross Science Foundation will be viewing the winter night ski through telescopes. Enjoy a bonfire and hot chocolate after your hike. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Pike Lake. Meet at the beach. 6-9 p.m. 262-670-3400

Kohler-Andrae State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike - Hike, ski or snow shoe the 2-mile, torch lit trail. Warm up with refreshments at the park shelter building. No sleds or pets allowed. 6-9 p.m. 920-451-4080

Peshtigo River State Forest Candlelight Ski and Hike - Skiers will be able to ski on an easy 2-mile trail that offers both classical and skating styles. Non-skiers can try an easy 1-mile hike along the Peshtigo River. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be available for everyone. The location for the ski/hike will be at the Spring Rapids trailhead, 5 miles west from Crivitz on County Road "W" to Kirby Lake Ln. 6:30-8:30 p.m. 715-757-3965

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Governor Thompson State Park Candlelight Ski & Hike - The park and trails will be lit by candle luminaries and accented with ice sculptures. Skiers can take an easy 1-mile loop candlelit trail groomed for both classic (diagonal striding) and skate skiing as it weaves through the woods. Non-skiers are welcome to hike another 1-mile candlelit trail with scenic views over Woods Lake. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are not allowed on the ski trail, but are welcome on the hiking trail. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be available for everyone in the Woods Lake Shelter. 6-9 p.m. 715-757-3979

Devil's Lake State Park Candlelight Snowshoe - Self-guided snowshoe (depending on snow) or hike through the park. Warm up by the campfire and make a s'more. Bring your snowshoes or borrow a pair from the park - there are lots of sizes to fit everyone in your family. Make sure you dress appropriately; the event will happen rain, snow or shine. 6-9 p.m. 608-356-8301

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Copper Culture State Park Candlelight Hike - Candlelit hike along the Oconto River. Hikers will follow a looped trail through the woods and along the river banks. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be provided at the shelter building. The event is free, but donations are appreciated. 6-8 p.m. 715-757-3979

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Holtan, state parks, forest, trails and recreation public affairs manager, 608-235-2126

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A look back at natural resources issues, highlights of 2014

MADISON - From new County Deer Advisory Committees and new frameworks for the deer season to successful facebook contests focusing on Wisconsin's state park system properties, here is a look back at the natural resources issues and highlights of 2014.

2014

January
DNR receives exploratory drilling application from Gogebic Taconite
MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources has received an exploration license application from Gogebic Taconite, LLC, for activities related to the Penokee/Gogebic deposit located in Ashland and Iron counties. The company is proposing to drill fifteen exploratory drillholes at the site.

Natural Resources Board approves rules to implement Deer Trustee Report for 2014 season
MADISON - The Natural Resources Board approved today emergency rules to begin implementing Deer Trustee Report recommendations on the ground, authorizing a new deer program and regulations that will be in place prior to the 2014 deer hunting season.

February
Fisheries director reels in retirement after 32 years serving state's anglers; Staggs led fisheries management program since 1997
The man who has led Wisconsin's fisheries management program for the past 17 years has announced his retirement this spring, capping 32 years of public service devoted to expanding and improving fishing opportunities in Wisconsin.

Hunters register 4,633 birds in 2013 fall wild turkey hunt; spring permit levels set
MADISON -- Wisconsin wild turkey hunters registered a total of 4,633 birds during the fall 2013 wild turkey season, a decrease of 34 percent from the 7,054 turkeys registered during the 2012 season. Success rates also decreased, from 12.9 percent in 2012 to 7.1 percent during the 2013 season.

Wisconsin State Park System provides key economic, natural resource benefits
MADISON -- Wisconsin's state parks, outdoor recreation areas, forests and trails serve as important drivers of local economic vitality, according to a recent report that estimates that total spending by Wisconsin state park properties visitors is more than $1 billion a year. The report also found that the State Park System conserves important environmental resource areas that are public legacies.

March
Spring turkey permit levels reduced to address hunter concerns over winter losses
MADISON - Remaining over-the-counter permits in Turkey Management Zones 6 and 7 will not be issued and over-the-counter permits in zones 4 and 5 will be reduced by 25 percent in response to hunter feedback requesting a conservative approach to the number of permits issued for this spring's hunt, due to concerns that increased winter mortality has depressed turkey numbers.

DNR seeks feedback on expanding trout seasons
MADISON - Moving the start of the early trout season to January 1 and expanding the early season to all inland waters to provide more fishing opportunities are among the options Wisconsin anglers can weigh in on during the 2014 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings held April 14 at sites in all Wisconsin counties.

DNR is measuring winter's impact on deer and turkey
MADISON - As one of the harshest winters on record continues its icy grip on Wisconsin state wildlife officials are monitoring its effects on wildlife, particularly deer and turkey.

Board approves DNR request to explore walleye management options
MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources has been granted authority today from the state Natural Resources Board to explore alternative methods for managing walleye in the Ceded Territory, covering roughly the northern third of the state. The scope statement went before the board today in a special meeting due to changes in the board's meeting schedule that went into effect this January.

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.

National Archery in Schools Program state tournament April 4-5 in Wausau
WAUSAU, Wis. - More than 1,250 students from 55 different schools will converge on Wausau April 4-5 for the eighth annual National Archery in the Schools Program Wisconsin state tournament. The tournament will be held at the Wausau West High School, with the number of registrants up 400 students and 10 schools from the 2013 tournament.

April
Public meeting set to begin process of updating Lower Wisconsin Riverway master plan
SPRING GREEN, Wis. - The public has an opportunity at two upcoming open house meetings to get involved with the initial phases of the process to review and update of the master plan for the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway property.

DNR plans to stock more than 316,000 catchable-size trout in inland waters
MADISON - More than 316,000 catchable size trout are being stocked in dozens of inland trout waters across Wisconsin before the May 3 inland fishing season opener. A list of waters receiving fish and how many were planned for stocking is now available online.

State wildlife biologists share why to 'Keep Wildlife Wild'
MADISON -- Mother Nature's wildlife nursery will be swinging into high gear over the next two months, and state wildlife officials are reminding people that this nursery operates much differently than a human nursery.

Deadly bat disease detected in single Wisconsin site; State joins 23 others in confirming white-nose syndrome
MADISON - White-nose syndrome, a bat disease that has spread to 23 states and killed up to 5 million bats since 2006, has been confirmed in Wisconsin, state natural resources officials announced today.

EPA ruling shows Wisconsin air pollution lowest in 30 years
Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha counties now meet all federal standards MADISON, Wis. -- Sustained efforts by manufacturers, utilities and the transportation industry to reduce fine particle pollution achieved a long-sought victory Tuesday as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha counties in compliance with all federal air quality standards.

Partnership conserves globally significant habitat at Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area
MINONG, Wis. - About 1,400 acres of globally significant habitat, which will benefit public recreation and wildlife, including the flamboyant sharp-tailed grouse, has been preserved thanks to a partnership among the Department of Natural Resources, The Conservation Fund and several regional contributors. The $1-plus million purchase from the Lyme Timber Company was made possible with grants from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, through Walmart's Acres for America program, as well as private donations. This is the first Acres for America funded project in Wisconsin.

Wolf count indicates population declined within range predicted
MADISON - The preliminary 2014 Wisconsin late-winter wolf count indicates there are a minimum of 658 to 687 wolves distributed across the state, according to Department of Natural Resources officials. The preliminary numbers equate to a 19 percent decline in the late winter population compared to last year, as predicted by scientific models considered by the Wolf Advisory Committee and Natural Resources Board prior to establishing 2013 quotas.

May

Wisconsin moves into first place in number of public water suppliers
MADISON - Forty years after the Safe Drinking Water Act, Wisconsin has more public water suppliers than any other state and is a leader in providing safe water to sustain citizens and leading industries, state environmental officials say.

Report: vast majority of lakes supporting fishing and swimming
MADISON - A dedicated corps of citizen volunteers and improvements in databases and technology have enabled Wisconsin to check the health of more lakes than ever before, with more than two-thirds of the assessed lakes and rivers found to support the fishing and swimming they should be able to support, a newly released report shows.

New trolling rule approved by Natural Resources Board
MADISON - A proposed rule allowing anglers to troll for fish on inland waters statewide was modified Wednesday by the Natural Resources Board.

June
2014 wolf season quota set at 156 by Wisconsin Natural Resources Board
MADISON - The Natural Resources Board today approved the 2014 Wisconsin wolf season quota of 156 as proposed by the Department of Natural Resources Wolf Advisory Committee.

Natural Resources Board approves early teal season and extended dove season in Wisconsin
MADISON - The Natural Resources Board today approved an early teal season and extended dove season in Wisconsin.

Trails closed at Governor Dodge State Park as crews clear storm damage
DODGEVILLE, Wis. - Five hiking, biking and horse trails in the southern areas of Governor Dodge State Park have been closed as crews continue clean-up work stemming from storms and tornados that passed through areas of Iowa County the night of June 29.

Geocaching series now offered in nearly 50 Wisconsin State Parks
MADISON - The growing popularity of geocaching - an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device to look for hidden containers called geocaches -- has led to the placement of new "official" caches at nearly 50 Wisconsin state park properties.

Spring turkey harvest sees increase despite harsh winter
MADISON - Despite a long and severe winter, Wisconsin turkey hunters registered a total of 41,815 birds during the 2014 spring turkey hunting season. This is a 10.7 percent increase from the 2013 spring season.

World student archery tournament comes to Alliant Energy Center in Madison July 11-13
MADISON - The 6th annual National Archery in the Schools World Tournament will take place in Madison at the Alliant Energy Center July 11-13, 2014. The event will showcase archers from all around the world and is open to the public.

July

Report highlights need for prudent management, multistate cooperation to preserve yellow perch fishery
MADISON -- Continued prudent management of Lake Michigan's yellow perch population is needed to ensure enough spawning stock remains to take advantage of years in which lake conditions permit young fish to survive.

Big Changes for DNR Park visitors at the Wisconsin State Fair
WEST ALLIS, Wis. - The Wisconsin State Fair kicks off on Thursday, July 31 and while the DNR Park continues to be a green and shady oasis in the fair, visitors will notice some big changes and new additions to the site.

Sheboygan alligator transported to new home in Illinois
SHEBOYGAN -- The alligator recently caught near the Sheboygan River has found a new home at the Chicago Herpetological Society.

August

Smokey Bear turns 70 August 9
Green Bay--August 9 marks Smokey Bear's 70th birthday as he continues to communicate his well-known message: "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires."

Koi herpes virus likely cause of carp die-off in Rock River
MADISON - A virus that is new to Wisconsin waters and affects common carp and koi is likely to blame for two carp die-offs in Dodge County in recent days.

County Deer Advisory Councils will provide great opportunity for local input and deer herd management throughout Wisconsin
MADISON -- Planning for the 2015 deer hunting season is underway, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Conservation Congress encourage anyone interested in discussing their local deer herd to attend a County Deer Advisory Council meeting this fall.

Short course golf learning center opens at Peninsula State Park
FISH CREEK, Wis. - A new six-hole golf course intended to help introduce people to the sport of golf will open this week at Peninsula State Park in Door County. The new course will complement the existing 18-hole course and driving range already in operation at the park. The Peninsula Golf Course has been in existence since 1921 and is the only golf course in the state park system.

September

Wisconsin DNR brings resources together to help to small businesses
MADISON -- Building on its commitment to protect the state's natural resources while supporting the economy and well-being of its citizenry, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering a new level of support through the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.

Sept. 13 marks opening of archery deer hunting season and Wisconsin's first statewide crossbow hunting season
MADISON -- With fall right around the corner, Sept. 13 marks the opening of the 2014 archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons. These seasons will run concurrently statewide, from Sept. 13 to Jan. 4, 2015. The new crossbow season, open to all hunters with an appropriate license, will create a new hunting opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin.

EPA confirms state's recommendation on clean air designation
MADISON - Wisconsin's air quality is cleaner than it has been in decades and no county in the state violated the most recent federal air standards for fine particles, confirmed officials with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Fall in love with Wisconsin State Parks" photo contest to begin Sept. 15 on DNR Facebook page
MADISON -- People who love fall colors and love Wisconsin's state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas can share that love by entering their photos of people enjoying state properties this fall in an upcoming "Fall in Love with Wisconsin State Parks" Facebook photo contest.

Report highlights Menomonee Valley success during 20th anniversary of brownfields law
MADISON -- The highly successful renewal of Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley is not only a showcase on how to revitalize blighted urban areas, it's also a shining example of the key role the Department of Natural Resources plays in these efforts, a recent report revealed.

MacKenzie Center kicks off school year with new programs, partnerships
POYNETTE, Wis. -- With 11 new course offerings that build on topics taught in K-12 classrooms, the MacKenzie Center is welcoming 29 new schools and groups eager to participate in its unique environmental and conservation education and outdoor skills programs this year.

October

DNR awards La Crosse $250,000 for cleanup at former manufacturing site
MADISON - Land adjacent to a pre-World War II manufacturing site in La Crosse is primed for redevelopment, thanks in large part to a quarter-million dollar award from the Department of Natural Resources.

Wisconsin's public water systems continue to invest in upgrades
MADISON -- More than 95 percent of Wisconsin's water suppliers meet or exceed health standards and the state's public water systems continue to make upgrades through a loan program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, according to a new report.

DNR, Conservation Congress to convene meeting on next steps for perch in Lake Michigan
MILWAUKEE -- To help identify potential options for yellow perch management in Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Conservation Congress will convene a public meeting on October 23 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

DNR receives grant for multistate New Zealand mudsnail monitoring effort
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been awarded a $32,000 grant by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Mississippi River Basin Panel to lead a project that will help determine the distribution of the invasive New Zealand mudsnail in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Michigan muskies getting fit to fight in Wisconsin
WILD ROSE, Wis. -- Standing sentinel around artificial weeds in the rearing pond at the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery, newly arrived spotted musky fingerlings from Michigan leave little doubt about their predatory instincts.

After vandalism strikes, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources donates 110 young pheasants to Richland Center High School
MADISON - After vandalism led to the death of a number of pheasant chicks at Richland Center High School, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources donated 110 young pheasants from the State Game Farm in Poynette, Wis.

November

No Asian carp environmental DNA found after additional testing in Lower Fox River
MADISON, Wis. -- Additional tests for Asian carp environmental DNA in the Lower Fox River have come back negative, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials said.

State Natural Resources Board approves request to begin process to establish a shooting range in Columbia County
MADISON - A proposal to amend the state property management plan to address the need for a public shooting range in Columbia County received a green light from the state Natural Resources Board at its meeting today in Madison.

Recommendations regarding three-year deer population objectives will be finalized at December County Deer Advisory Council meetings
MADISON -- The final County Deer Advisory Council meeting of 2014 will be held in each county in December, and will provide the public with an important opportunity to provide input regarding each county's deer population objectives before recommendations are advanced to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

December

Wisconsin's 163rd nine-day deer hunting season showcases new changes and opportunities while highlighting a continued dedication to safe hunting
MADISON - With new rule changes this year, deer hunters throughout Wisconsin embraced the excitement of another nine-day gun deer season. A continued commitment to safe hunting led to an all-time low for recorded hunting incidents during the nine-day season.

Natural Resources Board approves emergency rule to protect Lake Superior lake trout
ASHLAND, Wis. -- A declining lake trout population in the Apostle Islands region of Lake Superior has prompted the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board to adopt an emergency rule reducing the 2014-15 harvests at its December meeting.

Natural Resources Board approves revisions to state's invasive species rule
MADISON -- The Natural Resources Board voted to approve revisions to the state's invasive species rule at their December 10 meeting in Madison. Known as NR40, revisions include the listing of additional species and delisting of currently regulated species under the state's Invasive Species Identification, Classification and Control rule of the Wisconsin Admin Code.

With the closure of Wolf Harvest Zone 3 to hunting and trapping, effective Friday, Dec. 5 at noon - Wisconsin's 2014 wolf harvest season has ended
MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has closed Wolf Harvest Zone 3 to hunting and trapping of gray wolves effective Friday, Dec. 5 at noon. At that time, the zone is closed to any further hunting and trapping of wolves for the 2014-2015 wolf harvest season.

Federal court decision relists gray wolves in western Great Lakes region as endangered species
MADISON - In response to a lawsuit brought against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia has vacated a 2012 decision, which delisted wolves as an endangered species.

Mission to protect, enhance forests stands strong in DNR nurseries consolidation plan
MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources' seedling production will merge into a single operation at its Boscobel nursery under a reorganization plan to balance expected customer demand with production costs.

Natural Resources Board authorizes public hearings to receive feedback regarding Deer Trustee's Report rule package
MADISON -- The Natural Resources Board has authorized public hearings to provide the public an opportunity to provide input regarding the proposed Deer Trustee Report permanent rule package.

DNR surveillance efforts detect VHS virus in wild coho used for egg collection
MADISON -- Ongoing surveillance efforts detected viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in wild coho salmon processed this fall for egg collection at the Root River Steelhead Facility operated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Wisconsin's oldest trumpeter swan a symbol of success recovery efforts
MADISON - A regal old swan spending the winter on a wild river in Burnett County stands as a remarkable symbol of the success of Wisconsin's trumpeter swan recovery program.

Residents in 50 states invested in the protection of Wisconsin's public lands in 2014
MADISON -- Hunters, anglers, campers and other outdoors enthusiasts from all over the country showed their love this year for Wisconsin's state parks, natural areas, wildlife areas and fisheries by making a donation to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund. Donations came in from residents of every state, two Canadian provinces and even the armed services, helping to make the fund's first year a resounding success.

DNR Issues more than $79 million in grants in calendar year 2014

In calendar year 2014 the Department of Natural Resources issued more than $79 million in grants to local units of government, cooperative agencies and organizations.

Grant Programs # of Grants Issued $ Awarded
All-Terrain Vehicle 122 $4,089,935.89
Aquatic Invasive Species 128 $2,187,970.00
Capacity and Heritage Grants 5 $426,668.45
County Conservation Aids 47 $127,812.00
Dams -- Municipal 3 $211,515.62
Dams -- Removal 2 $77,000.00
Dry Cleaning Environmental Response Payments ** 30 $951,138.00
Forest Fire Protection 219 $551,979.20
Gypsy Moth 1 $1,624.92
Hunter Recruitment and Development 17 $144,943.00
Lake Planning 32 $374,593.39
Lake Protection 1 $200,000.00
Land and Water Conservation Fund Aids 5 $1,841,840.25
Landowner Incentive Program 23 $94,220.00
Motorized Stewardship 4 $191,396.00
Municipal Flood Control 11 $2,324,958.00
Nonpoint -- Targeted Runoff Management 21 $3,410,080.00
Nonpoint -- Total Maximum Daily Load 5 $623,230.00
Nonpoint -- Urban Stormwater Construction 15 $2,211,600.00
Nonpoint -- Urban Stormwater Planning 18 $1,089,005.00
Nonpoint -- Notice of Discharge 11 $1,303,970.00
Recreational Boating Facilities 35 $2,182,232.00
Recreational Trails Act 54 $1,914,179.52
Recycling Grants to Responsible Units 1,024 $19,999,990.47
River Planning 0 $0.00
River Protection 0 $0.00
Shooting Range - Private 11 $265,114.00
Shooting Range - Public 11 $341,687.00
Snowmobile Trail Aids 94 $5,525,914.00
Snowmobile--Supplemental 107 $2,873,625.00
Sport Fish Restoration 5 $696,307.00
Stewardship -- Local Assistance 41 $6,577,590.23
Stewardship -- Nonprofit Conservation Organizations 49 $7,390,490.50
Stewardship -- County Forests 7 $3,634,265.50
Stewardship -- Friends Grant 19 $237,372.50
Summer Tribal Youth Program 10 $230,655.95
Urban Forestry 73 $1,015,118.00
Urban Forestry - Catastrophic Storm 6 $104,920.00
Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement & Control 7 $24,699.50
Utility Terrain Vehicles 29 $174,422.00
Weed Management Area -- Private Forest Grant Program 6 $58,539.99
Well Abandonment Grants 67 $67,319.56
Well Compensation Program 9 $120,735.00
WI Forest Landowner Grant Program 872 $1,213,357.00
WI Walleye Initiative 9 $2,000,000.00
TOTAL = 3,265 $79,084,014.44

* No River planning or protection grants were issued this calendar year due to a change in application deadlines.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson, 608-267-2773

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 30, 2014




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