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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published May 5, 2015

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Open house meetings will help guide design of state bikeways

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to include information on a Wisconsin Bikeways Project Wikimap that will be available from May 21 - June 30, 2015.

Part of a project to establish national interstate bike route network

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to help identify and develop a network of mapped bikeway routes in Wisconsin at a series of upcoming open house meetings.

The Department of Natural Resources, in coordination with other state agencies and the Wisconsin Bike Fed are partnering to work on a statewide Bikeways Project. Toole Design Group has been hired as a consultant on the project. A bikeway is a road, street or path that is specifically designated for bicycle travel, may be designed for bicycle travel and may be shared with other modes of transportation or recreation.

This project will develop recommendations and guidelines for identifying, designating and signing intrastate bikeways that will connect with the interstate U.S. Bike Route (exit DNR), a network of long-distance bicycle routes across the country linking urban, suburban and rural areas through a variety of bicycling facilities.

While the focus of these open houses is on providing feedback on possible routes that will cross the state and route attributes, the effort recognizes the role that intrastate routes have as regional connectors between the interstate routes. The project will evaluate roadway and trail systems to identify the best candidate routes within the U.S. Bike Route identified corridors.

In addition to the open houses, a Wisconsin Bikeways Project Wikimap (exit DNR) will be available from May 21 - June 30, 2015. The Wikimap is an online interactive mapping tool that allows users to draw routes and points on a map and add comments about their entries. The tool will allow users to highlight good routes for bicycling in Wisconsin, routes that need improvement, barriers to bicycling, and bicycling destinations.

"Wisconsin has some of the best roads and trails for bicycling of any state in the country," said Brigit Brown, DNR state trails coordinator. "By tying together the best of what exists today, everything from short to moderate to long distance bicycle route opportunities can be greatly enhanced and we are excited to hear from state bicyclists how this can take form."

Brown said there are numerous factors to consider when selecting and designating bikeway routes within the identified corridors, and the purpose of the open houses is to have participants provide feedback on possible routes and what they consider to be important route attributes. The draft corridors are quite wide and one of the prime considerations is to keep the proposed routes within or close to the limits of the corridors.

The meetings are open to the public and will have an informal open house format. There will be no formal presentations, but there will be different stations where the public can learn about different aspects of the project, including the possible route corridors, different types of bikeways, potential route selection criteria, mapping possible bikeways in the corridors, and an area for participants to fill out and submit written comments.

The meetings will all run from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. and will be held:

"Bicycling is growing nationally and in Wisconsin for both recreational and transportation purposes. Wisconsin continues to be a popular state for bicycle touring because of its beautiful scenery and quiet country roads. We expect that many of the comments we will receive will help us build on those assets," Brown said.

People can find out more about the project by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "bikeway."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brigit Brown, 608-266-2183 or Paul Holtan, office of communications, 608-267-7517

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Public comment sought on proposed multi-discharger phosphorus variance

MADISON -- Industries and municipalities facing restrictive phosphorus compliance costs may soon have another tool to comply with phosphorus regulations.

Point source discharges may soon be able to apply for a multi-discharger variance, which extends the timeline for complying with low-level phosphorus limits. In exchange, point sources commit to step-wise reductions of phosphorus within their effluent as well as helping to address nonpoint sources of phosphorus from farm fields, cities or natural areas by paying $50 per pound to implement projects designed to improve water quality.

Wisconsin's Legislature authorized the concept of the multi-discharger variance in April 2014 through the approval of Act 378. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also acknowledged that wastewater permit holders affected by similar technical and economic challenges may be considered for a multi-discharger variance process.

Since passage of the state law, the Department of Administration and Department of Natural Resources have been working to quantify the economic impacts that would occur without flexibility in managing phosphorus, said Ed Eberle, administrator of DOA's Division of Intergovernmental Relations. The preliminary conclusion of DOA's analysis is that complying with phosphorus limits causes substantial and widespread social and economic impacts to Wisconsin.

DOA and DNR will hold a public hearing on the economic determination on May 12 in Wausau.

The determination recommends a two-step approach to determine whether individual permit holders qualify for the proposed multi-discharger variance. If a point source qualifies, this compliance option can be compared to other existing compliance options, such as facility upgrades, water quality trading, adaptive management and individual economic variances, to help point sources select the most affordable compliance option practicable.

Before including individual permit holders in the statewide multi-discharger variance option, information such as engineering analyses and financial information would still be required, said Michael Bruhn, DNR's assistant deputy secretary. Individual companies would be able to request inclusion in the statewide variance upon renewal of Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits.

Phosphorus has long been recognized as the controlling factor in plant and algae growth and in December 2010, Wisconsin became one of the first states in the country to adopt phosphorus water quality standards for lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. DNR has been implementing these standards in WPDES permits since this time.

The multi-discharger compliance option provides Wisconsin an opportunity to achieve marked improvements in water quality, but in a much more economically viable manner, Bruhn said.

A public hearing on the determination by DOA and DNR for the multi-discharger variance process will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. May 12 at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 1100 Imperial Ave., Rothschild, Wis. Written comments should be sent by June 11 to Attn: Phosphorus, Division of Intergovernmental Relations, Wisconsin Department of Administration, P.O. Box 8944, Madison, WI 53708-8944 or by e-mail to: phosphorus@wisconsin.gov. A legal notice on the preliminary determination and hearing can be found at: doa.wi.gov/Divisions/Intergovernmental-Relations/Phosphorus (exit DNR).

Following the public hearing and comment process, DOA and DNR will respond to comments and make a final determination. If this determination is affirmed, the multi-discharger variance option will be submitted to EPA for review and approval.

To learn more, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "statewide phosphorus variance."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Bruhn, DNR assistant deputy secretary, Michael.Bruhn@Wisconsin.gov , 608-266-5375; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@Wisconsin.gov

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Wisconsin approves changes to state invasive species law

MADISON - A state law aimed at preventing the spread of invasive species and reducing their statewide impacts has been updated and following legislative approved went into effect May 1, 2015.

Revisions to Chapter NR 40 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code include the listing of additional species and delisting or down listing of some of currently regulated species under the state's Invasive Species Identification, Classification and Control rule. In total, listings of more than 100 different species were updated and revised to respond to changing conditions and statuses of invasive species around the state.

"Invasives like the emerald ash borer, Eurasian water-milfoil and garlic mustard harm our environment, cost billions of dollars annually across the nation and threaten core Wisconsin business sectors such as agriculture, tourism and forestry," said Paul Schumacher, chair of the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council. "These revisions to the invasive species rule are an adaptive approach to tackle the threats from invasive species and meet the department's charge from the legislature to address these challenges."

The updates to the invasive species rule were a result of several partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources including the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, Department Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Green Industry Federation, the University of Wisconsin, and input from species experts, stakeholders and the public.

A major update includes revising the status of species that have become established in Wisconsin since they were first listed as prohibited in 2009, such as emerald ash borer, a beetle responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of ash trees in Wisconsin. Under the rule, prohibited species are those that are not well established in the state and whose spread can be prevented or limited to certain areas using eradication methods. Since being listed, EAB has spread to 37 counties prompting a proposal to change the beetle's regulatory status to restricted.

Restricted species are those already found in the state and may be more widespread; eradication is improbable but the spread can still be managed. When this happens, measures to manage the spread of invasives like EAB apply, such as DATCP quarantines and DNR firewood transportation restrictions.

Other revisions include changes to plants species like non-native phragmites, Japanese hedgeparsley and forest pests like jumping worms [PDF]. A full list of the new invasive species rule changes and literature reviews are available by going to the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword "NR 40."

"The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is appreciative of all the hard work from our partners and stakeholders who helped make these changes possible," said Schumacher. "Wisconsin is one of the first states to have an identification and listing rule like NR40, which goes a long way in our efforts to reduce the impacts of invasives."

People can learn more about the changes to NR40 during an online chat at noon on Thursday, May 28. To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.gov, and click on the graphic or search the phrase "ask the experts." You can also join the conversation via our Facebook page at facebook.com/WIDNR by clicking the "Ask the Experts Chat" tab at the top of the page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Kearns, conservation biologist, 608-267-5066 kelly.kearns@wisconsin.gov

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2015 youth and mentored turkey hunts showcase excellent opportunities for hunters of all ages and skill levels to experience the outdoors

MADISON - The 2015 youth turkey hunt, held April 11-12 statewide and other Learn to Hunt turkey opportunities throughout March and early April have continued to provide a great opportunity for people interested in the outdoors to learn more about hunting and its important role in conservation.

Each year, youth hunting events give hunters ages 10 to 15 an opportunity to gain valuable experience while they receive guidance from a mentor in the field. This year, Corinne and Peter Magnoni from Waterloo, Wis. opened their property to two youth hunters in search of their first wild turkey. Their goal was simple: to promote hunting and provide for a safe and educational weekend.

"It's great to see kids and those who wouldn't typically have an opportunity to hunt getting a chance to experience these things up close," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "I would like to personally thank Corinne and Peter, as well as every other mentor and landowner in these programs, for helping to ensure generations to come develop an appreciation for all of the great resources Wisconsin has to offer."

While the excitement of the hunt would have likely been enough to make the weekend a success, both hunters harvested their first turkey.

Hanrahan
Paul Hanrahan (center) harvested a 23-pound jake with a four-inch beard with help from Magnioni (left) and his father and mentor, Tom (right).
Corinne Magnoni Photo

On the first day of the youth hunt, Paul Hanrahan, age 14, from Lake Mills, Wis. shot a jake with his bow. On hand to witness Paul's success was his father and mentor, Tom, and Peter Magnoni.

The next day, Alexandria Xiong, age 13, from Milwaukee shot a tom with a 12-gauge shotgun with help from her father, Shane, and fellow mentor, Andrew Holtz.

Xiong
Alexandria Xiong harvested a 23-pound tom with a six-inch beard with help from Magnioni (left), her father Shane (center) and fellow mentor, Andrew (right).
Corinne Magnoni Photo

While not every youth hunter is able to harvest a turkey, the learning experience provided by mentors, coupled with opportunities created by landowners can help create a lifelong appreciation for wildlife and the outdoors.

"Introducing a child to the hunting tradition can be a springboard to a lifetime of great adventures," said Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist. "It's so important to make these first experiences both safe and comprehensive, and we applaud all those who contribute to our educational efforts. Their help is truly invaluable."

Youth hunts provide opportunities for younger generations, but hunters of all ages can experience a mentored hunt. Interested hunters age 10 or older and accompanied by a licensed hunter can now obtain a hunting license without first completing a hunter education course. Mentored hunters must be within arm's reach of a mentor and follow all rules and regulations.

For hunters looking to receive hands-on training before entering the woods, a series of Learn to Hunt events are scheduled each year throughout the state. These events combine classroom instruction and field work and are a great way to introduce someone new to Wisconsin's hunting heritage.

Jaime Hogberg, an adult student in the Learn to Hunt Wild Turkey for Food course held in March in Madison, had a memorable first turkey hunt with her mentor, John Podebradsky. In only two mornings worth of hunting on private land near Oregon, Wis., Hogberg and Podebradsky saw over 50 turkeys and a host of native and migrating bird species.

"The turkeys put on quite a show for us, including some pretty goofy and rambunctious jakes, a curious and frustrated hen that came in at our decoy, and several tom's strutting around in and out of view," said Hogberg. "We were very lucky to have them pass by within range several times, and I had the opportunity to shoot a couple times."

She took an unsuccessful shot at a tom, but will not let that dampen her spirits as she gets ready for another hunting season. "I will be dreaming about that lucky tom and practicing my shooting skills until the fall season!"

People interested in receiving email updates and other information regarding Learn to Hunt and mentored hunting events and opportunities, can visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page to "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "Learn To Hunt" and "mentored hunting" within the "hunting" list.

For more information regarding Learn to Hunt and mentored hunting programs in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords Learn To Hunt" or "mentored hunting respectively.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Maynard, DNR Learn to Hunt coordinator, 608-267-7438; Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334

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Erin Crain appointed as DNR Land Division deputy administrator

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced the appointment of Erin Crain to serve as deputy administrator for the Land Division.

Crain is a 23-year veteran of the department. She replaces Sanjay Olson, who was appointed Land Division administrator after former Land leader Kurt Thiede was promoted to DNR deputy secretary.

"Erin is one of our rising stars," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We're excited to see her take this next step and look forward to her leadership and input at this level of the agency."

Crain served as a section chief in both Science Services and Endangered Resources and most recently served as the director of the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation.

"Erin has helped our natural heritage program become recognized for its commitment to scientific excellence, innovation and great customer service," said Olson.

Crain has master's degrees in Ecological Restoration and Information Science and a bachelor's degree in International Economics.

The Lands Division consists of the bureaus of Facilities and Lands, Natural Heritage Conservation, Parks and Recreation and Wildlife Management.

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

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Spring is here - look out for turtles crossing the road

MADISON - Spring has arrived, and wildlife enthusiasts will begin to see turtles on the move throughout Wisconsin. If you see a turtle crossing the road in Wisconsin, you can submit your findings and help future turtle conservation efforts.

As temperatures rise, more turtles will be out basking in the sun near their overwintering habitats, with some eventually moving to nearby wetlands. Between late May and early June, many females will instinctively migrate to sandy or gravelly uplands where they will lay eggs and make the return trip back to their native wetlands.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 6 photos

View the slideshow on turtles.

Turtles are especially active from May through August, and motorists near wetlands should be extra cautious during this period. Coincidently, this timeframe is also when biologists observe the highest adult turtle mortality near roads. Road mortality is considered one of the leading causes of declining turtle numbers in Wisconsin, along with loss of suitable habitat and other factors.

To learn more, check out this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqjPoMM2pG0 [exit DNR]

Volunteers and citizen scientists throughout Wisconsin have dedicated themselves to conserving turtles, and look forward to another year of information sharing through the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program [exit DNR]. This reporting system allows citizens to contribute general turtle observations and nesting locations as well as the ability to submit photographs.

Submissions are reviewed and compiled by the department and used as a management tool to enhance and target future conservation actions on both a local and regional scale. The WTCP helps ensure turtle conservation dollars are well spent in Wisconsin.

The loss of even one adult female turtle can have a large effect on future population numbers and recruitment, especially in isolated populations or in species like the wood turtle that can take from 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive age. In addition, research has shown that as reproductive females gain experience through age, they become more successful in hatching higher percentages of young. Actions that prioritize the conservation of older adults, especially females, are an important step in sustaining turtle populations throughout Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has continued to partner with citizens, municipalities, universities, and road agencies including the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to achieve a sustainable transportation system that emphasizes the protection of humans, turtles, and other wildlife in a cost-effective manner.

A road resurfacing project in Stevens Point, set to begin in 2016, will allow turtles to cross underneath the road through a combination of fences and a specially designed culvert. In addition, a three-year UWSP study has been designed to track the seasonal movements of individual turtles, locate nesting areas, and determine the effectiveness of the added fencing and culvert.

If you encounter turtles on a roadway, remember these quick tips:

For more information regarding Wisconsin's turtles, visit dnr.wi.gov, search keywords "wildlife habitat" and select "turtles," found under the herps section of the non-game species list. To submit your turtle observations, visit wiatri.net/inventory/WIturtles/ [exit DNR].

People can learn more about turtles during an online chat at noon on Thursday, June 11. To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.gov, and click on the graphic or search the phrase "ask the experts." You can also join the conversation via our Facebook page at facebook.com/WIDNR by clicking the "Ask the Experts Chat" tab at the top of the page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Badje, DNR conservation biologist, 608-266-3336

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Wisconsin's quality drinking water cause for celebration during National Drinking Water Week

MADISON -- Wisconsin communities enjoy safe drinking water and continue to make steady progress in improving drinking water quality, offering cause for celebration during National Drinking Water Week.

More than 95 percent of the state's public water systems meet all health-based standards and during the three year period from 2011 to 2013, municipal community water systems invested a total of $134.9 million in upgrades through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program, a fund administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"Clean water plays a fundamental role in human health and remains essential to a strong economy," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "In Wisconsin, we're fortunate to have abundant groundwater supplies and the continued reinvestment in municipal water systems ensures this water is delivered safely to the public from the tap."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, many improvements in the health, prosperity and longevity of the U.S. population can be attributed to improvements in water quality. A century ago, the average life expectancy in the United States was 47 years compared with 78 years today and experts say a significant reduction in water borne diseases has contributed to the increased longevity.

Wisconsin is home to 11,400 public water systems--more than any other state--and from state fiscal years 2012 to 2014, DNR's Safe Drinking Water Loan Program provided funds for 93 projects statewide. DNR also conducted more than 2,200 engineering plan reviews for new facilities, wells, facility upgrades and other projects during the period. All the state's public water systems also get inspected regularly.

"Wisconsin's public water systems have the capacity and technology to safely deliver 1 ton of clean water, on average, to each house every day," said Steve Elmore, DNR's public water supply section chief. "Through regular monitoring, we know more about what's in our water than ever before and this allows us to adopt strategies that address emerging issues. In Wisconsin, we also make a point of sharing this information publicly--the results of water testing at all the state's public water systems are available online."

Consumers interested in learning more can search the DNR website, DNR.wi.gov, for "Wisconsin drinking water data" or check out our feature page with details about "our drinking water use." For more resources on National Drinking Water Week, May 3-9, visit the American Water Works Association (exit DNR).

To celebrate National Drinking Water Week, join DNR's drinking water and groundwater experts for an online chat at noon on Thursday, May 7. To participate, visit the DNR home page, DNR.wi.gov, and click on the graphic or search the phrase "Ask the Experts." You can also join the conversation via our Facebook page by clicking the "Ask the Experts Chat" tab at the top of the page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Elmore, DNR public water supply section chief, 608-264-9246, Steve.Elmore@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov.

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Wisconsin celebrates Clean Air Month this May, and reminds us that, "It all adds up to cleaner air"

MADISON - It is May and once again time to celebrate Clean Air Month. The Department of Natural Resources is celebrating our state's clean air and the part we all have played in improving our air quality.

The DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, has tips for reducing air emissions, the opportunity for the public to sign-up for air quality notices and information on the department's annual poetry contest for third, fourth and fifth grade students in Wisconsin by searching Clean Air Month.

"At your DNR, we continue to work hard so Wisconsin citizens can enjoy some of the cleanest air in the nation." said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Stepp noted that the state's air quality has been improving since the 1980's. Other successes from the past year include:

"We are breathing healthier air and continuing to see positive trends in air quality thanks to the partnership among businesses, citizens and the department," said Bart Sponseller, DNR Air, Waste and Remediation and Redevelopment deputy division administrator. "Businesses and citizens across our state continue to support our clean air mission by the voluntary actions they take each and every day."

To learn more about voluntary actions we can take to reduce air emissions visit the Do A Little Save a Lot page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Andrew Savagian, communications, 608-261-6422

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DNR invites public comments on Great Lakes beach listings and program changes

MADISON -- If you enjoy Wisconsin's Great Lakes beaches, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources would like to hear from you regarding the current listing of beaches and boat launches as well as upcoming changes regarding beach monitoring.

The public comment period, which runs until May 20, helps ensure DNR's beach list [PDF] reflects locally used names along with the current status of beaches and boat launches due to changing natural conditions and public access, said Donalea Dinsmore, Wisconsin beach program manager.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all Wisconsin beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines to be identified and prioritized for water quality monitoring. A "beach" is defined as any place that the public has recreational access to the water, regardless of whether the location is used for swimming. Boat launches and some natural areas are included.

To maintain eligibility for funding under the federal Beach Act, state programs must provide an opportunity for public comment when changes to the list or monitoring program occur. The current list includes some new beaches; consolidation of some listings where there are no natural landmarks or access points separating stretches of coastline; identification of boat launches missing from previous lists; and several name changes.

Current federal funding totals $217,000 and supports operation of the Beach Health (exit DNR) website, monitoring in 13 counties and limited operational and special needs. Anticipated reductions in federal funding have prompted DNR to revise program plans with an eye toward sustainable operations in partnership with local communities and private or nonprofit organizations. As a result, more communities are being encouraged to supplement their water sampling with "Nowcasts," real time beach water quality models that provide beach-goers with more timely and accurate information about the water quality at their planned destination.

Through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, a number of beaches have redesign plans and communities are investing in beach restoration projects to improve water quality. These projects and the availability of Nowcasting were considerations in the overall monitoring plan design.

For the public comment period, citizens are being asked to focus on whether any beaches are missing or not properly identified on the list; whether there are some boat launches that are no longer active and should be omitted; and whether there are any concerns with additions, removals, or consolidated listings.

Public comments on the listings and potential program changes should be emailed by the close of business on May 20 to Donalea Dinsmore, donalea.dinsmore@wisconsin.gov. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Great Lakes beach program review."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Donalea Dinsmore, DNR Wisconsin beach program manager, 608-266-1926, Donalea.Dinsmore@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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Grab your helmet! Nearly time to hit the ATV-UTV trails for summer riding fun

MADISON - As the all-terrain vehicle and utility-terrain vehicle trail-riding season approaches in Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources wardens encourage riders to grab their helmets so they have safe, enjoyable rides.

Gary Eddy, DNR ATV safety administrator and warden, says many counties may make decisions to open their ATV/UTV trails to the public now that the temperatures are rising and trails are drying. Eddy says one of the most important tips is to always wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation.

"The use of a helmet is the single most important piece of protection an ATV rider can wear," Eddy says. "In 2014, 96 percent of victims in ATV/UTV fatalities were not wearing a helmet. This is why we encouraged you to always wear a helmet when you ride. You can't anticipate when a crash will happen, so you have to be prepared by wearing a helmet."

Other safety reminders from Eddy include:

ATV/UTV is among our state's favorite recreational activities in the summer months. Let's keep it safer by wearing a helmet and keeping the alcohol off the trails.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: ATV-UTV Administrator Gary Eddy, 608-245-2315, gary.eddy@wisconsin.gov

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 05, 2015




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