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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 26, 2016

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Public comment sought, meetings set on 10-year panfish management plan

Contact(s): Max Wolter, DNR Fisheries Biologist,, 715-634-7429; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

MADISON -- A new, 10-year panfish plan that focuses on habitat improvements, predator management and revised bag limits to boost panfish management across Wisconsin is up for public comment and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has set three meetings statewide in early February to encourage feedback.

Panfish are the target of more anglers in Wisconsin than any other group of fish. The 10-year management plan aims to improve panfish opportunities for anglers including restoring size structure on lakes where smaller fish have become more prevalent in recent years, improving habitat, engaging anglers and supporting research on panfish. The draft 10-Year Strategic Plan for Managing Wisconsin's Panfish [PDF] was developed with extensive public input, data analysis and review of existing literature and is now up for a final round of feedback before being implemented, said Max Wolter, a DNR fisheries biologist and panfish team leader.

"We've received substantial input from anglers and listened to their concerns ranging from the role of predators to fishing pressure to habitat changes on some lakes," Wolter said. "To make sure we're addressing anglers' concerns in the plan, we're scheduling a final comment period and series of public meetings for Hayward, Waukesha and Waupaca."

To date, the draft plan has been shaped by more than 3,500 responses to surveys, more than 30 public meetings and multiple questions on two spring hearing questionnaires for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. Wolter said the panfish team focused on meshing the technical side of panfish management with common themes that emerged during the public input process.

"Ultimately, we produced a plan that blends background, technical information, and a strategic framework for better managing panfish over the next 10 years," he said.

The plan pays extra attention to improving and protecting habitat and discusses the use of predators in managing panfish, two areas anglers consistently supported. Support for statewide regulation changes drew mixed responses from the public but most anglers supported using regulations to improve underachieving lakes, a strategy that is laid out in the plan.

Given the timing of the regulation cycle and support for improving underachieving lakes, a set of experimental regulations on 94 lakes was proposed on the 2014 spring hearings and supported. These regulation changes will go into effect April 1, 2016. For a complete list of lakes that will be governed by the experimental regulations, check out the factsheet [PDF]. The experimental regulations will be evaluated over the next five years.

The public meetings are set for:

DNR also welcomes written comments, which will be given the same weight as comments presented at the public meetings. Send comments by March 18 to Max Wolter, DNR fisheries biologist, 10220 State Highway 27 S., Hayward, Wis., 54843 or email

To learn more about the plan and experimental regulations, search the DNR website,, for "panfish plan."



Wisconsin's Deer Management Assistance Program now accepting applications for 2016

Contact(s): Bob Nack, DNR big game section chief & DMAP coordinator, 608-264-6137

Join DNR staff for live chat Feb. 11

MADISON-Conservation-minded landowners and hunters can maximize wildlife habitat potential through Wisconsin's Deer Management Assistance Program.

DMAP promotes wildlife habitat management on properties of any size that complements land use activities like agriculture and timber management. Those interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to participate in an informational live chat Thursday, Feb. 11 at noon. To view a chat schedule and check out previous chats, search the Department of Natural Resources website,, for keyword "chat."

"DMAP continues to expand across the state," said Bob Nack, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources DMAP coordinator. "We are working closely with nearly 750 landowners and two public land agencies in order to help manage nearly 188,000 acres of land for deer and other wildlife."

In 2016, two workshops focused on deer biology and management will be offered in March, along with summer habitat management workshops, to help DMAP enrollees improve habitat and wildlife management. DMAP habitat management workshops were offered to DMAP cooperators in 2015, and those who participated last year are encouraged to sign up for these new workshops.

"According to a survey of cooperators, 93 percent of DMAP cooperators report being satisfied with the program," said Nack. "This group of landowners and hunters is also committed to the goal of improving habitat for deer and other wildlife - 97 percent intend to implement at least some of the habitat improvement recommendations included in their property management plans."

While applications may be submitted at any time, prospective enrollees with properties over 160 acres who wish to receive a site visit and management plan in 2016 must submit an application before March 1. All enrolled landowners will receive information regarding habitat and deer management, communication with local DNR staff, annual DMAP reports, DNR publications, and DMAP workshop invitations. Landowners are encouraged to apply now to receive immediate access to educational resources and DMAP updates.

Neighboring landowners with properties within one-half mile of each other are encouraged to consider group cooperative enrollment. Landowners in a group cooperative may combine acreage to total 160 acres or more and receive a site visit and management plan. Group cooperatives provide an opportunity to improve relations and hunting opportunities among neighbors, share costs and equipment on habitat projects, and benefit deer and other wildlife over a greater area.

To receive DMAP email updates and other information, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "Deer Management Assistance Program," found under Wildlife Management.

For more information regarding DMAP, including an application, search keyword "DMAP."



Changes proposed to rules governing activities on DNR lands

Contact(s): Kate Fitzgerald, 608-267-2764

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity at an upcoming public hearing to comment in person on a proposed rule changes governing activities, visitor use and management of state properties including parks, forests, trails and other recreation areas.

The Department of Natural Resources is proposing a broad range of changes to Chapter NR 45, Wis. Admin. Code, the principal rule governing activities on and use of properties it manages.

"This chapter is reviewed and revisions are proposed on a regular basis; however it has been more than five years since this rule has been reviewed and any revisions have been approved," said Sanjay Olson, administrator of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Proposed rule changes include modifications to the campsite reservation process, updates to language regarding the state trails system, updates to fee structures, and amending existing language to allow for all-terrain and utility terrain vehicles to be designated on roads open to motor vehicles on DNR properties through a master planning process.

The hearing will also address changes to Chapter 51, Wis. Admin. Code, relating to the administration of the Stewardship grant program, including adding state water trails to the list of state trails eligible for funding under the Stewardship program.

The complete list of proposed changes and other documents are available on the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website.

The public hearing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb., 1, 2016 at the DNR Fitchburg Service Center, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road. Written comments may also be sent by Feb. 1, 2016 to Kathryn Fitzgerald, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison WI, 43707-7921 or by email to A summary of some of the proposed rule changes include:

Camping reservations

The proposed rule changes include placing restrictions on canceling camping reservations made at the maximum window, 11 months prior to arrival, to prevent customers from using the reservation system to keep control of a campsite by cancelling and rebooking camping site reservations until they get their desired dates.

Motorized bikes on state trails

Under the proposed rule changes, the use of motorized bicycles would be allowed state trails open to bicycles provided that the motor is not engaged unless it is an electric bike operated at less than 15 miles per hour.

State Water Trail

The proposed rule changes update the language regarding the state trail system to create a definition for state water trails. This provides structure and authority for the new state water trail program approved by the Natural Resources Board and codifies the Lake Michigan Water Trail, the first designated state water trail, as part of the state trail system.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 26, 2016

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