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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published February 9, 2016

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DNR awards grants for surface water project planning

Contact(s): Shelly Thomson, DNR lakes and rivers team leader,, 608- 266-0502; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications,, 608-770-8084

MADISON - More than 200 local governments, lake and river associations and nonprofit groups in 57 Wisconsin counties will receive grants totaling more than $2.6 million for projects to improve water quality and aquatic habitat.

The Department of Natural Resources surface water planning grants support lake and river project planning and aquatic invasive species education, prevention and planning. This year, the grants will leverage an additional $1.3 million in matching expenditures by lake and river associations, local governments and nonprofit groups.

Shelly Thomsen, DNR lakes and rivers team leader, said the projects help communities understand the condition of aquatic ecosystems and watersheds, conduct studies and develop management plans. Grant funds originate from a tax on fuel used by boats in Wisconsin.

"This year, we're seeing more lake and river groups undertake projects to involve their broader communities in the search for solutions," Thomsen said. "The groups are finding that while studying the biology and chemistry of a watershed identifies the problems, the solutions require the backing and support of the community. Restoration projects with broad community involvement are happening on the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir and Lake Wausau in Marathon County and in Sawyer, Ashland and Bayfield Counties to protect pristine Northwoods waters."

The 2016 surface water planning grants were submitted to DNR in December. Clean Boats, Clean Waters projects accounted for the largest number of awards with 108 grants totaling $602,959.12. Aquatic invasive species education, prevention and planning efforts represented the greatest area of investment with 30 grants totaling some $1.2 million.

Grant Type

# Grants Awarded


Local Match

Lake Planning




AIS Education, Prevention, & Planning




River Planning




Lake Classification




Clean Boats, Clean Water




Total FY16 Planning Grants




Thomsen said two significant projects in the southwest Driftless Area of Wisconsin will be led by farmers and will encourage landowners to work together to improve water quality in the Kickapoo River and Lowery Creek in Iowa County, home to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. The Kickapoo River project is backed by $5.3 million in federal funding for best management practices through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

To see the full list of awards search the DNR website,, for "surface water grants." Links to specific grants can be found on the right hand side of the Web page.



Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial highlights importance of migratory birds and conservation

Contact(s): Meredith Penthorn, DNR communications specialist, 608-267-2948

MADISON -- Thanks to a significant treaty between nations one hundred years ago, the diverse birds that Wisconsinites watch, photograph and hunt are protected for current and future generations to enjoy.

On Aug. 16, 1916, the United States signed the Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada--the very first of its kind--to protect many migratory bird species from overconsumption. One hundred years later, such treaty agreements to protect and manage shared bird species continue to provide the foundation for bird conservation throughout the conservation community.

The Migratory Bird Treaty connects federal, state, private, non-government, tribal and international partners, who share a long, successful history of conserving, protecting and managing migratory bird populations and their habitats. Celebrating the centennial of the first treaty will bring together those who have contributed to its success, and will galvanize efforts to protect migratory birds for the generations to come.

Celebrating the centennial is as easy as spending time outside in search of birds, attending one of Wisconsin's bird-related events or teaching someone new about birds, birding or bird hunting. To learn more about Treaty impacts and how to participate in the centennial, visit, keyword "bird treaty."

To receive monthly conservation success stories about native Wisconsin birds that have benefitted from the Migratory Bird Treaty along with birding and bird conservation information, click on the email icon near the bottom of the DNR website,, entitled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "Birding and Bird Conservation" distribution list.



Nominations open for Hunter Ethics Award

Contact(s): Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller,; 608-381-8927

Wisconsin Conservation Congress to honor winners in May

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Now in its 19th year of honoring Wisconsin hunters of all ages who put integrity and safety above harvest bragging rights, the Hunter Ethics Award has a new member in the government-media partnership that recognizes the outdoor tradition's finest representatives.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress this year joined the award sponsor partnership with plans to honor the winners at it the congress' convention in May. The annual honor was established by Bob Lamb, retired outdoors editor of the La Crosse Tribune, retired DNR conservation warden supervisor Steve Dewald and retired University of Wisconsin-La Crosse biology professor Jerry Davis. DNR Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller joined the award committee 5 years ago.

Rob Bohmann, chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, says "An award that honors adults and youths who make ethical behaviors the foundation of their enjoyment of one of our state's outdoor traditions represents what the Congress stands for."

Before any award winners can be selected, there has to be nominations and those must be submitted by February 22. There are two awards - an adult Hunter Ethics Award and a youth Hunter Ethics Award.

Chief Warden Schaller says the annual honor was created to acknowledge hunters who go above and beyond for others who have the same passion or interest - and that is hunting. "Going above and beyond can mean many things. Maybe it's introducing someone new to hunting, helping a hunter in need, or taking the right action for the right reason" Schaller says of the award honoring actions by an adult and youth during the 2015 hunting season.

Schaller says if you know of a hunter who thinks and acts with this undeniable foundation in ethics, responsibility and safety, nominate the person for the individual for The Wis. Department of Natural Resources Hunter Ethics Award.

Schaller says hunters look forward to the annual seasons because traditions - or creating new traditions with young or novice hunters-- remain important. "If you are a hunter in Wisconsin, you must strive to hunt in an ethical manner and to pass on these ethical traditions to the young people in their hunting party."

To become eligible for the 2015 award:



Northwoods community to benefit from state brownfields award

Contact(s): Christine Haag, Brownfields Section chief, 608-266-0244; Andrew Savagian, communications, 608-261-6422

MADISON - A rural Vilas County community stands to benefit from a Department of Natural Resources brownfields award to help clean up an abandoned contaminated property.

The former Nagel Lumber property operated in the Land O'Lakes area for more than half a century before closing its doors in 2005. Since then, the 130 acre site has sat idle and is deteriorating.

The DNR's Wisconsin Assessment Monies award, valued at approximately $30,000, comes in the form of contractor services for assessing conditions at the site, and will help the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation determine if the property contains any contamination in the soil or groundwater.

"This award may help make the difference between this historic property sitting idle and vacant or getting cleaned up and realizing a new purpose," said Christine Haag, chief of DNR's Brownfields Section. "It's especially helpful in smaller communities where resources are stretched thin."

Administered by the DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program, WAM awards provide communities like Land O'Lakes with professional environmental assessments of contaminated properties, helping them to turn the site around and get it ready for a new use.

Haag said WAM applications require minimal effort by local governments, because there is no financial match or project administration involved, making them attractive opportunities for small communities. In many instances, WAM awards are also leveraged against other sources of funding to kick-start repurposing efforts on sites that may have been underutilized for many years.

Applications can be submitted for a WAM award at any time, although funds are limited. Eligible sites for funding include closed or closing manufacturing plants, or vacant land with a history of manufacturing. Gas stations, dry cleaners, salvage yards and agricultural co-ops are not eligible.

More information is available by searching the DNR website,, for WAM. More information on environmental cleanups and redevelopment is available by searching for keyword "brownfield."



Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 09, 2016

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