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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 573 days

Weekly News Published March 26, 2019


Volunteers help keep State Natural Areas pristine

Contact(s): Jared Urban, DNR SNA volunteer program coordinator, 608-228-4349

MADISON- Volunteers combined prairie exploration and art, grew tens of thousands of violet seeds to help an endangered butterfly in Crawford County, and spent hundreds of hours removing invasive species threatening remnant prairies, oak savannas and barrens.

These are just a few highlights from the annual accounting of how volunteers help care for State Natural Areas and introduce these special places to other Wisconsinites. Thirty-six volunteer groups had a direct impact on 3,296 acres at 43 State Natural Areas in 2018, representing $126,949 in value, according to the recently released State Natural Areas Volunteers 2018 Annual Report [PDF].

Their work helps preserve some of Wisconsin's best remaining prairies, oak savannas, forests and wetlands for future generations to enjoy. State Natural Areas provide important refuge for rare wildlife and plants: 75 percent of animal species and 90 percent of plant species listed as threatened or endangered in Wisconsin are found in these natural areas.

"Once again volunteers helped us make a lot of positive changes on our valuable State Natural Areas," says Jared Urban, the conservation biologist who coordinates the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program.

"In 2018 we saw several new sites where volunteers made an impact around the state. We are also seeing volunteers finding innovative ways to help people fall in love with State Natural Areas and get tasks done more efficiently. We can't thank our volunteers enough for their hard work to care for these special places!"

Urban started the State Natural Area Volunteer program in 2011, and new groups have been forming since then to help supplement work done by state work crews. Volunteers' work ranges from addressing threats to natural areas by controlling invasive species through pulling or spraying garlic mustard, to cutting down and burning buckthorn and honeysuckle, to spraying Phragmites. As well, volunteers help establish new plants in prairies and oak openings by collecting and planting seeds.

Volunteers scatter milkweed seeds at Rocky Run Oak Savanna in Columbia County.   - Photo credit: Jared Urban
Volunteers scatter milkweed seeds at Rocky Run Oak Savanna in Columbia County. Photo credit: Jared Urban

The 2018 annual report highlights examples of work being done at the different sites, features photographs and testimonials from volunteers on what they do and why. It salutes Ron DeGraff, the Beloit man who received the 2018 SNA Steward of the Year award and highlights volunteers who are growing violet seeds in their backyard gardens to provide habitat for endangered regal fritillary butterflies.

It also showcases how volunteers are helping others fall in love with the prairie through art in partnership with field trips to State Natural Areas through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Urban says.

Sign up to get notices of volunteer workdays at State Natural Areas

Volunteers participating in State Natural Area workdays need no training beforehand but are provided equipment and training on site to do the work. Typical workdays run three hours long and allow for breaks, and snacks are often provided.

Additional volunteer help makes a large impact, particularly at several of the newer active volunteer sites at Centennial Bedrock Glade, East Bluff, Haskell Noyes Woods, Hogback Prairie, and Maiden Rock Bluff state natural areas, Urban says.

Find a list of workdays and flyers on each event on DNR website,, by searching for "SNA Volunteers." From that web page, people also may sign up to receive email notices for workdays at State Natural Areas in different parts of the state.



Public hearing regarding Lake Superior fisheries management emergency rule to be held April 3

Contact(s): Todd Kalish, Fisheries Management deputy bureau director, 608-266-5285; Brad Ray, Lake Superior team supervisor, 715-779-4036

ASHLAND, Wis. -Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will hold a public hearing regarding a recently adopted Lake Superior commercial fishing emergency rule April 3 in Ashland.

The emergency rule is effective as of March 18, 2019, and department staff will develop the permanent rule over the next several months. An emergency rule hearing after the effective date is required by Wisconsin law.

The rule implements portions of the 2018 - 2028 Lake Superior Fishing Agreement, which is an agreement between the state of Wisconsin and the Red Cliff and Bad River bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribes.

The rule updates the total allowable commercial harvest for lake trout, revises the requirements for using and marking nets and other gear, modifies certain areas in which commercial fishing is allowed and makes minor revisions to harvest reporting requirements and the timeframe for returning unused trout tags.

The emergency rule hearing will be held Wednesday, April 3 at 6 p.m. at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Ashland. Members of the public may also submit comments via email to or via US mail to Department of Natural Resources, Attn: Meredith Penthorn, P.O. Box 7921, 101 S. Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707-7921 through until April 3, 2019.

"The department will consider all comments over the coming months as a permanent rule is developed," said Todd Kalish, DNR Fisheries Management deputy bureau director. "We will continue to rely on sound biological principles for managing the Lake Superior fishery as this new rule is implemented."

For more information, visit and search "proposed emergency rules".



Prepare for the return of gypsy moths

Contact(s): Bill McNee, DNR forest health specialist,, 920-360-0942

MADISON - As winter fades and spring arrives, gypsy moth eggs should start hatching in a few weeks. Property owners are urged to treat or remove egg masses now to help protect high-value trees and reduce future caterpillar populations.

The first step a property owner can take is to look for the egg masses. These are tan-colored lumps about the size of a nickel or quarter and may be found on tree trunks, the underside of branches, buildings, firewood piles and other outdoor objects. Each mass may contain 500 to 1,000 eggs. Statewide populations are currently low, although isolated trees and locations may have high populations.

Gypsy moth egg masses on a maple tree. - Photo credit: Bill McNee
Gypsy moth egg masses on a maple tree.Photo credit: Bill McNee

European gypsy moths were first found in Wisconsin in the mid-1970s in the eastern part of the state. By 1989, they had settled along Wisconsin's eastern shore from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Since then, moths have been found in every county. Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on more than 300 species of deciduous and evergreen trees. Their populations tend to outbreak (surge) in localized areas about every 10 years or so. During outbreaks, they may defoliate entire trees or forests.

If egg masses are found, there are two options to help reduce pest numbers. Horticultural oils that suffocate the eggs can be directly applied to the masses and are most effective when temperatures are above 40 degrees and a return to freezing is not imminent. These oils can be purchased at many garden centers and retail stores. Alternatively, egg masses within reach can be scraped into a can of soapy water and left to soak for a few days before being discarded in the trash.

Insecticide treatments may be appropriate for larger trees that have many egg masses. Some types of treatment are done before eggs hatch and some are done while the caterpillars are small. Property owners looking to hire a business to treat large yard trees this spring should contact them soon. A list of certified arborists is available on the Wisconsin Arborist Association website at (exit DNR). Additional businesses offering insecticide treatments may be found online or in a phone book. Management of woodlots should be done in consultation with a forester.

Additional information about management options for homeowners, including sticky barrier bands and burlap collection bands, is available at the Wisconsin gypsy moth website: (exit DNR).



Discussions and collaboration regarding management options for Lake Michigan salmon and trout to kick off this April

Contact(s): Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes district supervisor,, 414-382-7921, or Todd Kalish, DNR deputy fisheries director,, 608-266-5285

MADISON -- Salmon and trout stocking in Lake Michigan is a critical management activity that state fisheries managers say has contributed to robust fishing in Lake Michigan for the past four decades.

A three-year Lake Michigan management strategy was developed in 2017 following more than two years of discussion and input from more than 500 anglers, business owners and other stakeholders. The strategy called for stocking Skamania steelhead for the first time in a decade, stocking larger salmon and trout that survive better, enhanced collaboration with sport, charter, and commercial fishers to collect critical fisheries information, and expanded efforts with fishing clubs to place stocked fish in pens in Lake Michigan to get acclimatized and grow bigger before they're released.

Now Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff will re-engage stakeholders to begin discussions about Lake Michigan management and collaboration options for 2020 and beyond. To kick off that effort the department along with Wisconsin Sea Grant will be hosting the semi-annual Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum meeting on April 15, 2019.

At this meeting, department staff will gather input on the timeline for the meetings and gather stakeholder thoughts and ideas on the information that will be presented at these future meetings.

"The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum meetings are open to all stakeholders, so we encourage you to attend if you are interested in setting the course for meetings to discuss salmon and trout management on Lake Michigan", said Brad Eggold, Great Lakes District Fisheries Supervisor.

The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., April 15 at the Lakeshore Technical College, Lake Michigan Conference Room in Cleveland.

In addition to this topic, attendees will discuss citizen science, guide reporting on Green Bay and highlights from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission meeting. For the full agenda and more information on the Fisheries Forum, search the DNR website,, for "Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum."


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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