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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 4, 2011

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2011 Wisconsin ring-necked pheasant season opens Oct. 15 at noon

MADISON - The longtime and popular tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin will again take center stage for upland game hunters when the fall 2011 pheasant hunting season opens statewide at noon on Saturday, Oct. 15. The season will run through Dec. 31.

Pheasants are among the most sought-after game birds in North America, and populations do best in the agricultural landscape of southern Wisconsin, provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet their food and cover needs throughout the year. Hunters should look for areas that contain adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay, and idle grasslands which provide food and nesting cover.

It will be important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in those areas. "Given the relatively snowy winters we've had lately, I would expect hunters to fare better in areas where pheasants have had access to sufficient winter cover. When hunting wild birds, I'd definitely focus on grassy landscapes with cattails, dense warm-season grasslands, or brush close at hand," said Scott Walter, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "Successful hunters should also have a number of potential hunting spots lined up and be ready to move in order to find birds," suggested Walter.

During the 2010 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 49,000 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 240,316 birds. The top counties for harvest included Kenosha, Fond du Lac, and Dodge.

Bag Limits

On Oct. 15 and 16, the daily bag limit is one cock and the possession limit is two. For the remainder of the season (Oct. 17 through Dec. 31), the daily bag limit is two cocks and the possession limit is four. Some public hunting grounds offer both hen and rooster pheasant hunting, which requires a free permit and tags, and some properties also have 2 p.m. closure times. The 2 p.m. closure restrictions are only in effect for the first two weeks of the season, from Oct. 17 through Nov. 3. A 2011 Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants statewide.

Pheasant Stocking Program

This fall, DNR wildlife biologists plan to release approximately 50,000 game farm pheasants on 71 public hunting grounds. This is a very slight decrease from 2010 when 51,000 game farm pheasants were stocked in those same areas. In addition, pheasants raised by conservation clubs through the day-old chick program will also be released this fall on both designated public hunting grounds and private lands open to public pheasant hunting. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of this program.

Hunters can check the Pheasant Stocking on State Properties map or check the 2011 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet (pdf), identifying public hunting grounds slated for pheasant stocking. Stocked public hunting grounds are primarily located in the southern part of the state, in the core of the pheasant range. Hunters should carefully verify which public hunting grounds have a 2:00 p.m. closure time and/or allow hen pheasant hunting.

More information on the 2011 pheasant population outlook is available as part of the 2011 Fall Hunting & Trapping Forecast (pdf). See the 2011 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations (pdf) for additional details.

Wild Pheasant Populations

This is the fourth year in a row of declining pheasant numbers, and the third-lowest average since the Rural Mail Carrier and Spring Crowing Count surveys were first conducted. Long and snowy winters in recent years, along with a wet and cool spring in 2008 and below-average summer temperatures in 2009, have set pheasant numbers back statewide.

"In recent years, winter and spring conditions have been very hard on Wisconsin's wild pheasant population," says Walter. Compounding this has been a significant loss of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grassland acres in the core of Wisconsin's pheasant range. The CRP, originating with the 1985 Farm Bill, provides incentives to landowners to take environmentally sensitive acres out of crop production. These acres often produce outstanding pheasant habitat.

"The state pheasant population increased in the late 1980s through the 1990s," stated Walter. "High crop prices in the last couple years, however, have led many landowners to convert CRP acres back to crops. As a result, Wisconsin has lost more than 300,000 acres of quality wildlife habitat, nearly half of what the state enrolled at its peak. Consequently, hunters who focus on wild birds may end up flushing fewer pheasants."

While the 2011 Spring Crowing Count Survey showed a 30 percent decrease statewide, the 2011 Rural Mail Carrier (RMC) pheasant survey indicated an 11 percent increase in the number of pheasants observed per 100 miles driven (from 0.38 in 2010 to 0.42 in 2011). However, the latter results are still 28.8 percent below the long-term mean of 0.59 pheasants per 100 miles. Counties with the highest number of pheasants seen per 100 miles driven were Washington (2.82), Polk (1.51), Lafayette (1.13), St. Croix (0.83), and Pierce (0.80).

Pheasant Hunting Opportunities through the Mentored Hunting Program

2011 marks the third year of the Mentored Hunting Program, which allows hunters age 10 or older, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the program.

For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit the "Mentored Hunting Program" page of the DNR website.

"Pheasant hunting's popularity reflects the fact that it's simply a wonderful outdoor activity, for both experienced and novice hunters alike," said Walter. "I hope everyone gets out there this fall. With the cool fall breezes, leaves changing color, good friends by your side, and perhaps a few pheasants, everyone can expect to reap the ultimate reward from their days afield - good memories and great companionship."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Scott Walter, Upland Wildlife Ecologist, at (608) 267-7861 or Sharon Fandel, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist, at (608) 261-8458



Additional upland game hunting opportunities begin Oct. 15

MADISON -- The excitement of upland bird hunting - which combines the joy of going afield with a beloved hunting companion, otherwise known as your dog, and the heart-stopping thrill of flushing game birds - begins for many on Oct. 15.

Opportunities for upland bird hunting exist all across the state, but a changing landscape has led to declines in both numbers of birds and the numbers of hunters who pursue them.

"We still have a significant number of pheasant hunters in the state," said Scott Walter of the state Department of Natural Resources, an upland wildlife ecologist. "But in general, across the board, we are seeing a decline in upland game bird hunter numbers."

Much of this can be attributed to loss of habitat.

Pheasants raised on game farms supply most of the upland bird hunting action in Wisconsin. Efforts to expand the number of wild pheasants on the landscape have been hindered by two long winters and by market forces. The federal Conservation Reserve Program was a boon to wildlife in that it paid farmers to take land out of production, but as the price of corn and beans have increased dramatically, almost half the CRP acres in Wisconsin have been pulled from the program in favor of crops.

The pheasant season runs statewide from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.

Only ruffed grouse hunters have gotten good news lately as populations have risen for several years in a row, approaching or reaching the apex of a 10-year cycle of growth and decline.

These birds depend on the dense new growth of new forests, and the need for pulp wood in Wisconsin has resulted in adequate habitat for these birds to maintain decent populations.

Grouse hunting is divided into zone A, which covers most of the state, and zone B, which covers a slice of eastern and southeastern Wisconsin running from Appleton and Green Bay in the north and running south to the Illinois border with the western edge defined by highways 41, 26, 151 and 90.

The season in zone A opened Sept. 17 and continues through Jan. 31. In Zone B, the season runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 8.

Sharp-tailed grouse, one of four species of grouse native to Wisconsin, were once hunted across the state, but in recent times, their have been just two zones with enough birds to sustain a hunt, and one of these will be closed this year. Only in deer management unit 2, located in far northwest Wisconsin, will hunters be allowed to pursue this bird.

These grouse do best on open landscapes with patches of brush, most notably barrens, but these depend on frequent disturbance, whether through fire or cutting, and so many have been overtaken by dense growth.

"It's hard to maintain barrens," Walter said. "It takes intensive management, such as we have at the Namekagon Barrens or Crex Meadows."

Sharp-tailed grouse, like the prairie chicken, is a "lekking species." A lek is a display ground where males concentrate during the spring mating season and engage in a highly ritualized display of dancing and displays of plumage to attract females.

"They exhibit very dynamic, ostentations and colorful behaviors," Walter said.

The short season for sharp-tailed grouse begins Oct. 15 and ends Nov. 6. Walter said when numbers are up, or in western states with large populations, sharp-tailed grouse hunting can be thrilling.

"You often find them in groups," he said, "so once you get into them, the action can be exciting."

Other game birds in Wisconsin include the woodcock, hunted Sept. 24 to Nov. 7; the mourning dove, Sept. 1 to Nov. 9; and the crow, with a fall season that runs Sept. 17 through Nov. 17. The crow season opens again on Jan. 18 and runs through March 20.

Bobwhite quail, a native species, and Hungarian partridge, a non-native species brought here long ago, are two species that have been in long-term decline. The quail, which is perhaps a third the size of the more numerous ruffed grouse, are adapted to small-scale agriculture in an age when small farms are giving way to large operations.

"Quail tend to hang in coveys, so it is common, when you find them, to get multiple flushes," Walter said.

But the tradition of hunting quail, and Hungarian partridge, has faded in Wisconsin.

"Some are harvested each year," Walter said, "but usually it is incidental to some other form of hunting."

The seasons for quail and partridge open Oct. 15 and close Dec. 7 for quail and Dec. 31 for partridge.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Scott Walter, Upland Wildlife Ecologist, at (608) 267-7861 or Sharon Fandel, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist, at (608) 261-8458



More than half of Wisconsin anglers caught a musky in 2010

Survey sheds light on musky anglers' catch and habits

MADISON -- The elusive musky is getting less so: 56 percent of Wisconsin anglers, 48 percent of nonresident anglers, and 83 percent of musky club members reported landing muskellunge in Wisconsin in 2010, according to a recent statewide survey of musky anglers.

Vilas County musky
Musky caught in Vilas County in 2011.
WDNR Photo

"Anglers might not realize it, but musky fishing is better than it's ever been in terms of the number of fish and availability," says Dan Isermann, a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point assistant professor and the principal investigator in the survey. "Musky are more abundant than they ever have been because of better fisheries management and the prevalence of catch and release."

Isermann says that improved technology also likely plays a role in the large proportion of anglers who report having caught a musky, once known as the fish of 10,000 casts but now caught in closer to 3,000 casts.

Forty percent of the resident and nonresident anglers, and 77 percent of the musky club members, caught at least one musky over 32 inches, while the average size of the largest fish anglers reported catching in Wisconsin was 46 inches.

Ninety-five percent of the fish were released by resident anglers and more than 99 percent were released by nonresidents and musky club members.

Isermann, working with UWSP colleague Kristin Floress and Tim Simonson, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who leads DNR's musky team, mailed information to randomly selected resident anglers, randomly selected nonresident anglers and musky club members, asking them to take an online survey about how often they fished, generally where, what they caught and what they kept. They also asked anglers questions about their attitudes and opinions regarding muskellunge fishing and management in Wisconsin.

The survey, funded by a grant from the Hugh Becker Foundation and administered by Muskies, Inc., contains many of the same questions asked in similar surveys in 1990 and 2000. The researchers have not yet fully compared 2010 data to results from those earlier surveys, but find results from this snapshot in time that are interesting, and will help manage musky now and in the future, Isermann says.

"To me, some of the more interesting findings spoke to harvest management and whether we could use mandatory reporting," Isermann says. "We're pretty certain musky mortality is low, but we don't have any idea how low is low. How many fish die every year?" Registration of harvested musky would be very useful tool to Wisconsin's management program.

Isermann said he was surprised that support for such a harvest reporting requirement was not higher than 75 percent, given the popularity of catch and release for this species. .

He also found it interesting that avid musky anglers are redefining upward what it means to catch a trophy musky.

"It is amazing to me how many people were choosing lengths greater than 50 inches because those fish are now available to them -- 51 or 52 is the new 50," he says.

The percentage of avid musky anglers that picked some size 50 or larger as a trophy has increased from 44 percent in 1989, to 62 percent in 1999, and to 77 percent in 2011, Simonson says. Random license holders appear content to settle for a low 40-inch fish About 23 percent of licensed resident anglers reported that they would harvest a "trophy" fish, while only 2 percent of avid musky anglers said they would.

Most anglers stayed home to fish for the state species: 32 percent of licensed Wisconsin anglers fished specifically for muskies in Wisconsin during 2010 and 6 percent fished for muskies outside Wisconsin.

Avid musky anglers were more willing to travel: 52 percent of club members spent some time -- generally less than 10 days a year -- fishing for muskies outside of Wisconsin, figures very similar to responses from 1989, with Ontario and Minnesota the top two destinations, Simonson says.

The primary reason anglers gave for fishing outside Wisconsin was an increased opportunity for bigger fish. The average of the largest musky ever caught outside Wisconsin by avid musky anglers was 48 inches, while the largest musky they ever caught in Wisconsin averaged 46.

More 2010 Musky Survey Highlights

The Survey of Angler Attitudes and Opinions Regarding Muskellunge Fishing and Management in Wisconsin (pdf)is available on the DNR website

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Isermann, UWSP (715) 295-8878; Tim Simonson, DNR (608) 266-5222



54 percent of avid musky anglers use live bait

Follow VHS rules, use quick strike rigs to keep fish healthy

MADISON -- Avid musky anglers are increasingly relying on live bait to catch their quarry, according to a recent statewide survey of musky anglers.

About 54 percent of musky club anglers reported some use of live bait in 2010, compared to 38 percent in 1990 and 37 percent in 2000, according to a recent survey of anglers by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Department of Natural Resources.

Resident anglers -- those who don't necessarily target musky -- reported lower use of live bait for musky -- 36 percent over the same time period, according to Tim Simonson, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist and co-leader of DNR's musky team.

That widespread use of live bait makes it even more important that musky anglers follow bait rules aimed at preventing the spread of VHS fish disease and that they use quick strike rigs to decrease the number of fish that die due to single hook rigs baited with minnows, Simonson says.

Quick strike rigs decrease fish mortality

The vast majority -- 98 percent -- of avid musky anglers reported using "quick-strike" rigs, which are designed to reduce hooking mortality, compared to using single-hook rigs, which have been shown to result in greater than 80 percent mortality in hooked muskies, Simonson says.

Starting next year, the use of single-hook rigs (other than non-offset circle hooks) will be prohibited when fishing with live minnows 8 inches and larger, Simonson says. About 68 percent of musky anglers supported this ban on single-hook swallow rigs during voting at the spring fish and wildlife rules hearings, Simonson says.

Follow rules for minnow use as bait

Musky are one of several dozen Wisconsin native species vulnerable to VHS fish disease, which can cause fish to bleed to death, so it's important to follow state rules to prevent spreading the virus, Simonson says.

Most importantly for musky anglers, buy bait from a Wisconsin bait dealer or registered fish farm. Anglers who have leftover minnows can take them away from a lake or river and use them again on the same water. They may also use them on any other water if no lake or river water, or other fish, were added to the bait container.

The leftover minnows can be taken away at the end of the day in up to 2 gallons of water; otherwise, drain all water from vehicles, trailers, watercraft containers, live wells and fishing equipment.

Find a full listing of rules to prevent the spread of VHS fish disease in a "Fishing with Bait (pdf)" factsheet.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Simonson (608) 266-5222



Antlerless gun deer hunt in CWD zone October 13-16

MADISON - In a return to a more traditional statewide deer season structure, only deer management units in the chronic wasting disease management zone (CWD-MZ) will have a four-day October antlerless deer only gun hunt in 2011.

CWD Management Zone

The Oct 13-16 antlerless deer only gun hunt will take place in the following CWD deer management units: 54B-CWD, 70-CWD, 70A-CWD, 70B-CWD, 70E-CWD, 70G-CWD, 71-CWD, 73B-CWD, 73E-CWD, 75A-CWD, 75C-CWD, 75D-CWD, 76-CWD, 76A-CWD, 76M-CWD, 77A-CWD, 77B-CWD, and 77C-CWD.

State park CWD management zone units 70C-CWD, 70D-CWD, 70F-CWD, 75B-CWD require special access permits and have different hunting hours. Hunters should contact individual parks for permits, maps and instructions. Additional information on state park CWD management zone hunting seasons can be found on pg. 46 of the 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations.

For complete rules and regulations involving this hunt consult the 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations which is available in hard copy from license sales agents or online.

"Hunters in the CWD management zone and elsewhere are likely noticing billboards, television and print adds with a new slogan," said Tami Ryan, of the DNR's wildlife health unit.

"'Hunt, Harvest, Help' is something all hunters can participate in but it is especially relevant to the CWD zone. 'Hunting' is the fun part; it's the family and friends and time in nature that brought many of us to this pastime as youngsters. 'Harvest' is for yourself and your family and friends but also for others; consider providing additional deer to the needy through the venison donation program. Finally, there is 'Help'. Helping others by providing high quality food is one way but hunting also is the most effective, efficient and best wildlife management activity available. Consider your role as a hunter and what you can do to help contain CWD and prevent its spread to new areas."

For more information see the Hunt, Harvest, Help (exit DNR) website.

People may also contact the DNR Call Center toll free at 1-888-936-7463 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert - (608) 264-6023



Baiting, feeding regulations remain important

MADISON - State wildlife officials and conservation wardens are reminding hunters that baiting and feeding of deer is banned in 28 Wisconsin counties and that current law places restrictions on the timing and amount of bait that can be used for hunting purposes in all remaining counties. Additional information on baiting and feeding regulations can be found in the 2011 Deer Hunting regulations (pdf).

Baiting and Chronic Wasting Disease

Wildlife health officials say chronic wasting disease is transmitted through deer to deer contact, so baiting is banned in the CWD zone. Concentrations of deer at bait and feeding sites are likely to promote the transmission of infectious agents. CWD is also transmitted through exposure to a contaminated environment. Scientific studies have concluded that CWD, the always fatal disease in deer, can be spread through saliva passed between deer at baiting and feeding locations.

Practices impact deer behavior

"Deer hunters know that baiting and feeding decrease deer movement which reduces deer sightings and hunting opportunities away from the baiting site," said acting DNR big game biologist, Dan Hirchert. "These practices can also draw deer into residential areas where hunting may be prohibited or restricted"

Officials: "We're making progress"

Illegal baiting and feeding are among the most frequent violations cited by conservation law enforcement officers and one of the most frequent sources of citizen complaints according to law enforcement officials. However, awareness of baiting and feeding restrictions and impacts is growing through outreach and education.

In 2010, the top violation encountered by conservation wardens during the gun deer season was illegal baiting of deer. But there is promising news. The number of arrests for illegal baiting at 216 represented a 35 percent decline from 2009

The 2010 deer season report said complaints to the DNR Hotline regarding illegal baiting and feeding also were down 50 percent. The volume of material found in bait piles also dropped.

Read more about baiting and feeding regulations on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert - (608) 264-6023



The fall hunt: friends, family, food and fun

Make yourself a deal this fall. Invite a friend who often asks you about your hunting adventures, but has never hunted.

Fall hunting is about friends, family, food and a lot of fun. You already know you enjoy hunting because you get connected with nature. We've all had spectacular moments we sometimes take for granted.

Moments like the shower of blazing yellow aspen leaves covering you during a grouse hunt, or catching the sight of ducks swinging into the decoys on a churlish gray morning. And, listening to the sometimes embellished stories at deer camp!

We all know that the connections we have with people and nature are our primary motivators. You can make these even more special by showing a friend - or an acquaintance -- about hunting.

You'll be amazed how much you know - and how much you enjoy sharing that knowledge with someone else. It's a two-way gift.

Get started through the mentored hunting program. Anyone interested can try hunting without taking hunter education classes. The mentored hunting opportunity is available to anyone who has not completed hunter education, regardless of age. An adult can hunt under the authority of a mentored hunting license for as many seasons as they can find a willing mentor. An active hunter introducing and mentoring a friend into hunting is like bringing another family into the tradition.

I'll lay odds that all of us know someone in our neighborhood, or through our church or trap range who wants to learn how to hunt. Well, our challenge is find that person who says, "I'd go hunting if someone would take and teach me."

It will require commitment. We may have to provide time for instruction, a gun, a spot, and we have to sit with the new hunter instead of hunting by ourselves. No more room at deer camp? Take a friend pheasant hunting -- or turkey hunting next spring.

Or, maybe you are interested in hunting but have not yet been initiated? The mentored hunting license is perfect for you. Ask a friend or family member to take you hunting with a mentored hunting license. You both get to experience nature in the company of family and friends and you can add to the great traditions that keep us going each fall.

So introduce a friend to hunting, or ask some one to take you hunting this fall. The next generation is our legacy. If we don't do it, who will?

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 576-5243



Order seedlings now for Spring 2012 planting

MADISON -- Autumn is a great time of year for landowners to enjoy their property and many will be out preparing for the hunting season. It's also a great time to prepare for tree planting on your property next spring.

The Spring 2012 Tree and Shrub Ordering Form (pdf) is now available from the Department of Natural Resources State Nursery Program. The form includes information about tree and shrub species that are available and directions on how to order online or by mail. Species information and tips on how to prepare a site can also be found online.

"Every year, Wisconsin landowners plant millions of tree seedlings to enhance and restore native forests," according to Jim Storandt, Griffith Nursery manager in Wisconsin Rapids. "As busy as the last part of the year can be, autumn is the ideal time to prepare tree planting sites and to order seedlings."

And when a landowner is thinking about what species of trees to plant, the first place to turn for advice is the local DNR office. Each county has a DNR forester available to visit your land, answer questions, and help the landowner get the maximum benefits from their tree-planting activities.

"Landowners contemplating large tree planting projects should contact their local DNR forester or a private consulting forester for advice on species selection, site preparation, planting methods, cost-sharing programs, tree planter rentals, and other considerations in establishing a successful forest tree planting," Storandt said. Contact information for all DNR foresters can also be found online.

Even though these trees will not be distributed and planted until next spring, Storandt said it is important to order now because many desirable species sell out quickly.

Landowners can purchase seedlings from the DNR state nurseries for reforestation, wildlife habitat, and windbreak and erosion-control purposes. The nurseries offer pre mixed seedling packets of 300 seedlings for small landowners with mixes for windbreaks, wildlife habitat, shoreland, and hardwood and savannah restoration.

Customers who would like to select specific seedlings or shrubs must order a minimum quantity of 1,000 tree seedlings or 500 wildlife shrubs. Hardwood tree species available from the state nurseries include red oak, bur oak, swamp white oak, black cherry, silver maple, sugar maple, aspen, river birch, white birch, yellow birch, and black walnut. Conifer tree species available include white spruce, black spruce, white pine, red pine, jack pine, and white cedar. Wildlife shrubs available include hazelnut, ninebark, American plum, silky dogwood and red-osier dogwood.

"The seedlings grown at the state nurseries are high-quality native species grown from seed harvested in Wisconsin," Storandt said. "Planting these Wisconsin-grown trees and shrubs is a great way to improve wildlife habitat, increase the value of the land, reduce soil erosion, improve overall aesthetics, and possibly generate income for the landowner."

Seedlings and shrubs are distributed in April and early May. Landowners who order from the DNR can pick up their seedlings in Boscobel, Hayward, or Wisconsin Rapids, or in many counties, at a central location designated by the local DNR forester. Although the DNR will not be using Hayward for seedling production beyond the spring of 2013, Hayward will continue as one of the departments distribution facilities.

"Staff at the state nurseries place a high value on customer service," Storandt said. "Information on tree and shrub inventory is updated regularly. The State Nursery Seeding Catalog (pdf) provides information on the various seeding species. A Frequently Asked Questions page along with links to additional tree planting information help landowners to maximize their investment."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: CONTACT: Griffith State Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids (715.424-3700), Hayward State Nursery in Hayward (715.634-2717), Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel (608.375-4123), or James Warren at 608.264-8990.



Compost leaves this fall to protect air quality and enrich your lawn and garden

MADISON - As leaves start to fall across Wisconsin, state environmental officials are reminding people that autumn is an excellent time to start composting or to improve a home compost pile. Composting can help residents save money on fertilizer, save municipalities money on yard waste collection and protect the state's air quality.

Composting is better for the environment than burning leaves, branches, weeds and other yard materials. "Burning yard waste can cause health problems for your family and neighbors, pollute soil and water, and start wildfires," says Brad Wolbert, Recycling and Solid Waste Section Chief for the Department of Natural Resources' Waste and Materials Management Program.

State air quality and fire rules regulate the burning of yard materials in Wisconsin, and a growing number of communities have local rules in place that restrict or completely prohibit burning yard materials.

Composting your leaves, grass clippings and branches doesn't mean they go to waste. Composting, says Wolbert, "not only helps keep our air clean and prevents wildfires, but the compost itself is a valuable product."

Composted yard materials keep soil healthy and provide nutrients for lawns and gardens, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. State law bans yard materials from landfills, but there are a number of ways residents can manage leaves and other compostable materials in their back yard or garden. Urban residents who don't compost on their own property often have access to a community compost site.

Here are a few tips for composting or reusing yard materials:

More information on home composting and vermicomposting is available on the DNR website and the UW-Extension website [] (exit DNR; search publications for "composting"). To learn more about yard waste recycling, see the Recycle More Wisconsin. The DNR also has a new poster titled Garbage to Gardens: Compost Grows (pdf). Copies are available from Elisabeth Olson at (608) 264-9258 or

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert a6 608-264-6286 or



Program helps Wisconsin schools be green and healthy

Recycling bins offered to participants

MADISON -- With the start of a new school year, fall is the perfect time to improve the health and environment of schools across the state. The Green and Healthy Schools (GHS) Program helps schools save money, improve the health of their school, and be greener, healthier places for their students.

The Green and Healthy Schools Program is a three-step, voluntary program available to all Wisconsin public and private elementary, middle and high schools. The program guides schools through an environmental assessment to see where they can make improvements in areas like energy and water use, waste and recycling, and transportation. After completing the assessment, schools take actions to address issues they found and improve the health and environment of their school. Once all steps of the program are complete, schools are recognized as an official Green and Healthy School by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Instruction.

The Green and Healthy Schools program is designed to support and encourage schools in their quest for a healthy, safe and environmentally-friendly learning environment. By participating in the program, students learn about the environmental, health and safety challenges facing our state, and are given skills to address these challenges throughout their life. Participant schools often save money on utility bills, paper costs, and other areas.

To help schools improve their recycling efforts, the GHS program offers a recycling bin grant program to program participants. Schools that have completed steps one and two of the program are eligible to apply for up to 50 free recycling bins to use in their schools. Currently, 137 schools are participating in the GHS program and 32 schools have completed the program. Since the program began, 622 bins have been distributed to 14 schools.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Werner at DNRG& or (608) 267-7622.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 04, 2011

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