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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 17, 2013

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State stocking trucks rolling with walleye funded by state budget initiative

More and larger fish headed to more Wisconsin waters

WOODRUFF - The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is on a roll!

State stocking trucks head out on the highways this week with the first loads of larger walleye to be delivered to lakes under the initiative, a funding package aimed at increasing populations of walleye, anglers' favorite catch.

Over the next few weeks, state fish hatcheries are expected to stock out 300,000 to 400,000 of the 4- to 7-inch walleye, more than four times as many as normal. The two-year, $13 million Wisconsin Walleye Initiative allows DNR to expand stocking of the larger walleye, known as "large fingerlings," which are more expensive to produce but survive better, and to buy walleye from private, tribal and municipal hatcheries.

"The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is under way and we're excited to make these first investments in giving anglers more of what they want: walleye," says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Stocking trucks are rolling this week from our cool-water hatcheries in Woodruff, Wild Rose and Albion, with more fish to come in the next few weeks from our Spooner and Lake Mills facilities."

The fish being stocked now will take several years to grow large enough to be legally kept by anglers, but with them DNR is starting to build the foundation for an effort to jumpstart an increase in walleye populations in many lakes, says Mike Staggs, DNR fisheries director.

"We believe we can increase walleye populations in many lakes with targeted stocking efforts," Staggs says. "We've geared up on short notice in 2013 to quadruple our larger fingerling production and we're well into the planning that will help us produce even more in coming years."

The best, most-cost effective walleye fisheries are universally self-sustaining through natural reproduction and produce populations two to three times higher than those waters stocked even at the highest levels, research shows. But stocking can create significant and locally important fisheries, and stocking larger fish is the quickest way to increase walleye populations on the broadest scale where natural reproduction is not adequate, Staggs says.

Normally, DNR stocks 3 to 4 million smaller walleye and 60,000 to 70,000 of the larger fingerling walleye, a split dictated by limited budgets, because the smaller walleye are much cheaper to produce. The smaller walleye, known as "small fingerlings," are 1 to 2 inches at stocking and are cheaper to produce because they feed on plankton that grow in the fertilized hatchery ponds where they are kept. To keep walleye longer at the hatcheries so they grow to large fingerling size, DNR must buy and feed the young walleyes minnows and keep the fish at lower densities in DNR ponds.

The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative gives DNR the money to keep more walleye longer at the hatcheries and stock them out at the large fingerling size where they stand a better chance of surviving.

The Walleye Initiative was adopted in the 2013-15 budget approved in June, which started July 1.

The walleyes will be stocked in waters fisheries biologists previously identified for stocking. This fall, DNR will be able to go deeper down the list in filling biologists' requests for certain select waters and also will be able to provide more larger fish.

For stocking in future years under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, DNR will be launching a public involvement process this October to help understand what the public wants from walleye fishing in the state.

Scoping statement for fish grant program to be taken up by state Natural Resources Board

In related news, DNR is taking some of the first steps to get in place emergency rules that will govern a competitive grant program created by the Legislature to help build capacity among tribal, municipal and private hatcheries to help supply larger walleye for stocking.

On Sept. 25, the state Natural Resources Board will be considering the proposed scoping statement [PDF] needed before DNR develops the administrative rules governing the grant program. Emergency rules creating the competitive grant program are expected to be brought to the October Natural Resources Board meeting for approval, Staggs says.

The September meeting is at the Four Seasons Island Resort on Miscauno Island in Pembine.

For more information on the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative search the DNR website for "walleye."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Staggs, 608-220-2609 Dave Giehtbrock, 608-266-8229



New program rewards hunters who recruit new people to hunting

MADISON - Hunters who are able to recruit three new people into hunting would be eligible for a half price license the following year, under a new Department of Natural Resources program that seeks to encourage active hunters to introduce new people to hunting.

"Becoming a mentor may take a year to accomplish. However, it comes with immediate - as well as lifetime - rewards," said Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator.

Warnke says if three new hunters list a mentor as their "recruiter," the mentor may receive a license of his or her choice at half-cost the next license year.

Apprentices can purchase a first-time hunter's license for $5. The mentor then provides his or her DNR customer identification number to the apprentices and has them call DNR at 888-936-7463. The apprentices simply give the mentor's identification number as the person who recruited them.

"If you accumulate three recruiter points, you receive a half-price license for you next year," Warnke says.

"New hunting partners can become friends for a lifetime," Warnke said, adding mentors can suggest the opportunity to family members, co-workers and friends. "And it is a great way to share the state's hunting heritage."

Warnke says those who are interested in hunting but don't know how to start also can use the rewards program. "Ask a friend to take you hunting and explain this program," he says. "There are hunters who can help you. And now it's easy to reward them for their time."

For more information on mentoring hunters, search the DNR website for "mentored hunting."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sports coordinator, 608-576-5243; Joanne Haas, public affairs manager, 608-267-0798



Plant the seed for a green and healthy school!

Free fall workshops available for teachers, administrators and school staff

MADISON - The Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin Program is conducting free workshops in several locations this fall to educate teachers, administrators and other school staff about how to incorporate the program into their schools.

Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin is a Web-based, self-paced voluntary program available to all Wisconsin pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade public and private schools. Program goals include helping schools reduce costs, improve health and wellness and increase environmental literacy. The program is administered through a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education.

The workshops will connect GHS program staff with area schools and bring local resources and school officials together. Training will provide an in-depth introduction to the program, and how to receive recognition for achievements focusing on:

Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to learn how to connect with area businesses, nature centers, local governments and non-profit organizations. Participants will also leave with a plan for making their individual schools green and healthy.

Learn more about this program and start the process by attending a free one-day workshop! All workshops are held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Lunch will be provided as part of the workshop along with an expense stipend of $100 per attendee (for up to 4 individuals from each school), to be used to cover expenses of attending the workshop or for expenses related to Green & Healthy Schools.

Funding provide for by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Visit Wisconsin's Green and Healthy Schools website to learn more or to register. Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin Fall Workshop Registration (both links exit DNR). Space is limited, so sign up early!

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Caitlin Henning, 608-267-7622



Tree and shrub seedlings from DNR nurseries go on sale soon

Plot habitat, windbreaks & erosion controls now - sales start Sept. 27

MADISON -- Now is the time for private landowners to finalize plans to create wildlife habitat, establish windbreaks, erosion controls and more in preparation of tree and shrub sales beginning Sept. 27 at the three Department of Natural Resources nurseries.

"This is a great program that gives landowners opportunities to create future forests with the help of our cost-sharing program," said Pat Murphy, DNR nursery team leader. "The minimum purchase is 300 trees or shrubs and the purchase must be for conservation purposes."

The cost-sharing program reduces the costs of creating these conservation areas. Contact local DNR foresters to learn more about this financial benefit.

Seedlings in October are distributed in April and May.

Phone numbers for the three state nurseries are:

For information, search the DNR website for "tree planting."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Murphy, nursery team leader, 715-839-3760; Joanne Haas, DNR public affairs manager, 608-209- 8147



Emergency funds available to replace 2012 drought-killed tree seedlings

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to reflect that grants will be available until May 1, 2014.

MADISON -- Landowners who have experienced a significant loss this year in trees planted in 2008 through 2012 may be eligible to receive a grant for replanting the trees lost under the Wisconsin Forest Landowner Grant Program. Emergency Funds have been designated again this year for tree planting failures of greater than 25 percent due to the 2012 drought in 49 counties.

A Department of Natural Resources forester must verify that the loss is directly related to the 2012 drought, said Carol Nielsen, DNR private forestry specialist. Grants awarded will cover up to 60 percent of the costs for preparing the site and replanting trees where the DNR Forester has determined there is a need.

"The emergency grants are awarded as the applications are received instead of waiting until the next regular award date," Nielsen said. "Emergency grants will be available until May 1, 2014 or until all of the designated funds have been awarded whichever comes first."

All other Wisconsin Forest Landowner Grant Program eligibility rules still apply, including:

This map [PDF] shows the counties approved for emergency funding, and a Wisconsin Forest Landowner Grant Program factsheet [PDF] is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol Nielsen, Private Forestry Specialist, 608-267-7508


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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