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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published March 11, 2014

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DNR is measuring winter's impact on deer and turkey

MADISON - As one of the harshest winters on record continues its icy grip on Wisconsin state wildlife officials are monitoring its effects on wildlife, particularly deer and turkey.

"We have received some reports of dead deer and turkey, especially in northern Wisconsin where snow is more than 30 inches deep in some areas," said Tom Hauge, director of wildlife management for the Department of Natural Resources.

While animals native to Wisconsin are equipped to handle snow and cold, too much for too long can overwhelm an individual animal's resources.

DNR biologists use a "winter severity index" to gauge winter stress levels. Points are assigned for each day with snow deeper than 18 inches and temperatures below zero. WSI measurements are recorded at 43 stations across the northern third of the state and in several east-central counties. Winter conditions are considered mild if a station accumulates less than 50 points, moderate between 51 and 80 points, severe between 81 and 100, and very severe if more than 100.

Many stations in northwestern counties have already reached "severe" on the index, said Mike Zeckmeister, DNR northern wildlife supervisor and more stations likely will record a severe winter index in coming weeks. The 2013-2014 Winter Severity Index [PDF] is available on the DNR website.

People asked to report any deer mortalities

DNR biologists are asking the public to report any observations of winter deer mortality. The reports can be submitted through the DNR website by searching for keywords "dead deer."

Concerned citizens can also search the DNR staff directory for local wildlife biologists and technicians to receive their reports. Additionally, DNR biologists are working in the field this time of year, monitoring deer and their habitats and talking to loggers, foresters, trappers and others who frequent the winter woods.

Sam Jonas, DNR wildlife biologist for Iron County surveyed a 4-mile stretch near the Wisconsin-Michigan border that runs through a wintering area and observed about 70 deer and 16 turkeys.

"The deer are browsing cedar, hemlock and other brush in area," Jonas said. "I am sure we do have some winter mortality in areas, however, the deer I have seen in this wintering area look like they are faring pretty well so far, including the fawns. Late March and April is historically when we see winter mortality so I will be doing a lot of snowshoeing into deer yards at that time to check on things."

Conditions generate questions about feeding deer

The harsh winter is generating questions from the public about feeding deer. Zeckmeister said it is a legitimate and compassionate inquiry but one without an easy answer.

"I understand people want to try to help deer through a hard winter, but feeding can do more harm than good," he said.

Feeding unmixed corn or hay can actually be harmful to deer in late winter. A commercialized pellet - or mixes containing small quantities of corn, plus alfalfa, oats and soybeans, as well as various vitamins and minerals - is the best choice. The food should be spread out to reduce fighting, kept away from roads or snowmobile trails to avoid collisions, and placed near areas sheltered from the wind.

Deer feeding is regulated under Wisconsin law and is prohibited in counties affected by chronic wasting disease. In all other counties, feeding is limited to a maximum of 2 gallons per site. Feeding sites must be placed within 50 yards of a dwelling or a business building open to the public and may not be placed within 100 yards of a roadway with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or higher.

Interested individuals can search the DNR website for "baiting and feeding regulations."

Conditions to have impact on deer permit levels

"There is no question this winter will affect decisions concerning the deer season," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. "We are watching this very closely and will adjust the 2014 antlerless deer quotas in response. Based upon what we've seen to date, northern Wisconsin deer hunters can expect to see a lot of buck-only units this fall. The availability of antlerless permits will be extremely low or at zero across the north, depending on the area."

Severe winter also having impact on turkey flocks

"This has been a tough winter for many of our resident wildlife species, and turkeys are no exception," said Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "Although turkeys are very capable of surviving brief periods of cold and snow, the longer those conditions last the more likely it is that we'll see mortalities, and we've already had verified reports of weather-related mortality in at least a few northern counties. Young birds are likely to be the hardest hit, as they don't have the fat reserves that allow adults to survive up to four weeks with minimal food."

The cold forces turkeys to either increase their food intake or burn more of their fat reserves to stay warm while deep or crusted snow makes it difficult to locate food on the ground. Powdery snow more than12 inches deep makes it difficult for turkeys to travel in search of food.

Permit levels can be safely maintained despite population shifts

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: After further consideration of concerns raised by hunters, especially in northern Wisconsin, state wildlife officials have decided to reduce spring permit levels in some zones. Please see this news release.

As a result of poor production last spring and a severe winter, hunters might see fewer turkeys during the spring 2014 season.

"The levels of harvest that typify Wisconsin's spring and fall turkey seasons have little impact on population trends, however," Scott said. "Some hunters understandably have suggested reducing harvest during the upcoming spring and fall to help turkeys recover. Reducing permit levels, however, would greatly reduce hunter opportunity while doing little to help turkey populations."

Landowners interested in habitat enhancements to buffer turkeys against the effects of severe winter weather can receive grain seed for winter plots through the National Wild Turkey Federation Conservation Seed Program, which provides outdated corn as well as sorghum, highbush cranberry and flowering crab seedlings to federation members for reduced costs.

"These programs allow National Wild Turkey Federation members to make a significant contribution to wild turkey winter survival in the Upper Midwest," said Rick Horton, National Wild Turkey Federation Midwest Conservation Field Supervisor.

More information about Wisconsin's wild turkeys is on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, keyword "turkey."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on northern deer herd contact Mike Zeckmeister, DNR northern wildlife management supervisor, 715-635-4090; Tom Hauge, DNR wildlife management bureau director, 608-266-2193, or Sam Jonas, DNR wildlife biologist, 715-476-7843; on turkey contact Scott Walter, upland wildlife biologists at 608-267-7861

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Sunshine Week dedicated to improving transparency in state government

As you may have heard, March 10 through 16 is Sunshine Week, a week dedicated to improving transparency in state government and reaching out to the public for their valuable input. With that, I'd like to take a quick moment to recap some of the great efforts we've done at the Department of Natural Resources to improve transparency and to work more with the public. By working with those who care just as much as we do about protecting our natural resources, we are able to better protect the places we live, work and play.

Maintaining transparency in the DNR remains crucial for our mission to protect and enhance our natural resources, and we can't do it alone. Looking ahead, I am excited to continue improving transparency and working with others to keep Wisconsin one of the best places to live and recreate!

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR Spokesperson, 608-267-2773

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DNR letter provides requirements to Gogebic Taconite for potential mining project in northern Wisconsin

MADISON - This week the Department of Natural Resources sent a detailed letter and additional materials to Gogebic Taconite, LLC, concerning the company's proposed iron mining project in Iron and Ashland counties.

The letter outlines the approvals that may be required for a potential mining project, the requirements for submission of an Environmental Impact Report, information the department will require to process a mining permit application and available environmental data related to the area.

The agency letter and documents are in response to Gogebic Taconite's preapplication notice submitted to the department in June 2013 and preapplication meetings that the department had with the company in December 2013 and January 2014. Under the new iron mining law passed last year, the department must provide a response within 60 days of the preapplication meetings.

The letter and additional materials are available for by searching the DNR website for "Gogebic." The agency has also created a listserve for anyone interested in receiving updates about the project.

Larry Lynch, DNR project manager, said the company has already begun collecting baseline environmental data, but added that much more environmental information and project design details must be developed before complete permit applications could be submitted. Lynch said the department intends to regularly communicate with Gogebic Taconite throughout their data gathering, permit preparation and mine project design and, if necessary, may specify additional informational needs.

The company proposes to mine a portion of the Gogebic deposit, generally defined as the 21-mile western end of the 60-mile long Gogebic Iron Range, which stretches east to west from Lake Gogebic, Michigan, to Mineral Lake, Wisconsin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Lynch, 608-267-7553, or Ann Coakley, 608-516-2492

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2014 Wisconsin Fishing Report, calendar and fishing regulation pamphlet now available

MADISON - The 2014 Wisconsin Fishing Report, a fishing calendar, and regulations for hook and line and inland trout fishing are now available online to help anglers start planning their fishing trips. Fishing licenses for the 2014-15 season went on sale March 5.

"Wisconsin's a great place to fish and we hope these pieces can help make your fishing a little easier," says Karl Scheidegger, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who leads DNR fisheries outreach efforts.

The annual 16-page 2014 Fishing Report compiles fishing forecasts submitted by DNR fisheries biologists and shares information about the number and sizes of fish they found during population surveys on a wide range of waters across the state. The forecasts are organized by species and alphabetically by county name.

The 2014 Fishing Report is also available in print at DNR Service Centers and will be inserted into the April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

Subscribe to the magazine any time in the next six weeks to get that issue and the report delivered to your mailbox. The magazine is $8.97 for one year, six issues; $15.97 for two years and 12 issues, and $21.97 for three years.

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Again this year anglers can download and print off a color Making Fishing Better calendar with important fishing dates; moon phases; game fish identification tips; and monthly forecasts.

The calendar highlights the work of fisheries biologists as they continue to make fishing better for state anglers.

Also now online: the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2014-2015 and the Guide to Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations 2014-2015.

New this year: the largemouth bass harvest season opens statewide in Wisconsin on May 3, with anglers now able to keep largemouth 14 inches and over in what's long been known as the northern bass zone. Smallmouth bass are still catch and release from May 3 through June 20 in that zone, with the harvest season on smallies opening June 21.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger (608) 267-9426

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Annual maple syrup fest set for April 5 at MacKenzie Center

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to correct that the pancake breakfast during the Maple Syrup Festival at the MacKenzie Center is not an all-you-can-eat breakfast. We regret the error.

POYNETTE, Wis. -- The Maple Syrup Festival, a fun-filled educational event for families, is scheduled for April 5 from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the MacKenzie Center near Poynette. Maple Syrup Festival is hosted by the Friends of MacKenzie and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"The event features free guided tours of the sugarbush, demonstrations of how to tap a maple tree for sap, making syrup, interpretative talks about how Native Americans and pioneers made maple sugar and syrup and current methods used in our own MacKenzie sugarbush," said Ruth Ann Lee, MacKenzie Center educator.

"This is a great way to celebrate the beginning of spring and a wonderful opportunity to learn about the sugar maple tree and the unique process of making maple syrup in our Wisconsin climate."

Participants will have the opportunity to watch home-made ice cream being churned with an antique engine, listen to live, old-time country music and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. The wildlife habitat area with animals native to Wisconsin and the museums on property also will be open.

A breakfast, sponsored by Friends of MacKenzie, will be served from 8 a.m. until noon at the main lodge. The cost is $7 for those 12 years and older and $5 for people aged 3 to 11 years. Refreshments, maple products and souvenirs will be sold by the Friends of MacKenzie. The Friends will also draw the winners for their raffle at noon.

The MacKenzie Center is located two miles east of Poynette on County Road CS/Q. For more information go to dnr.wi.gov and search MacKenzie.

MacKenzie Center online chat March 18 on maple syrup, environmental education, and outdoor skills

Join MacKenzie Center staff to chat about new programs, outdoor opportunities for families, and the maple syrup program. During March and April the MacKenzie Center taps about 100 trees and teaches more than 1,200 students how to make maple syrup. People can join this online chat to learn more about the center and what it offers.

Maple syrup workshop March 29 at Crex Meadows

People interested in a more hands-on approach to making syrup can sign up to attend a two hour Maple Syrup Workshop that will be offered on Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area near Grantsburg in Burnett County.

The workshop will include the history and process of making maple syrup and demonstrations that include winter tree identification, tapping a tree, sap-collecting methods past and present, observing the boiling process, and ending with a sample of some pure maple syrup!

Participants will meet at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area and then caravan as a group 5 miles offsite. The workshop is free but pre-Registration is required. Space is limited to 25 Adults. Participants should dress for cold weather conditions and deep snow.

To register for the program or for more information, please contact: Kristi Pupak, Wildlife Conservation Educator at 715-463-2739 or via email: Kristina.pupak@wisconsin.gov For complete details and updated information, visit www.crexmeadows.org (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on Poynette Maple Fest contact Ruth Ann Lee, 608-635-8112 or Chrystal Seeley-Schreck, 608-635-8112; on the Crex maple syrup workshop Kristi Pupak, 715-463-2739

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Comment period begins for three industrial sand facilities applying to Green Tier program

MADISON - The public has an opportunity to submit comments on applications for Wisconsin's Green Tier program from Muskie Proppant in Plum City and Fairmount Minerals' subsidiary, FML Sand at their Oakdale and Readfield facilities. Green Tier is designed to recognize and reward companies who are committed to superior environmental performance.

Muskie Proppant and the two Fairmount Minerals facilities are applying for Tier 1 of the program where businesses are encouraged to work with the Department of Natural Resources to innovate, collaborate and set new environmental goals beyond the regulatory minimum. To be accepted, an applicant must have a good environmental record, commit to improving environmental performance and implement an Environmental Management System.

Muskie Proppant has committed to achieving several environmental performance goals such as establishing a recycling program, creating a zero discharge system for water use and reducing natural gas use while improving efficiencies.

Fairmount Minerals and its subsidiary, FML Sand, strive to exceed sustainable development practices at its operations in Readfield and Oakdale. The facilities specialize in processing high-quality industrial sand products for glass manufacturing, construction, animal bedding and for oil and gas exploration.

By 2015, Fairmount Minerals aims to achieve zero waste to landfill at all facilities, including the Readfield and Oakdale plants. In 2014 and 2015 FML Sand will work on ways to recycle or reuse materials generated at both plants such as rubber belting from conveyors, tires, air filters, plastics and items that are not commonly recycled such as plastic foam. Other efforts include reducing energy and fuel usage.

DNR welcomes comments on these Green Tier applicants until April 11, 2014. Comments, questions and requests for a public informational meeting concerning these applications may be directed to DNR Environmental Assistance Coordinator Gregg Breese, 608-509-5046, Wisconsin DNR, OB/7, PO Box 792,1 Madison, WI 53707-7921, or by email to gregory.breese@wisconsin.gov. Specific information on FML Sand's Readfield and Oakdale facilities, Muskie Proppant and the Green Tier program can be found by searching the DNR website for Green Tier and clicking on the button for "Comment on Green Tier applicants."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gregg Breese, Environmental Coordinator, 608-509-5046

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Wolf Treatment Plant awarded registered laboratory of the year

MADISON - The Wolf Treatment Plant in Shawano has received the 2014 Registered Laboratory of the Year award. The Department of Natural Resources presents the award annually to recognize laboratories for their outstanding commitment to producing high quality data.

Laboratories such as the lab at the Wolf Treatment Plant perform the vital function of monitoring the quality of treated water discharged into the environment assuring that it meets all applicable standards for protecting public health and natural resources.

"The staff and management at the Wolf Treatment Plant make their lab processes a priority and regularly exceed the minimum requirements," says Steve Geis, environmental science section chief.

Sample analysis is exacting, and to maintain that high quality, Shawano lab has implemented an exceptional quality control program to monitor results and procedures with a system of checks and balances. The lab has also installed preventive maintenance schedules to make sure vital equipment functions properly and accurately.

The lab was also commended for the quality of their record keeping and the clarity of their standard operating procedures. The Wolf Treatment laboratory had no deficiencies during its latest audit and this is the second evaluation in a row, where no significant deficiencies were identified since 2009.

For more information search the DNR website for Laboratory certification & registration program.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Geis, environmental science section chief 608-266-0245 steven.geis@wisconsin.gov

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DNR issues final approval on Holtz-Krause landfill clean-up in Marathon County

MADISON - A roughly 20-year cleanup of a former landfill in Marathon County is nearing completion, clearing the way for the beneficial reuse of the property as a soccer field and curling complex. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources this week will send a Certificate of Completion to the partners involved in the clean-up of the former Holtz-Krause Landfill in Wausau.

The certificate means that the Holtz-Krause Landfill Steering Committee has completed all the necessary work to investigate and clean up the site of contamination and is exempt from any future liability for past releases of hazardous substances on the property.

The 57-acre property is being developed into a soccer field and curling complex, complete with lighting for night games, bleachers, concession stand, and on-site parking.

"This is a great accomplishment for Wausau community leaders and the Holtz-Krause Landfill Steering Committee," said Darsi Foss, DNR brownfields and outreach chief. "They've successfully demonstrated that a landfill can be satisfactorily cleaned up and put back into productive use, not just capped off and indefinitely monitored."

This is the first time in Wisconsin that DNR has issued a Certificate of Completion on the clean-up of a licensed, municipal landfill.

The curling center is already operational. Organizers say the soccer fields will be ready for action in the spring of 2015.

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By definition, brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties where the real or perceived existence of contamination is hindering cleanup and the beneficial reuse of the land.

The Wisconsin Brownfields Program is a national leader in the effort to revitalize blighted properties, and often looked to as a model by other states and the federal government.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Endsley, DNR, 715-392-3126

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 11, 2014




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