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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published April 14, 2015

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Is burning waste worth the risk of starting a wildfire or compromising your health?

DNR officials respond to several wildfires in recent days, urge alternatives to burning

MADISON - With fire danger currently elevated in Wisconsin, it's even more important that people consider recycling and composting instead of burning waste and yard debris, which Department of Natural Resource officials caution may cause wildfires and add pollutants to the air.

"Wildfire season is here and it's not a good time to be burning outdoors. Just yesterday, we had a 200 acre wildfire and evacuated 44 homes," says Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. "Luckily, no one lost their home and no one was injured, but it was a good reminder to consider alternatives to burning, especially right now with the current fire threat."

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A 200-plus acre wildland fire west of the village of Necedah in Juneau County required the evacuation of 44 homes on Monday.
WDNR Photo

Though it is legal to burn some yard waste in certain areas, the department cautions that debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin, causing about 30 percent of the state's wildfires each year.

"Open burning of any material produces a variety of air pollutants. Burning plastics or treated or painted wood can release carcinogens such as arsenic, benzene and formaldehyde into the air," said Brad Wolbert, DNR recycling and solid waste section chief. "Children, older adults and people with cardiac disease and respiratory ailments, such as asthma, are generally more sensitive to smoke from burning garbage. Burning anything can affect your health, your neighbors' health and the environment."

Burning household trash in Wisconsin is illegal. A study by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency found that 15 households burning trash each day emits the same amount of cancer-causing dioxin and furan emissions as a 200-ton-per-day municipal waste incinerator that uses high-efficiency emissions control technology.

It is also illegal to burn recyclable materials such as glass, plastic, metal containers and clean paper, as well as agricultural and horticultural plastics such as silage film, haylage bags, bale wrap, woven tarps and nursery pots and trays. If these materials cannot be recycled, they should go to a landfill.

"Every community in Wisconsin has a recycling program for plastic, glass and metal containers, and paper," Wolbert said, "For yard debris, composting is a good option."

Composting and recycling are the preferred alternatives to burning - search "open burning" on the DNR website for more information and alternatives.

Burn permits help protect against wildfire

If burning is the only option for yard waste, burning permits may be required to burn yard debris piles or for broadcast burning any time the ground is not completely snow-covered. In DNR Protection Areas, permit holders are authorized to burn vegetative materials, such as leaves, brush and pine needles. Permits are designed so that burning is done safely with minimal wildfire risk.

Customers can obtain DNR permits online or by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. They may also visit their local ranger station or emergency fire warden to receive permits. Once an individual has a burning permit, he or she must call or go online after 11 a.m. on the day of the planned burn to check daily fire restrictions.

"Currently, much of the state is under high to very high fire danger. Several counties have suspended DNR burning permits due to low humidity and windy conditions," says Koele. "It's just not a good idea to be burning anything right now."

For more information on burning permits and the current fire danger in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website and search keyword "fire." To learn more about ways to handle waste materials, search "waste" on the DNR website. Information on recycling of agricultural pesticide containers is available at (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert, 608-264-6286

Catherine Koele, Wildfire Prevention Specialist, 715-356-5211 x208 or 608-219-9075



Keep Wildlife Wild and observe from afar

MADISON -- Wisconsin's Keep Wildlife Wild campaign urges people to enjoy the ongoing wild animal birthing season from afar as most young, including those seen alone, likely are under the care of a mother safely out of sight.

Fawns are protected from predators by their coloration and their lack of body odor. The mother deer only comes to feed the fawn every few hours and the feeding is accomplished quickly.
WDNR Photo

Dianne Robinson, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and interim chair of the multi-agency campaign in its second year, says people should resist the well-intentioned temptation to interact with a young animal perceived as on its own, because human interaction may do more harm than good.

Cheryl Diehl, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and campaign member and says people should never assume an animal is orphaned.

"Some species leave their young unattended to gather food or to protect them from predators," she said.

Diehl suggests watching the animal through binoculars during the day. If the animal is genuinely orphaned or injured, don't touch it, and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. (More tips and facts about how wildlife care for their young can be found on the DNR website,, search keywords: keep wildlife wild.)

Robinson notes species vary on how they care for their young.

"Baby rabbits are left alone in their nest, concealed by grass or vegetation. The mother returns to feed her young and leaves to keep predators at bay," she said. "Young raccoons are often seen playing in trees or yards without their mother, but she is nearby. Fledgling songbirds leave nests without parental supervision and before they are capable of flight. Fawns are born with spots and very little scent to hide them from predators. A fawn found lying still and by itself should be left alone."

Robinson says the campaign works to help prevent orphaned or injured wildlife situations. Here are tips from the campaign's wildlife experts:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dianne Robinson 262-424-9827 or Mandy Kamps, 715-359-5508



DNR awards surface water grants to 55 groups in 31 counties

MADISON -- Healthier lakes and improved control of aquatic invasive species will result from nearly $3.5 million in surface water grants awarded to 55 groups in 31 counties by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The surface water grants, which originate from a tax on fuel used by watercraft, will leverage an additional $3.3 million in matching funds from lake and river associations, local governments and nonprofit groups to implement the projects, said Shelly Thomsen, lakes and rivers team leader with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The DNR money supports control of aquatic invasive species, lake and river protection and clean-up efforts and other management activities.

Musky around habitat A small musky cruises among "fish sticks," one of the types of projects being funded to improve habitat.

"We are pleased that the DNR surface water grants help leverage significant private and community funds to expand the scope of work that can be done," Thomsen said. "This round of grants will help restore habitat, support the battle against Eurasian water milfoil, acquire conservation easements and improve water quality, among other projects."

The grants cover:

The grants also include funding for Healthy Lakes projects that support installation of fish sticks to improve habitat, native plantings or diversion practices along the shoreline to slow runoff, and upland practices that manage runoff from structures and impervious surfaces. This grant cycle will fund implementation of 100 best management practices for 48 properties on 15 lakes in nine counties for $81,540.54.

For a complete list of grant recipients, search the DNR website, for "surface water grants."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Shelly Thomsen, DNR lakes and rivers team leader,, 608-266-0502; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications,, 608-770-8084



Wisconsin DNR partners with lake associations and others to promote healthy lakes

37th annual Lakes Partnership Convention to be held in Stevens Point April 23-25

STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- Nearly 500 researchers, resource managers, community leaders and citizens are expected to attend the 2015 Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention meeting set for April 23-25 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point.

"The meeting highlights all the ways that healthy watersheds support healthy lakes and people while offering an important opportunity for the Department of Natural Resources to connect with stakeholders and researchers from across the state," said Carroll Schaal, DNR's lakes and river section chief.

DNR staff will present workshops explaining the state's new Healthy Lakes initiative, an effort to encourage more shoreland property owners to take actions that protect water quality and restore lake habitat. Other half-day workshops offered on Thursday and Saturday will help citizens tackle erosion control projects, manage volunteers, monitor loons and control invasive species. The event features speakers from lake management districts, state and local government agencies, several University of Wisconsin System campuses and private citizens.

Friday events include 24 conference sessions covering a range of lake issues, from watershed management to pier regulations. DNR resource managers will share insights into lake health at both the small and grand scale. Gina LaLiberte, a DNR senior scientist, will help people learn to identify blue-green algae and what to do when these harmful bacteria are found. Daniela Gurlin, also a senior scientist with the department, will share the most recent DNR research that uses satellite images to measure the health of thousands of Wisconsin lakes.

Eric Olson, director of UW-Extension's lake education efforts, said the Saturday agenda is tailored to help bring new lake stakeholders into the partnership.

"Saturday's program includes more introductory material and we minimized the cost to participate for that day so that more people can attend," Olson said.

Saturday also will feature Marion Stoddart, founder of the Nashua River Watershed Association in Massachusetts, who will give the morning keynote lecture. Stoddart became involved in cleaning up waterways in the early 1960s and more than 50 fifty years later, her efforts have helped transform the Nashua River from one of the nation's most polluted into a candidate for federal Scenic and Wild River designation.

The Lakes Partnership Convention is organized by DNR, UW-Extension Lakes (part of the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources) and the nonprofit group Wisconsin Lakes.

Walk-ins are welcome for Friday and Saturday morning sessions. Registration is required for workshops and tours on Thursday and Saturday. Pricing options depend on the days and sessions attended.

To register and find a full schedule of events and descriptions, go to (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carroll Schaal, DNR lakes and rivers section chief, 608-261-6423,; Eric Olson, Director, UW-Extension Lakes, 715-346-2192,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,



Mike Vogelsang named DNR north district fisheries supervisor

WOODRUFF, Wis. -- Mike Vogelsang has been named north district fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

A Watertown native, Vogelsang brings some 24 years of fisheries management experience with DNR to his new role. Vogelsang has served as leader of the headwaters fish team based in Woodruff since 2001, developing working partnerships with angling groups, tribal fisheries managers and community leaders while supervising fisheries biologists, technicians and overseeing development of management plans.

"I look forward to continuing our program's data-driven management approach, which goes hand in hand with protecting and enhancing the region's fishery," Vogelsang said. "As we move forward, I will enjoy working with our excellent fisheries staff and staff from the many other programs we integrate with."

Vogelsang's supervisory role now covers fisheries teams extending from Florence County in the northeast to Bayfield County in the north to St. Croix County in the northwest. He will remain based in Woodruff and will start his new position on April 19.

Vogelsang credits his childhood and high school summers spent at the family cabin on Druid Lake near Hartford for creating a lifelong interest in fisheries management. After graduating from UW-Stevens Point in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries biology and a minor in water resources, he started with DNR as a limited term employee in Park Falls, Woodruff and the Northern Highland Fishery Research Area before becoming a permanent fisheries technician in Woodruff in 1992.

He went on to spend eight years as the fisheries biologist on the Madison lakes before transferring back to Woodruff as the fisheries biologist for Oneida County in 2000. From 2001 to present he has served as the fisheries team leader in Woodruff.

Vogelsang replaces Steve Avelallemant, a longtime DNR northern Wisconsin fisheries supervisor who retired in 2014.

He and his wife Cindy have two daughters. Outside his work for DNR, Vogelsang is familiar to many in the community for his efforts to support Lakeland Union High School's cross country running, skiing and track teams.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT; Mike Vogelsang, DNR northern fisheries supervisor, 715-356-5211 Ext. 239,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,



Learn to Hunt bear nearing its final month - register soon!

MADISON -- People interested in learning to hunt Wisconsin black bear have until May 27 to apply to participate in a Learn to Hunt Bear program featuring classroom and field instruction capped with a real hunt with skilled mentors.

"The Learn to Hunt Bear program represents a special opportunity for novice hunters of any age," Keith Warnke, Hunting and Shooting Sports Coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources, said. "Working in partnership with many dedicated bear hunters local conservation organizations, wardens and wildlife managers, successful Learn to Hunt Bear events have been held across northern Wisconsin during the last several years."

In 2014, DNR conservation wardens and dedicated bear hunters coordinated LTH Bear events for roughly 35 participants out of 70 applicants. Individuals who participate in these events leave with the skills and basic building blocks needed to hunt for a bear in the future.

Participation in the DNR Learn to Hunt Bear program is limited, so qualified applications will be evaluated and winners drawn and notified in mid-June. Documents and applications for the Learn to Hunt Bear program can be found on the DNR website and must be postmarked by May 27.

The program is intended for people who would not have any opportunity to experience bear hunting without it. Anyone who is age 10 and older who has not participated in a Learn to Hunt Bear event and has not previously purchased a Class A or Class B bear license, or applied for preference points may apply. However, applicants with a connection to bear hunting through family and friends will be given lower priority in the selection process.

In 2005, the DNR began the Learn to Hunt Bear program as another outreach program for novice hunters. Other opportunities featured in the Learn to Hunt program include turkey, deer, pheasant, upland game and waterfowl. For more information search the DNR website,, for "LTH."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator, 608-576-5243



Entries Sought for Wisconsin wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp design contests

MADISON -- Wisconsin artists will have until July 24 to submit artwork for the 2016 wild turkey, pheasant and waterfowl stamp design contests. Funds derived from the sale of these stamps will contribute to the restoration and management of thousands of acres of important wildlife habitat.

2015 turkey stamp
2015 Wild Turkey Stamp by Robin Raab of Delavan

The top three entries for each stamp will be displayed at the Wisconsin State Fair. With contest finalists on display, thousands of visitors will help increase visibility for both the artists and the stamp programs' positive impacts on Wisconsin's wildlife. Visitation during the 11-day state fair is close to one million people, with around 120,000 visitors to the DNR Park annually.

Stamp design entries must be received or postmarked by July 24, 2015 in order to be eligible. Judging will take place in a closed session on July 31. Following judging, the top three entries for each stamp will be displayed in the Natural Resources Park at the Wisconsin State Fair and available for public viewing from Aug. 6-16. For rules, entry information, and Reproduction Rights Agreements, visit and search keywords "wildlife stamps."

Those who visit DNR Park will be the first to get a "sneak peek" at design winners for the 2016 wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamps. Department staff will be on hand to discuss the history and accomplishments of each program, as well as the central role that wildlife art has played in Wisconsin's habitat conservation efforts.

All stamp contest applicants should review contest rules carefully to ensure the eligibility of their entries. Artwork must meet technical requirements in order to be properly processed and prepared for judging and possible display at the Wisconsin State Fair.

If you would like to receive contest entry deadlines, detailed event information, and the announcement for the winning artwork for 2016, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and enroll in the "waterfowl, wild turkey, and pheasant stamp design contests" list.

For more information regarding the Wisconsin State Fair, visit [exit DNR].

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist and wildlife stamp coordinator, 608-261-8458



Three 'citizen conservationists' to be inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame

STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame will honor three individuals who have contributed to Wisconsin's conservation legacy by inducting them during a ceremony on Saturday, May 2.

The three of the inductees excelled as "citizen conservationists" by going beyond their professional work to advance the conservation ideal in their civic and community life, according to Joe Passineau, Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame president.

"The inductees this year clearly illustrate the importance of citizen action and the power of conservation organizations. Through their efforts they have advanced resource and public policy, and helped to protect and ecologically restore natural lands for the benefit of citizens statewide," Passineau, said.

This year's inductees include:

The Induction Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Sentry Theater in Stevens Point, located at the Sentry Insurance Headquarters, 1800 North Point Drive, with a coffee reception preceding the program at 9 a.m. A noon luncheon at the nearby Sentry World complex will conclude the day's activities. Luncheon reservations cost $25, and can be made by calling the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center at 715-346-4992.

The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame and Visitor Center, located at UW-Stevens Point Schmeeckle Reserve (exit DNR), was established in 1985 to advance the conservation legacy of Wisconsin and now recognizes 86 leaders who have contributed significantly to it. The hall of fame is a cooperative venture of 20 state-wide conservation organizations. Individuals may be nominated for induction by member organizations or by the public.

"This year is unique," Passineau said. "For the first time in 30 years, we are looking forward to having all three of the inductees at the recognition ceremony."

More information about the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame is available at (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Joe Passineau, WCHF president, 715-677-4047


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Last Revised: Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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