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Weekly News Published - August 28, 2018 by the Central Office

 

Wild rice harvest season outlook for 2018 now available

Contact(s): Jason Fleener, DNR wetland habitat specialist, 608-266-7408

MADISON -- Wild rice harvesters will find opportunities for harvest in Wisconsin this year--many ricers have begun harvest on some early maturing waters.

"After relatively poor rice crops in consecutive years, the 2018 crop generally appears to be faring better in northwest counties, despite heavy storms and flooding in June," said Jason Fleener, wetland habitat specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "However, the flooding had some local impacts--the Radigan Flowage in Douglas County, a popular ricing destination, remains de-watered from a dam breach. Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area in Burnett County has below-average rice on its flowages this year, also thought to be caused by the floods."

Wild rice grows on many lakes across northrern Wisconsin. - Photo credit: DNR
Wild rice grows on many lakes across northern Wisconsin.Photo credit: DNR

Wild rice in north-central counties, including Vilas, Oneida and Price continues to struggle on several lakes.

"The main culprit appears to be a sustained high water table in this region over the last few years," said Peter David, biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. "Prolonged periods of high water on historic wild rice lakes is not conducive to wild rice growth and tends to favor perennial aquatic plants instead."

There are always exceptions to these rules, as wild rice abundance is highly variable from water to water and from year to year. Harvesters can determine local rice conditions by speaking with locals, rice processors, or by checking out the waters themselves.

Another helpful resource is GLIFWC's Off Reservation Wild Rice Management web page (exit DNR). This page does not contain comprehensive list of all Wisconsin wild rice waters, but it features relative abundance reports on commonly harvested waters. This page also contains a list of date-regulated waters with opening dates and closures as they are determined. As the season progresses, lake opening notices will be posted on this page regularly as dates are determined.

Opening harvest dates for date-regulated waters are determined jointly by DNR and tribal officials. All date-regulated waters are posted at access points at least 24 hours in advance of the opening day.

Recreational boaters, anglers, and early teal and goose hunters are encouraged to take precautionary measures using watercraft on waters with wild rice beds. Wave action has shown to cause damage to rice beds as they are maturing throughout the spring and summer. Watercraft usage directly in wild rice beds cuts and damages plants. Intentional cutting of wild rice plants is illegal on Wisconsin's public waters.

DNR officials stress the importance of waiting to harvest until rice falls with relatively little effort. If most of the rice appears to be milky or still growing inside the hull, it is best to come back and try harvesting later. Premature harvest attempts often prevent the maturation of the rice kernels and can damage plants if excessive force is made in the flailing process. This not only affects other rice harvesters but can also have long-term effects on the sustainability of the rice beds on the body of water. As a general rule-of-thumb, rice tends to mature sooner in the northwest counties compared to the northeast, and river rice tends to mature sooner than lake rice.

Wisconsin DNR also produced a video on harvesting wild rice that offers an introductory look at the tools and techniques of wild rice harvest. The video can be viewed on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching keywords "wild rice." Information regarding wild rice licensing and harvest regulations can also be found on the wild rice webpage.

To receive email updates regarding wild rice in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics" and follow the prompts and select the appropriate distribution list.

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Public invited to comment on priorities for water quality standards

Contact(s): Marcia Willhite, 608-266-7425, marcia.willhite@wisconsin.gov

Comment period open until Oct. 5, 2018

MADISON - Where should state environmental officials focus efforts to protect surface water quality in Wisconsin over the next three years?

State officials are seeking public comment on a draft list of five water quality standards topics proposed as priorities for protecting Wisconsin's lakes and rivers. Specifically, these priorities relate to the protection of public health, recreation, fish and other aquatic communities within the state's waterbodies.

This prioritization process, which occurs every three years, is called the triennial standards review. The topics under consideration address things such as levels of toxic pollutants and algal toxins as well as guidance for implementing water quality standards.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is proposing to revise some existing standards because of new information about levels of exposure to certain contaminants and to reflect changes in federal regulations or recommendations. Also under consideration is the development of standards for certain emerging contaminants that may need to be monitored and controlled to protect people and the environment.

Any actual changes to standards must be approved by the Natural Resources Board, the Wisconsin Legislature and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There are many potential standards-related topics that may benefit from a review under this process. However, due to limited resources, not all of the changes can be addressed at the same time. The DNR has developed a draft list of water quality standards priorities to work on for the next three years and is seeking public comment on the draft list.

Stakeholders are invited to comment on DNR's draft priority list from August 28 to October 5, 2018. The draft report of the 2018 - 2020 TSR priorities, which includes the list and topic descriptions, is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov,  for "triennial standards review."

A public hearing will be held on September 21, 2018 from 10 to 11 a.m. This hearing is for citizens to comment on or ask questions about the topics presented. Anyone who would like to participate is invited to join online through a webinar using the link posted on the DNR's triennial standards review Web page, or in person at the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 S. Webster St., Madison, in Room G27 after signing in at the visitor's desk.

Once finalized and submitted to U.S. EPA as required under the Clean Water Act, the DNR will use the final priority list to plan its work over the ensuing three years and each topic will be addressed as resources allow.

Questions or comments on the triennial standards review process should be directed to Marcia Willhite by calling (608) 267-7425, e-mailing marcia.willhite@wisconsin.gov, or mailing to Wisconsin DNR WT/3, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

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Time to plan this fall's Learn to Hunt event

Contact(s): Emily Iehl, DNR R3 Coordinator 608 445 8168, Emily.iehl@wisconsin.gov

Invite family and friends who haven't experienced hunting!

MADISON - Hunting is right around the corner. If you have an interest and time, please consider sponsoring a Learn to Hunt event this fall. This is an opportunity to connect OR reconnect with a novice hunter (adult or youth) in our great outdoors. 

A Learn to Hunt program can be a great introduction for those who might not come from a hunting family; or, for adults who didn't get the chance to learn to hunt as a youth.

Emily Iehl, coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources R3 program, says it is up to current hunters to share your skills and passion with those who would like to learn, it is about passing on the great Wisconsin tradition of hunting. The R3 Team is a specialized team dedicated to recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers and trappers

"You might find interest in unlikely places" Iehl said. "We've found that lots of young adults in the Madison area have interest in hunting for local, sustainable food. Other hunters I know have made connections with their neighbors, coworkers, and even doctors who have never had the chance to experience hunting."

Many people are open and interested in hunting, Iehl says, adding they need a friendly face to extend an invitation. "When we focus on having a good time in good company, this reflects well on our hunting community and opens the door for others to join in," she said. " Let's start making memories."

Remember, if you're hosting a LTH pheasant, sponsors can get free pheasants from the DNR game farm for the event.

For more information on all your LTH needs, go to the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "LTH."

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773