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Weekly News Published April 2, 2019

 

Work*Play*Earth Day events to be held around the state in 2019

Contact(s): Janet Hutchens, DNR Volunteer Coordinator, 608-261-8453; Paul Holtan, Office of Communications, 608-235-2126

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to include events at Amnicon and Wildcat Mountain state parks on April 27 that were omitted from the original release.  We regret the error.]

MADISON - People will multiple opportunities to celebrate Earth Day while helping out and enjoying a Wisconsin State Park System property during the 11th annual Work*Play*Earth Day events that will be held around the state.

There are 30 different properties holding events on April 13, 20, 22, 27 and May 4 and 11. Volunteer events are sponsored by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and Department of Natural Resources properties.

Tree planting is one of the popular activities carried out during Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state. - Photo credit: DNR
Tree planting is one of the popular activities carried out during Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state.Photo credit: DNR
Volunteers also help get picnic areas and campgrounds ready for the season. - Photo credit: Friends of Wisconsin State Parks
Volunteers also help get picnic areas and campgrounds ready for the season.Photo credit: Friends of Wisconsin State Parks

This year the Wisconsin State Park System is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Friends Group partnership program. The formal program to encourage volunteers and outline how citizens can form groups to support the park system properties started in 1989.

"The program has blossomed from a few support organizations to 64 Friends Groups that provide thousands of volunteer hours and dollars to help support the mission and activities of the Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails, and recreation areas" said Janet Hutchens, volunteer coordinator for the Wisconsin State Park System.

"This celebration includes the efforts of each individual, past and present, who has helped grow the statewide friends program and foster local partnerships in his/her community. All of these efforts have a resulted in lasting enhancements, increased awareness, and continued support for the Wisconsin State Park System."

Hutchens said the success of this annual event, Work*Play*Earth Day, supported by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks umbrella organization, is just another example of the dedication of Friends Groups to help improve the visitor experience and engage more citizens in the care of the park system.

Last year 950 volunteers participated donating more than 3,240 hours at 28 different events.

"These volunteer events are a great way to get out in the spring and shake the cobwebs off after the long winter," she said


In addition to tree planting, other activities taking place around the state include installing benches, removing invasive plants, painting picnic tables and other structures, raking and cleaning up leaves and picking up litter. Lunches or refreshments are often provided by the many park friends groups that help sponsor these events.

Hours vary by event, but most begin either at 9 or 10 a.m. and run through noon or early afternoon. For complete details, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Work Play Earth Day."

"When the work is done, volunteers join staff in hiking or biking park trails, visiting nature centers or interpretive displays, or enjoying any of the recreational opportunities available at the different properties," Hutchens said.

2019 Work*Play*Earth Day Events

Saturday - April 13

Saturday - April 20

Monday - April 22

Saturday - April 27

Saturday - May 4

Saturday - May 11

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Public comment period open through April 11 to provide feedback regarding preliminary recommendations from County Deer Advisory Councils

Contact(s): Jeff Pritzl, acting DNR deer program specialist, 920-662-5127

MADISON - County Deer Advisory Councils met in each county in March, and preliminary antlerless deer quotas, harvest authorization levels, and season structure recommendations for the 2019 deer hunting season are now available for review and comment.

An online public comment period will be open April 1 through April 11 to collect feedback on the preliminary recommendations. To view each county's recommendations and provide feedback, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "CDAC."

Antlerless quota recommendations and hunter success rates from previous hunts help determine the number of antlerless harvest authorizations available for the 2019 deer hunting season and help Department of Natural Resources staff and councils work to reach deer population objectives within each county.

"The impact that CDACs are having on deer hunting in Wisconsin is impressive and growing," said Jeff Pritzl, acting DNR deer program specialist. "The public has a real voice in local deer management, and the council members weigh their decisions heavily on public feedback - if you have an interest in helping to shape the deer season in your county, this is an important opportunity."

CDACs consider a variety of factors, like harvest data, population trends and winter severity to form harvest objective and harvest authorization level recommendations.

After the public comment period has ended, each council will reconvene April 15-18 to evaluate public feedback and determine final recommendations for the 2019 deer season, which will be reviewed and adopted by the Natural Resources Board in May.

All council meetings are open to the public and provide the opportunity for attendees to address the council. Meeting details for each county can be found by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching keyword "CDAC."

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Public comment period opens for updated Karner blue butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan

Contact(s): Becky Roth, DNR conservation biologist, 608-220-6209

MADISON - Wisconsin nurtures the world's largest population of the globally rare Karner blue butterfly, and people have a chance to review and comment by April 22 on the renewal of the federal permit governing how landowners can avoid harming butterfly populations while pursuing projects in areas with Karner habitat.

Male Karner blue butterfly. - Photo credit: DNR
Male Karner blue butterfly.Photo credit: DNR

Male Karner blue butterfly. - Photo credit: DNR
Female Karner blue butterfly.Photo credit: DNR

The Karner blue is a butterfly the size of a postage stamp that has fed on wildflowers in Wisconsin for thousands of years. Its populations have declined in Wisconsin and elsewhere as development, agriculture and fire suppression decreased the open habitat areas necessary for the butterflies' survival. The Karner caterpillar eats only wild lupine, a plant found in oak and pine barrens communities and sometimes in dry prairies, all of which are among the rarest landscapes in the world.

The butterfly was listed as federally endangered in 1992. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received a federal permit for incidental take in 1999 after developing a statewide Habitat Conservation Plan. The incidental take permit allows certain activities - such as roadside maintenance and timber harvests in Karner habitat - but makes sure those activities are carried out in ways that conserve and restore the butterfly and its habitat, like waiting to mow until after the butterflies have completed their annual flight.

The plan was the nation's first statewide Habitat Conservation Plan and was recognized by Smithsonian Magazine as one of 10 top endangered species stories of the year.

The proposed renewal of the incidental take permit and Habitat Conservation Plan will allow people in Wisconsin to continue to do otherwise lawful activities that may result in the incidental taking of the butterfly under the federal Endangered Species Act while making sure the necessary conservation measures are in place to minimize impacts. First renewed in 2009, this will be the second renewal of Wisconsin's Karner blue butterfly federal incidental take permit.

Copies of the draft renewal information are available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for Karner blue or upon request from Becky Roth, 608-220-6209 or Rebecca.Roth@Wisconsin.gov.

Comments should be sent to Becky Roth, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or Rebecca.Roth@Wisconsin.gov.

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Citizen Science Day is April 13: Take the pledge and volunteer to monitor natural resources in 2019

Contact(s): Eva Lewandowski, Citizen-based Monitoring Coordinator, eva.lewandowski@wisconsin.gov, 608-264-6057

MADISON - Join Wisconsin's long tradition of volunteers partnering with professional scientists to help monitor natural resources by taking a pledge this month and participating in one of dozens of projects to collect information on Wisconsin's wildlife, lakes and rivers and other natural resources.

"April 13 is national Citizen Science Day, and it's a great time to volunteer to help monitor the natural resources you love," says Eva Lewandowski, a conservation biologist with DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "Find a project that interests you and dive in! It's a fun way to experience nature, to learn and to make a difference."

Bumble Bee Brigade volunteers monitor native bumble bees with photography.  - Photo credit: DNR
Bumble Bee Brigade volunteers monitor native bumble bees with photography. Photo credit: DNR

Already, people have pledged 2,420 hours to volunteer in 2019 as part of a pledge drive celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring (WCBM) Network. The network is a collaboration of over 190 projects and groups working to improve the effectiveness of volunteer monitoring efforts.

"We're incredibly excited to be celebrating 15 years of partnership in support of citizen-based monitoring efforts," says Lewandowski, who coordinates the WCBM Network for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum introduces students to stream monitoring through the Kenosha WATERshed Program.  - Photo credit: Hawthorn Hollow
Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum introduces students to stream monitoring through the Kenosha WATERshed Program. Photo credit: Hawthorn Hollow

DNR and other organizations throughout the state partner with volunteers to monitor plants, animals, and water. Citizen-based monitoring results are used to understand, manage, and protect natural resources. Volunteer contributions have led to new county records for rare bumble bees and frogs, documented population declines in bats, and been used to determine the impairment status of lakes and rivers.

"Without citizen-based monitoring volunteers, we would have significantly less information about the species and habitats we manage and protect," says Lewandowski. "They expand the scope and capacity of our work dramatically."

From the humble beginnings of a single Christmas Bird Count participant in 1900, Wisconsin citizen-based monitoring has expanded beyond what anyone could have imagined back then, she says; an online timeline captures many of the milestones.

Over a century of dedication from volunteers, professional scientists, agency staff and others eventually led to the 2004 creation of the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network to support such efforts. The WCBM Network makes Wisconsin relatively unique in offering such a widespread, solid infrastructure to support volunteer monitoring of natural resources, Lewandowski says.

By 2019, the WCBM Network has grown to more than 190 monitoring projects and groups, more than 12,000 volunteers and more than $1.2 million in support of citizen-based monitoring, she says.

People who want to get involved can visit the WCBM Network website, found at wiatri.net/cbm/ where they can learn about the long history of citizen-based monitoring in the state, find a project in need of help, and take the volunteer pledge.

Springtime projects suitable for Citizen Science Day on April 13 include:

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As tax filing deadline approaches, a reminder to donate to help rare and at-risk species

Contact(s): Drew Feldkirchner, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program director, 608-235-3905

MADISON - Wisconsinites filing their taxes in the next two weeks can help prevent hundreds of rare birds, butterflies, turtles and other wildlife from disappearing from Wisconsin by donating to the Endangered Resources Fund on their state tax form.

Donors' gifts of any size are doubled by the state and go directly to conservation of rare and at risk species, those listed as endangered or threatened or with low or declining populations. Fill in a gift of any amount next to line 35a on Form 1, on the donations area on your tax preparation software, or let your tax preparer know you want to make a donation to the Endangered Resources Fund.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 10 photos

Endangered Resources donations via tax form keep rare species from disappearing

"Donors' contributions to the Endangered Resources Fund have helped keep hundreds of rare species from disappearing from Wisconsin," says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

"No plant or animal species are known to have been lost from Wisconsin since our endangered species program started 40 years ago, thanks to donors' contributions and work by DNR, partners and individuals."

"That's a very important and unheralded part of the story, and it's why we are asking people to please consider donating again."

Taxpayers who have already filed for the 2018 tax year are still able to donate directly online or by mail and their gift will be matched by the state. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search "NHC" and click the link for "tax checkoff."

All donations to the Endangered Resources Fund, whether via tax form, online or by mail, are matched by the state, doubling the impact for Wisconsin's native wildlife, plants and State Natural Areas.

Donations pay for work by DNR Natural Heritage Conservation staff who are responsible for hundreds of rare species. Donations to the Endangered Resources Fund pay for efforts to locate rare species, to protect and restore their habitat, assist landowners in helping them and avoid harm to them during various activities.

Wisconsin continues to provide important habitat for several species that are absent or declining in other parts of the country like Karner blue butterfly, wood turtle, and rusty-patched bumblebee. The state's small but growing population of Kirtland's warbler is important since Wisconsin is one of only two states where this bird occurs.

Wisconsin is home to the oldest and largest set of State Natural Areas in the nation; these protect unique natural features and are home to many rare species. The program has restored many thousands of acres of prairies, savannas, and oak forests, as well as fens, meadows and numerous other habitats that support diverse wildlife such as hundreds of rare species along with numerous waterfowl and abundant game species

"These are just a few examples of how donors can help protect and restore the rare species and special places they love," Feldkirchner says. "We're grateful for past contributions and look forward to doing more great work together so that our kids and grandkids can enjoy Wisconsin's natural heritage as we have."

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Protect oak trees from oak wilt by pruning after July, not before

Contact(s): Don Kissinger, DNR urban forester, 715-348-5746, Don.Kissinger@wisconsin.gov or Paul Cigan, DNR plant pest and disease specialist, 715-416-4920, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov 

MADISON - To protect oak trees from the often-fatal oak wilt disease, state urban and forest health specialists recommend not pruning or cutting oaks from April through July.

Sap-feeding beetle on diseased oak tree in Sawyer County. - Photo credit: DNR
Sap-feeding beetle on diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.Photo credit: DNR

Pruning and cutting oaks in spring and early summer leaves them vulnerable to oak wilt, which rapidly kills trees in the red oak group and weakens those in the white oak group. Any damage during this time, including broken branches caused by storms, exposes living tree tissue beneath the bark and provides an opportunity for the oak wilt fungus to infect the tree.

Sap-feeding beetles introduce the disease by carrying oak wilt spores from infected trees or firewood to fresh wounds.

"Healthy oaks can become infected in as little as 15 minutes after a wound is created," says Paul Cigan, forest health specialist for the Department of Natural Resources in Hayward.

The trees most likely to die from oak wilt infection are in the red oak group, including northern pin oak, northern red oak, red oak and black oak. The white oak group is more likely to survive infection and includes bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak and English oak.

Tree paint or wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruned or wounded surfaces, but for damaged oaks an immediate light application of these products may be the only defense against oak wilt infection from April through July.

There are other important reasons to avoid pruning in spring.

"Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall are just starting to grow new buds and leaves, so the trees' food reserves are low," says Don Kissinger, DNR urban forester in Wausau. In general, the best time to prune is in winter when trees are dormant.

As of January 31, oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Iron, Forest, Taylor, Door, Kewaunee, Calumet and Manitowoc counties. Several of these counties contain the highest abundance of healthy and productive oak forests in the state. Taking recommended precautions will help keep them that way for years to come.

Oak wilt and other diseases move easily on or in firewood logs year-round, so keeping firewood local, or purchasing Wisconsin-certified firewood, is another important component of protecting trees and keeping forests healthy.

More information is available online at the Wisconsin DNR website, including a recently released video on oak wilt. Visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search for "oak wilt" or "firewood." Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from community foresters or by searching for "tree pruning [PDF]."

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It's the time of year to treat valuable ash trees against emerald ash borer

Contact(s): Bill McNee, DNR forest health specialist, Bill.Mcnee@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0942

MADISON - State forest health specialists recommend homeowners consider insecticide treatment of healthy, valuable ash trees to protect against emerald ash borer. This pest kills more than 99 percent of the trees it infests and is currently the biggest threat to Wisconsin's ash trees.

While some EAB larvae may have been killed by cold winter weather, it is unlikely frigid temperatures were enough to delay ash tree mortality in most parts of Wisconsin, said DNR forest health specialist Bill McNee.

Signs of EAB infestation include woodpecker damage where the birds pick away bark to feed on larvae. - Photo credit: DNR
Signs of EAB infestation include woodpecker damage where the birds pick away bark to feed on larvae.Photo credit: DNR

Insecticide treatments to protect ash trees are usually applied between mid-April and mid-May, so it is important to start planning now.

The highest risk of EAB infestation is within 15 miles of known activity, but it is widely believed that additional, undetected infestations are located throughout the state. For a map of known infestations in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin EAB portal.

*The first thing homeowners can do is check their ash trees for signs of infestation. Woodpecker damage is easy to see this time of year and is often the earliest visible sign that EAB is present. Homeowners can read this factsheet from the University of Wisconsin-Extension to help identify EAB infestation and to decide whether a tree is worth treating.

Forest health specialists recommend developing a treatment plan now if signs or symptoms of EAB infestation are present or if EAB has been found locally.

While the best time to treat ash trees is before they are infested, treatment of already-infested trees can be successful if done while EAB populations within the tree are still low or moderate. Some ash trees may be too heavily infested to save or they may have other problems that make them poor candidates for treatment. Homeowners can consult a certified arborist to discuss whether infested trees are good candidates for treatment.

Treatments are not economically practical for ash found in woodlots. Any questions about woodlot management can be directed to a professional forester.

Additional information about emerald ash borer signs, symptoms and management can be found on the DNR website and through the Wisconsin EAB portal.

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Natural Resources Board to meet April 10 in Madison

Contact(s): Laurie Ross, board liaison, 608-267-7420 or Sarah Hoye, communications director, 608-267-2773

MADISON - Requests to consider proposed rules and framework for the 2019 Wisconsin migratory bird season and the 2019 elk season quotas are among the items the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will address when it meets April 10 in Madison.

The board meeting will convene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, in Room G09, State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 South Webster St., Madison.

The board also will consider a request for the Department of Natural Resources to initiate proposed rules for developing site-specific numeric phosphorus water quality criteria for surface waters.

The complete April board agenda is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "NRB" and clicking on the button for "view agendas."

The public must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison, to testify at the board meeting. The deadline for Board liaison receipt of your request to testify or your written comment is 11 a.m. on Friday, April 5, 2019. Registration information is available on the NRB pages of the DNR website. No late requests or comments will be accepted.

Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month's meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.

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2019 Keep Wildlife Wild Poster Contest Winners

Contact(s): Dianne Robinson, DNR wildlife biologist, (262) 424 - 9827

MADISON - A sixth grader from Oshkosh, a fifth grader Burlington and a fourth grader from Cudahy received top honors in the inaugural Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Keep Wildlife Wild poster contest.

Sofia Crowley from Oshkosh won first place for sixth grade.  - Photo credit: DNR
Sofia Crowley from Oshkosh won first place for sixth grade.Giselle Sanchez from Burlington won first place for fifth grade.
Giselle Sanchez from Burlington won first place for fifth grade. Cecilia Castillo from Cudahy won first place for fourth grade.
Cecilia Castillo from Cudahy won first place for fourth grade.

The KWW initiative began in 2014 to provide information about wildlife species' natural behaviors, tips on how to determine if a wild animal is truly orphaned and what to do if someone finds a wild animal in need of assistance. This is the first time Wisconsin's KWW initiative has is included a poster contest .

"We had over 200 poster designs submitted from fourth, fifth and sixth graders across Wisconsin, and it was difficult to pick only three winners from each grade," said Dianne Robinson, DNR wildlife biologist and Keep Wildlife Wild co-chair. "With this being our first poster contest, it was great to see so many individuals and full classrooms interested in participating. We can't wait to see what other posters are submitted in future years."

All winning posters will be sent to schools and libraries across the state, and the posters will be on display at many of our DNR state parks and service centers during the summer of 2019. The DNR Facebook page will highlight winning posters during Keep Wildlife Wild Week, April 7-13. Posters are also viewable online. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "Keep Wildlife Wild poster contest."

Poster contest winners

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Contact information

Need an expert? Contact the Office of Communications.

The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email DNRPress@Wisconsin.gov and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.

For more information about news and media, contact:
Sarah Hoye
Director Of Communications
Office Of The Secretary