Most fireworks illegal in state forests, parks

MADISON, WI - People planning on camping in a Wisconsin state park or forest for the Fourth of July should enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities - not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks, forests and trails.
Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Robert "Chris" Madison, chief ranger for the Wisconsin Bureau of Parks and Recreation.
"For the safety of our guests and our natural resources, our rangers strictly enforce Wisconsin no fireworks laws," Madison said. "Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as "fireworks" per state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents discourage their use because they are a fire hazard."
A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost up to $200 and parents could be liable for the full costs of putting out a fire started by their children playing with or setting off fireworks.
In fact, anyone responsible for starting a wildfire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out, but also for any damages, said Catherine Koele, forest fire prevention specialist with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.
As of the last week of June, fire dangers levels throughout Wisconsin were low across the state, but even in low fire danger times, fireworks can start wildfires. So far in 2017, 515 fires have burned just over 500 acres burned in DNR fire protection areas of Wisconsin. Wildfires caused by fireworks only amount to 5 percent of the annual total; however, these fires typically occur in a condensed timeframe around the Fourth of July holiday.
More information on fireworks and fire danger is available in a "Fireworks cause forest fires and more..." brochure available for download from the DNR website.
For more information on fireworks, including air quality and health issues, search the DNR website for "fireworks."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


No fireworks allowed on Upper Mississippi River Refuge

The 4th of July is just around the corner and if you are heading to the Mississippi River for a boating or camping trip, just a reminder – no fireworks are allowed on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge because of their disturbance to wildlife as well as the litter they leave behind.  
The refuge includes most islands and beaches on the Mississippi River from Wabasha, MN, to Rock Island, IL. If you are not sure if you will be within the Refuge please contact the Refuge office at (507) 454-7351 or check the maps located at www.fws.gov/refuge/upper_mississippi_river.
Federal law enforcement officers will be patrolling the refuge looking for fireworks as well as glass bottles, which are also banned on refuge beaches. The fine for glass bottles is $175; $225 for fireworks possession and use. Officers also remind people of the importance of wearing their PFD’s while on the water.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Outdoor skills workshop for women scheduled

Women are invited to participate in a variety of outdoor activities during a fall workshop at Deep Portage Learning Center in Hackensack from Friday, Sept. 29, to Sunday, Oct. 1, through the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Classes include firearms training and shooting, archery, bow hunting, mushrooming, birding, pine baskets, Dutch oven cooking, orienteering, rock climbing, how to dress in the outdoors, walking sticks and beekeeping. The workshop is meant for women ages 18 and up but girls ages 14 to 17 are welcome to attend with parents or guardians. More than 70 women are expected to attend.
“Women join us who’ve never tried these activities and want to learn, and we also have participants who are considered advanced in these skills,” said Linda Bylander, outreach program coordinator. “We all share camaraderie with each other and the event lets us get away from daily stresses and enjoy the outdoors.”
The Becoming an Outdoors Woman program focuses on teaching outdoor skills usually associated with hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.
The $195 registration fee includes lodging, meals, three outdoor skills classes, evening programs and a campfire. A scholarship is available for women military veterans, Gold Star mothers and wives, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, Women Veteran Outreach. To register, or for more information, visit mndnr.gov/bow.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Saints offer free hat in partnership with DNR

Anyone with a 2017 Minnesota fishing or hunting license can receive a free St. Paul Saints logo baseball cap though a special Saints ticket offer online at mndnr.gov/saints.
The offer is good for the 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, game vs. the Sioux City Explorers. Tickets are $17 and all ticket holders under this partnership will pick up their cap at the game. Instructions for purchasing tickets are at mndnr.gov/saints.
Buy licenses at any Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Newport State Park designated International Dark Sky Park

ELLISON BAY, WI - Newport State Park, Wisconsin's only wilderness state park, has now also become the first state park in Wisconsin to be designated an International Dark Sky Park, one of just 48 parks in the world to earn the designation.
Located on the western shore of Lake Michigan on the northern tip of Door County, Newport has a dark sky that offers excellent nighttime viewing with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. As a designated wilderness park, the 2,373-acre park offers only backpack camping and has minimal developments beyond the park office, picnic area and trails.
Based in Tucson, AR, the International Dark-Sky Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1988 that is dedicated to protecting the night skies for present and future generations. The association advocates for the protection of the night sky, educates the public and policymakers about night sky conservation, promotes environmentally responsible outdoor lighting and empowers the public with the tools and resources to help bring back the night.
The idea for applying for the designation began four years ago when Ray Stonecipher, a local Door County amateur astronomer, approached Hefty about seeking the designation. The park also received assistance from supporting partners including the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society and the Newport Wilderness Society.
The association has program guidelines that outline specifics for Dark Sky Park designation, which included sky meter readings from 14 locations with the park, conducting astronomy education programs and developing a light management plan.
The association board unanimously approved Newport State Park as an International Dark Sky Park on April 27, joining the ranks of Big Ben, Glacier and Grand Canyon national parks. Only 13 other state parks in the United States have received the designation.
"In a modern world that is accompanied by ever increasing levels of nighttime illumination, a truly dark sky at night is rare and unique," said Michelle Hefty, park superintendent.
"From lighting projects to community education and outreach, our commitment to protect our dark sky is a priority we take seriously," said Beth Bartoli, Newport State Park naturalist who helps conduct astronomy programs at the park. "We never tire of seeing that 'aha' moment on the upturned faces of our visitors as they gaze toward the heavens."
The park will host a dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 22, when an official International Dark Sky Park sign will be placed in the park. The ceremony will feature talks by members of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society and Newport Wilderness Society as well as state and local officials. The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. at the park shelter and is open to the public with light refreshments served afterword.
"The prestigious Dark Sky Park designation opens the park to local, regional, national and international astronomical clubs and societies, increasing tourism, especially ecotourism. Obtaining this honor will accord national and international recognition to Newport State Park and the Wisconsin State Park System," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director.
More information on International Dark Sky Parks darksky.org/idsp/parks/ can be found on the International Dark Sky Association website darksky.org. For more information about Newport State Park, search the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "Newport."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Beaver can create both habitat, headaches

Lots of rain combined with low fur prices and a downward trend in the number of people trapping has the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fielding numerous calls about growing beaver populations and the problems they sometimes create.
But while beaver can be a nuisance, causing tree damage and flooding, they also provide benefits by creating wetland habitat. And because they’re a protected animal under Minnesota law, DNR wildlife managers remind property owners to make sure they’re following the rules when dealing with them.
“We want property owners to know that if they’re having problems with beaver, there are steps they can take to get relief, but there also are processes that need to followed,” said Jami Markle, assistant regional wildlife manager for DNR’s central region. “Every situation is a bit different, so it’s really a good idea to check with your local conservation officer or wildlife manager.”
Landowners can protect individual trees from beaver's gnawing teeth by putting hardware cloth around the base of the tree to a height of at least 30 inches. Electric fencing may be an option for larger areas.
Problems caused by flooding tend to be more complex. In some cases, water levels in the beaver pond can be lowered by installing a special device known as a Clemson beaver pond leveler. Often, though, eliminating water problems caused by beaver means eliminating the beavers. DNR encourages removal of beaver during the open trapping season (typically the last Saturday in October through mid-May). DNR area conservation officers and area wildlife managers may have names of experienced trappers to trap beaver for others.
“Trapping can play an important role in managing populations of animals like beaver, and minimizing human-wildlife conflicts,” Markle said. “When fur prices decline, though, there can be a drop-off in trapping, too, and that can lead to more nuisance beaver problems.”
If problems can’t wait until trapping season, Minnesota law allows a landowner or occupant to kill the beaver that are causing damage on their own land by trapping or shooting.
Removing beaver on someone else’s land, even if they’re causing damage on your property, requires the other landowner’s permission. As the result of a recent law change, a landowner/occupant also can enlist the help of someone else to do the removal. People do not need a license or permit to remove beaver that are causing damage from their own land, but they must contact a conservation officer or a DNR wildlife official within 24 hours after the animal is killed. Trapping beaver and relocating them is not legal in Minnesota without a DNR permit. The DNR itself does not trap or otherwise participate in beaver removal efforts, except as part of the management of state lands.
Once beaver have been eliminated, the dam that’s causing the flooding may be removed with a permit from the regional wildlife manager. If it’s on someone else’s property, permission is needed. The person removing the dam may also need a DNR waters permit, especially if the beaver dam controls the outlet to a lake and impacts the ordinary high water (OHW) level. Contact a DNR area hydrologist for more information.
“Beaver are nature’s original water managers,” Markle said. “In the right place at the right time, they provide numerous ecological benefits. But in the wrong place, they can be a real headache. By knowing what their options are and working with the DNR, landowners can develop plans to embrace the benefits, but address the problems.”

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Enroll in Wisconsin's Deer Management Assistance Program

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's Deer Management Assistance Program continues to grow with the addition of 189 new properties in 2017 and a total enrollment of 268,000 acres across the state.
Interested landowners, hunters and land managers are encouraged to join over 1,200 current DMAP cooperators managing habitat on the property they own or hunt.
Applications may be submitted at any time. Landowners and hunters are encouraged to apply now to receive immediate access to informational resources, including:
* Habitat and deer management information.
* Annual DMAP reports and publications.
* Volunteer opportunities.
* Habitat management-focused DMAP workshops.
"DMAP cooperators are highly satisfied with the program and really enjoy the interaction they receive with professional biologists and foresters," said Bob Nack, Department of Natural Resources DMAP coordinator. "Managing habitat for wildlife on private land improves wildlife populations for everyone to enjoy."
Another benefit open to all DMAP cooperators is a series of annual regional workshops held throughout Wisconsin. DMAP cooperators enjoyed workshops focused on deer ecology and research findings in spring 2017, and four more workshops are scheduled for summer 2017. Topics include invasive species management, how to conduct a timber harvest and habitat improvement strategies for small properties. These workshops also include a tour of a property enrolled in DMAP with professional biologists and foresters.
"DMAP workshops are a great opportunity to network with other conservation-minded people," said Nack. "DMAP cooperators share a common goal of promoting the principles of land stewardship and sharing their experiences with others."
For more information regarding DMAP and to apply, go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "DMAP."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR