Volunteers receive Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Awards

MADISON, WI - A Richland Center birder who has counted cranes for 35 years, a longtime Lafayette County volunteer aiding bats, birds and plants, a Madison area organization dedicated to clean lakes and a La Farge High School student promoting bat conservation have received Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Awards for their outstanding efforts in volunteer monitoring of Wisconsin's natural resources.
"This year's award winners represent the very best of citizen-based monitoring in the state," said Eva Lewandowski, a conservation biologist, who coordinates citizen-based monitoring efforts for the Department of Natural Resources' Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "We're recognizing people, who not only are volunteering their time to monitor the state's natural resources, but are going even further to coordinate projects, share results and encourage others to volunteer."
The three individuals and one organization received their awards during the Wisconsin Summit for Natural Resources Volunteers, held in Eau Claire from March 22-24 and co-hosted by the DNR and University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Barbara Duerksen, Richland Center, received the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Award in recognition of her 35 years of volunteering with bird monitoring. She has served as Richland County's coordinator for the Annual Midwest Crane Count for 35 years, making her the longest serving county coordinator for that project. She also conducted bird surveys for the Breeding Bird Survey for 33 years and has served on the Board of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. In addition to her volunteer work counting cranes, she is the current Richland County coordinator for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a project designed to document the distribution and abundance of all the bird species that nest in Wisconsin.
Jim Hess of Blanchardville has been a committed citizen-based monitoring volunteer in Lafayette County for almost two decades. He began his volunteer experience in 2001, when he participated in the Christmas Bird Count, and since then he's joined multiple volunteer projects. Currently, he counts bats at their summer roost sites, monitors and manages both bluebird and kestrel nest boxes, and surveys for rare plants. He also collects and submits plant and insect specimens to research collections and frequently shares his volunteer experiences with others and introduces them to citizen-based monitoring.
Ansel Brenneman, a student at Laurel High School in Viroqua, was honored for his work conducting and promoting bat monitoring. He got involved in bat monitoring in 2016, as part of an 8th grade school project. Since then, he's volunteered to count bats at their roosts and to monitor them with acoustic detectors, and he assisted DNR staff in capturing and banding bats. He's become extremely active in promoting bat conservation and volunteer monitoring, and has volunteered at educational events and given talks to youth and adults, sometimes with crowds of more than 100 people.
Clean Lakes Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving and maintaining water quality in the Yahara River Watershed in greater Madison, received an award for their Yahara Lakes Monitoring Program. The organization's program involves 70 volunteers throughout the Madison area who collect information on water temperature, chemistry, clarity and other aspects of water quality. Most of their work takes place at nearshore monitoring sites, the parts of lakes most often used by the public for swimming, fishing and paddling. Information gathered by the volunteers is made publicly available
More than 12,000 Wisconsin volunteers searched for rare plants, identified frogs, bats, birds and other species, and cut, dragged and burned invasive plants in 2017 to help care for the natural resources they love. To find out more about volunteer monitoring opportunities in 2018, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "citizen-based monitoring."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Enter to win Wisconsin's trout stamp contests

MADISON, WI - Artists, anglers and those sharing both passions are invited to submit their original artwork for the Great Lakes Salmon and Trout Stamp and the Inland Trout Stamp contests now through July 2.
The winning art will appear on the 2019 Great Lakes Salmon and Trout Stamp and the 2019 Inland Trout Stamp. More information on contest rules and the application are found online at dnr.wi.gov by searching "trout stamp contest."
"We're excited to continue to offer these contests and create awareness of Wisconsin's great trout and salmon fishing and the habitat improvement and stocking these stamps support," said Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout coordinator.
Anglers fishing Lake Michigan or Lake Superior for trout and salmon are required to buy a $10 stamp to help support the rearing and stocking of chinook, brown trout and steelhead in these waters. The stamp was instituted in the early 1980s to make up for the loss of federal funding that previously paid for propagation of non-native trout and salmon.
Anglers fishing inland waters for trout are required to buy a $10 inland trout stamp, and the revenues are used to support trout habitat improvement, habitat maintenance projects and trout population surveys. Wisconsin boasts over 13,000 miles of trout streams with over 5,000 classified as high quality, class I trout streams. Improvements funded by the trout stamp since the late 1970s have played an important role in increasing angler opportunities and the mileage of Class 1 trout streams from 3,536 miles in 1980 to more than 5,000 today.
The trout stamp contests had been discontinued in 2010 over declining interest by artists, but were resurrected starting with the 2017 stamp year, when the contest was limited to adults. For the 2018 stamp year, DNR offered its first ever trout stamp contest for high school students and Taylor Konczal, a Stevens Point Area Senior High student, won both stamp contests. Her designs are featured on the Inland and the Great Lakes stamps for 2018. Anglers wanting to get the printed art stamps can pick them up an any DNR Service Center or can complete an online order form.
The 2019 contests are limited to adults 18 and older. Subject matter for stamps must feature species of trout and salmon found in Wisconsin's waters or appropriate subject matter relating to trout and salmon fishing. Artists are not limited in their choice of colors or medium, but the medium selected must be of permanent quality such as pen and ink, oil, watercolor etching or pencil.
Once the artwork has been submitted, the DNR will create an online gallery and open the voting through the web and Facebook in July. The top 10 entries from the online voting will then move to a final round of judging by a panel of three to five judges with expertise and interest in trout, salmon and wildlife art.
Entries must be delivered or postmarked by July 2, 2018, and sent to the Wisconsin Great Lakes Salmon and Trout Stamp Contest or the Wisconsin Inland Trout Stamp Contest, Attn: Trout Coordinator, Wisconsin DNR (FH/4), Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.
Questions may be directed to Joanna Griffin, DNR trout coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-264-8953.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota DNR’s main trout hatchery in disrepair

Conducting repairs at the state’s 15 hatcheries is part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s $130 million request of Legislature for DNR’s natural resources asset preservation
Minnesota’s flagship state-owned trout hatchery in Lanesboro needs $5 million in improvements so anglers can continue to enjoy a regular supply of stocked trout in streams and lakes throughout the state.
Opened in 1925, the Lanesboro hatchery needs urgent repairs to protect the facility from flooding, to replace structures contaminated with mold, and to make critical repairs to rusting steel beams nearing failure.
“Lanesboro illustrates how decades-old hatchery construction and improvements, some dating back more than a half-century, are failing and need immediate attention,” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Lanesboro is one of the 15 state hatcheries that play an important and irreplaceable role in our fisheries management work.”
Repairing state fish hatcheries is just one part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2018 public works bill.
For the entire DNR, Dayton is asking the Legislature to invest $130 million in urgently needed improvements to buildings and other infrastructure. The DNR needs to make these fixes, which are detailed at mndnr.gov/aboutdnr/legislativeinfo/capitalassets, to provide recreation and natural resources services. These repairs also create hundreds of construction jobs for Minnesotans.
The DNR has identified about $13 million in statewide hatchery repairs and improvements, including:
* Maintaining and fixing hatchery raceway, ponds, and roads.
* Making energy efficiency upgrades.
* Replacing and upgrading hatchery equipment.
Located in southeastern Minnesota, the Lanesboro hatchery sits on about 100 acres south of town. The property includes two artesian springs, rearing ponds, raceways and multiple buildings. It produces about 100,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout fingerlings, yearlings and brood stock each year for stocking throughout the state.
Hatchery buildings suffer from poor ventilation, which traps moisture. Although buildings are cleaned and painted regularly, mold has contaminated the hatchery and made the hatchery’s residence uninhabitable. Moisture also has rusted the steel beams that support the hatchery’s ceiling, making a building collapse a possibility if nothing is done.
Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief, said Lanesboro is the DNR’s primary concern, but each of the state’s 15 hatcheries contribute to the state’s fish-stocking needs.
Each year, cold-water hatcheries in Altura, Lanesboro, Peterson and Remer provide 1.7 million trout for stocking into 200 lakes and 100 streams throughout Minnesota. Trout raised at these hatcheries include brook, brown, lake, rainbow and splake.
Cool- and warm-water hatcheries in Walker Lake, Bemidji, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Glenwood, Grand Rapids, New London, Park Rapids, St. Paul, Tower and Waterville provide walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and channel catfish for stocking in 1,100 lakes and some rivers.
“Fish produced by our state-owned hatcheries are a critical part of the DNR’s efforts to maintain and enhance fishing opportunities in 4,300 managed lakes and 16,000 miles of fishable streams and rivers, “ Pereira said. “Stocking these hatchery-raised fish significantly enhances fishing in Minnesota by providing angling opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist.”
For more information about state fish hatcheries, visit the DNR website atmndnr.gov/areas/fisheries/hatcheries.html.
Stocking of 740,000 catchable size trout underway to provide more fishing opportunities

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Volunteers help keep Wisconsin's State Natural Areas pristine

MADISON, WI - Volunteers helped control invasive plants and assisted with priority land acquisitions to enlarge Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area in Kenosha County, while Madison area volunteers wrapped up six years of cutting and treating more than 50,000 bundles of invasive Phragmites at Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area.
These are just two examples of how volunteers help care for State Natural Areas, which represent some of Wisconsin's best remaining prairies, oak savannas, wetlands and lakes, and are home to 75 percent of the animal species and 90 percent of the plants listed as threatened or endangered in the state.
Efforts by 35 volunteer groups in 2017 directly impacted 3,464 acres at 43 sites and represented $121,147 in value, according to the recently released State Natural Areas Volunteers 2017 Annual Report.
"Once again volunteers helped us make a lot of positive changes on our valuable State Natural Areas," said Jared Urban, the DNR conservation biologist, who coordinates the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program. "In 2017, we saw several groups expand with new leaders emerging and new volunteers getting connected, and we saw groups accomplish some important long-term goals. We are grateful for all of our volunteers and their hard work to care for these special places."
Urban started the State Natural Area Volunteer program in 2011, and new groups have formed since then to help supplement work done by department SNA work crews. Volunteers' accomplishments include addressing threats to natural areas by controlling invasive species, which ranges from pulling or spraying garlic mustard, to cutting down and burning buckthorn and honeysuckle, to spraying Phragmites. Volunteers also help establish new plants in prairies and oak openings by collecting and planting local native seeds.
The 2017 annual report highlights examples of work being done at the different sites, features photographs and testimonials from volunteers on what they do and why. It salutes members of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund, the volunteer group that received the 2017 SNA Steward of the Year award. That volunteer group has played an integral role in preserving the largest remaining prairie and wetland complex in southeastern Wisconsin, from helping buy the first 15 acres of Chiwaukee Prairie in the 1960s to controlling garlic mustard and 24 other invasive plants there today.
The report also highlights volunteers at Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area in Dane County for removing Phragmites from more than 4 acres of original native wetlands. To do this, volunteers gathered stalks of the invasive plant into bundles tied waist high with biodegradable twine. Then using garden shears, they cut the bundles above the twine and applied herbicide to the exposed tops of the stalks.
Sign up to get notices of volunteer workdays at State Natural Areas
Volunteer work days occur year-round at many sites. Volunteers need no training beforehand, but are provided equipment and training on site to do the work. Typical workdays run three hours long and allow for breaks. Snacks are often provided, according to Urban.
Find a list of workdays and flyers on each event by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "SNA Volunteers." From that web page, people can also sign up to receive email notices for workdays at state natural areas.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR, REI partner to provide trip-planning assistance at new Adventure Station

Wondering where to break in those new hiking boots? Looking for tips on where to pitch that new tent? Stop by the new Adventure Station at Recreational Equipment, Inc., flagship store in Bloomington for some advice from the pros.
Staff from REI and Minnesota state parks and trails can help customers select a destination, purchase a Minnesota state parks vehicle permit and more. The custom-built Adventure Station, near the check-out area, is equipped with iPads, a video monitor, maps and seasonal brochures to help with trip-planning.
“People go to REI to get their hiking boots, sleeping bags and other gear, and now we’re expanding our ability to connect them to places to recreate,” said Mikaela Swanlund, coordinator of outdoor programs and outreach for Twin Cities REI stores. “We’re really pleased to be teaming up with the DNR to raise awareness about the amazing opportunities to camp, climb, cycle, paddle and ski at Minnesota state parks and trails.”
The partnership with REI is part of a new Urban Outreach Initiative, which will involve efforts by staff at Fort Snelling State Park to bring information about state parks and trails to new people in new places.
“We’re thrilled about our partnership with REI,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “The Adventure Station will help us connect people to parks and trails they might not know about, where they can have an unforgettable experience in nature.”   
The REI Adventure Station will be staffed regularly Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Adventure Station will also be open for special events, including Scenic and Wild Day on Saturday, April 14, when the National Park Service, the St. Croix River Association and the Minnesota DNR will promote outdoor recreation opportunities on the St. Croix River. The event will feature fun activities, trip-planning assistance from outdoor professionals, and more.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Ecologists seek public help in reporting occupied bald eagle nests

MADISON, WI - State ecologists conducting aerial surveys for occupied bald eagle nests this spring are asking for the public's help in locating nests in southeastern Wisconsin.
The discovery last year of a bald eagle nest in Kenosha County leaves Milwaukee and Walworth counties as the only remaining counties with no confirmed active bald eagle nests, though conservation biologists believe it is only a matter of time before the nation's symbol sets up housekeeping there, too.
"We've been able to add a number of 'new' bald eagle territories in southeastern Wisconsin over the past couple years, thanks in part to crowd-sourcing information from people calling in their observations as well as the ongoing efforts of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas," said Sharon Fandel, southeastern district ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Fandel already has completed aerial surveys this spring with DNR pilots to look for occupied bald eagle nests in southeastern Wisconsin and has confirmed seven new nesting locations. About half of them came from citizen reports and the other half resulted from honing in on areas with clusters of reported eagle observations from WBBA and other birding reports.
"Now we're hoping more people will let us know about possible occupied bald eagle nests to check in southeastern Wisconsin, particularly in Milwaukee and Walworth counties," said Fandel.
Aerial surveys are underway across the state now to check known eagle nests to see if they are actively being used by breeding adult eagles. Survey data are used both internally and externally to protect these nest sites when various activities are being planned across the state.
If you observe an active bald eagle nest, with adults incubating eggs or exhibiting other breeding behaviors, you are encouraged to report your sightings in one of these ways:
* Go to the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas web-based platform to report your sighting.
* Go to the DNR's reporting tool for non-game animals and plants and use the handy drop-down menus to fill out your observation information.
* For southeastern Wisconsin specifically, you also can provide location information directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
In other good news, the bald eagle pair confirmed in Kenosha County last year is back. They've built an alternative nest on an adjacent landowner's property closer to a couple larger ponds, Fandel said.
Bald eagle populations have gradually recovered in Wisconsin and nationally as a result of the banning of the pesticide DDT nationally in 1972 (and in Wisconsin in 1969), a prohibition on killing of eagles, improved water quality in lakes and rivers, nest protection and reintroduction of eagles in some areas. Bald eagles were removed from Wisconsin's endangered species list in 1997 and from the federal list in 2007. In 2017, Wisconsin aerial surveys confirmed a record 1,590 occupied nests.
Wisconsin residents can celebrate the continuing comeback of bald eagles and help fund the next conservation success by buying a bald eagle license plate. License plate sales and donations to the Endangered Resources Fund account for 25 percent of funding for work by DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation staff with endangered species and natural areas.
Learn more about Endangered Resources Fund and the on-the-ground conservation work it supports at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "Endangered Resources Fund."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Controlled burns planned at Whitewater WMA this spring

In an attempt to restore habitat for game species as well as other wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources plans to conduct controlled burns on close to 2,500 acres in the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Minnesota this spring.
“Fire is sort of like a big reset button for nature,” said Whitewater WMA assistant manager Christine Johnson. “Many of our native species need some sort of disturbance from time to time to help them flourish, and controlled burns are the best way to provide that because they mimic the wildfires that occurred historically.”
Fire helps regenerate the oak forest and prairies that provide food and cover for a wide range of wildlife in the WMA. It knocks back invasive species with little habitat value such as buckthorn and stimulates the growth of young oak trees and other native plants. That benefits everything from pollinators and the birds that eat them to species that are hunted, like deer and turkeys.
Prescribed burns are carefully planned out months ahead of time to assure that they’re done in a way that is ecologically beneficial and safe. Burn crews undergo extensive training and fires are lit only when wind and humidity are within strict parameters for safety and maintaining control. Local public safety and fire departments are notified ahead of time, and signs will be posted along roads, trails and parking lots in the unit.   
At about 27,000 acres, the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area is the eighth largest WMA in the state, providing habitat for a range of species. Located within two hours of the Twin Cities and halfway between Rochester and Winona, its proximity to much of the state’s population makes it one of the most popular units open to the public for hunting, trapping, wildlife watching and other activities.
The WMA is home to 40 rare plant and animal species, in addition to commonly hunted animals like white-tailed deer, turkeys, ruffed grouse and squirrels.
Wildlife watchers can spot sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, swans, terns, hawks, eagles, owls and many other birds, both residents and those passing through during spring and fall migrations.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR