Floods in Wisconsin result in long-term closures at state properties

SUPERIOR, WI - Heavy rains across northwestern Wisconsin in mid-June will result in some long-term closures of roads and other state facilities.
Water has begun receding, and state park and transportation officials have a better picture of repairs that will be needed at a number of properties. According to the National Weather Service the area received 7 to 12 inches of rain from June 15-18.
Portions of a dam washed out at Pattison State Park, about 13 miles south of Superior, closing Highway 35 that crossed the dam within the park. Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Natural Resources officials have been assessing the damage and beginning preparations for dam and road repair, which could take weeks.
As a result of the dam failure, Intefalls Lake within the park is being drawn down and the beach in the park is closed until further notice. Park trails and day-use areas also received significant damage and will remain closed until further notice. The campground remains open and access to view Little Manateau Falls is open, but will require access from the south as access from the park is closed via road and trail. Observation areas for Big Manateau Falls are accessible via a temporary access bridge from the park.
Amnicon Falls State Park, located about 7 miles east of Superior, is re-opened, but has some road and trail damage. The historic Horton covered bridge within the park is intact, but remains open to foot traffic only, as the road leading to the bridge was damaged and is closed to vehicle traffic until it can be repaired. A Civilian Conservation Corps bridge that leads to the park's island sustained significant damage and is closed until further notice.
The horse trail at Governor Knowles State Forest is closed, the beach and day-use area at Interstate State Park is closed, as is the south campground at Merrick State Park due to rising flood waters on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.
The Saunders Grade, Wild Rivers and Gandy Dancer state trails in Douglas County have significant washouts and are currently closed until further notice. The Tuscobia State Trail in southern Price County has a reroute in place due to washouts. Several canoe launches, picnic areas and day-use areas at Brule River State Forest remain under water and unusable. A bridge at the headwaters of the White River in the Town of Delta is currently closed, closing access to the parking area and an Artesian well on the property.
The public is asked to stay out of areas, roads and trails posted as closed. Keep a safe distance away from the edge of fast moving water, streams and rivers.
For additional and the most current information continue to follow Wisconsin DNR on social media as well as searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Current Conditions."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Heavy rains fuel floods, faster currents statewide

MADISON, WI - June storms packing heavy downpours have pushed lake and river levels into flood levels, tossed debris into waterways and accelerated currents statewide, signaling Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials to remind all water users to think safety by checking local water conditions and always wear a life jacket when on the water.
Capt. April Dombrowski, head of the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement's Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills Section, says the heavy rain and rapid onset of flash floods in many areas of Wisconsin resulted in road wash-out, closures and sinkholes. In addition to the roadway issues, it can have a major impact on your water-based recreational activities.
Dombrowski says this severe weather is a reminder for all to check your local water conditions before boating or paddling, swimming or any water activity. Good places to check are local tourism offices, DNR offices, local bait shops, sporting goods stores or the U.S. Geological Survey, too.
"One quick safety tip is to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket," Dombrowski said. "Today's models are comfortable versions. Wearing one just might save your life." Learn more about life jackets for every water sport.
Some of these storms and heavy rains have pushed trees and other debris in the water which creates another danger to keep watch. High water levels also increases the shoreline and erosion impacts of your boat wake. Some areas have implemented lake-wide slow-no-wake requirements. Remember to always be aware of your boat wake and impact on others and check the signage prior to launching, Dombrowski says.
Here are some other safety tips from Dombrowski:
* Make a float plan, follow that plan and let someone know where you are going.
* Always wear a life jacket. All people in either canoe or kayak are required by law to have a wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board.
* Match your skill level to water and weather conditions.
* Take a boating safety class and hone your skills.
* Everyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1989, must have completed a boating safety course to operate a motorboat (unless ages 10-15 and accompanied by a parent or guardian). You can take an online boat safety course.
* Do not overload your vessel.
* Place belongings and dry clothing in a wet sack or other waterproof container.
* Another top tip is to remain sober while operating your boat or paddling. Hold off on consuming alcohol until after your recreational boating outing. Remember this weekend is the national Operation Dry Water event, when law enforcement agencies partner to keep the waters safe for all by removing impaired operators. DNR wardens will be out, joining local boat patrols from the June 29-July 1, weekend.
Wisconsin has many popular lakes and rivers that attract many users for all sorts of water activities. And with all the users comes boat congestion and unintended user conflicts. For all water recreational enthusiasts to have a safe and enjoyable outing, it's important to slow down, use common sense and respect other users on the waters.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR wardens join local boat patrols for safety weekend

MADISON, WI - Boaters and paddlers enjoying Wisconsin's waters June 29-July 1, could see more state conservation wardens and local boat patrols on the water during the 10th annual national Operation Dry Water.
Lt. Adam Hanna of the Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills section says wardens will be on the water with one mission - keep the waters safe for all to enjoy.
"We intend to stop and remove intoxicated boaters from our lakes and rivers. We also will take the time to educate as many boaters as possible about the hazards of Boating Under the Influence," Hanna said. "Alcohol is a leading factor in boating fatalities."
Wisconsin defines impaired operators as having a blood alcohol level over the state limit of 0.08 percent. Officers will use the field sobriety test to determine the boater's level of intoxication. There also is a breath test.
A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and deadlier for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.
As of Dec. 31, 2017, there were 624,882 registered vessels in Wisconsin that display the state vessel registration number, a 2 percent increase from 2016. Of the 624,882 vessels, there are 13,314 non-motorized vessels registered. In addition, approximately 335,000 non-motorized boats, and over 300,000 non-resident boats are using Wisconsin waterways each year.
Wisconsin reported 106 boating incidents resulting in 79 persons injured and 25 fatalities in 2017. While alcohol involvement increased from 2016, the number one contributing factor in boat incidents is operator inexperience. If you need a safety class, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "Safety Education."
Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.
"We want recreational boaters to enjoy themselves," Hanna said. "But there will be zero tolerance for boating under the influence."
The mission of Operation Dry Water is to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water. Operation Dry Water is produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and is a product of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Volunteers needed for 'The Great Mississippi River Cleanup'

As part of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics – Hot Spot week on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, a river cleanup will be held on Sunday, July 15, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Volunteers should meet at Beach Park which is located at the end of Main Street West in Wabasha, MN.
The cleanup will focus on the beaches along the Mississippi River from Wabasha, MN to Alma, WI. Participants with boats are also needed for the cleanup and should supply their boat capacity when registering. Participants will receive a water bottle and snacks at the close of the event.
Pre-registration is required by noon on Tuesday, July 3, to ensure availability of supplies at the cleanup. Participants can register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 507-454-7351.
The Great Mississippi River Cleanup is sponsored by Living Lands and Waters, of East Moline, IL, each year. Last year, this event was held in six cities with 448 volunteers and removed 30,033 pounds of debris from the Mississippi River. Since the inception of The Great Mississippi River Cleanup in 2010, more than 8,000 volunteers have removed over 500,000 pounds of trash from the headwaters at Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national nonprofit organization that protects the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly. The refuge was selected for the 2018 Hot Spot Program from over 200 applicants due to increased trash on islands, damaged vegetation and trees, and dispersal of invasive species over recent years. The Hot Spot Program is in its seventh year of raising community awareness and bringing solutions and preventive measures to popular natural areas around the country facing the impacts associated with heavy recreational use.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Pollinator Week highlights insects' importance

MADISON, WI - Pollinators are critical for Wisconsin ecosystems and crops including cranberries, peppers and tomatoes, and Pollinator Week, June 18-24, highlights steps city and rural residents can take to help protect and increase pollinator habitat.
A pollinator is any animal that visits flowering plants and transfers pollen from flower to flower, aiding plant reproduction. In Wisconsin, native pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flower flies, beetles, wasps and hummingbirds. Populations of some pollinators in Wisconsin, including several bumble bees and butterflies, are declining and habitat loss is one of the major causes.
Without pollinators, Wisconsin cranberry growers would lose three-quarters of their crop, apple growers would lose 80 percent, and cherry growers would lose 60 percent. In 2015, that would have added up to a whopping $134 million loss, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
"It's all hands-on deck for pollinators," says Owen Boyle, who leads the Department of Natural Resources' species management section. "Our native pollinators are incredibly important to maintaining Wisconsin's native ecosystems and agriculture, and we can all take steps to help them."
People can plant native milkweed and nectar plants, take it easy on mowing and pesticide use, and get involved in volunteer monitoring to help collect information on where pollinators live and their abundance, according to Boyle.
"Even if you live in an apartment and you have a balcony, you can grow flowers that provide food for pollinators," he said.
General best management practices for pollinators and aimed at farmers, homeowners with lawns and gardens, beekeepers and right-of-way managers, are found in the Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Plan developed in 2015 and led by DATCP.
Globally, somewhere between 75 percent and 95 percent of all flowering plants - some 180,000 species in all and 1,200 crops - need pollinators to help reproduce, according to the Pollinator Partnership, the organizer of the awareness week. Many of these flowering plants feed other wildlife and support healthy ecosystems that clean the air and stabilize soils, Boyle says.
Exciting public and private efforts are underway to help pollinators, including a Wisconsin effort bringing together diverse interests to create and carry out a statewide habitat restoration plan for monarchs, according to Boyle. While monarchs are not the most efficient pollinators, monarch habitat benefits other more efficient pollinators as well, like bees. Many habitat and other efforts by Wisconsin governments, nonprofits and utilities on behalf of monarchs are listed in the Wisconsin chapter, pg. 243, of the Mid-America Monarch Conservation Strategy.
Other ways Wisconsin residents can help pollinators is by participating in citizen-based monitoring projects to help collect information about the location and abundance of Wisconsin's pollinators including bumble bees, Karner blue butterflies and monarchs, Boyle says.
Find more information and sign up for free email or text updates to get videos, photos, plant lists on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching keyword "Pollinator."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

All hands on deck to stop aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - Thousands of Wisconsinites and visitors will take to the water this Fourth-of-July for the state's busiest boating holiday. During the 10th annual Landing Blitz, June 29-July 4, many boaters will be greeted at landings and access points by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff, volunteers and regional Aquatic Invasive Species partners sharing a simple but powerful message: YOU can protect lakes and rivers from aquatic invasive species.
The Landing Blitz is a statewide effort to remind boaters and users of all other watercraft that they can take actions to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose great risks to the health of our lakes and fisheries.
"Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water resources for outdoor sports and recreation. It's one of the top reasons Wisconsin is the premier travel destination for fun in the Midwest," said Stephanie Klett, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. "We appreciate the commitment of our visitors and residents to help protect our lakes, rivers and streams from aquatic invasive species and preserve our water resources for generations to come."
Volunteers, AIS partners and DNR boat inspectors will be on hand at landings around the state to demonstrate the prevention steps and answer questions about invasive species. Their efforts will build on the success of last year's campaign, when volunteers inspected over 14,000 boats and spoke with over 32,000 people.
"One of the most exciting things about this campaign is the strong volunteer effort. Every year hundreds of concerned citizens participate as volunteers to help us raise awareness and empower boaters," says Bob Wakeman, Statewide AIS Coordinator.
For those who use social media, they can help spread the word about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention by posting photos and messages using #CleanBoatsCleanWaters.
Invasive plants and animals, like Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water fleas and zebra mussels, can spread easily by hitching a ride on boats and other equipment, including trailers, anchors, live wells, buckets and bilges. Because many invasive species can also be hidden in mud, it's vital to clean off anchors. But boaters can also easily prevent this by taking the following simple steps before they leave a boat landing:
* Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment for attached aquatic plants or animals.
* Remove all attached plants or animals.
* Drain all water from boats, motors, live wells and other equipment.
* Never move live fish away from a water body.
* Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
* Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer.
Only use leftover minnows when either: 1) fishing with them on the same body of water or 2) on other waters if no lake/river water or other fish have been added to the container.
Following these steps also helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species.
To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin's waters and economy, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "Invasive Species."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Flooding, washouts close some parks, trails in northwestern Wisconsin

SUPERIOR, WI - Heavy rains across northwestern Wisconsin last weekend and early this week have flooded some roads and caused washouts on some highways, roads, state parks, forests and trails. According to the National Weather Service the area has received 7 to 12 inches of rain from Friday through Monday.
There are several Wisconsin State Park System property and portions of properties that are closed due to the rain and flooding in Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Burnett and Price counties. Amnicon Falls State Park, located about 7 miles east of Superior, is currently closed, but was expected to re-open the afternoon of June 19. Pattison State Park about 13 miles south of Superior is open for camping only. All trails, observation areas, picnic and day-use areas are closed.
The Saunders Grade, Wild Rivers and Gandy Dancer state trails in Douglas County are currently closed. Several canoe launches, picnic areas and day-use areas at Brule River State Forest are under water and currently unusable. The St. Croix Family Campground at Governor Knowles State Forest will be closed at least until June 20. The bridge at the headwaters of the White River in the Town of Delta is currently closed. Portions of the Tuscobia Trail are also washed out in southern Price County; a reroute will be established soon.
The public is urged to use caution as they recreate in the coming days and weeks. People traveling in the area can check the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's 511 Wisconsin website for road closures and any available detours.
Do not attempt to travel on water covered trails and roads. Stay out of areas, roads and trails posted as closed. Keep a safe distance away from the edge of fast moving water, streams and rivers. Kayaking or canoeing in flood or high water conditions is extremely dangerous.
Conditions at properties in the counties and in the northwest part of the state are changing rapidly was water levels decrease in some areas and increase in other areas downstream. For additional and the most current information continue to follow Wisconsin DNR on social media as well as searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for "Current Conditions."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR