DNR offers programs to learn to camp, paddle, mountain bike, fish

Registration for the 2018 I Can! programs that teach camping, paddling, mountain biking and fishing skills at Minnesota state parks and trails begins Tuesday, March 27, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The "I Can!" series helps beginners of all ages learn outdoor skills. The programs start in June and continue through the end of August. They include:
* I Can Camp! – Develop (or brush up on) fire-starting and camp cooking skills and sleep on comfy air mattresses in tents large enough to accommodate two adults and up to three children ($60 for one-night programs or $85 for two-night programs).
* I Can Paddle! – Get out on the water for a sea kayaking adventure on Lake Superior ($35 for ages 12-18, $45 for adults) or a guided canoeing or kayaking experience on a Minnesota lake or river (prices vary).
* I Can Mountain Bike! – Learn riding techniques and explore mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club ($15 for ages 10-15, $25/adults).
* I Can Fish! – Experience the fun of casting into the water and the excitement when there's a tug on the line! ($7/person, children under age 12 are free).
The I Can! series also includes the Archery in the Parks programs, which are free and for no reservations are needed.
“We provide all the gear along with friendly instructors who can show you how to use it,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “Our goal is to make it easy for busy families to discover the fun of spending time outdoors together.”
For more information, including program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements, visit www.mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).
To register, visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, except holidays).
The program series is made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.
The program received a Government Innovation Award in 2015. More than 15,400 people have participated in these programs since they were first offered in 2010.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Netland named Pheasants Forever wildlife professional of Year

As supervisor at the New London area wildlife office, Cory Netland oversees a number of projects including 10 over the last two years that added more than 1,300 acres to Minnesota’s 5.6 million acre network of public land.
It’s for those projects and his history of working on behalf of conservation for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that has earned Netland the honor of the Pheasants Forever Wildlife Professional of the Year award.
The prestigious award was presented at the Pheasants Forever Minnesota state convention in January. The Wildlife Professional of the Year award recognizes people or partners who have demonstrated a commitment to the protection of upland wildlife habitat and hunting heritage in Minnesota.
“I am truly honored and humbled to have received this award from an organization that I highly respect,” Netland said. “The work we’ve accomplished couldn’t happen without DNR wildlife specialist, Jeff Miller, and the many professionals at Pheasants Forever, especially state coordinator Eran Sandquist. I look forward to many more years of partnership and collaboration with them and their members.”
Since joining the DNR in 2012, Netland has helped grow a successful partnership between the DNR, Pheasants Forever and other key partners like the Outdoor Heritage Fund, to permanently protect over 1,500 acres of strategic wildlife management areas in central Minnesota.
Netland began his career in natural resources as a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill biologist in Madison, MN, in 2003.
“Over the last several years, Cory has worked tirelessly to accelerate habitat protection and restoration efforts in central Minnesota,” said Eran Sandquist, state coordinator for Pheasants Forever in Minnesota. “He is a passionate individual who understands the value of partnerships for protecting the state’s valuable natural resources. Turning those partnerships into pheasants, deer and ducks for all Minnesotans to enjoy is one of Cory’s greatest strengths.”
Netland resides in rural northern Kandiyohi County with his wife, Melanie, and their four children Lydia, Isaac, Grant and Hazel. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 145,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Since its creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $784 million on 530,000 habitat projects benefiting 17 million acres nationwide.
More information about New London area wildlife activities can be found at mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife/new_london.html.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR seeks comments on Kingsbury-Grassy Point habitat restoration project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments through April 18, on an environmental assessment worksheet for the Kingsbury-Grassy Point Habitat Restoration Project, located in Highland Township in St. Louis County.
The Kingsbury Bay-Grassy Point project sites are located at the upper end of the Duluth-Superior Port in the St. Louis River Estuary. The DNR proposes to mitigate contaminated sediments, legacy wood waste and excessive sedimentation to restore 240 acres of fish and wildlife habitat within a part of the St. Louis River Area of Concern.  
Detrimental materials will be removed, contained on-site or capped in place. Areas with excess sedimentation will be deepened and the clean materials transported and reused for shoreline improvements. Bay habitats that support productive Lake Superior marshes will be restored.
A copy of the EAW is available on the Kingsbury-Grassy Point habitat restoration page.Additional copies may be requested by calling 651-259-5082.
Copies are also available for public review at:
* Minnesota DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
Minnesota DNR northeast region headquarters, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.
* Hennepin County – Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, Second Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1992.
* Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior St., Duluth, MN 55802.
Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave., Superior WI 54880.
The EAW notice will be published in the March 19 EQB Monitor. Written comments on the EAW must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, to the attention of Kate Fairman, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.  Electronic or email comments may be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with “Kingsbury–Grassy Point EAW” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811. Names and addresses will be published as part of the EAW record.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Bass fishing changes among questions for Spring Fish and Wildlife Rules Hearings

MADISON, WI - A continuous season for bass fishing - with harvest only allowed during the current open season - restriction on moving deer that test positive for chronic wasting disease, opening the inland trout season the first Saturday in April, and a new fee to use state wildlife, fisheries and natural areas are among the questions the public can vote on at the 2018 Spring Fish and Wildlife Public Hearing and annual Conservation Congress county meetings.
On Monday, April 9, there will be 72 public hearings, one in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m., where people interested in natural resources management have an opportunity to provide their input by non-binding vote and testimony to the Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Congress on proposed natural resources advisory question that may lead to future rule changes.
Among the fisheries management advisory questions are two of statewide interest related to bass fishing. One seeks input on the idea of a statewide, continuous open season for bass fishing. Harvest of bass would only be allowed during the current traditional season. The other proposes establishing alternate size and bag limits for participants in permitted, catch-and-release, bass fishing tournaments.
Local fisheries management advisory questions include:
* Whether the department should initiate a review of longstanding panfish and gamefish size and bag limit regulations on the Mississippi River.
* Walleye harvest regulations affecting Koshkonong Lake in Jefferson/Rock counties and the Lake Winnebago system.
* Lake Superior sturgeon size limit and bank pole fishing regulations on the Winnebago system.
Wildlife management advisory questions include on asking whether deer harvested in a CWD-affected county could only be transported within that county or to an adjacent CWD-affected county to minimize the risk of moving CWD prions along with carcasses to areas of the state that have not had CWD-positive test results.
Other wildlife management questions include:
* A proposal to change the closing time of certain wildlife refuges to the end of the waterfowl season and would allow recreational users earlier access to the refugees.
Moving the close of pheasant season daily shooting hours on public properties stocked with pheasants from 2 p.m., to noon on weekdays from the third day of the pheasant season through Nov. 3, to give wildlife staff more time and flexibility to stock while removing hunting pressure on the birds until the next morning.
The results of voting on the DNR proposed questions will be used by the department in the development of future policies and rule proposals. The department will hold hearings on any rule change proposals that advance at the 2019 spring hearings.
This year the Conservation Congress will seek public input on 36 advisory questions on a range of topics, including:
* Opening the inland trout season statewide on the first Saturday in April.
* Returning to a three-zone mink and muskrat season framework.
* Allowing the unrestricted harvest of white perch on Lake Superior.
* Changing the requirements for obtaining a Wisconsin Guide License.
"Conservation Congress advisory questions generally originate from citizens' ideas," said Larry Bonde, Chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. "If resolutions presented at the county level meetings are supported, the resolution is advanced to one of the congress' advisory committees and the District Leadership Council for consideration. If the proposal advances through the committees and council, it is forward to the DNR and Natural Resources Board for consideration as a future rule change.
"Each year, there are over 200 resolutions submitted locally. Not all pass, but the ones that do have the potential to become a rule, policy or legislative change in the subsequent years," Bonde said. "It is a true grassroots process that empowers the citizens of this state to shape natural resources policy."
During the Conservation Congress county meetings, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their views regarding natural resources issues on the Conservation Congress.
The State Natural Resources Board is also seeking input on a number of advisory questions, including a proposal for a $5 annual fee for all users between the ages of 16 and 64 of state fishery, wildlife, natural areas and leased public hunting grounds and dedicating that money to directly support fish and wildlife habitat management and infrastructure on those properties.
Other board questions include:
* Eliminating the group deer hunting law so that the only person who can fill a tag is the hunter that had been issued the deer harvest authorization.
* Adjusting the length of the crossbow season, for those who are not disabled or elderly.
To view the 2018 spring wildlife and fisheries questionnaire package or for information about the process, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "spring hearings."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

MacKenzie Center's annual Maple Festival set April 7

POYNETTE, WI - Maple Festival, a fun-filled, educational event for families, is scheduled for Saturday, April 7, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MacKenzie Center near Poynette.
The event features free guided tours of the sugarbush, demonstrations of how to tap a maple tree for sap and how to make syrup, interpretative talks about how some Native Americans and pioneers made maple sugar and syrup, as well as, current methods used in our own MacKenzie sugarbush.
Visitors will get to explore the Ciporoke (pronounced Chee-poe-doe-kay) a typical spring home used by members of the Ho-Chunk Nation in historic sugar bushes.
Participants also will have the opportunity to watch home-made ice cream being churned with an antique engine, listen to live, old-time, country music, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. In addition, the wildlife exhibit, which includes animals native to Wisconsin, and the historic exhibits on property, will be open.
A pancake breakfast, sponsored by Friends of MacKenzie, will be served from 8 a.m., until noon at the Main Lodge. The cost is $7 for those 12 years old and older, and $5 for ages 3-11.
Refreshments, maple products and souvenirs will be sold by the Friends of MacKenzie. The Friends will also draw the winners for their annual quilt raffle at noon.
Important Times:
* Festival hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
* Wildlife viewing: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
* Pancake breakfast: 8 a.m.-noon.
* Horse-drawn wagon rides: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
The MacKenzie Center is located two miles east of Poynette, WI, on County Road CS/Q. Find us online at dnr.wi.gov and search "MacKenzie." Maple Festival is hosted by the Friends of the MacKenzie Environmental Center and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

SOURCE: Wiscosnin DNR

Bird survey organizers urge volunteers to survey areas in need

ASHLAND, WI - With just two of five breeding seasons left to go, organizers of a comprehensive survey of birds that nest in Wisconsin have identified more than 300 locations where volunteers are needed to help gather information for the survey, known as the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II.
"This is a perfect time to choose a location where you can help look for breeding birds and report them," said Nick Anich, atlas coordinator and a conservation biologist with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The bulk of bird species will nest in June and July, but some resident birds are getting started already, and it's a good time to head out to a location near you and poke around, explore some habitats and see what's out there."
Participating volunteers are already submitting observations from around the state of early breeding bird species like great horned owl, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, common raven, red crossbill and pine siskin sprucing up their nests or sitting on eggs.
The goal of the Atlas is to help document the distribution and abundance of all birds breeding across the state. This information will help scientists, land managers and birders get a better understanding of the population size, preferred habitat and range of each species, and how those have changed since the last Atlas survey 20 years ago.
The survey splits Wisconsin into nearly 7,000 blocks of land, equally distributed throughout the state, with about 1 in 6 of these blocks of highest priority. These blocks must be fully surveyed by the time fieldwork is completed in 2019 to allow for good comparisons with data collected in the same locations 20 years earlier, according to Anich.
Organizers are urging birders to visit wiatri.net/projects/WBBA/WBBAmap.cfm to register to become the principal at laser for one of the remaining open blocks.
Even with 1,500-plus volunteers having participated to date, there are many easy-to-reach blocks still available, especially in the northern two-thirds of the state, said Ryan Brady, a DNR conservation biologist and science lead for the survey.
"Open blocks in Wisconsin's northern and west-central counties commonly host more than 85 breeding species, and can offer special opportunities for volunteers looking for warblers, boreal specialties, or just quality time outdoors," Brady said.
Volunteers interested in rural counties of central Wisconsin have plenty of exciting open-country species to look for as well, according to Brady. Whooping crane, greater prairie chicken and Henslow's sparrow are among them.
Interested volunteers are encouraged to attend a regional workshop to learn more about the Atlas survey:
* Western Region - April 14, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: National Eagle Center, Wabasha, MN
* Eastern Region - April 21, 12-4:30 p.m.: Sturgeon Bay Library, Sturgeon Bay, WI
Workshops are free, but registration is required. For details and registration, visit http://wsobirds.org/atlas-2018-regional-kickoff-workshops.
The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II also has a number of field trips and smaller training events planned for spring and early summer months, all skill levels are welcome. Visit wsobirds.org/atlas-events for details.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

VHS found in gizzard shad in Port Washington Harbor fish kill

MADISON, WI - Test results have confirmed that VHS as well as one other pathogen was found associated with a late January fish kill of gizzard shad in Port Washington Harbor, according to state fish health experts.
DNR officials have also looked into a report of gizzard shad mortalities in the Menomonee River in Milwaukee. Samples were collected and sent for testing. The testing period takes approximately 28 days. We will have further updates once test results have been received for the Menomonee River fish.
VHS, or viral hemorrhagic septicemia, is a virus deadly to fish and has been present in Lake Michigan for more than a decade. In addition to VHS, Enteric Redmouth was found to be associated with the Port Washington fish kill. While the potential for the transmission of Enteric Redmouth to humans is unclear, VHS is not known to be a threat to human health and safety, said DNR Fisheries Veterinarian Danielle Godard.
The test results have been reported to the necessary health authorities under protocols for handling incidents of the infectious and fatal fish disease.
Godard and other DNR fisheries officials call on anglers and others on Wisconsin waters to be vigilant in taking required precautions to avoid spreading the VHS virus to inland lakes and rivers. VHS is not a threat to people who handle infected fish or want to eat their catch, but it is a threat to more than 25 freshwater fish species in Wisconsin, including musky, walleye, yellow perch and northern pike.
"This is a reminder that VHS is still present and a threat," Godard said. "It's very important that anglers and everyone else on the water do their part by not moving water or live fish away from waterbodies."
Previously, VHS was most recently confirmed in Wisconsin in 2017 in a private Fond du Lac County lake close to Lake Winnebago, Godard says.
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia was first diagnosed in the Great Lakes as the cause of large fish kills in lakes Huron, St. Clair, Erie, Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in 2005 and 2006. The virus was first discovered in Wisconsin waters in Lake Winnebago in 2006.
Wisconsin test results from 2006 to 2012 show that the virus has been detected in fish from the Lake Winnebago system, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Green Bay, but it hasn't spread more widely in Wisconsin, as originally feared.
To keep Wisconsin's inland lakes and rivers VHS free, all boaters and anglers must follow simple precautions to prevent the spread of the virus and other invasive species. Those steps include:
* Minnow harvest is prohibited on all Wisconsin waters where viral hemorrhagic septicemia is known or suspected to be present. The prohibited area includes Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Winnebago system, the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin River up to the Prairie de Sac Dam and all waters connected to these waters up to the first barrier impassable to fish.
* Drain all water from boats, containers and fishing equipment when leaving any state waters, banks or shores, or entering Wisconsin over land. This does not apply to any drinking water or up to 2 gallons of water being used to hold minnows that can be legally transported.
* Do not transport any live fish or live fish eggs away from any state waters. There is an exception for minnows obtained from a Wisconsin bait dealer. These minnows may be transported away live and used again on the same water or on any other waters if no lake or river water, or other fish were added to their container.
* Do not use dead fish, fish eggs, or fish parts as bait. There are three exceptions: You may use dead fish, fish eggs, or fish parts as bait on any waters if they were preserved by a method that does not require freezing or refrigeration, or they originate from the same waterbody where you intend to use them, or purchase them from a licensed commercial bait dealer.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR