U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues revenue sharing payments

Under the provisions of the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act, payments totaling $190,953 were made in July 2017 to counties, cities and townships in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois for lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and managed as part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Locally, $30,182 was transferred to Wabasha and Winona counties in Minnesota and Caledonia, Trempealeau, Alma, Belvidere, Buffalo, Milton and Nelson Townships and the City of Alma in Wisconsin for lands in navigation Pools 4, 5, 5A and 6 that are managed as part of the Winona District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.  
This annual payment is made to local units of government as compensation for the loss of tax revenue on lands that are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, National Fish Hatcheries, or Waterfowl Production Areas.  
Shared revenue funds are derived from the economic use of lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plus a supplemental Congressional appropriation. For fiscal year 2017, revenues from 2016 and a supplemental Congressional appropriation were sufficient to provide for a nationwide payment of 28.2 percent of the full entitlement amount.
In Minnesota, Wabasha County received a payment of $6,015 and Winona County received $5,726. In Wisconsin, payments were issued to the Townships of Trempealeau ($1,342), Caledonia ($567), Alma ($2,546), Belvidere ($273), Buffalo ($938), Milton ($1,555) and Nelson ($11,118), and the City of Alma ($102).
These funds may be used by local governments for any appropriate governmental function.
For more information, contact the Winona District Office of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge at 507-454-7351. The office is located at 51 East 4th Street, Room 203 in Winona, Minn. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bald eagle nests hit another record

RHINELANDER, WI - The Wisconsin bald eagle population is growing and thriving according to the 2017 bald eagle nest survey results. The comeback of the national symbol in Wisconsin continues 45 years after work to help restore eagle populations began.
Three findings in the 2017 survey report (click on dropdown bar for nongame) tell the tale of bald eagles' recovery:
* The number of occupied nests statewide increased by 86 nests to a record 1,590.
This past spring, Kenosha County recorded its first documented nest in more than a century, leaving only two of 72 counties without documented active nests.
No growth in nests in habitat-rich Oneida County may signal that suitable nesting habitat in some northern Wisconsin counties is now all taken.
"The Kenosha County nest was probably the biggest news this year because it is the first documented nest in the county since the survey began," says Laura Jaskiewicz, the Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist, who coordinates the aerial survey. "That was very exciting.
"We also find it very interesting that we had such a large increase in new nests. We find new nests every year and it's been steadily increasing, but we found twice as many as the previous year."
Jaskiewicz said the 5.7 percent nest increase in 2017, from 1,504 to 1,590 reflected at least in part more extensive efforts to look for eagle nests along the Mississippi River Valley, where it's typically more difficult to document them. The number of new nests in that part of the state contributed 30 percent of the total increase in nests over 2016.
"We also had some interesting findings that suggest the eagle population in the northern part of the state is getting close to its carrying capacity," Jaskiewicz.
Longtime bald eagle surveyor Ron Eckstein, a retired DNR wildlife biologist, noted that for the very first time since detailed aerial surveys began in 1974, no new eagle territories were found in Oneida County.
"This is a milestone because it reinforces the idea that in Oneida County we are near the biological carrying capacity for eagles," Eckstein said.
The 2017 survey, conducted by DNR staff from the Natural Heritage Conservation and Wildlife Management bureaus and DNR pilots, marked the 45th consecutive year that the bald eagle occupancy survey has been completed in Wisconsin, which makes it one of the longest running surveys of its kind in North America.
Bald eagle nests numbered 108 statewide when the surveys started in the early 1970s, when bald eagles were listed as state and federally endangered species. The record number of nests results from protections under the state and federal endangered species laws, declining levels of DDT in the environment, and DNR and partner efforts to help monitor and aid recovery. Bald eagles were removed from the state endangered species list in 1997 and the federal list in 2007.
Eagle nests are federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which celebrated its centennial in 2016.
Citizens and organizations can help fund bald eagle annual nest surveys by sponsoring an eagle nest Through the DNR's Adopt-An-Eagle Nest program. For a minimum contribution of $100, sponsors can receive an adoption certificate, an aerial photo showing the location of your eagle nest, results from the surveys and a full-color eagle calendar. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "AEN."
In addition, purchasing a DNR bald eagle specialty license plate offers eagle enthusiasts a way to show their love for this majestic bird and to help fund the next conservation success. Search the DNR website for "eagle plate" for more information.
Read more about bald eagle recovery and eagle watching in Wisconsin, specifically along the Fox River, in the December 2017 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine cover story "Eagle encounters on the Fox.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks input on Smoky Hills ATV Trail proposal

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites public review and written comments on a proposal by the city of Wolf Lake to obtain grant-in-aid funding for the Smoky Hills ATV Trail in Becker County.  
About 18 miles of the trail are currently designated for ATV use. New trail segments would connect existing trails and add approximately 2 miles of new riding opportunities in Carsonville, Green Valley and Wolf Lake townships. The new trail would be maintained by the city of Wolf Lake and the Woods and Wheels ATV Club.
The DNR will accept written comments until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2. Comments may be submitted:
* Via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
* Via mail to Dave Schotzko, area supervisor, Parks and Trails Division, Minnesota DNR, 3296 State Park Road NE, Bemidji, MN 56601.
A map of the proposed trail segments can be found at www.mndnr.gov. For more information, call Dave Schotzko, 218-308-2367.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR solicits 2018 park and trail grant applications

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division is accepting applications for the following grant programs: outdoor recreation, natural and scenic areas, regional trails, local trail connections and federal recreational trails.
These grants help local governments throughout the state create partnerships with the DNR to fund projects such as local parks, regional trails and trail connections.
The application due dates are Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Federal Recreational Trail Grant Program and Friday, March 30, for the other programs.
The DNR anticipates that both federal and state funding will be available during 2018 for these programs.
For information about eligible projects and how to apply for a grant, visit the recreation grants page of the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov.
For more information:
* Contact the grants staff listed online.
* 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).

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR invites public input on Iron Range State Recreation Area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting to review a draft master plan amendment for the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert.
The meeting is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, in the training center at the Iron Range OHV State Recreation Area, 7196 Pettit Road, Gilbert.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to review the draft, ask questions and submit comments. The DNR began a master plan amendment process for the site with a public open house in June 2017. The draft amendment includes proposed changes to site access, miles of trail within the site and site management.
The Iron Range OHV Recreation Area was designated in 1996 as Minnesota’s first recreation area catering primarily to OHV enthusiasts. Originally 1,200 acres, the site was expanded to more than 3,700 acres in 1999. It has trails for all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles and off-highway vehicles.
Anyone unable to attend the meeting can submit comments by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail to Joe Unger, Parks and Trails Division, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4039. The DNR will accept written comments through Jan. 2.
The draft master plan amendment can be found online at www.mndnr.gov or at the park office. For more information, contact Allan Larsen, site manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 218-735-3833.
Visit the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area webpage for more information.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Women can learn outdoor skills at winter workshop

A supportive environment of fellow women is the backdrop for a workshop that embraces cold and snow this January with classes about sled dog mushing, dark house fishing, birding, archery hunting and other ways to get outdoors.
The winter workshop is Friday, Jan. 26, to Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone, and organized by the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) Program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“This annual event is a fun way to try winter activities,” said Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator. “We’ve also expanded course options so women can begin the process of learning how to archery hunt or bow fish with help from experienced instructors.”   
The archery classes are the first in a series of classes that continue later in the year designed for women who want to improve their archery skills and learn how to hunt. Winter workshop participants only interested in the archery classes can attend for a single day for $20.
“Not only can women learn the basic skills of archery hunting, but they have guidance about where to hunt and opportunity to go on mentored hunts available for women who attend the series,” Bylander said.
To host the archery series, the BOW program is teaming up with A-1 Archery, Chilakoot Bowhunters, Safari Club International and the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve of the University of Minnesota.
Participants can choose from a variety of activities to learn about and experience during the weekend. Youth age 14 or older can attend with a guardian.
Lodging, meals, instruction, equipment and evening entertainment are included in the workshop fee, which varies depending on activities chosen.
A winter workshop schedule with a registration form is available at mndnr.gov/bow.                                        

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR seeks applications for advisory committee on natural heritage

Any Minnesota resident with a strong interest in the state’s native prairies, forests and wetlands and the state's plants and animals are invited by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to apply by Dec. 14, at 4:30 p.m. for a key advisory board.
The DNR is seeking people to fill three vacancies on the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage. Appointees will be responsible for advising the DNR on issues related to sustaining the state’s natural heritage and biological diversity.  
Since 1966, the committee has made recommendations and given support to state scientific and natural areas. The committee also now advises other programs within the department’s Ecological and Water Resources Division, including nongame wildlife, Minnesota Biological Survey, prairie protection, rare resources, wetland monitoring, and terrestrial invasive species.  
Residents with interest or expertise in sustaining the state’s natural heritage may apply online until Dec. 14 at www.dnr.state.mn.us/cac.html. Applicants should have knowledge, demonstrated dedication or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, geology, environmental education, natural resource management, protection of Minnesota's rare species, or marketing, communication or promotions focused on natural resources.
Members are expected to participate in five, 4-5 hour long meetings per year plus one 1-2 day field trip. In addition, members may choose to participate in subcommittees or other meeting preparation. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will appoint committee members for terms of up to five years starting in January.
Interested applicants can learn more by visiting the committee’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/cac.html.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR