$5.7 million available for wetland restoration projects

MADISON - Conservation groups, private landowners and government organizations are encouraged to apply for a share of $5.7 million from the Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust available to complete wetland mitigation projects.
Proposals for the current round of funding are due Dec. 14, and can be used to cover all aspects of restoration including land purchases, site construction and long-term maintenance and monitoring.
"We look forward to working with new partners to restore wetland functions and ecosystem services that will benefit local watersheds and communities alike," said Tom Pearce, WWCT project manager for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
More than $2 million of this funding comes from Foxconn as its required payment into the WWCT for mitigating wetlands at a 2:1 acre ratio. This portion of the funding will be targeted to mitigation projects in southeast Wisconsin, specifically the Upper Illinois service area and the Southwestern Lake Michigan service area.
Created in 2014, the WWCT allows for the purchase of wetland mitigation credits as specified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Wisconsin DNR wetland permits. The funds generated from credit sales then help offset the cost of wetland restoration projects. Funds are awarded to applicants through a competitive request for proposal, or RFP process. The DNR administers the funding program.
The WWCT will issue quarterly RFPs beginning Jan. 1, 2019 as funds become available. This abbreviated fall RFP is meant to inform potential applicants of current funding opportunities as soon as possible as the WWCT transitions to the new quarterly schedule.
The Trust is currently funding wetland restoration projects on more than 450 acres statewide with work on these projects continuing this year.
Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Josh Brown at 608-266-1902 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to discuss possible projects. Additional information can be found by visiting the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching "WWCT."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Pond owners should dispose ornamental aquatic plants properly

MADISON - With winter fast approaching, many pond owners are clearing out ornamental aquatic plants and animals before their ponds freeze over.
However, some plants, like water hyacinth, water lettuce and parrot feather, that can make a pond beautiful and healthy in the summer are non-native and highly invasive species and should not be thrown away into lakes, rivers or wetlands.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources urges pond owners to properly dispose of these aquatic invaders.
"Water gardeners love these plants because they are easy to care for and grow, but they may not be aware that they are also prohibited species in Wisconsin and can potentially block waterways and choke out native habitats," says Alex Selle, an aquatic invasive species coordinator for the DNR West-Central Region.
If released into natural waterways, these plants can reproduce very quickly and potentially produce thousands of seeds that can be spread by wind or water. Left uncontrolled, the plants can form dense colonies that cover entire ponds and lakes making boating, fishing and other water activities difficult. These dense colonies can also degrade water quality by reducing oxygen levels during dieback important for fish and blocking sunlight that keeps native aquatic plants alive.
"The best way to dispose of your aquatic pond plants is to drain as much water from them as possible, bag them and dispose in your garbage pick-up," Selle says. The bag will keep any plant fragments, like leaves, roots and seeds, from dispersing when the plants dry out.
There are ways you can help prevent the spread of aquatic plants commonly used in aquaculture:
* Build your aquatic gardens away from natural waterways and flood zones.
* Learn to recognize invasive species.
* Purchase and plant non-invasive and native plants.
* Check plant orders for unwanted invasive hitchhikers.
* Do not use invasive plants, fish, crayfish or snails in your garden.
* Do not release any plants, fish or invertebrates into natural waters.
Consult the list of regulated aquatic invasive species found on the DNR website.
DNR staff request that anyone who sees any of these invasive species while enjoying the natural areas of Wisconsin, report the location using the agency's online reporting form. For more information search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for aquatic invasive species.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

19th annual Enchanted Forest event this Saturday

Join WisCorps at Myrick Park in La Crosse for a fall festival and trick-or-treat event, Enchanted Forest, presented by Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., there will be lots of family friendly fun happening in the park for children of all ages and all abilities! Families follow the Enchanted path where they meet their favorite fairy tale characters while gathering treats along the way.  
At the end of the Enchanted Forest trail, children discover fun fall games, magic, snacks, Mad Science, not-so-creepy critters, and more.
The La Crosse community has cherished this event as the premier non-spooky Halloween event in the area. Not only is this non-spooky event appropriate for all ages, WisCorps also strives to make Enchanted Forest accessible for people of all abilities. In addition to the Enchanted trail being wheelchair and stroller friendly, all-terrain power wheelchairs called Action Trackchairs will be available to reserve at no cost. Contact WisCorps to reserve in advance.
New in 2018, Enchanted Forest will be participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This project, led by the Food Allergy Research & Education foundation, allows children with food allergies or children unable to have candy for various reasons, to be included in trick-or-treating festivities. This year, 9 of the 17 trick-or-treat stations will be giving out non-food treats. This will be signified by a teal pumpkin at the station and the Enchanted Forest map. Please note there will still be candy and food at this event.
WisCorps is a non-profit organization headquartered at the Myrick Park Center. Their mission is “to develop leadership, self-confidence, and a strong work ethic in youth and young adults through the active stewardship of Wisconsin’s communities and natural resources.”
WisCorps values environmental sustainability and will offer event goers the opportunity to purchase reusable treat bags for $5, in order to reduce waste caused by single-use materials.
Enchanted Forest acts as a fundraiser for WisCorps, and has brought over 3,000 people to the park in recent years. The event is valuable to the community, promoting an active lifestyle, healthier alternatives and inclusivity.
To purchase your tickets, visit wiscorps.org/enchantedforestor stop into the Myrick Park Center at 789 Myrick Park Dr. La Crosse, WI 54601 during business hours, Monday-Friday 8 am to 4 pm. You can also contact Tammy Schmitz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (608) 782-2494 with any questions regarding the event. “Like” Enchanted Forest 2018on Facebook for updates and information!
SOURCE: WisCorps

Here's a 'bittersweet' message about colorful autumn arrangements

MADISON - Homeowners and decorators creating their autumn displays should avoid two invasive plants that have been used historically in Thanksgiving and other floral arrangements but are increasingly recognized as harmful to forests, wetlands, prairies, and other wild areas.
Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose offer attractive red accents but their use in holiday decorations and their disposal in compost piles increases the risk that these invasive plants will spread to new sites, says Matt Wallrath, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources outreach coordinator working with the plant nursery, aquarium, pet, and bait industries to prevent the sale and distribution of invasive species.
"Our wild lands and conservation areas are threatened by these non-native plant species, which can out-compete native plants and displace native wildlife," Wallrath says. "Vendors and consumers should seek native plant alternatives instead and avoid these invasive plants, which are illegal to sell or distribute in Wisconsin."
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is a vine that spreads in forest understories and is known to kill mature trees by strangling their trunks. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is a shrub that can form impenetrable bramble thickets that impede hunters and other recreationists, while shading out native plant species.
The colorful fruits of these species are often eaten by birds and dispersed to areas far from their origin. Once established, these species are difficult to control. Even when these plants are cut down close to the soil, they re-sprout from roots remaining below ground.
Kelly Kearns, an invasive plant specialist for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program, suggests that vendors, decorators and others looking for bright accents should consider using Wisconsin native species including American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and native roses like smooth rose (Rosa blanda).
"Native alternatives can add vivid color without posing a threat to our Wisconsin plants and animals," Kearns says.
To control the spread of invasive species, Wisconsin regulates the importation and sale of more than 140 plants, as well as some animals that have been identified as invasive in Wisconsin.
Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose are on the list of restricted species on the Wisconsin invasive species rule (Wis. Adm. Code ch. NR 40), making it illegal to transport, introduce, gift, buy, sell, or trade these plants unless you are trying to control or safely dispose of them.
Search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "invasive species rule" to find an interactive list of invasive species, with factsheets, photos, identification tips and more.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks input on environmental review for Minnesota Valley State Trail

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on an environmental assessment worksheet prepared for the Minnesota Valley State Trail, Bloomington segment in Hennepin County.
The DNR proposes to develop 13.5 miles of the Minnesota Valley State Trail, from the Bloomington Ferry Bridge to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Bloomington. The multiple-use, nonmotorized recreational state trail would consist of a 10-foot wide paved surface with 2-foot vegetated shoulders. Expected trail uses include walking/hiking, bicycling and in-line skating.
The agency will take comments during a 30-day public review period ending at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 14.
A copy of the EAW is available online on the project page. A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5110.
The document is available for public review at:
* DNR library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
* DNR Central Region Headquarters, 1200 Warner Road, St. Paul.
* Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.
* Penn Lake Library, 8800 Penn Ave. S, Bloomington.
The EAW notice will be published in the Oct. 15 EQB Monitor. The EQB Monitor is a weekly publication of the Environmental Quality Board that lists descriptions and deadlines for environmental review documents and other notices.
Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 to the attention of Lisa Fay, EAW project manager, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, Box 25, 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. “MN Valley State Trail 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

Temporary off-highway vehicle trail closures begin in November

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict recreational use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in some areas during the upcoming firearms deer hunting season.
Vehicles affected by the restrictions include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and registered off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel drive trucks that are not being used in conjunction with deer hunting by a licensed deer hunter.
The restrictions, which apply to state forest trails and access routes, but not to state forest roads, aim to protect recreational riders from potentially unsafe riding conditions, and minimize conflicts between deer hunters and recreational riders who may inadvertently disturb them.
Licensed deer hunters may still use these routes in conjunction with their hunting activity:
* Before legal shooting time.
* From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* After legal shooting hours.
Effective dates of the recreational riding restrictions will be:
* Nov. 3 – 18 for the northeastern Minnesota 100 Series deer season.
* Nov. 3 – 11 for the Minnesota 200 Series deer season.
Because recreational OHV trails located in southeastern Minnesota close Nov. 1 each year, no additional OHV riding restrictions are necessary in that part of the state.
While many have voluntarily opted not to ride forest trails during deer hunting and small-game seasons, recreational state forest use has become a year-round activity for many. DNR officials remind everyone who visits Minnesota’s state forests this fall to put safety first.
For more information, see the 2018 deer season map or contact the DNR Information Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Deadline approaches to buy sturgeon spearing licenses

MADISON - The deadline to purchase licenses for the 2019 Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season is Oct. 31, with state biologists forecasting great opportunities to land the fish of a lifetime.
"The fish population is strong - we've got more fish than we've had in decades and plenty of big fish," says Ryan Koenigs, Department of Natural Resources Lake Winnebago sturgeon biologist. "As always, the biggest driver of spearing success will be water clarity, and we won't have an idea what clarity will look like until the weeks leading up to the season."
The 2019 spearing season opens Feb. 9, 2019, with separate, but simultaneous seasons for Lake Winnebago and for the Upriver Lakes. Participation in the Upriver Lakes season is determined by lottery.
The seasons run for 16 days or until harvest caps are reached; system-wide harvest caps for 2019 are 430 juvenile females, 950 adult females, and 1,200 males.
A mid-winter warm-up before the 2018 spearing season resulted in reduced water clarity and contributed to a lower harvest: a combined total of 951 sturgeon. That total is down from averages over the last decade, but still is the largest recreational spear harvest for sturgeon in the world and an increase over the 2016 season total of 703 fish, and 2017 total of 847 fish, Koenigs says.

How and where to get spearing licenses
Licenses are again $20 for residents and $65 for nonresidents and can be purchased by visiting GoWild.Wi.gov or any license sales location. To find a license agent near you, go to dnr.wi.gov and search with key words "license agent."
The minimum spearing age is 12 years, and youth who turn 12 between Nov. 1, 2018, and the last day of the 2019 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31.
There are unlimited license sales on Lake Winnebago, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a lottery and limited to 500 permitted spearers. Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, they are not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago.
Spearers are now able to transfer Upriver Lakes spear licenses to youth spearers (age 12-17) and can do so by filling a transfer of license form at least 15 days before the 2018 sturgeon spear fishery. Spearers who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the lottery but were not drawn for a license receive a preference point and can still purchase a Lake Winnebago license before the Oct. 31 deadline.
For more information on harvest trends and management of the Lake Winnebago sturgeon fishery, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR