DNR invites public input on recreational trails

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is holding a public input meeting about the future of motorized and nonmotorized trails in Huntersville and Lyons state forests and other state forest lands in Wadena County.
The meeting will be 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Menahga Public School, 216 Aspen Ave. SE, Menahga.
Potential changes to trails within the planning area include adding new trails, connecting trails to facilities and amenities, and rerouting or closing unsustainable trails.
Comments received at the meeting will be used to develop a draft recommendation that will be submitted to the DNR commissioner for approval. Changes to forest trail designations must be made by commissioner’s orders.
Written comments may be submitted by fax to 651-297-1157, 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 Wednesday, Nov. 8.  
For more information:
Contact Tim Williamson, acquisition and development specialist, Parks and Trails Division, 218-308-2369.
Visit the Minnesota State Forest Trail Revisions Project webpage at www.mndnr.gov.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

October public meetings gather feedback about outdoor recreation

MADISON, WI - The public will have an opportunity at a series of upcoming meetings to provide input on two draft chapters of a Department of Natural Resources Recreation Opportunities Analysis and begin the process of examining opportunities in three other regions of Wisconsin.
The Recreation Opportunities Analysis is examining existing outdoor-based recreation opportunities and future recreation opportunities in eight regions throughout Wisconsin.
The initial drafts identify recreation opportunities in the Great Northwest (Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Polk, Barron and Rusk counties) and Upper Lake Michigan Coastal Regions (Marinette, Oconto, Manitowoc, Brown, Kewaunee and Door counties) and the potential role of DNR-managed properties in helping to meet these opportunities.
In August, the department held open house meetings asking for public input about these regions. Feedback was also received through an online public input opportunity that was open in August and early September. Using this input, the department developed a draft chapter for each region describing future needs unique to each part of the state and the potential role DNR-managed properties play in helping to meet those needs.
Comments are welcome on the draft chapters through Oct. 27.
Open house meetings are scheduled from 4-7 p.m. in each region where department staff will provide an overview at 5:30 p.m.:
* Tuesday Oct. 17, De Pere - Brown County Library - Kress Family Branch, 333 North Broadway Street.
* Wednesday Oct. 18, Rice Lake - City of Rice Lake Building, 30 East Eau Claire St.
Next regions to begin study for Recreation Opportunities Analysis
The next regions to be studied are the Mississippi River Corridor, Western Sands and Lake Winnebago regions. The counties included in these regions are:
* Mississippi River Corridor: Buffalo, Crawford, Dunn, Grant, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, St Croix, Trempealeau, and Vernon.
* Lake Winnebago Waters: Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Menominee, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, and Winnebago.
Western Sands: Adams, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, Marathon, Monroe, Portage, and Wood.
The public is invited to participate in this analysis by providing information through the online input opportunities found by searching the DNR website for keyword "ROA." The public can provide feedback online or print out the questionnaire and send completed forms to the department. Public input opportunities for these three regions are open through Nov. 17.
Later this month, the department will host public open house meetings to gather additional input to the Mississippi River Corridor, Lake Winnebago Waters and Western Sands regions.
The open houses will be held from 4-7 p.m. in the following dates and locations:
* Oct. 23, Altoona - River Prairie Center, 1445 Front Porch Place.
* Oct. 24, Stevens Point - Holiday Inn, 1001 Amber Ave.
* Oct. 25, Onalaska - Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center, 3060 South Kinney Coulee Road.
* Nov. 1, Appleton - Fox Valley Technical College (Bordini Center), 5 Systems Drive
While the ROA process is underway in these counties, additional public meetings in other regions will be held as the process moves forward. The analysis process will generally describe recreation opportunities for each region.
To receive email updates regarding the ROA process, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select "Recreation opportunities analysis," found within the list titled "outdoor recreation."
For more information regarding the recreational opportunities analysis, search keyword "ROA."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Help DNR staff monitor Wisconsin's wolf population

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's wolf monitoring program relies upon volunteers from around the state who help track animals each winter, and people interested in playing a key role in wildlife management are encouraged to sign up for one of a number of classes offered statewide.
Carnivore tracking classes focus on learning to identify the tracks of medium- to large-size carnivores that inhabit Wisconsin, as well as a few other common mammals. Wolf ecology and management classes cover the history of wolves in Wisconsin, their biology and ecology, how DNR monitors the population, and state management and research. Completion of both classes is required to participate in the wolf monitoring program as a volunteer carnivore tracker.
"DNR staff and volunteers tracked over 14,000 miles last winter searching for wolf, coyote, bobcat, and other medium to large size carnivore tracks in Wisconsin," said DNR assistant carnivore biologist Jane Wiedenhoeft. "It's a great way to get out and enjoy Wisconsin in the winter while helping the department monitor some of the state's most interesting wildlife."
Department of Natural Resources biologists and volunteers have partnered to provide informative classes focused on aspects of wolf ecology, population biology and field study techniques. Tracking is a great way to experience the outdoors in winter and make a contribution to natural resource management. For a list of courses offered, search the DNR website for volunteer carnivore trackingpage and select the "training courses" option on the right side of the page.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Updated Wisconsin wildlife reports now available

MADISON, WI - The public can find the latest results for a wide variety of wildlife surveys conducted in 2016 and 2017 such as population surveys and estimates, harvest results and wildlife observations that are now available in reports on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
The reports include data collected from small game, big game, furbearer and non-game categories. The reports were made possible by Pittman-Robertson funding.
DNR staff would like to thank volunteers who assisted with survey efforts for their continued commitment to Wisconsin's wildlife.
The following reports for 2016-17 can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "reports."

Small Game Harvest, 2016-17
Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey, 2017
Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Survey, 2017
Rural Mail Carrier Pheasant Survey, 2017
Spring Ring-Necked Pheasant Survey, 2017
Regional Bobwhite Quail and Cottontail Rabbit Survey, 2017

Black Bear Population Analyses, 2017
Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program, 2016
Agricultural Deer Damage Shooting Permits, 2016
Winter Severity Indices, 2016-17

Bobcat Harvest, 2016
Fisher Harvest, 2016
Otter Harvest, 2016-17
Bobcat Population Analyses, 2017
Fisher Population Analyses, 2017
Otter Population Analyses, 2017
Bobcat Hunter/Trapper Survey, 2016
Winter Track Counts, 1977-2017
Beaver Trapping Questionnaire, 2016-1
Fur Trapper Survey, 2016-17
Wisconsin Fur Buyers Report, 2016-17

Central Wisconsin Greater Prairie-Chicken Survey, 2017
Frog and Toad Survey, 2016
American Marten Winter Track Surveys in Northern Wisconsin, 2016-17
Moose Observations, 2016
Rare Carnivore Observations, 2016

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Record number of piping plovers nest in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - There's good news for the recovery of the federally and state-endangered piping plover.
A record number of eight pairs nested in Wisconsin this summer, including at an island restoration site in lower Green Bay. Piping plovers hadn't nested in Green Bay for 75 years until last year.
"This is the highest known number of nesting pairs in the state in a single year," said Sumner Matteson, a Department of Natural Resources avian ecologist. "It's very exciting because plovers returned again to the Cat Island restoration chain this year, where originally we didn't expect to find them. So now we know their nesting there in 2016 wasn't a fluke."
A lone pair turned up to nest in 2016. This year four pairs nested on the island.
Because the number of piping plovers is so low in the Great Lakes - 76 nesting pairs - "Every nesting pair and every nesting site makes a difference," and increases Wisconsin's contribution to the species' recovery in the Great Lakes, Matteson said.
Piping plovers once nested along the shores of all the Great Lakes, but habitat loss, recreational pressure and predation, and shoreline development likely contributed to serious declines. Typically, piping plovers need large isolated beach and dune habitats for their nesting and chick rearing.
By 1948, only one pair of plovers was known to nest in Wisconsin and the piping plover was added to the state endangered species list in 1979. Across the Great Lakes region, the loss of habitat caused numbers to drop below 20 nesting pairs region-wide before the small shorebird was listed as federally endangered in 1986, Matteson said.
With help from federal, tribal, state and local partners, the number of breeding pairs in the Great Lakes has climbed to 76, halfway toward the regional recovery goal of 150 breeding pairs, most of them in Michigan. Wisconsin's contribution of eight breeding pairs in 2017, is up from six breeding pairs in 2016 and five breeding pairs in 2015.
The eight breeding pairs that nested in Wisconsin this summer fledged 13 chicks. Six of those chicks fledged from Cat Island in Lower Green Bay, where a partnership of state, federal and local partners has been restoring the island in a dredging project described in a video, Cat Island - Rebirth of an Environment.
"We've been very pleased with progress at Cat Island and were surprised to see how quickly bird species responded to the habitat improvements there," said Steve Galarneau, who directs DNR's Office of Great Waters, which played a major role in the restoration of Cat Island.
"We are especially excited to see the piping plovers return. Restoration work now underway at Wisconsin Point in Superior should provide additional high quality nesting habitat for plovers and other species."
The seven other piping plover chicks fledging from Wisconsin nests came from Long Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore along Lake Superior. For many years, that had been the only Wisconsin site contributing chicks, with more than 100 fledged over the last 11 years following concerted restoration and protection efforts by the National Park Service, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, DNR, USFWS and The Nature Conservancy are paying off.
Restoration work at Wisconsin Point in Superior, and to a more limited extent at Seagull Bar in Marinette County, by DNR and partners is underway now, and the hope is to expand the number of nesting sites.
The public can help piping plover recovery efforts by reporting their sightings of piping plovers with metal and color bands on their legs. Matteson helps lead efforts at the Apostle Islands site and the Cat Island site to band chicks so that they can be tracked in coming years to learn more about their survival, their migration routes, and their habitats.
The color codes used on bands varies according to the location where they were banded. By getting reports of the birds' whereabouts, the recovery partners can better understand the birds' migratory routes, the habitats they use, and their survivorship.
For more information on piping plovers and how to report your sightings of banded piping plovers, go to the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "piping plover."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas taking shape

MADISON, WI - After the third year of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas survey, volunteers have documented 220 bird species breeding in the state, most recently including a family of rare and secretive marsh birds called king rails. With this addition, 12 new species have been observed nesting in Wisconsin that weren't found during the first Breeding Bird Atlas survey two decades ago.
"A few of these king rails were reported in the first atlas, but none were confirmed as nesting here," said Ryan Brady, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and science coordinator for the Atlas. "So it's exciting to see wetland management efforts having positive benefits for a species that requires high-quality marshes to successfully raise its young."
Good wetland management by state and federal wildlife management staff have also contributed to another Atlas finding - that trumpeter swans are undergoing an impressive expansion in range and numbers since the last survey from 1995-2000, Brady said.
Trumpeter swans were decimated by overhunting by the late 1800s, and the species was mostly absent from Wisconsin until DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program and partners began reintroducing the species in 1987.
"Even a decade ago, most breeding pairs kept to the more remote northern lakes," Brady said. "Good wetland management and protection have allowed trumpeters to use unoccupied marshes and increase their numbers to over 5,000 birds."
Volunteers have documented them breeding across the north, northwest, and central regions and birds have even colonized the Lower Wisconsin River.
The purpose of the five-year atlas effort is to document all bird species that breed in Wisconsin, from common year-round residents like northern cardinal to species of high conservation interest like Connecticut warbler. Some of these species may be vanishing, while others are holding their own, or even increasing, but only a statewide effort will reveal these trends, said Nicholas Anich, Breeding Bird Atlas coordinator for DNR.
"The project has already amassed records of 4.9 million birds but we still have a ways to go," Anich said. "We need more volunteers to survey priority areas so we get a complete picture of what's going on with our bird populations and how we can help them moving forward."
More than 1,400 volunteers have contributed to the survey so far, but more are needed to survey remaining priority areas, particularly in northern, central, and western regions of the state.
Volunteers collect data by observing birds, and enter their sightings online, where the information is reviewed by Anich, Brady, and other ornithologists from organizations leading the project: The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, and DNR.
All Wisconsin residents are encouraged to participate, especially those who live or travel to priority areas like northern, central, and western Wisconsin. "It's easy to participate and you don't have to be an expert birder to help," said Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, "We're constantly hearing from people how rewarding atlasing is, and we welcome participants of all ability levels."
To volunteer, visit the project website at wsobirds.org/atlas. Training sessions and field trips will take place throughout Wisconsin in 2018. When the project is completed, the data will be published in a hard-copy book and online for use by researchers, land managers, conservationists, and citizens interested in birds and their habitats.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Dedication part of Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener

The public is invited to attend the dedication of Minnesota’s newest public hunting land, the James Meger Memorial Wildlife Management Area, near Marshall, at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, as part of the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.
The ceremony will include comments from Gov. Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, among other local leaders.
The James Meger Memorial WMA was made possible by Pheasants Forever and more than a dozen other conservation groups and large donors.
“This has been a very rewarding project,” said Ron Prorok, Lyon County Pheasants Forever treasurer. “It couldn’t have happened without the hard work and generosity of so many partners.”
The new WMA honors the late James Meger, who was from the Marshall area and a renowned wildlife artist. His artwork raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife habitat as well as conservation groups.
“We think this is a fitting tribute,” Prorok said. “It’s 155 acres along a creek just a few miles northwest of his hometown of Minneota. James Meger’s art helped raise so much money for public lands, so it’s only fitting that public hunting land with his name on it will have a work of art at its entrance.”
That work of art is a large stone monolith marking Meger’s contributions to conservation. Names of donors and contributing conservation groups also will be etched in to the decorative stone.
The new WMA is located 4 miles north of Taunton in Yellow Medicine County, or about 22 miles northwest of Marshall.
The dedication is part of the 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Dayton leads the weekend festivities, which feature many hunting, recreational and travel opportunities the Marshall area has to offer visitors. More information and updates on the event can be found at exploreminnesota.com/mngpho.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR