2017 top year for State Natural Area habitat restoration

MADISON, WI - Prairies, oak barrens and oak savannas and other imperiled natural communities on Wisconsin State Natural Areas got a big boost in 2017 and stand to get more of the same in 2018.
Thanks to warm and dry fall weather in 2017, success in securing grant money, strong partnerships, donors and volunteers, State Natural Areas containing these rare natural communities received a record level of management.
SNA crews, field ecologists and partners enhanced 12,500 acres by cutting brush, pulling and spraying invasive plants, seeding areas with native plants, and conducting many other management activities. Their greatest gains came from applying prescribed fire to the land to control invasive plant species and jumpstart growth of native wildflowers and other desirable plants.
"We had another very productive year in 2017 and that's good news for all Wisconsin wildlife," said Jim Woodford, field operations supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation program. "While this habitat management work may benefit non-game species like Karner blue butterflies or eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, it benefits game species as well. Our work controls invasive species, perpetuates oak on the landscape, a key resource for many game and nongame species, and maintains and restores some of Wisconsin's best remaining habitats."
State Natural Areas feature outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native natural communities, significant geological formations and archealogical sites and are often the last refuge of many rare plants and animals. Prairies and oak savanna are among the natural areas getting the most attention. They once covered each more than 5 million acres in Wisconsin and now less than one-tenth of 1 percent remain.
"These are our most imperiled natural communities and they simply take more work to sustain," said Matt Zine, a field supervisor for State Natural Area crews in southern Wisconsin, where most of these communities exist. "We are very pleased with our hard-working crews - through good partnerships with other DNR programs, we got a lot of work done in 2017."
The DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program employs 20 limited term staff stationed in seven geographically based work crews to manage State Natural Areas and work cooperatively with other DNR programs to manage natural areas within state parks, forests and wildlife areas.
In 2017, State Natural Areas also benefited from work done by 36 volunteer groups organized under the SNA Volunteer Program, and from work done under new and formalized partnerships.
For example, a new memorandum of agreement with four partners in the Chiwaukee Prairie Illinois Beach Lake Plain, a 4,000-acre complex of wetlands and prairies straddling the Wisconsin and Illinois border, now enables partners to coordinate and conduct restoration, management and outreach work across borders. This agreement allowed an Illinois partner to lead a 286-acre burn in fall 2017 on land including Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area in Wisconsin.
A new partnership, the Wisconsin Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Exchange, brought federal field staff to Wisconsin to get more experience conducting prescribed burns on conservation lands including State Natural Areas. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin also helped to secure funds to manage several areas.
"We continue to expand our burning window and our work with partners to get as much work done as possible," Woodford said. "Our goal this year will be to do the same or even more restoration work to benefit these last remaining really, really good habitats."
Find state natural areas by county by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "SNA." Donate to the Endangered Resources Fund online or through filling in an amount on your Wisconsin income tax form to help get more work done on State Natural Areas.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR, partners to host 9 Border to Border Touring Route listening sessions

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division, in conjunction with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and the Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association, will hold a series of listening sessions across the northern counties of Minnesota about the Border to Border (B2B) Touring Route.
The route will connect the eastern and western borders of Minnesota across the northern third of the state using minimum maintenance and rugged roadways. The end product will be a signed, mapped route for highway-licensed, four-wheel drive vehicles, following routes that are already open for driving. The project is funded by the off-road vehicle account in Minnesota’s Natural Resources Fund. Revenues for this fund come from registered off-road vehicle owners.
The purpose of the listening sessions is to gather feedback regarding a draft alignment for the B2B Touring Route. Last year at this time, similar meetings were held on this project to help determine the best location for this adventure route. That information was used to form the draft alignment that will be the topic of the listening sessions. The route is proposed to traverse the counties of Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Itasca, Beltrami, Clearwater, Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall and Kittson.
The nine meetings will be between mid-February and early March near the proposed draft alignment for the B2B Touring Route. All meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m.
For more information about the project, and to verify dates, times and locations of the listening sessions (subject to change in the event of bad weather) visit the DNR website.

Listening Session Schedule
* Tuesday, Feb. 20: Cook County School, 101 W. Fifth St., Grand Marais, MN 55604.
* Wednesday, Feb. 21: Mountain Iron Community Center, Wacootah Room, 8586 Enterprise Drive S., Mountain Iron MN 55768.
* Thursday, Feb. 22: Beaver Bay Community Center, 711 MacDonald Ave., Beaver Bay, MN 55601.
* Monday, Feb. 26: Squaw Lake Community Center, 52201 MN-46, Squaw Lake, MN 56681.
* Tuesday, Feb. 27: Black Duck School Library, 156 First St. NW, Blackduck, MN 56630.
* Wednesday, Feb. 28: Clearbrook Gonvick School Library, 16770 Clearwater Lake Rd., Clearbrook, MN 56634.
* Monday, March 5: Newfolden City Office, 145 E. First St., Newfolden, MN 56738.
* Tuesday, March 6: Hallock City Hall, 163 3rd St SE, Hallock, MN 56728.
* Wednesday, March 7: Red Lake Falls Lafayette High School Cafeteria, 404 Champagne Ave., Red Lake Falls, MN 56750.
The DNR will also accept written comments on the touring route proposal from Feb. 21 through March 25. Written comments will be accepted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or should be sent by mail to Mary Straka, Minnesota DNR, Parks and Trails Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
For more information, or to request a printed copy of the proposal, call Mary Straka, at 218-203-4445, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Mid-winter Wisconsin waterfowl survey results show increase

MADISON, WI - Results from Wisconsin's 2018 mid-winter waterfowl show an increase in waterfowl seen compared to 2017 totals.
Despite sub-zero degree weather during much of the survey, Wisconsin saw an increase in waterfowl in the state compared to 2017. Winter weather varies each year - so far, 2018 has seen milder weather compared to last winter. Species like mallard ducks and Canada geese that move with the snowline were both observed during the January 2018 survey.
"Department of Natural Resources biologists visited any open bodies of water they could find from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8 to count waterfowl and eagles," said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. "Work done by our biologists is part of coordinated efforts nationwide to survey waterfowl in areas of major concentration on their wintering areas and provide winter distributions of species using aircraft, vehicles and boots on the ground."
DNR biologists counted 123,883 total waterfowl in the state during the January survey work - observed species totals are:
* 58,357 Canada geese (47 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).
* 26,778 mallard ducks (21 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).
* 20,170 common goldeneye (16 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).
Finger said this survey serves as a primary source of data for developing population trends for some species that breed in remote Arctic locations and are difficult to survey during the breeding season. This survey also lets us monitor where species of ducks, geese, and swans are concentrated and distributed during winter, while helping identify population trends and informing our management decisions.
For more information regarding Wisconsin's waterfowl species, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "waterfowl management." Additional survey information can also be found on the department website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota's learn how to hunt turkeys set this spring

Youth and adults can learn to hunt turkeys this April with experienced volunteers who will cover safe hunting techniques, how to call-in turkeys, hunting tactics and field dressing a bird.
Participants can apply through Monday, Feb. 12. The hunts are Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, and provide opportunities to access locations that may otherwise be closed to hunting.
“We teach the skills and techniques that allow new turkey hunters to become lifelong hunters,” said Mike Kurre, learn-to-hunt program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
This is the 16th year the DNR and the National Wild Turkey Federation have cooperated to offer these hunts. Details about how to apply and costs to participate are available at mndnr.gov/turkeyhunt.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Deer Management Assistance Program application deadline March 1

MADISON, WI - Landowners, hunters and land managers with properties of 160 acres or more are encouraged to enroll in the Deer Management Assistance Program prior to March 1, 2018.
Applications submitted prior to this deadline will receive priority access to the program's perks, including a site visit in 2018 by a professional wildlife biologist and forester.
DMAP provides informational resources and professional assistance regarding wildlife habitat management techniques for properties of any size to help participants improve habitat for wildlife.
Neighboring landowners with properties within one-half mile are encouraged to enroll as a group cooperative. Landowners in a DMAP cooperative with a combined acreage of 160 acres or more are eligible to receive a site visit and management plan. Group cooperatives also provide an opportunity to monitor local wildlife populations and share costs and equipment on habitat projects to benefit deer and other wildlife over a greater area.
For more information regarding DMAP and to apply, go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "DMAP."
To receive DMAP email updates and other information, click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select the "Deer Management Assistance Program" option, found under Wildlife Management.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Holland named Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation interim CEO

MISSOULA, MT - The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced that the Board of Directors has asked Nancy Holland to serve as president and CEO on an interim basis.
“To join the team at this time is very exciting. RMEF has a special place in my heart,” said Holland. “Stepping into this new role, forefront in my thoughts and actions are our members, donors, sponsors and fellow staff members and the conservation mission they have entrusted us to carry forward.”
Holland is taking a leave from the RMEF Board of Directors, where she served since 2016, while the search continues for a long-term replacement. She and husband, Howard, are staunch supporters and life members, who also served together as co-chairs of RMEF’s Habitat Council.
“Throughout my time with RMEF I have been blessed to meet and befriend wonderful, passionate people," she added. "It is these people, individuals, families and corporations that are the essence of RMEF. We come together in our passion for the future of elk and other wildlife, wild places and our tradition of hunting. It’s what makes RMEF great.”  
A graduate of St. Louis University, Holland has 35 years’ experience in investment and finance including managing a team of global investment professionals working on behalf of their international clients. Since 2009, she served as managing partner of Sapphire Point Partners LLC, which specializes in business consulting and real estate investment.
“RMEF has a strong financial footing, solid membership growth and an environment that supports our mission. We have a 5-year plan that we have been executing," Holland said. "We are solidly on our way to accomplishing those goals and surpassing them. At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering mission. It’s why we are all here.”

SOURCE: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Walter new Wisconsin DNR large carnivore specialist

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has named Scott Walter as the state's new large carnivore specialist.
Walter will oversee the development and coordination of wolf, bear and cougar management within Wisconsin. Walter will be stationed in the Madison DNR office, and is coming to this position from the Ruffed Grouse Society, where he served as director of conservation programs. In his former position, he worked with staff, members, DNR personnel and the public to develop and apply a variety of programs and projects.
Walter previously held the upland wildlife ecologist and Farm Bill coordinator positions at the DNR from 2011-2015. Walter has a bachelor's degree in biology from Beloit College and a master's degree and doctorate in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"As a Wisconsin native, I've always appreciated the diversity of our wildlife community and been particularly fascinated by the many biological and social issues surrounding large carnivores," said Walter. "Certainly, there is a lot of public interest in wolves and bears in the state, and I very much look forward to engaging with our committed partners and the public as we explore opportunities and address challenges related to the management of these important species."
To learn more about Wisconsin's Wildlife Programs, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wildlife." Search keywords "bear", "wolf" or "cougar" for more information regarding Wisconsin's large carnivore programs.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR