New pricing structure begins on Wisconsin State Park System properties

MADISON, WI - A new demand-based pricing structure for Wisconsin State Park System properties will go into effect on Feb. 15, that is intended to encourage use and manage capacity while providing funds for property improvements that directly enhance visitor experiences.
There will be no increase in the annual admission fees to park system properties. However, daily admission fees will increase at three properties: Devil's Lake, Peninsula and Willow River state parks.
Devil's Lake daily admission fees will increase $5, with resident daily fees going from $8 to $13 and non-resident daily fees going from $11 to $16.
Daily fees at Peninsula and Willow River will increase $2, with resident daily fees going from $8 to $10 and non-resident daily fees going from $11 to $13.
Camping rates will be adjusted across the system based on demand, by both increasing and decreasing camping rates. Depending upon campsite type and time of year, some properties will experience both a rate increase and a rate decrease. The average camping fee increase will be $3 per night and will range to a high of $7 at Devil's Lake and Peninsula on electrical sites during summer weekends. The greatest camping fee decrease will be $5 per night.
"We believe this new pricing structure will help us better manage the demand we're seeing at some of our highly used properties while encouraging use at our lesser visited properties." said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System.
The 2017-2019 state budget set new rates and authorities for the DNR including the ability to adjust camping rates from the base rates set in statute and the ability to adjust daily admission fees from the base rates set in statute, at all properties. Also included in the budget is a $5 increase on all electrical campsites at Devil's Lake, Peninsula, Kohler-Andrae, High Cliff, and Willow River.
Also authorized in the 2017-2019 state budget, the park system plans to re-invest $2 million in user fees to fund property improvements, including the electrification of an additional 200 campsites at different campgrounds throughout the system including Big Bay, Blue Mound, Buckhorn, Copper Falls, Devil's Lake, Governor Dodge, Harrington Beach, Hartman Creek, High Cliff, Interstate, Lake Kegonsa, Mirror Lake, Nelson Dewey, Pattison, Peninsula, Perrot, Potawatomi, Wildcat Mountain, Willow River and Wyalusing. They will also fund technology improvements at parks and the addition of electronic pay stations at various properties.
Other improvements will be made at a number of properties throughout the state, and may include new fire rings, picnic tables and grills; graveling and grading campsites; and repairs and improvements to facilities, entrance roads and parking.
Under a separate funding act (Act 71) approved by the legislature, the park system will complete $4.5 million in water and waste water infrastructure improvement projects at various state parks across the state, including the replacement of vault toilets, a camper dump station at Peninsula State Park and replacement of water infrastructure at Devil's Lake State Park.
Implementation of the new rate structure will begin on Feb. 15, 2018. For more information about the Wisconsin State Park System, search for keyword "parks."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Baiting, feeding bans begin in La Crosse, Dodge counties

MADISON, WI - Following confirmation that wild deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease in western Vernon and central Dodge counties in 2017, baiting and feeding bans begin Feb. 1 in these counties.
La Crosse County is within 10 miles of the Vernon county positive wild deer, and due to being adjacent to a county with a CWD-positive test result, a two-year ban will be enacted. The ban for Dodge County will be enacted for three years. Existing baiting and feeding bans will remain in place for Vernon County.
A 2-year-old buck harvested in Hamburg township is the third confirmed positive case in Vernon County, while a 1-year-old buck harvested in Clyman township is the first positive case confirmed in Dodge County. To determine if the disease is present in other wild deer in the area, disease surveillance will occur within a 10-mile radius around the positive locations. La Crosse metropolitan sub-unit deer hunters are encouraged to submit adult deer harvested for CWD sampling during the remainder of the metro sub-unit season.
Anyone looking to learn more about CWD in Wisconsin is encouraged to check out an informational brochure found on the DNR website.
For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations and CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "baiting and feeding" and "CWD" respectively.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Bald eagle watching events take off in January

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's bald eagle watching season kicks off Jan. 12-13 with the 31st annual Bald Eagle Watching Days in Sauk Prairie, and there's never been a better time to see these magnificent raptors in Wisconsin.
Bald eagle populations in Wisconsin have recovered since a low of 108 breeding pairs in the 1970s to a record high 1,590 breeding pairs in 2017. Bald eagles from northern Wisconsin, Canada, northern Michigan and Minnesota move south as the lakes and rivers they live along freeze over during cold winters.
Seeking fish, a main food source, the raptors typically congregate along open water areas below dams along the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Fox rivers, where their growing presence has turned the sites into birdwatching destinations and inspired many community events.
The Sauk Prairie Bald Eagle Watching Days event, held at various outdoor and indoor locations along the Wisconsin River in Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, is the oldest such event combining outdoor viewing opportunities, exhibits and live raptor shows. DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program co-hosts Bald Eagle Watching Days with the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, the Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tripp Heritage Museum.
"Bald Eagle Days allow all of us to enjoy the majesty and beauty of our nation's symbol in common fellowship," said Sumner Matteson, an avian ecologist with the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program.
"Come view wintering bald eagles, take in live birds of prey shows, and learn about bald eagles through exhibits and activities that are fun for the whole family. It's a great way to start off the New Year!"
Barb Barzen, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council vice president, is excited about two new programs added to the event this year.
"Attendees will hear from National Eagle Center experts about the growing population of golden eagles in the Midwest and how volunteers can get involved in helping locate and monitor these birds," she said.
Also new this year, Art Shegonee, a Menominee and Potawatomi member and Native American educator and dancer, will share ways the bald eagle is important to Native American culture, Barzen said.
In addition to the Sauk Prairie event, other communities have added events built around watching eagles as populations of the raptor have increased and expanded geographically. Known eagle watching events include the following listed below. Find links to these and more eagle information on the eagle watching page of the DNR website.
* Eagle Days Along the Fox River, Jan. 13, 20-21, and 27, at various locations along the Fox River.
* Bald Eagle Appreciation Days on Feb. 23-24, in Prairie du Chien.
* Eagle Watching Day on March 3, in Ferryville.
When viewing eagles at these events and on your own, please take care not to disturb them. Do not venture so close that you cause them to fly off. They need their energy to keep warm through the long winter night. Stay in your car unless you are at a staffed viewing site.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

 


Snapshot Wisconsin rolls into 8 new counties

MADISON, WI - Landowners in Ashland, Bayfield, Crawford, Douglas, Price, Richland, Sauk and Vilas counties who would like to play an important role in wildlife management are encouraged to check out Snapshot Wisconsin.
Snapshot Wisconsin is a volunteer based monitoring effort to capture images of all types of wildlife including deer, elk, bear, fox, bobcats, whooping cranes and more to learn more about Wisconsin's wildlife. This project is led by Department of Natural Resources staff in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW-Extension.
Snapshot Wisconsin comes to eight more counties. Follow Wisconsin DNR on Facebook and Twitter for Snapshot Wisconsin updates and fun photos of all types of critters.
This project offers a unique opportunity to view wildlife in their normal routines in the wild and data collected will help researchers better understand Wisconsin's ecological landscapes. To date, 808 volunteers currently maintain 983 trail cameras - 17,207,749 photos have been collected.
"Snapshot Wisconsin is a great way to get involved in volunteer-based monitoring and learn more about all of our different wildlife species," said Susan Frett, one of the volunteer coordinators working on the project. "We have volunteers in Wisconsin participating as trail camera hosts and over 5,000 volunteers from around the world participating in crowd-sourced classification of our images on www.snapshotwisconsin.org."
To qualify to participate, volunteers must have access to at least 10 acres of contiguous private land in Ashland, Bayfield, Crawford, Douglas, Price, Richland, Sauk or Vilas county and agree to maintain a trail camera on that land for at least one year. Training and supplies are provided and no prior experience with trail cameras is necessary. Basic computer knowledge and access to the internet is necessary. Local, in-person training sessions are currently planned for late winter or early spring and online training is also available.
Snapshot Wisconsin is also recruiting applicants in Clark, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Iowa, Iron, Jackson, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Oneida, Racine, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix, Taylor, Vernon and Waupaca counties. Tribal members or affiliates on tribal lands and educators throughout the state are also encouraged to participate. Additional counties will be added over the next few years.
Volunteers can sign up by visiting www.snapshotwisignup.org or find out more details by visiting the webpage which can be found at dnr.wi.gov using keyword "Snapshot Wisconsin".
And, be sure to follow the department's Facebook page [EXIT DNR] for Snapshot Wisconsin updates, which will include photos from a number of project volunteers.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Exotic, invasive snail found in two new streams

MADISON, WI - New Zealand mudsnails, an invasive snail previously only found in two Dane County locations, have recently been verified in two new streams - Mt. Vernon Creek in Dane County and Rowan Creek in Columbia County.
Mt. Vernon Creek, located in southwest Dane County, is a tributary to the Western Branch of the Sugar River and is a Class 1 trout stream. Rowan Creek in Columbia County near Poynette is a Class 1 and Class 2 trout stream. Stream biologists and volunteers discovered the snails during routine stream sampling.
The New Zealand mudsnailis, an NR40 prohibited invasive species, means that it is absent from Wisconsin or found in only a few locations. The small snail can establish large populations that can outcompete native stream insects that serve as food for fish and change the nutrient flows in streams. However, it is uncertain what impacts this invasive species will have on streams in Wisconsin.
All of the locations where New Zealand mudsnails have been found in the state are popular for fishing and may also be used by paddlers, trappers and hikers.
All water users play an important role in preventing the spread of the New Zealand mudsnail and all other aquatic invasive species. Anyone can prevent the spread of invasive species by following the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers guidance of:
* INSPECT your equipment, including waders, nets, and fishing gear, boats and trailers.
* REMOVE any attached aquatic plants or animals.
* DRAIN all water from boats and equipment.
* NEVER MOVE live fish away from a waterbody.
People who wade streams for any reason can also use a brush to scrub their boots and waders and then rinse thoroughly with tap water away from the stream. Freezing gear for at least eight hours will further reduce the risk of transporting New Zealand mudsnails to other streams. By performing these prevention actions water users can further protect our waters and stop the spread of invasive species.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


It's a great time to prepare habitat improvement plans

MADISON, WI - While some of Wisconsin's hunting seasons have ended, hunters thinking about next year can prepare their property for success through enrollment in the Deer Management Assistance Program.
Interested landowners, hunters and land managers are encouraged to join nearly 1,100 current DMAP cooperators managing habitat for wildlife on the property they own or hunt. DMAP cooperators receive personalized advice and technical assistance from their local DNR wildlife biologist and forester.
Landowners and hunters are encouraged to apply now to receive immediate access to informational resources, including:
* Habitat and deer management information.
* Communication with local DNR staff.
* Annual DMAP reports and publications.
* Volunteer opportunities.
* Invitations to DMAP workshops.
DMAP applications can be submitted at any time. However, landowners enrolling 160 acres or more should submit their DMAP application by March 1, to be eligible for a site visit, property specific management plan and reduced price antlerless tags in 2018.
"DMAP is a great program for conservation-minded people that want to improve habitat for wildlife on the property they own or hunt," said Bob Nack, DNR DMAP coordinator. "Even if you don't own land, landowners can authorize a representative for the property they enroll in DMAP."
A series of annual workshops held regionally throughout Wisconsin are an additional benefit of DMAP enrollment. Spring workshops focus on deer ecology and research findings, while summer programs focus on habitat management techniques and strategies. These workshops also include a tour of a DMAP property led by wildlife biologists and foresters.
For DMAP application information, visit dnr.wi.govand search keyword "DMAP."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

St. Charles resident wins turkey stamp contest

St. Charles artist Micah Hanson won the 2019 turkey stamp contest. The painting was selected by judges from among 12 submissions for the annual contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.Hanson’s painting will be featured on the 2019 turkey stamp. His artwork was previously featured on the 2011 and 2015 turkey stamps, and he also has won Minnesota contests for the 2000 and 2003 trout and salmon stamp, both with a brown trout.
Six entries advanced as finalists and were selected Dec. 21 at DNR headquarters in St. Paul. Other finalists were Bradley Hadrava, Nathan Hager and Stephen Hamrick in a three-way tie for second place; Dean Kegler, third place; and Anges Coudron, fourth place. The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work. The 2019 turkey stamp will be available for sale March 1, 2019.
The turkey stamp was authorized by the 1996 Minnesota Legislature at the request of turkey hunters. Stamp revenue is used for wild turkey management and research. The cost of a turkey stamp is incorporated into the price of the hunting license – no additional purchase is required. However, a pictorial turkey stamp costs 75 cents and can be purchased with or without a turkey hunting license.
Turkey hunting licenses are free for youth 12 years old and younger, $5 for ages 13 through 17, and $26 for hunters 18 and older. More information on turkey hunting is available at mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR