It's almost 'college time' for Minnesota eagle cam chicks

The Minnesota eagle cam chicks are now experiencing a little "tough love" around meals.
Their parents are bringing less food to the nest as they try to entice the chicks into nearby trees or onto the ground with pieces of food.  This helps the youngsters understand that in order to get food, they will need to leave the nest to follow the food source.  
The food supply has not stopped, and the chicks still are getting plenty of fish, rabbits and other tasty, furry or finned morsels.  You'll notice they take very large pieces at a time now, and one large meal can sustain them for a day or longer.
We all know that eagles don't stay in their nest forever. The chicks are now at their full adult size.
Their feathers are actually longer than the adults' wings until their first molt. The longer feathers on their wings will help support them in this next phase of learning how to fly and use their new skill!
The chicks have been spreading their wings and doing a lot of jumping from one edge of the nest to the other. They are getting the feel for flapping them for flight. They will spend the next weeks doing this and "branching" - stepping onto the branches near the nest, perching and strengthening their grip.
They will take their first flight at about 10-12 weeks. Once they leave the nest, they will spend a month or two near the nest, begging for food from their parents and honing their flight and hunting skills.  
After a couple of months, they often fly with the adults and learn soaring skills - eventually wandering off on their own.
It could be any day now that they will take their maiden flight out of the nest. Once they leave the nest, we may not see them on camera again, except for maybe at night occasionally. Enjoy them while you can, they are almost "off to college"!
We will continue to update our viewers at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/eaglecam/index.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery until the chicks fledge. The camera will remain on until the third week in August, so you may still have the opportunity to see the eagles in the nest from time to time, even after they leave the nest.
Special thank you to everyone who has donated to the Nongame Wildlife Fund! Your contributions make it possible for our hard-working team to bring this 24/7 spectacle into homes and classrooms around the world. We couldn't do it without your support.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Enjoy Memorial Day weekend in the outdoors, but play it safe

For Minnesotans, Memorial Day weekend is about honoring those who have died in service to their country, and also about enjoying the long weekend that marks the traditional start to summer.
For many, that might mean enjoying family time together outside, whether it is picnicking, boating, hiking, fishing or any of a range of other recreational activities.
Minnesota state parks and trails are open, state-managed water accesses are available, and dispersed camping in state forests is open to folks wanting a wilderness-like experience. Other public lands, including wildlife management areas and scientific and natural areas, are also open to public use.
So, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a great range of options for fun and adventure this holiday weekend. And, while outdoor safety is always important, this year it’s even more essential that Minnesotans play it safe in order to keep themselves and others healthy and out of harm’s way.
“We know that Minnesotans are embracing the outdoors right now, and Memorial Day weekend is an important date on the calendar for family time,” said Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “We want Minnesotans to know they can get outdoors, have fun and do it safely too.”
Playing it safe means new considerations like adhering to social distancing guidelines, not gathering in groups larger than 10 and following other outdoor recreation guidelines. It also means familiar tips for enjoying a safe day on the water, not spreading aquatic invasive species, and being safe in the woods.
“Boating is a great way to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, but a safe day on the water means  wearing your life jacket,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety communication coordinator. “It’s the best way to ensure an unexpected fall into cold water doesn’t turn tragic.”
Minnesotans care about their waters and they play a vital role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Every time their boat comes out of the water – whether an AIS inspector or enforcement officer is present – boaters must clean aquatic plants and debris from their watercraft, drain lake or river water, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Boaters must remember to keep their drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
Off-highway vehicle users can have a fun and safe weekend by wearing seatbelts on side-by-side vehicles, being careful on spring trails with flooding or damage, and ensuring that children wear helmets and other personal protection gear and they are properly paired with a machine’s size.
Dispersed camping is also a great way to get outdoors this weekend. While developed campgrounds remain closed under the state’s current executive order, dispersed camping in state forests is allowed. The DNR is working hard to safely begin a phased reopening of campgrounds and some additional facilities and programs beginning June 1.
Whether they are out in the woods or working in their yard clearing brush, Minnesotans should be aware that most of northern Minnesota is under high or very high fire danger and burning restrictions are in place. Check current fire conditions in your area.
For the latest in outdoor news and updates on the agency’s COVID-19 response, visit the DNR’s website and follow the DNR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Celebrate Endangered Species Day May 15

MADISON, Wis. – In honor of the 15th annual Endangered Species Day, Wisconsinites can test their endangered species knowledge and enter a drawing for a bald eagle license plate.
To enter the license plate drawing, complete an endangered species quiz, compiled by the DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation biologists. Visit the DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation webpage now through midnight Sunday, May 31. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid Wisconsin vehicle registration.
The drawing for five Endangered Resources license plates will be random and not tied to the number of questions entrants answer correctly. Learn more about the giveaway rules and an alternate method of entering to win a plate.
“Wisconsin’s made great strides in protecting and restoring rare species, so we want to recognize these gains and also recommit to working together to preserve a natural legacy for our kids and grandkids,” said Drew Feldkirchner, the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program Director. “Nature, now more than ever, is important for healthy families and a healthy planet.”
Bald eagles, trumpeter swans and osprey are just a few of the endangered species restored in Wisconsin since state and federal endangered species laws were passed in the early 1970s. Those laws, along with a ban on the pesticide DDT, river cleanups and public and private investment in conservation made the comebacks possible and kept hundreds of other species from vanishing from Wisconsin.
The bald eagle license plate is a fundraiser for work by the DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation staff to protect and restore endangered species and state natural areas. Purchasing this plate or a wolf design plate requires an extra $25 on the vehicle registration fee and goes to the Endangered Resources Fund.
People who enter the Endangered Species Day drawing for the license plate will be randomly selected to receive an Endangered Resources license plate, a $40 value, free for the first year. If recipients would like to keep the plate for future years, they will be responsible for the $25 donation to the Endangered Resources Fund at that time. A private gift makes the giveaway of five plates possible.
Endangered Species Day exists because globally and in Wisconsin, there is more work to be done to save native plants and animals. A widely publicized 2019 United Nations biodiversity report estimated that 1 million species could go extinct in coming decades if action is not taken to reduce factors driving decreasing populations:
* Habitat loss or degradation.
* Direct killing of species.
* Climate change.
* Pollution.
* Invasion by nonnative plants, animals and pathogens.
More than 200 wildlife and plant species are on the state list of endangered or threatened species, and that number increases to more than 700 when adding in species of concern considered to be declining in population.
DNR Natural Heritage Conservation staff members work with partners to monitor these rare species; coordinate, train and fund volunteer surveyors; protect and restore habitat for endangered, threatened and declining species; and maintain hundreds of state natural areas.
These sites protect unique landscapes and natural features and are home to 75% of endangered and threatened wildlife species, and 90% of endangered and threatened plant species.
To learn more about gains for endangered species and state natural areas through conservation work by DNR Natural Heritage Conservation staff, partners and volunteers, and how you can help, visit the Endangered Resources webpage..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


DNR to phase reopening campgrounds in June

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will reopen its campgrounds at state parks, state forests and recreation areas in a phased approach beginning June 1.
Gov. Tim Walz announced that public and private campgrounds may reopen beginning June 1, if they create a Preparedness Plan and follow State of Minnesota campground guidelines.
“We look forward to welcoming overnight visitors back to DNR-managed camping and lodging facilities in June,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Our staff are already out conducting assessments of campsite conditions and preparing to receive visitors. We will open as much as we can on June 1, but this will be a phased process based on staffing and safety considerations.”
State parks and recreation areas are like small cities that need to have all of their infrastructure restarted in order to reopen. This includes water, sewer, power, roads, trails and buildings.
During the Stay at Home Order, the DNR limited its on-site parks and trails workforce to only those employees most critical to support day-use activities, to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and allow time for critical public health preparations across Minnesota. While this was necessary to protect public health, as a result, the DNR now has a lot of work left to do to ready campgrounds and lodging for overnight visitors.
While more details will be available in the coming weeks, the DNR generally plans to open sites as soon as they are ready. Dispersed camping in state forests is already allowed, and we anticipate the following general timeline going forward:
* May 22: The DNR will open 75 remote campsites in state parks for use on Memorial Day weekend, most of which had existing reservations. Another 80 remote sites are expected to be ready by May 29.
* June 1: The DNR anticipates having about 20-30 of its campgrounds within state parks, recreation areas and forest campgrounds ready to open, with limited services. Some lodging options, such as camper cabins and yurts, will also open on June 1. In general, visitors can expect that water systems will be turned on, grounds will be maintained, and vault toilets/porta-toilets will be available. However, some value-added services may not be ready or available at that point, such as showers and contact/ranger stations.
* June 8: The DNR will reopen another 20-30 campgrounds and lodging facilities, the rest of its remote campsites, and many of its contact/ranger stations.
* June 15: The DNR plans to have the rest of the campgrounds open and most areas with full services. The Mary Gibbs Café at Itasca State Park, some nature stores, and ancillary buildings, such as fish cleaning facilities and picnic shelters with reduced capacities, will be reopened where possible.
Campers should come prepared with their own hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, paper towels, toilet paper and other supplies for use at their campsites and available bathrooms.
The DNR will leave the following facilities and amenities closed until further notice: beaches, pond-pools, housekeeping cabins, visitor centers, group centers, fire towers, large-group facilities (such as amphitheaters), group tours and other scheduled interpretive programs.
Minnesotans are encouraged to use the following guidelines to minimize potential points of virus transmission:
* Travel as directly to destination as possible, and minimize stops along the way.
* Attempt to bring all needed supplies with you.
* If you do need to stop for gas or supplies, wear a cloth face covering.
* Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces (gas pumps, door handles, shared bathrooms, etc.).
* Do not travel if sick.
Visitors are advised to check the DNR’s COVID-19 website for the latest information about facility status and reopening timelines.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Annual Wisconsin state parks sticker now available online

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now offers annual state park passes for sale online for the first time in agency history.
This service is part of the DNR’s overall effort to accommodate the high demand for state park stickers and to encourage Wisconsinites to visit the state’s beautiful array of public land.
YourPassNow is a digital marketplace that allows Wisconsin state park visitors to conveniently purchase their annual state park passes online.
Stickers available for purchase online include:
* Annual Wisconsin Resident: $28
* Wisconsin Resident Senior (65+): $13
* Non-Resident: $38
Under Gov. Tony Evers Safer at Home order, we must do all we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Developed in cooperation with the National Park Service, YourPassNow provides an alternative to the traditional in-person purchase or order by phone.
“We are excited to offer a new and convenient way to purchase an annual state park sticker. Wisconsin boasts some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces anywhere, including state parks, natural areas, trails, forests and more,” said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “Things may be a little different these days, but taking advantage of the state’s natural resources is not only possible, but it’s vital to the body and soul.”
Annual state trail passes and reduced-rate annual stickers are not currently available for purchase online but can still be purchased over the phone. As a reminder, passes of any kind are not available for purchase at state parks or any other DNR properties and should be purchased in advance of visiting state parks. Annual stickers are valid through Dec. 31, 2020.
To purchase an annual state park sticker online, visit YourPassNow on the DNR website. Park stickers should arrive by mail within 30 days of purchasing. A printed copy of the receipt serves as valid proof of purchase until the sticker comes and should be displayed on the driver’s side dashboard when visiting a state park.
Receipts will be emailed the same day of purchase. If you did not receive a receipt the same day of your purchase, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Annual trail passes and other park passes not listed above are still available for purchase with a credit card by phone from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., seven days a week by calling toll free: 1-888-305-0398.
For more information on purchasing a state park admission sticker, please visit the State Park Admissions webpage.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Wisconsin celebrates Clean Air Month in May

MADISON, Wis. – When you take a breath outside in Wisconsin, you are breathing the cleanest air the state has seen in 50 years.
Not only is May Clean Air Month, this year is the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act.
Passed in 1970, the Clean Air Act is a landmark piece of environmental legislation largely responsible for the quality of the air we breathe today. Since its enactment 50 years ago, the combined emissions of six common pollutants have fallen by 73%. The Clean Air Act is one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world. The act has achieved tremendous reductions in air pollution, protecting public health and saving lives, while allowing for economic growth and development.
To help educate the public on where ozone pollution comes from, what the Department of Natural Resources is doing to regulate ozone, and what Wisconsinites can do to help the air we breath, the DNR released Committed to Clean Air: Ozone Pollution on YouTube. The video completes the Air Program’s three-part video series. Videos Committed to Clean Air and Committed to Clean Air: Particle Pollution are available on DNR’s YouTube channel. The Air Program is also featured in the “Earth Day at 50” issue of Natural Resources magazine.
“Clean Air Month gives DNR the opportunity to shine a light on the accomplishments the state’s air has seen. Fifty years ago today, the air was nowhere near as clean or clear as it is today,” said Gail Good, the DNR’s Air Program Director. “Today’s positive air quality story is a direct result of a combination of federal regulation, state enforcement and action, and voluntary actions by businesses and citizens.”
The DNR is responsible for ensuring the regulations in the Clean Air Act are followed throughout the state. The Air Program continuously works at this process and improving the quality, consistency and efficiency of the air permitting and compliance process, air quality planning and monitoring as well as communications. Program efforts also address climate change and implement Gov. Tony Evers’ Executive Order #52, which calls for the development of strategies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Recent Air Program efforts include:
* Mobile Air Monitoring Lab (MAML) - The Air Program deployed the MAML for the first time in 2019. The state-of-the-art mobile lab has extensive monitoring capabilities including a 10 meter meterological tower, a suite of continuous criteria pollutant analyzers and a volatile organic compound (VOC) instrument. MAML monitoring data is captured with a goal of informing primary pollutant contribution to ozone formation. . The mobility of the lab allows the program to place it in strategic locations during Wisconsin’s ozone season. From May through October of 2019, the MAML spent time monitoring ozone in Kenosha and Milwaukee counties. The MAML will spend 2020 monitoring ozone in Sheboygan County.
* Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) - The DNR launched a task force to explore PFAS compounds and their impacts. PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. Exposure to certain PFAS compounds may increase the risk of adverse health effects. There are currently no federally approved sampling methods for PFAS compounds in ambient air. The Air Program is currently collaborating with the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene on PFAS monitoring method development, and is working with other states on the matter.
* Air Quality Trends - The program once again released the annual Air Quality Trends report. The report includes air monitoring data through 2018 and shows overall air quality in Wisconsin continues to improve, building on a 20-year trend in the state. Success stories include the 50 percent drop in emissions of ozone-forming pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and a 68 percent drop in sulfur dioxide emissions since the early 2000s. For the first time, this report also includes maps of NO2 derived from National Areonotics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite data collected from 2006-2018. Satellite data observed large reductions of NO2 across most of the state, with the greatest reductions found in the Milwaukee area. This is consistent with the decreases in NO2 observed by the state’s ground-based monitors and indicates that the reduction of this ozone-forming pollutant is widespread.
* Clean Diesel Grants - The program awarded more than $750,000 to nearly 40 projects aimed at improving Wisconsin’s air quality and addressing climate change. The projects include replacement or upgrade of older, higher-emitting diesel engines on school buses and construction equipment across the state with newer, cleaner technologies. One project funds the purchase of zero-emission lawn mowers in the City of Eau Claire to replace aging diesel equipment.
* e-Signature - The growth of the department’s first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved e-Signature reporting option for facilities in Wisconsin. E-Signature provides facilities the option of reporting, submitting and signing Air Program compliance and monitoring reports electronically to DNR. Since e-signature was implemented, 414 distinct facilities have e-signed documents.. DNR expanded the e-Signature program this past year and it is now being used by DNR’s Waste Program as well.
* Permit tracking bar - The Air Program added a new progress bar in the Permit Search Tool to make permit tracking easier for facilities and the public. As each step of the permit application review process is completed, a section of the progress bar is filled in. The progress bar serves as an easier, more visual way of tracking a permit’s progress.
Visit DNR’s Clean Air Month webpage for links to resources and more information.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Some Wisconsin shooting ranges to reopen May 14

MADISON, Wis. – A limited number of the previously closed state shooting ranges in Wisconsin will reopen on Thursday, May 14 with special conditions.
Under Gov. Tony Evers Badger Bounce Back Plan, which outlines important criteria for Wisconsin to be able to reopen its economy in phases and includes steps to make sure workers and businesses are prepared to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, the DNR is modifying current operations to maintain the safest environment for visitors and staff.
To minimize overcrowding, allow for social distancing requirements and to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors, conditions will be put into place beginning May 14, until further notice at 8 of the 11 previously closed DNR shooting ranges.
The DNR will reopen the following state shooting ranges:
* McMiller Sports Center, Waukesha County
* Boulder Junction, Vilas County
* Caywood, Vilas County
* Hay Creek, Price County
* Snaketrack, Iron County
* Northwoods, Iron County
* Wautoma, Waushara County
* Yellowstone, Lafayette County
The following ranges will remain closed due to ongoing spring construction, ground conditions, and staffing needs:
* Columbia, Columbia County
* Peshtigo, Marinette County
* Cornell, City of Cornell, Chippewa County
These ranges, upon opening, will maintain normal operational hours as posted at the range. Capacity limits may be in place. Expect some facilities to limit the number of shooters on the range or in the clubhouse to ensure social distancing. In addition, some facilities will not allow shooters inside closed buildings.
All visitors are encouraged to bring their own personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, such as face masks, gloves and sanitizer with them to the range. To prevent gatherings, people waiting to utilize the range due to space availability are encouraged to wait in their vehicles. Upon completion of shooting activities all customers are encouraged to leave the property immediately to reduce lingering customers visiting with others.
The DNR urges visitors to do their part when visiting all DNR properties. Most Wisconsin state shooting ranges, parks, forests and other day-use areas do not have garbage or recycling bins. When you visit, please take your garbage and recyclables home with you. We all play a vital role in taking care of our natural resources. Following the Leave No Trace principles helps protect the land for generations to come.
Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing of 6 feet, refrain from congregating in large groups, travel only within your home communities and follow all existing shooting range rules and guidelines. Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult.
The DNR continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will also continue to monitor range conditions and circumstances to determine additional conditions that may become necessary.
Before visiting a state shooting range in your area, please check the DNR’s Shooting Range webpage and individual range websites if they are available regarding changes to range operations.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR