U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices relocate

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge offices currently located at 51 East 4th Street in Winona, MN, are relocating.
Beginning Monday, March 30, they will be located at 102 Walnut Street in Winona.
The Refuge Headquarters office, which oversees the 260-mile refuge from Mississippi River Pool 4 through Pool 14, will be located in Suite 204 and can be reached at the general phone number at 507-452-4232. The Winona District, which manages Pools 4-6 (Wabasha, MN to Trempealeau, WI) will be located in Suite 205 and have the general phone number at 507-454-7351.
In compliance with the Minnesota Shelter In Place Order, the offices will be un-staffed, but checking phone messages and email regularly.
Refuge staff email addresses can be found on the refuge website at www.fws.gov/refuge/upper_mississippi_river/.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Spring burning restrictions begin in Minnesota

Spring has arrived! So have the first spring burning restrictions in Minnesota.
Open burning is restricted in parts of central, east-central, and southeast Minnesota.
Additional burning restrictions will be added as conditions change. Visit the DNR’s current fire risk and open burning restrictions webpage for daily updates. Check for your burning permit information by county.

Central, east-central, and southeast restrictions
Warmer temperatures and drier conditions in central, east-central, and southeast Minnesota mean increased wildfire risk, so the DNR is restricting open burning in the following counties effective immediately:
Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Isanti, Kanabec, Le Sueur, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Olmsted, Pine, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Todd, Wabasha, Washington, Winona, and Wright.
The state will not issue burning permits for brush or yard waste in these counties until restrictions are lifted. A variance permit may be obtained for special agricultural, industrial, or management circumstances like a prescribed burn.

Conditions across Minnesota
Regular burning permits are now required in southern and west-central Minnesota.
In the snow-covered northern third of the state, burning permits are not required yet. A burning permit is required when three inches or less of continuous snow is covering the ground. Remember to check with your local city or municipality for regulations prior to any burning.

Alternatives to burning
Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of wildfires. Alternatives to burning include composting, chipping, or taking brush to a collection site.
For information on how to compost yard debris, visit the DNR’s guide to composting yard debris.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

3 new baby eagles arrive in Minnesota

With so much uncertainty in the world, it is important to focus on the positive things that happen every day.  
Nature is a place where we can still depend on finding beauty, serenity and joy.
Getting out in nature is healing if you are fortunate enough to have the ability to do so. If you are not able to get out, you can still see nature in all of its wonder and beauty - from where ever you are!
All of the fascinating courtship behavior we've been watching since November finally came to fruition this week - the eggs hatched!  This is the first brood of eaglets to successfully hatch on our EagleCam nest since 2017! The first egg hatched on March 15, the second hatched on March 17, and the third hatched on March 19.
Our nervous and dedicated parents are learning the ropes. While we can't be sure this is their first brood, these two adult eagles appear to be just getting the hang of this parenting thing. Almost 40 days of diligence in incubating the eggs paid off in the best way when all three eggs hatched.
The pair seem to communicate well and even sleep in the nest together. They've been seen feeding the chicks together on multiple occasions and even feed each other from time to time. If you haven't tuned in lately to watch the cam, now is the time!  
The eagle family is a great human family experience while we all socially distance due to COVID-19. The chicks are brand new and they grow amazingly fast.
Can you identify the prey items the parents bring to the nest? This might give you a clue about the habitat that is near the nest. This is a wonderful learning experience for kids and adults.
Tune in now on the DNR EagleCam at mndnr.gov/eaglecam.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


DNR suspends burning permits in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. - Spring in Wisconsin has the highest fire risk with the No. 1 cause of wildfires being debris burning.
Wildfires pose a serious threat to public safety, property and our natural resources. People cause over 98% of all wildfires in Wisconsin.
Due to the COVID-19 Safer at Home order, we are taking proactive measures by suspending all Department of Natural Resources burning permits until further notice to protect the health and safety of Wisconsinites.
All burning of debris in barrels, burning of debris piles on the ground, grass or wooded areas is prohibited at this time.
Most debris fires occur in the spring after the snow-cover melts and before vegetation greening. Spring is when people are outside doing yard clean-up and then choosing to burn leaves, brush and pine needles.
Burning permits are required by the Wisconsin DNR in many parts of the state to conduct legal and responsible burning in the outdoors. Burning permits are also required by the Wisconsin DNR in DNR forest fire protection areas to conduct burning of legal materials when the ground is not completely snow-covered.
DNR burning permits do not apply within incorporated cities and villages. These municipalities oftentimes can and do create their own burning permit requirements. In addition, some townships may choose to be much more restrictive than state law and may not allow burning at any time.
Regardless of where you burn, it is up to you to check with your local municipality for their regulations, even if you have obtained a DNR burning permit.
Not sure if your burn location falls within DNR forest fire protection? For a more detailed look, zoom-in to your location on the burning restrictions map.
Emergency responders and firefighters have an increased need to take pandemic precautions, so they remain available to continue to protect the public from wildfires and reduce the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience and understanding. Remember to report wildfires by dialing 911 immediately.
Distance is key during this public health emergency. Under the Safer at Home order, we must do all that we can to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Staying home as much as possible and limiting travel to your community is the best way to lower COVID-19 infection rates.
The Wisconsin DNR continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will also continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine if park closures become necessary.

Steps To Prevent And Avoid Exposure
* Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, non-essential workers in your house).
* Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water.
* Cover coughs and sneezes.
* Avoid touching your face.
* Stay home when able.
For updates on event cancellations and building closures at DNR properties, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. For specific information regarding the COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin state parks, trails remain open to public

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin state parks and trails will remain open to the public.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine if park closures become necessary.
Recent guidance from the Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease.
"We recognize that spending time outdoors benefits both physical and mental health. Getting outdoors can also help relieve stress, especially during this public health emergency. A quiet walk does wonders to reduce our anxieties," said DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. "The DNR is committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors to enjoy, while protecting the health of our staff."
Parks, law enforcement and property staff will be diligently ensuring groups larger than 10 do not congregate as well as provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.
Effective Thursday, the DNR implemented the following changes to the operation of all state parks and recreation areas across the state consistent with guidance provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Administration.

Here is what to expect:
* Voluntary registration fees.
* Admission is voluntary at this time via self-registration or electronic kiosks.
* Close all state park offices, visitor centers and non-essential buildings for duration of public health emergency; bathrooms remain open.
* Effective immediately, the DNR will close the following state buildings to the public: Park headquarters, offices, visitor centers, nature centers, research stations, ranger stations, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, shelters, showers, concessions and indoor group camp buildings on all DNR owned properties open to the public.
* Restrooms on state properties will remain open given there are enough resources, cleaning supplies and access to personal protective equipment for staff to maintain them.
Properties will continue to be staffed and outdoor recreational opportunities (hiking, trails, fishing, hunting, etc.) remain open at this time. Visitors are reminded to practice proper personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to limit group sizes to under 10 people when enjoying state properties.

Camping and Special Permits
* All campsites (Individual, group, and indoor) are closed through April 30.
* Refunds will be issued to all customers.
* No new reservations will be accepted until further notice.
* DNR staff or Camis Reservations staff will be reaching out to individuals with current or upcoming group camping reservations to issue refunds. Any other questions regarding camping reservations can be directed to the Camis Call Center at 1-888-947-2757.
* DNR property managers will also be contacting groups or individuals who have existing special event permits.
* Our customer service representatives also continue to provide service via phone at 1-888-936-7463 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
For updates on event cancellations and building closures at DNR properties, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. For specific information regarding the COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


DNR waives fees for Wisconsin state parks, trails

MADISON, Wis. - Fees are now waived for all Wisconsin state parks and trails that continue to remain open to the public.
Parks, law enforcement and property staff will also continue to provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.
Staying home as much as possible is the best way to lower COVID-19 infection rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, should you need a place with space, getting outdoors has both physical and mental benefits.
Distance is key during this public health emergency. Please do not congregate at restrooms, self-registration stations or electronic kiosks. Additionally, do not gather in groups of 10 or more people and maintain six feet of distance from others.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. We will also continue to monitor on-the-ground circumstances each day to determine if park closures become necessary.
Beginning March 24, the DNR will implement the following changes to the operation of all state parks and recreation areas across the state consistent with guidance provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Administration.
Here is the latest:

Fees Waived
* Entrance fees are waived.
* Please do not congregate at self-registration stations or electronic kiosks.

Restrooms Open
* Restrooms on state properties will remain open given there are enough resources, cleaning supplies and access to personal protective equipment for staff to maintain them.
* Please do not congregate at restrooms.
* All state park offices, visitor centers, and non-essential buildings are closed for the duration of the public health emergency.
* Effective immediately, the DNR will close the following state buildings to the public: Park headquarters, offices, visitor centers, nature centers, research stations, ranger stations, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, shelters, showers, concessions, and indoor group camp buildings on all DNR owned properties open to the public.
* Properties will continue to be staffed and outdoor recreational opportunities (hiking, trails, fishing, hunting, etc.) remain open at this time.
* Boat launches at state parks remain open.
* Visitors are reminded to practice proper personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to limit group sizes to under 10 people when enjoying state properties.

Camping And Special Permits
* All campsites (individual, group, and indoor) are closed through April 30, 2020.* Refunds will be issued to all customers.
* No new reservations will be accepted until further notice.
* DNR staff or Camis Reservations staff will be reaching out to individuals with current or upcoming group camping reservations to issue refunds. Any other questions regarding camping reservations can be directed to the Camis Call Center at 1-888-947-2757.
* DNR property managers will also be contacting groups or individuals who have existing special event permits.
* Our customer service representatives also continue to provide service via phone at 1-888-936-7463 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Hunting And Fishing
* Wisconsin's waters are open. You can fish if you have a license.
* Normal season regulations apply.
* All current regulations apply for hunting, trapping, and fishing seasons.
* In light of Gov. Evers COVID-19 recommendations, please keep in mind the need for social distance, limited travel and proper handwashing.

People should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:
* Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, non-essential workers in your house).
* Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water.
* Covering coughs and sneezes.
* Avoiding touching your face.
* Staying home when able.
For updates on event cancellations and building closures at DNR properties, visit the DNR website or follow @WIDNR on Facebook, @wi_dnr on Instagram, or @WDNR on Twitter.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. For specific information regarding the COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebookand Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota DNR COVID-19 response: What you need to know

In accordance with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, we have adjusted our services, events and operations to protect Minnesotans and prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Our public lands remain open but we have closed some buildings. We have canceled or postponed many public events and meetings. You will find the latest details below.
State parks, state forests, recreation areas and other public lands remain open. The following facilities will remain open at state parks:
* Outdoor areas, campgrounds, camper cabins, yurts, remote campsites, overnight lodging facilities and some group centers.
* Highway rest areas at Grand Portage, Gooseberry Falls and Tettegouche state parks.
* Bathrooms, shower buildings and vault toilets that are already open for the season will remain open.

What’s closed
* Park offices, visitor centers, nature stores, trail centers, indoor interpretive exhibits and enclosed picnic shelters.
* Most park bathrooms with running water are still closed for the season and will remain closed.

Postponed events
* All safety education training, including firearms safety training.
* Deer open houses.
* Elk input meetings in northwest Minnesota.

Canceled events
All naturalist programs and public events at state parks are canceled until further notice. This includes:
* Visitor center programs.
* Outdoor events.
* School group activities.
* Online and phone options.
We urge the public to do business with us by phone, email, or online.

Here are your options:
* Buy or renew licenses online.
* Make or change camping and lodging reservations online or by phone at 866-857-2757.
* Call your local DNR office.
* Use emailor phone (888-646-6367) to request information from the DNR Information Center.

Updates on our website
* Please check our COVID-19 webpage regularly for additions and modifications to this list.
* Updates available by email.
* To receive future updates by email on impacts to specific public lands and facilities, go to our signup page and subscribe to the DNR topics you are interested in.

Questions?
Contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Email the center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Hours are 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR