DNR adds more counties to spring burn restrictions

As fire season deepens and expands, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has added the following counties to the burn restriction list: Aitkin, Carlton and Pine.
The state will not issue burning permits for brush or yard waste in these counties until the restrictions are lifted. Restrictions remain in place for:
Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Cass, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Roseau, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Washington, Wilkin and Wright counties.
“Warm and dry conditions are key factors for wildfires, so we have to remain on alert about restricting open burning,” said Casey McCoy, DNR fire prevention supervisor. “These restrictions really do work. They’ve helped reduce wildfires by more than 30 percent over the past decade.”
McCoy encourages landowners to compost, chip, or take brush to a collection site rather than burn it. For information on how compost yard waste, visit the DNR’s guide to composting yard debris at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/wildfire/prevention/debris-composting.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
People who burn debris will be held financially responsible if their fire escapes and burns other property.
For information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR seeks comments for Oconomowoc drinking water loan project

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources today announced the City of Oconomowoc is an applicant for funding through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) to address deficiencies in its public drinking water system.
The project primarily includes the replacement of lead service lines throughout the City of Oconomowoc.
Activities related to this project are minor actions under Chapter NR 150, Wis. Admin. Code, for which no environmental analysis is required; however, following the SDWLP federal requirement 40 C.F.R. §35.3580, an environmental review must be conducted before funding this project.
The SDWLP has determined that the project will not result in significant adverse environmental effects, and no further environmental review or analysis is needed before proceeding with funding the project.
The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this decision and the potential environmental impacts of this project. Submit comments by April 30, 2021 to:
Department of Natural Resources
C/O Kevin Olson, Community Financial Assistance, CF/2
101 S Webster St.
P.O. Box 7921 Madison, WI 53707
Phone: 608-234-2238 or Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Based on the comments received, the SDWLP may prepare an environmental analysis before proceeding with the funding process. The analysis would summarize the DNR’s consideration of the project's impacts and reasonable alternatives.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin DNR seeking input on wild rice management

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on a draft Statewide Strategic Analysis of Wild Rice Management through June 7, 2021.
Wild rice is part of Wisconsin’s natural landscape. Beds of wild rice help maintain good water quality, and they provide food and habitat for waterfowl and many other types of wildlife. Protecting and managing wild rice will help ensure many wildlife species persevere for all to enjoy. Wild rice is also a culturally significant plant to Wisconsin’s Native American tribes, which have a personal and longstanding connection to wild rice.
The management of wild rice intersects with several DNR programs. The department chose to use the strategic analysis process to evaluate the range of scientific, natural resource and socio-economic factors involved with protecting and encouraging the growth of wild rice. The purpose of the strategic analysis is to inform decision-makers and the public about current wild rice conditions, authorities and management practices, information gaps and alternative approaches.
A strategic analysis does not establish DNR policy or change existing rules. Instead, it will assist decision-makers, stakeholders and the public to better understand wild rice issues and make informed decisions about its management. This strategic analysis is the precursor to the development of a Statewide Wild Rice Management Plan.
“Wild rice is an amazing plant. Each year it grows from seed and transforms open waters into seas of grass, teeming with birds, mammals, insects, fish and other aquatic species,” said Jon Simonsen, DNR Environmental Analysis and Review Specialist. “Whether you are familiar with wild rice or not, this analysis is intended to help anyone interested learn about wild rice and wild rice management.”
The public is encouraged to review and submit written comments to improve the accuracy, clarity and objectivity of the draft strategic analysis document at https://widnr.widen.net/s/hlkggsgbhz/wildricemgt_draftsa by June 7, 2021 to:
Department of Natural Resources
c/o Jon Simonsen, DNR Rhinelander Service Center
107 Sutliff Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Following the public comment period, the DNR will review the input and provide a summary of the comments received. The public will be notified once a final version of the Strategic Analysis is available.
To learn more about the Wild Rice Management Strategic Analysis, log onto https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/EIA/WRMSA.html.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR updating nitrate pollution in groundwater code

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is currently updating the NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code regarding nitrate pollution in groundwater.
The rule amendment proposes to establish agricultural non-point source performance standards targeted to abate nitrate pollution in areas of the state which are susceptible to groundwater contamination such that compliance with the nitrate standard can be achieved.
The DNR held a 30-day public comment period for the draft economic impact analysis (EIA) of the draft rule, ending on April 10. Over 70 comment submittals were received during this time. All comments received are available for public review on the NR 151 Rule Changes for Nitrate webpage located at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/nonpoint/nr151nitrate.html.
The DNR will review the public comments and consider revisions to the EIA as needed. The next opportunity for public input on this rule will occur this summer when public hearings will be held and another public comment period will open to receive comments on the draft rule.
A full list of the proposed permanent administrative rules currently being developed by the DNR, or which have been adopted by the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and are pending publication, are available at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/news/input/ProposedPermanent.html. Scroll down to the WT-Watershed Management section for all related materials.
If you cannot access or download the information, for assistance, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Great Wisconsin Birdathon begins April 15

Every spring hundreds of bird-loving Wisconsinites participate in the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, the largest bird conservation fundraiser in the state that takes place during peak bird migration between April 15 and June 15.
For the past 10 years, teams ranging from kindergarten classrooms to expert birders have joined in the fun, challenging themselves to see how many birds they can spot in a single day.
Teams collect donations from family and friends to support high priority bird conservation projects in Wisconsin, but the focus of the Birdathon is not on who can find or identify the most species. It is about coming together in support and appreciation of Wisconsin’s birds.
Dave Sisler, a fourth-grade teacher at Windsor Elementary in DeForest, participated with his students in last year’s Birdathon.
“Kids love to help,” says Sisler. “The Great Wisconsin Birdathon gave them the means to protect precious habitat as beginner bird watchers. Because of this experience I hope my students will always regard birding and conservation as one passion.”
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is coordinated by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and has raised over $500,000 since the fundraiser was created in 2012. With the recent study pointing to the three billion bird loss in North America since 1970, and reduced populations of once common Wisconsin birds, efforts like the Birdathon are more critical than ever.
In 2020, the Birdathon had a record-breaking year, raising over $104,000 for the Bird Protection Fund which benefits priority bird conservation projects. Past projects include the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, the Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project and the Neotropical Flyways Project.
Birdathon funds also support organizations that commit to habitat restoration, reintroduction, management and conservation of endangered or threatened species like Kirtland’s warblers, piping plovers, whooping cranes and birds that depend on Lake Michigan habitat.
Participants in 2020 wrote that the Birdathon gave their birding “a purpose” and treasured how it “felt like we were making a difference for the birds that we were hoping to find.” Others explained how the Birdathon “brought us together around a common cause in our backyards.” The Birdathon makes it easy for individuals to turn their small actions into big results through fundraising for the Bird Protection Fund’s highest priority projects.
In addition to supporting priority bird conservation, the Birdathon continues its tradition of giving back to the community. Non-profit organizations that participate in the Birdathon are eligible to keep half the funds they raise for their own organization, to be used however they feel are most needed.
“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for organizations to support Wisconsin’s birds, connect with their staff while enjoying Wisconsin’s outdoors, and simultaneously raise funds for their own cause - all in one day,” said Caitlyn Schuchhardt, Outreach Coordinator at the Foundation.
Last year, over 65 teams from across Wisconsin participated -made up of families, friends, classrooms, organizations, bird clubs and more. The Birdathon adapted to the pandemic to ensure participants stayed safe and practiced social distancing guidelines. Some teams took creative approaches to backyard birding, staying close to home. Some split up to fly solo, birding in separate locations but remaining virtually connected to share their sightings. This year the Birdathon continues to advocate for safe outdoor outings, as COVID-19 rates and vaccination progress remain a dynamic situation.
Connection and community are as key to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon as the birds are.
“We hope the Birdathon can serve as a reminder of the incredible strength we have when we come together with our communities to make a difference,” said Birdathon Coordinator, Sarah Cameron.
Registration for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon is now open. To make a donation, register your 2021 Birdathon team, or learn more about the Bird Protection Fund and projects supported by the Birdathon, visit www.WIBirdathon.org.

SOURCE: Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin

PFAS In Wisconsin Webinar on tap April 19

MADISON, Wis. – Join the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health Services (DHS) for the PFAS in Wisconsin Webinar at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 19.
The webinar will include remarks from DNR Deputy Secretary Todd Ambs and DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. A presentation by DNR and DHS staff will provide an overview of PFAS and the work being done to mitigate PFAS in Wisconsin and at several sites around the state, including French Island and the Town of Campbell, the Marinette and Peshtigo area, Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern and others.  
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in various products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and some types of firefighting foams. These contaminants stay in the environment and human body for extended periods of time. Recent findings indicate that exposure to certain PFAS may have harmful health effects in people.
To address this issue, the state of Wisconsin is establishing PFAS standards for drinking water, groundwater and surface water to protect health, conducting soil and water testing, researching PFAS levels in fish and wildlife, hosting listening and feedback sessions, and collaborating with neighboring states.
Addressing PFAS contamination in the environment is part of Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide initiative to ensure Wisconsinites have access to clean, safe, drinking water. In 2019, the governor signed Executive Order #40 to address the issue of PFAS across the state.
The governor’s 2021-23 biennial budget proposes significant resources for the monitoring and testing of PFAS including over $20 million over the next two years for assistance and resources to local communities that are impacted by PFAS contamination, aiding local fire departments in disposing of PFAS foam, and adding additional DNR staff to implement the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council's action plan at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS/ActionPlan.html.
To learn more about PFAS and the environment including fish consumption advisories, visit the DNR’s PFAS webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS/Impacts.html. For more information on PFAS and associated human health effects, visit the DHS’s PFAS webpage at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/pfas.htm.
Watch On YouTube at https://youtu.be/N7hWfYFw6s0.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks comments on trail revisions Foot Hills State Forest

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages people to learn about and comment on potential trail revisions within the Foot Hills State Forest in Cass County during an online public meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 26.
 Comments and ideas may also be submitted through Friday, May 14.
As part of its Minnesota State Forest Trail Revision project, the DNR is considering a number of measures to improve trail sustainability and enhance user experience for both motorized and non-motorized uses within the Foot Hills State Forest. Potential measures include adding connections to facilities and amenities, adding new trails and rerouting or closing unsustainable trails.
The Foot Hills State Forest is popular among off-highway vehicle users, hunters and cross-country skiers. Existing trail opportunities include the 26-mile Spider Lake OHV Trail System and 25 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. The potential revisions do not involve changes to forest-wide motor vehicle use classifications, other state forest recreation facilities like campgrounds or day-use areas, or state corridor trails specifically authorized in statute.
During the April 26 public meeting, DNR Parks and Trails staff will present a summary of the project, answer questions and take written and oral comments. Meeting participants are encouraged to use the online comment form at https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=RrAU68QkGUWPJricIVmCjF7evxRKA_FKoBdGep5L_YVUNTdYRVJSMEIzVVdaMkVBSlJTUlRBRklQWS4u.
Visit the Minnesota State Forest Trail Revision Project webpage at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/ohv/designation/revisions.html for links to information on the project and meeting details. Meeting attendees are encouraged to submit questions in advance by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
For those who cannot attend the meeting, comments and ideas can be submitted via fax to 651-297-1157, by email, via the online comment form or by mail to: Joe Unger, Parks and Trails Division, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN  55155-4039.
For more information, contact Dave Schotzko, area supervisor, Parks and Trails Division, 218-308-2367, or visit the Minnesota State Forest Trail Revisions Project web page at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/ohv/designation/revisions.html.
People, who require a special accommodations to attend the meeting, should contact Joe Unger by April 21.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR