Whitewater’s Coburn named State Natural Areas Steward of the Year

WHITEWATER, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Whitewater resident Ginny Coburn as the 2021 State Natural Areas Volunteer Steward of the Year for her work within the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Driven by a passion for nature and ecology, Coburn (pictured) started volunteering at Kettle Moraine State Forest in 2012. Coburn and fellow volunteers have provided thousands of hours of labor at Bluff Creek, Kettle Moraine Oak Opening, Whitewater Oak Opening and Clover Valley Fen State Natural Areas in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, including removing brush, controlling invasive plants and collecting and sowing native prairie seeds. Coburn also serves as a contact for monthly workdays, and greets and signs in volunteers.
"Ginny has had an important role in protecting and restoring some truly amazing prairies, springs, oak openings and fens in the Kettle Moraine," said Jared Urban, the DNR’s Volunteer Program Coordinator for State Natural Areas. "She was the first one to say yes to starting volunteer workdays to remove invasive plants in the Kettle Moraine and has been essential to keeping monthly workdays going."
With nearly 10 years of volunteering at Kettle Moraine State Forest, Coburn possesses a wealth of knowledge, including safely wielding a chainsaw, collecting seeds and controlling invasive plants. Coburn is also instrumental in engaging others in this vital work, including her grandchildren who have volunteered alongside her on various projects.
Coburn’s deep community connections helped her recruit individuals and organizations for special projects, including a cooperative project to install a boot brush at Bluff Creek to prevent anglers from inadvertently spreading aquatic invasive species.
"Everyone likes Ginny," said Urban. "I most admire her energy to help make things happen. She is always ready to learn and is a let's-go-do-it kind of person.”
In addition to seeing great progress at State Natural Areas in Kettle Moraine State Forest, one of Coburn’s favorite parts of volunteering is the people she's met along the way.
"They are fun and knowledgeable and will come out and help or work in any weather," said Coburn. "We learn a lot from each other and have a very enjoyable time. We feel like we've done good work toward a really big goal."

Become A State Natural Area Volunteer
State Natural Areas are designated to conserve the best of Wisconsin prairies, forests, wetlands and other habitats. These unique places support 90% of rare plant species and 75% of rare wildlife species. Nearly all properties are open to the public to enjoy while bird watching, hiking, hunting and fishing.
The Wisconsin DNR is actively recruiting volunteers to help care for these unique places. No experience is necessary, and training and equipment are provided on-site.
To get involved and sign up for notifications of workdays, visit the DNR's State Natural Areas Volunteer Program webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Lands/NaturalAreas/volunteer.html.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Landing Blitz helps prevent spread of invasive species

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources celebrates Clean Boats, Clean Waters’ efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species during the Fourth of the July, one of the busiest boating weekends of the summer.  
During the annual Landing Blitz, which took place July 1-5, watercraft inspectors across the state gathered at local boat landings to educate boaters on how to stop the spread of invasive species.
Invasive species are non-native plants, animals and diseases that can cause great ecological, environmental or economic harm. Some have already been found in Wisconsin, while others pose a large risk of surviving and causing problems if they are introduced and become established here.
Inspectors and lake organizations noted a vast increase in boater activity on Wisconsin waters in 2020 with a continuing upward trend in 2021. Over the course of the five-day Landing Blitz, Clean Boats, Clean Waters inspectors and staff invested nearly 4,000 hours and spoke to over 24,000 people while inspecting 11,000 boats.
Each year the DNR invests approximately $1 million into Clean Boats, Clean Waters grants and other Surface Water Grants that fund watercraft inspections and many other activities to protect our waters.
“It only takes a minute to remove plants, animals, mud or debris from boats, trailers and equipment, and to drain all water from bilges, livewells and bait buckets,” said Erin McFarlane, the Statewide CBCW Educator with Extension Lakes. “These simple steps help keep invasive species from hitching a ride from one waterbody to another.”
Do your part to keep Wisconsin waters healthy and stop the spread of AIS by following these easy steps:
* Inspect boats, trailers and equipment for attached aquatic plants or animals.
* Remove all attached plants or animals and mud.
* Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells and other equipment.
* Never move live fish away from a waterbody.
* Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
* Buy minnows from a licensed Wisconsin bait dealer.
Following these steps helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species.
To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin’s waters and economy, visit the DNR’s Aquatic Invasive Species Efforts webpage at https://dnr.wi.gov/lakes/invasives/.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks input for Greenwood safe drinking water project

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced the City of Greenwood 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 focuses on the installation of a second transmission main to improve the water distribution system in the City of Greenwood.
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 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 Sept. 29, 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

Explore Wisconsin’s amazing fall foliage

ASHLAND, Wis. – Autumn in Wisconsin is all about the color.
The beauty is breathtaking, and you’ve got to see it to believe it. With over 6 million acres of public lands, 49 state parks, 15 state forests, 44 state biking trails plus hundreds of lakes and rivers to explore, Wisconsin has a fall leaf-peeping spot for everyone.
The state’s combination of tree species and climate produce vivid fall foliage, leaving residents and visitors alike looking forward to the annual fall color show. From urban parks to colorful country roads, Wisconsin is packed with color-spotting opportunities throughout the fall season. Check out these 11 scenic drives at https://www.travelwisconsin.com/article/things-to-do/11-scenic-drives-during-fall to experience fall from Travel Wisconsin.
Color changes typically occur in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October, with color peaking during mid-October in central Wisconsin and the latter half of October in southern Wisconsin. Timing of the color change varies by species and weather conditions.
"To have the most brilliant and vibrant fall color display, a series of fall days filled with bright sunshine and cool, but frost-free, evenings are ideal," said Colleen Matula, DNR Forest Ecologist/Silviculturist. “Cooler nighttime temperatures tend to amplify the brightness of reds and purple in leaves, while warmer nights will mute this color change.”
Discover the fall colors in Wisconsin with the official Travel Wisconsin Fall Color Report at https://www.travelwisconsin.com/fall-color-report.
Warmer temperatures, especially in the evening, tend to delay fall color because the trees are not getting the signal that fall has arrived. Fall color predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are based on mathematical algorithms that factor in historical leaf peak, temperatures, precipitation, leaf volume, health and day length.
While forests in central and Northeast Wisconsin are right on target, counties in Northwest Wisconsin and the far southern part of the state are encountering drought conditions that may impact fall color in those parts of the state.
The intensity and duration of fall color is affected by spring and summer growing conditions. Severe to abnormal drought in the growing season usually makes the tree leaves change color earlier and the color lasts for a shorter period. In some cases, trees may skip the color change altogether with leaves turning brown before falling.
For more information on the science of fall colors, visit this DNR website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/education/fallcolors.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wildfire-related burning restrictions lifted in 14 counties

Continued favorable weather has improved wildfire risk for much of northern Minnesota.
In response, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is removing fire restrictions in 14 counties.
Beginning 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, burning restrictions will be lifted in Beltrami, Becker, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Ottertail, St. Louis, Roseau and Wadena counties.
However, the wildfire risk remains in the northeastern tip of Minnesota. Therefore, Class III burning restrictions remain in effect for in Cook and Lake counties. Under Class III restrictions:
* No campfires are allowed for dispersed, remote, or backcountry camping on all state, county, or private lands. Camping stoves are permitted.
* Attended campfires in established fire rings associated with a home, cabin, campground, or resort are allowed.
* No fireworks may be ignited on any public or private land outside city limits. People should check with their local community for any additional restrictions.
* Open burning permits are restricted.
* An Area of Closure around the Greenwood Fire remains in place and is not affected by the updated burning restrictions.
“These changes reflect reduced wildfire risks for much of the north, while also recognizing that wildfire danger remains high in Cook and Lake counties,” said DNR acting Wildfire Prevention Supervisor, Allissa Reynolds. “Until we have a few inches of snow on the ground, we all need to continue our efforts to reduce wildfires. Fires can start easily in dry grass and leaves.”  
Forrest Boe, Director of DNR’s Forestry Division, appreciates the continued support of all Minnesotans in following wildfire-related restrictions, saying, “Everyone’s efforts to prevent wildfires are helping. Thank you and let’s keep it up through the fall.”
The DNR will continue to monitor conditions and adjust county-specific burning restrictions as necessary. Of upmost importance is protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans, firefighters and resource managers.
These state restrictions were developed in conjunction with tribal and federal partners and are consistent with restrictions for the
The DNR wildland fire information webpage at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/index.html includes information on all restrictions and a list of affected state forests and parks.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Input sought for WISR Green Tier application

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comments on a Green Tier application proposal covering sustainability activities at the Wisconsin Specialty Recycling (WISR) facility on West Commerce Boulevard in Slinger.
If the application is accepted, WISR is approved to join Tier 1 of the Green Tier program.
The DNR welcomes comments from WISR’s customers, neighbors and stakeholders through Oct. 15.
Tier 1 of the Green Tier Program is designed to encourage, recognize and reward companies committed to superior environmental performance. Applicants must have a good environmental record and agree to implement an environmental management system, which will be used to set goals, assess progress and identify opportunities for improvement. Participants must have that system audited regularly and set goals and objectives aimed toward maintaining superior environmental performance.
WISR (pictured) re-markets viable products by working with non-profits and USA-based information technologies companies to provide electronic components, computers and internet service to countries and rural areas worldwide. The company’s unique business model prioritizes the reuse and up-cycling of electronic devices and components in a concerted effort to reduce the stream of end-of-life e-waste.
"Our mission is to reduce electronic waste stream environmental impact through re-marketing, repair capability and customer awareness,” said Tristan Myhre, WISR owner.
WISR is pursuing sustainability through reduction and reuse, then recycling, and operating to create a system in which there are steps along the way to maximize reuse, even with collectible and vintage parts.
WISR is developing an environmental management system to gain certification to the ISO 14001 standard within the first year of joining Green Tier. Future goals include conducting energy audits to monitor and improve energy use, improving building efficiencies for heating and cooling, and implementing a full solar installation by 2025, with a self-contained battery system sourced from recycled e-waste.
The DNR will accept written comments until Oct. 15. Direct comments to Weston Wegener at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-284-0908.
For more information, please visit the Green Tier webpage for Wisconsin Specialty Recycling at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/GreenTier/Participants/WISR.

SOURCE: Wisconsin

Officials revise Harpers Slough closed area this fall

Approval of the Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) in 2006 resulted in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge’s current closed area system consisting of 20 closed areas on the river and three sanctuaries.
All refuge closed areas and sanctuaries are characterized by a closure to all migratory bird hunting. In addition to being closed to all migratory bird hunting, closed areas are closed to all hunting, trapping and camping during the period coinciding with duck hunting seasons within their respective states.
Sanctuaries are closed to all public entry during the period of Oct. 1, to the end of the duck hunting season.
Most of the refuge’s closed areas have an associated voluntary waterfowl avoidance area. Boaters are asked to avoid these voluntary avoidance areas during the fall migration in order to reduce the disturbance to resting and feeding waterfowl. When boats pass too close to waterfowl and cause them to take flight off the water, it can be really draining on their energy reserves at a time when they have little energy to spare.
The CCP also directed refuge management to monitor the voluntary waterfowl avoidance areas to determine if the strategy was sufficient in preventing disturbance to waterfowl. If disturbances were occurring over the threshold limit within an avoidance area, additional strategies would be considered to ensure reduced disturbance to waterfowl.
In a previous version of the Refuge’s Closed Area Evaluation released in June 2021, the administration of the McGregor District Harpers Slough Closed Area was identified as one of the areas where the disturbance threshold was exceeded. Due to the level of disturbance, it was identified as a No Motor Area during the period coinciding with the voluntary avoidance period U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Oct. 15, to the end of the Iowa duck hunting season).
Since the release of that report, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and others identified impacts on commercial fishing operations and have requested a phased approach to addressing the disturbance in this area. As a result, the No Motor Area designation has been modified.
The Harpers Slough Closed Area will now be divided into a northern and southern area where the southern portion of the area will be limited to no motors during the voluntary avoidance area time period of Oct. 15, until the end of the state duck season and the northern portion of the closed area will remain as a voluntary avoidance area. The area will be posted along the boundaries to identify the restrictions.
Boaters are highly encouraged to avoid the entire closed area in order to allow migrating waterfowl a place to rest and feed undisturbed. The refuge and our state partner, Iowa DNR, will continue to evaluate the need for additional changes through monitoring disturbance in the area. If disturbance cannot be mitigated through this phased approach, further restrictions in this area will be required.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service