Help protect turtles during turtle nesting season

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to give turtle mothers and the next generation of turtles a helping hand by following a few easy actions on World Turtle Day, May 23, and the throughout turtle nesting season.
This time of year, turtles are beginning to emerge from rivers, lakes and wetlands to lay eggs. Wisconsin’s 11 turtle species lay eggs in nests from late May through June in sunny and well-draining uplands, where they are highly visible along roads and in residential yards. Many females are run over by vehicles during these annual nesting migrations, a leading cause of turtle decline throughout Wisconsin. Turtle nests also experience high levels of predation as populations of nest-raiding animals such as raccoons, skunks and coyotes have grown beyond historical levels.
“The nesting season is a really tough time to be a turtle mother. Many are removed from the population by car collisions on roads, while some protected species are illegally taken from the wild and sold in the illegal pet trade,” said Andrew Badje, DNR Conservation Biologist. “Protecting adult females and turtle nests in the wild are the best ways to conserve turtle populations in Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin’s protected turtle species face additional challenges. Wood turtles and Blanding’s turtles (pictured) cannot reproduce until they reach 12 to 20 years, and ornate box turtles tend to produce few eggs each year. Therefore, the removal or death of even one female turtle per year can lead to population declines or the elimination of local populations.
The DNR encourages people to consider following these protective actions from now until the end of July:
* Build a nest cage to protect turtle eggs and hatchlings if turtles are nesting on your property. Follow these instructions and watch a step-by-step video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv0XrZ82rGA on how to build a nest cage that keeps predators out and allows hatchlings to exit on their own.
* Drive with caution on roads that are near wetlands, lakes and rivers. Slow down, be alert and reduce distractions.
* Report turtle observations, road crossings and nest sites using the Turtle Reporting Form at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/c442cb3ff48742f29df172587cec5d4a for the DNR’s Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program. DNR conservation biologists use these reports to manage and conserve turtles more effectively.
* Report suspicious illegal activity associated with turtles to the DNR’s Violation Hotline by calling or texting 1-800-847-9367.
* Help protect Wisconsin’s native turtles by keeping wild turtles in the wild.
* Learn additional ways you can help to further protect Wisconsin’s turtles at https://parcplace.org/species/turtles/.
Learn more about turtles in Wisconsin on the DNR’s Turtle Conservation Program webpage at https://wiatri.net/inventory/witurtles/.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


DNR seeking public input on Great Lakes beach listings

MADISON, Wis. – As warmer weather beckons, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to help update Wisconsin's beach list to keep people safe on Great Lakes beaches this summer.
Each year, the DNR's beach program reaches out to the public, local beach managers and public health departments along Wisconsin's Great Lakes coasts to determine which changes are needed to the Wisconsin beach list and program information. The proposed list includes two new beaches and changes to five existing beaches.
Public comments and local knowledge of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines provide the best information about our 57 miles of coastal beaches.
“Public comments ensure the Wisconsin beach list reflects locally-used names and the status of beaches and boat launches due to changing natural conditions and public access,” said Madeline Magee, DNR Beach Program Manager. “We’d like people to let us know if any beaches are missing or not properly identified on the list and if there are some boat launches that are no longer active and should be taken off.”
The federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act is an amendment to the Clean Water Act, which requires all coastal states – including Great Lakes states – to develop programs for effective water quality monitoring and public notification at coastal recreational beaches. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides grants to participating states to develop and implement a statewide beach program. To maintain Wisconsin’s eligibility for funding under the BEACH Act, state programs must provide an opportunity for public comment when changes to the list or monitoring program occur.
All Wisconsin beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines are identified and prioritized for water quality monitoring with these funds. A beach is defined as any place where the public has recreational access to the water, regardless of whether the location is used for swimming. Boat launches, some natural areas and private beaches available to the public are included.
The federal funding allows communities with Great Lakes beaches to monitor for elevated Escherichia coli (commonly referred to as E. coli), a bacterium that can cause illness if ingested. These bacteria are relatively easy to test for compared to other pathogens, so they serve as a helpful indicator of the possible presence of other health risks in the water, such as fecal matter, viruses and other bacteria or pollutants.
“This monitoring data helps local health officials determine when to close a beach due to unsafe conditions and to notify the public so that beach visitors can make informed choices about swimming at the beach,” Magee said.
The DNR continues to improve and upgrade the beach health database and website features. The department welcomes feedback throughout the year.
The proposed additions and changes to the beach list for 2022 are available on the DNR's website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Beaches/BeachList.html. Please email public comments on the beach listings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Dec. 31, 2022.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin celebrates Clean Air Month

Days are warming and flowers are blooming. Spring is a season of new growth, and it’s a great opportunity to grow ourselves.
May is Clean Air Month. Making a few simple changes can add up to a healthier environment and cleaner air for everyone.

Here are a few tips to try:
* Buy locally grown food – purchasing local produce reduces air emissions (Fresh produce typically travels 1,500 miles before being eaten).
* Keep your lawnmower blades sharp and underside clean. Your lawn will look better and the mower will be run more efficiently.
* Mow less. Ask a local nursery about slow-growing, drought-resistant grass and seed mixtures or try native landscaping.
* Do not burn leaves or yard waste, compost instead.
* Save energy at home by using energy-efficient lighting and windows, pull shades closed during the day and open the windows on cooler nights.
Learn more simple ways to improve air quality and health in your neighborhood at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/AirQuality/ItAllAddsUp.html.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


La Crosse’s Laufenberg wins Phoenix BFL Qualifier

Cade Laufenberg of La Crosse won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Qualifier as presented by T-H Marine on Saturday.
Laufenberg took advantage of his home waters of the Mississippi River to collect $12,327, including a $7,000 Phoenix Bonus, with a five-fish limit tipping the scale at 17 pounds, 3 ounces at Veterans Park in La Crosse.
Clayton Reitz, from Morton, IL, finished runner-up with 15-13, good enough for $2,064.

Phoenix Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Qualifier
Presented by T-H Marine
On Mississippi River in La Crosse
Saturday, May 21, Results
1. Cade Laufenberg, La Crosse, WI, 17-03 (5), $12,327 (includes $7,000 Phoenix Bonus)
2. Clayton Reitz, Morton, IL, 15-13 (5), $2,064
3. Mike Gabel, St. Charles, IL, 15 - 09 (5), $1,577
4. Robby Tufte, Fountain City, WI 15-02 (5), $963
5. Conner Choate, Toddville, IA, 15-01 (5), $825
6. Darren Zumach, Onalaska, WI, 15-00 (5), $757
7. Joseph Titus, MN, 14-14 (5), $688
8. Tanner Bock, Davenport, IA, 14-10 (5), $619
9. Kevin Wolfram, Chicago, IL, 14-09 (5), $550
10. Jeff Ritter, Prairie du Chien, WI, 14-08 (5), $457
11. Jacob Ambrose, La Crosse, WI 14-08 (5), $457

National Safe Boating Week upon us

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27 and the Wisconsin DNR wants to remind boaters that wearing a life jacket could save your life.
It is human nature to think drowning can't happen to you. Most people who drown in boating accidents know how to swim but become incapacitated in the water due to being injured, or unconscious, exhausted or weighed down by clothing.
So far this year, four people have died in boating incidents, and another 25 people died in 2021. Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes, and the leading cause of death is drowning.
Boating is a big part of Wisconsin’s culture and summer fun. With that comes the responsibility of making sure to operate your boat in a safe and responsible manner. Part of that is ensuring there are enough life jackets on board for everyone.
Nationally, 80% of all boating related fatalities are the direct result of drowning. Something as simple as wearing your life jacket can significantly mitigate that risk and prevent a fun summer outing from becoming a tragedy.
The department does not track all drownings – only those fatalities linked to the use of a recreational activity item, such as a boat, kayak or canoe. Boating incident reports to date for 2022 and previous years are available online at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/Topic/Boat/CrashInfo.
Statistics show boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters. New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.
Follow the basic safety tips below and enjoy Wisconsin's open waters with family and friends.

WATER SAFETY TIPS
* Sign up now to take an online boater education course at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/Education/OutdoorSkills/safetyEducation.
* Always wear a properly fitted life jacket that has a snug fit and is fastened when you're on or near the water. Life jackets will keep you on top of the water if you walk off an unexpected drop-off, or a wave or current overpowers you or you fall out of a boat.
* Enjoy the waters sober and know your limits. Alcohol blurs a person's judgment, reaction time and abilities.
* River shorelines and sandbars pose unseen dangers. Higher, fast-moving water can tax an individual's boating, paddling and swimming skills.
* Keep an eye on the weather and let someone know where you are going.
 Be ready for the unexpected and always wear your life jacket. More boating safety tips are available on the DNR website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Boat/safety.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Test your I.D. skills with Endangered Species Day Bingo

Thousands of species of native plants and animals call Wisconsin home. Unfortunately, some of them are at risk of being lost forever.
The good news? The Wisconsin DNR is doing something about it.
The DNR’s Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation helps protect and restore Wisconsin’s rare plants, animals and nearly 700 state natural areas. With the dedication of DNR staff, volunteers and partners, new conservation success stories are being written every day.

Here Are Some Recent Highlights:
* Bald eagles, a species once on the brink of extinction, are nesting in every county in Wisconsin.
* In 2021, SNA volunteers invested 5,761 hours of labor on 39 sites, reducing invasive species and restoring critical habitat for rare plants and animals.
* A population of endangered Karner blue butterflies were found fluttering around a newly restored Central Sands State Natural Area.
Want to test your knowledge of Wisconsin's endangered species? Check out our Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/WIDNR/posts/322300743383446 to see how many you can identify.
Want to give back and help support these special species? Consider showing your support Wisconsin’s rare plants and animals by purchasing an Endangered Resources license plate at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/endangeredresources/plate. Revenues from plate sales go directly to the Endangered Resources Fund which helps fuel critical conservation efforts.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Celebrate National Trails Day on June 4

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources invites the public to celebrate National Trails Day on June 4, by visiting state trails. Whether by foot, bike, horse, ATV or watercraft, Wisconsin has thousands of miles of trails to enjoy.
This year, National Trails Day falls on the DNR’s 10th annual Free Fun Weekend, June 4-5, when all admission and trail fees are waived at state parks, forests and trails. From linear trails to hilly terrain, you can discover all types of trails across Wisconsin. Visit the DNR's Wisconsin State Parks webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Parks for trail maps, directions and park info.
“After a long winter, it’s a great time to dust off your hiking boots or running shoes, get the bikes out of the rafters and head outside for some fresh air,” said Missy VanLanduyt, DNR Recreation Partnerships Section Chief. “On National Trails Day, we encourage Wisconsinites to celebrate their hometown trails and show their support for our state’s trail networks.”
Wisconsin is home to 49 state parks, 15 state forests and 44 state biking trails, with trails for all abilities and activities. Several properties offer dedicated trails for mountain biking, ATVs or horseback riding, but with over 24,000 acres of state trails, there are plenty of ways and places to explore. Before you go, review the Wisconsin Trail Report from Travel Wisconsin at https://www.travelwisconsin.com/hiking-report to check out general trail conditions.
If you can’t make it to a state property, check out a local trail in your county or city or participate in a National Trails Day event, like Preserve Protect Explore - Sunrise to Starry Skies at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
The DNR offers many ways to get more involved with our trails, with volunteer opportunities at most state parks, forests and trails for trail maintenance and stewardship. See all of the current volunteer opportunities on the Wisconsin State Parks’ Volunteer Opportunities webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/volunteer.
Find even more volunteer opportunities by joining Friends Groups at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/friends, nonprofit organizations whose members volunteer their time, services and support to enhance Wisconsin’s state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas.
Another way to get involved is to become a Trail Reporter for the Wisconsin Office of Outdoor Recreation. Trail Reporters update trail conditions throughout the summer season, and you can sign up to become one at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdqnrv0-lMzbtxguZ5MYtcQVu_pkNlc4Ri_Bd-8iTTxcU1gdw/viewform.

Trail tips to remember on June 4:
* State park vehicle admission stickers and trail passes will not be required for residents and non-residents during Free Fun Weekend.
* All state parks will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
* All linear/rail trails will be open to the public, including ATV and horseback riding trails.
* ATVs, UTVs and off-highway motorcycles are exempt from registration requirements. Resident and non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a trail pass to ride state ATV trails.
* Access Ability Wisconsin offers all-terrain outdoor wheelchairs for rent at several locations across Wisconsin, making trails more accessible to visitors of all abilities. Visit Access Ability’s website at https://www.accessabilitywi.org/ for more information and rental locations.
* Cyclists of any skill level can cover some miles with Wisconsin's touring bicycle trails at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/recreation/biking#touring. Many are along former railroad corridors, like the recently re-opened Elroy-Sparta Trail.
* Local ATV clubs make Wisconsin a destination for riding. Ride Wisconsin ATV/UTV trails with scenic stop-offs.
* Horseback riders can enjoy more than 800 miles of trails in state parks, forests, recreation areas and unsurfaced trails. Highlights include Wildcat Mountain, Richard Bong State Recreation Area and Governor Dodge State Park.
* Some state trails follow local roads and county highways. Remember to share the road – shoes on the left, wheels on the right.
* Check out stewardship and recreational events on the American Hiking Society event calendar at https://americanhiking.org/national-trails-day/find-an-event/#find-event/?view_380_filters=%5B%7B%22field%22%3A%22field_61%22%2C%22operator%22%3A%22near%22%2C%22value%22%3A%22madison%20wi%22%2C%22units%22%3A%22miles%22%2C%22range%22%3A%22100%22%7D%5D&view_380_page=1.
* Remember to leave no trace and take out any trash when you leave.
National Trails Day is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Let us know where you go by tagging your trail photos on social media with #OutWiGo at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/outwigo.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR