Friday, April 13, 2018

2018 Peshtigo River State Forest work plan posted for public comment


The 2018 integrated property management meeting minutes and work plan for the Peshtigo River State Forest have been posted for public review, questions or comments.  These documents can be found on the ‘Management and Business' tab of the Peshtigo River State Forest home page.
Comments on the minutes are due by April 30, 2018 and should be directed to:
Avery Jehnke, Property Manager
Peshtigo River State Forest
N10008 Paust Lane
Crivitz, WI 54114
715-757-3965

Forest staff dealt with record rainfall and several staffing vacancies in 2017 but managed to move forward with projects, recreation operations and establish and administer timber sales, which generated approximately $181,000 in stumpage revenue during 2017.
The state forest team will have a new look in 2018. Three vacancies have been filled, including a property manager/forester and two rangers who will support recreation operations on the state forest.
The 2018 work plan includes four timber sales prepared for bidding in 2018 and several areas to be evaluated for future timber harvest.  Other projects planned include boat landing improvements, opening of a new golf cart trail, invasive species control and road work in high-use areas.

Thanks for your interest in the Peshtigo River State Forest,
Avery

Friday, April 6, 2018

Sea Grant Helps City Clean Up Its Zoning Code “Monster”


April 2, 2018

By Marie Zhuikov

The city of Superior, Wisconsin, is surrounded by water. The St. Louis River bounds it to the west, the Nemadji River to the east, the Pokegema River to the south, and the harbor and Lake Superior to the north.

“Protecting that water as well as our overall natural environment should be one of our highest priorities,” said Superior Mayor Jim Paine. To that end, city staff and a contractor are beginning a process this summer, led by Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Julia Noordyk, to review and update city codes and ordinances to reduce stormwater pollution.


The effort is thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and involves something called a green infrastructure audit. Green infrastructure includes creating natural water-collecting features like rain gardens, permeable pavement and green roofs to help soak up snowmelt and rainwater. This runoff water can often be laden with contaminants like salt in the snow or oil from roads. It bears a toxic load as it infiltrates surface waters or groundwater.

Interest in a green infrastructure audit grew from a workshop Noordyk, water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist, put on last year in Duluth with staff from Minnesota Sea Grant.
“We did a full-day workshop for communities around the Duluth-Superior area,” Noordyk said. “We had planners, city staff and stormwater engineers in the room. We talked about why green infrastructure is important and why codes and ordinances are important to green infrastructure implementation. Then the communities did an exercise that included community scoping and applying the audit tool to their stormwater ordinance.”

The workshop spurred the idea of cooperation between Superior’s Environmental Services Division of Public Works and Noordyk, which led to the successful grant proposal for the code audit. Activities will follow the process outlined in Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Tackling Barriers to Green Infrastructure: An Audit of Local Codes and Ordinances workbook, which involves community scoping, auditing codes and ordinances, and developing a strategy for adoption of the changes.

Noordyk expects to have her work cut out for her, playfully stating, “I’ve already heard that Superior’s zoning code is a monster.” The mayor echoes this viewpoint. “I think everybody agrees that our zoning codes need revision. The most important thing, though, is that we have a vision for what kind of city we want as we’re revising them.”

Noordyk stresses that this is a community-driven process. “The main strategy is to bring everyone on board at the beginning. We’re not trying to do code changes that the community is against. The code audit is about going through the process and figuring out what changes make sense and will help the community reach its goals.”

The process will take several months and several community meetings. The first will be on May 17 when Noordyk makes a presentation to the Superior City Council, which is the organization that needs to approve any code and ordinance changes.

Mayor Paine is excited about the green infrastructure audit. “It’s one more step toward making a better city. Green infrastructure is generally cheaper, it’s permanent and it does the job better than anything else we can create,” he said.

Public meetings set for Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands Ecological Landscape regional master plans postponed due to weather


Public comment period will be extended through May 3

ASHLAND, Wis. - With a spring snow storm set to impact much of the state, the public open house meetings for the Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands Ecological Landscapes have been postponed. Concerns over safety for the public and staff traveling to the meetings drove the decision to reschedule.

The public open house meetings will be held later in April. Both meetings run from 5 to 7 p.m. and will be held:
  • Tuesday, April 24, Ashland at Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Highway G
  • Wednesday, April 25, Spooner at DNR Service Center, 810 W Maple St.
While the public meetings have been postponed, people can still learn more about and engage in the planning processes for Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands regional master plans online by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "master planning" and selecting the ecological landscape they would like to learn about. People will also find opportunities to offer their input on the planning and management of the properties.

In addition to the opportunities to offer input online or at public meetings, people may contact DNR Planner Phil Rynish, by email at phillip.rynish@wisconsin.gov, phone at 608-266-5854, or US mail at Phil Rynish, Wisconsin DNR, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI, 53707-7921.

The public comment period for the first phase of planning will now remain open through May 3, 2018.

Potawatomi State Park observation tower permanently closed


Significant wood decay requires tower to be dismantled

STURGEON BAY, Wis. - Significant wood decay has been found in the observation tower located at Potawatomi State Park creating unsafe conditions and requiring removal of the tower. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has permanently closed the tower, which has been closed for the winter season since last December.

A similar tower located at Peninsula State Park was removed in 2016 after studies found severe wood decay in that tower as well.

Routine inspections of the Potawatomi tower were conducted in the spring and early winter of 2017. During these inspections park staff found visual decay and movement of the structural wood tower members. DNR engineering staff were brought in and conducted additional inspections and recommended further review.

The DNR then again requested assistance from the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, which had gained valuable experience from their inspection of Eagle Tower at Peninsula. Forest Product Laboratory staff conducted an inspection in February 2018 using non-destructive wood-testing methods to examine the wood members and the structural integrity of the tower. Their inspection found significant decay in the structural and non-structural wood members of the tower, and they recommended that the tower be closed to the public and dismantled because the decayed components could not be repaired.

"This is a difficult decision for us because we know how much our visitors enjoy climbing this tower for its panoramic views of Sawyer Harbor, Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay, but public safety is always our number one concern," said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System.

The department is currently working with a number of partners to build a new fully accessible observation tower at Peninsula State Park to replace Eagle Tower that will be constructed in late 2018.

The 75-foot tall Potawatomi tower was completed in 1932. It was financed by an organization known as the Sawyer Commercial Club, which promoted economic development in the Village of Sawyer, the original name for Sturgeon Bay's west side before it was annexed in the late 1800s.
"At this time there are no plans to replace the tower, but we welcome opportunities to work with partners to provide additional recreation opportunities at the park, which could include new observation facilities in the future," Bergey said.

Any new structure would have to meet state and federal building codes and be fully ADA compliant and accessible.

The department will begin planning deconstruction of the tower immediately with the intention to complete it as soon as practicable.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Public comments sought on waterway and wetland general permit for water quality activities


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on a proposed waterway and wetland general permit for certain agricultural water quality conservation activities.
"The proposed general permit would allow county, state, and federal agencies to implement water quality conservation practices in agricultural settings through a streamlined permitting process," said Amanda Minks, DNR waterway and wetland policy coordinator.

Several activities can be covered under the proposed general permit so long as they meet the applicable permitting standards and include grassed waterways, filter strips, lined waterways, grade stabilization structures, stream crossings, water and sediment control basins, dams, sediment basins, and constructed wetlands.

"This permit supports conservation work done by partner agencies, including county land conservation department, NRCS and others," Minks said.

DNR does not anticipate this general permit to result in a significant negative effect on the environment. To view a copy of the draft permit or to view other information about the Department of Natural Resources individual and general permitting process, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "wetland disturbance."

An informational hearing is also scheduled for Wednesday, March 21, 2-3:30 p.m. in room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building, 101 S. Webster St., Madison. Comments can be submitted to DNRWYWRZGuidance@wisconsin.gov until close of business March 30.

For more information, call Amanda Minks at 608-264-9223 or submit written comments via U.S. mail to Amanda Minks, DNR-WT/3, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Important Conservation Bills


February 16, 2018 (Washington, DC) - The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing yesterday on the Recovering America's Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647), among other important bills for fish, wildlife, and land conservation.

Recovering America's Wildlife Act was introduced on December 14, 2017 in bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Members (CSC) Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) to provide adequate funding for the nearly 12,000 species identified as at-risk by state fish and wildlife agencies in their State Wildlife Action Plans. Specifically, this legislation would dedicate $1.3 billion annually in existing funding from the royalties and fees collected from offshore and onshore energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters towards state-based fish and wildlife conservation efforts. 

"Our nation's fish and wildlife are some of our most valuable resources, supporting jobs, our economy and providing countless hours of outdoor enjoyment," said Congresswoman Dingell. "I am proud to work with Congressman Fortenberry on the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, which compliments landmark conservation programs already in place to help protect at-risk species before it is too late. The approaches in this bill are proven and some of the best ways to restore and create new habitat, and ensure future generations can enjoy our rich outdoor heritage. I am pleased to see the Natural Resources Committee move this important legislation forward today and will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it across the finish line."

In addition to H.R. 4647, the Committee discussed the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs of 2017 (H.R. 2591), introduced by CSC Vice-Chair Congressman Austin Scott (GA). This bipartisan bill, supported by CSC leadership, would clarify that one of the purposes of the Pittman-Robertson Fund is to extend and provide technical and financial assistance to the states for hunter recruitment and retention efforts.

Bob Ziehmer, the Senior Director of Conservation for Bass Pro Shops, testified in support of H.R. 4647 and H.R. 2591. Ziehmer, who previously served as the Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, is a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, along with Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane. The panel recommended the funding approach that is addressed in Recovering America's Wildlife Act.

CSF applauds House Chairman Rob Bishop, Chairman Tom McClintock, and the House Natural Resources Committee Members for their leadership in advancing pro-sportsmen legislation in the 115th Congress. 

Informational Meetings for Proposed Updates to Wisconsin's Wetland Indicator Layer

The first step land owners, developers and builders need to take before picking up a shovel or calling in the bulldozers is determining whether a proposed project site is located within a wetland. A new upgrade to the Department of Natural Resource’s interactive wetland indicator map found at dnr.wi.gov will make it easier to determine if a project has the potential to impact wetlands.
“The advantage of this new upgrade is to target potential wetlands on a land owner’s property to avoid any inadvertent wetlands disturbance during development and avoid unnecessary wetland delineation costs,” says Amanda Minks, DNR Waterway and Wetland Policy Coordinator.
Minks said the DNR has been working with the National Resource Conservation Service to integrate updated soil information, field reporting and digital topography tools to its current map, which is referred to as the pink layer, so that the agency can provide users with the most comprehensive tool possible.
If wetland impacts are possible, state law requires a wetland delineation to confirm wetland impacts and determine the amount of the potential impact. The newly upgraded tool will allow users to target areas at a more refined scale, which can help avoid or minimize wetland impacts and determine the appropriate regulatory process for projects.
To preview the updated system to potential users, the department is hosting two hour-long informational meetings on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 10:00 a.m., at the Green Bay Service Center, and Friday, March 9, 2018, 2 p.m., in room G09 at the DNR Central Office, 101 S. Webster, in Madison.
“We want to give our potential users an opportunity to experience the changes before we release the final upgrade to the public in late spring this year so they will better understand the changes and how to use the layer,” Minks said.

Anyone interested in learning more about wetland indicators can visit the DNR’s website (dnr.wi.gov) to read more about recognizing indicators and view informational videos about the steps toward ensuring building projects start off on the right track.   Questions or comments can also be emailed directly to Amanda Minks at Amanda.Minks@Wisconsin.gov.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes Film Screening and Talk

February 15, 2018

By Tim Campbell and Marie Zhuikov

Join Tim Campbell, aquatic invasive species outreach specialist for UW-Extension and Wisconsin Sea Grant, for a free screening of the two-hour documentary, “Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes,” followed by a short question-and-answer session. The screening will take place at 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, March 9, at the Lake Superior Estuarium on Barker’s Island in Superior (3 Marina Drive).

The film takes viewers below the surface of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem, and into the middle of a complex web of interactions and changes. For over a century, non-native plants, fish and invertebrates have been silently invading the Great Lakes and are transforming the ecosystem from top to bottom, threatening ecological diversity and local economies.
Making Waves chronicles the path of this invasion to the present day. The filmmakers join researchers on the front lines as they work to understand invasive species and to restore native species in an effort to prevent a biological takeover of the Great Lakes.

The screening is sponsored by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.

INVASIVE BLOODY RED SHRIMP FOUND IN LAKE SUPERIOR


Bloody Red ShrimpMADISON, Wisc.—A single specimen of the bloody red shrimp (Hemimysis anomala) has been detected in the Lower St. Louis River near Allouez Bay, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today.  Sweep net samples were processed and taxonomic identification completed by Service staff and Badger Technical Services in January 2018.[WRS-D1]  This is the first detection of the species in Lake Superior, which was collected as part of annual sampling done by the Service.

“While the collection of a single individual shrimp suggests this species is not abundant or widespread, it’s a disappointing detection.  While the impacts on other Great Lakes are currently unknown, we still want to be cautious about how we approach the management of this species,” said Jeremy Bates, Early Detection and Rapid Response Coordinator with the WDNR. 
Bloody red shrimp was first reported in 2006 in Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan, and is already documented in all other Great Lakes.  The species, like other invasive species, are known to reproduce and spread, ultimately degrading habitat, out-competing native species and short-circuiting food webs.
“Early detection is crucial to effectively managing invasive animals before they gain a foothold in the environment,” said Amy McGovern, Midwest Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The discovery of a bloody red shrimp in Lake Superior is a testament to the ongoing importance of the Great Lakes Early Detection and Monitoring Program.”
The Service will continue targeted sampling for bloody red shrimp and other annual AIS sampling throughout the Great Lakes as part of the Great Lakes Early Detection and Monitoring Program. 
Boaters and anglers in Wisconsin are asked to do their part to make sure aquatic invasive species (AIS) don’t move to inland waters by taking the following preventive measures:

  • Inspect and thoroughly clean equipment and clothing
  • Remove aquatic plants and debris from boats and equipment
  • Drain water from live wells and bilge compartments before leaving the waterway
  • Transport your catch on ice

Friday, February 9, 2018

Public meetings set for mid-February and early March to update sturgeon management plan

OSHKOSH, Wis. - Wisconsin's oldest fish species - lake sturgeon present when dinosaurs roamed the earth - is set for an updated management plan. Sturgeon lovers can help shape that plan by attending one of eight public meetings statewide in mid-February and early-March.

"Wisconsin's sturgeon team is in the early stages of a process to update the sturgeon management plan and we want to hear from anglers and others interested in sturgeon," says Ryan Koenigs, the sturgeon biologist who leads the Department of Natural Resources sturgeon team. "These meetings provide people an opportunity to comment on the state's sturgeon management program and will set the stage for development of the plan."

Sturgeon facts and history

Lake sturgeon are currently managed under guidance from the 2000 Lake Sturgeon Management Plan. An updated plan will allow DNR staff and partners to continue to build on the previous plan's success, set new goals, and include management strategies for both lake sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon management. It is important to note that the previous plan did not include shovelnose sturgeon.

Public meeting dates, locations and starting times are listed below:

• Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Eau Claire, 6:30 p.m., DNR Eau Claire Service Center, 1300 W. Clairemont Ave.;
• Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Fitchburg, 6:30 p.m., DNR Fitchburg Service Center, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road;
• Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Webster, 6:30 p.m., Larsen Family Public Library, 7401 W. Main St.;
• Wednesday, Feb. 21 - La Crosse, 6:30 p.m. DNR La Crosse Service Center, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road;
• Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Oshkosh, 6:30 p.m., Coughlin Building, Conference rooms A and B, 625 E County Road Y;
• Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Park Falls, 6 p.m. Public Library, 410 Division St.;
• Tuesday, March 6 - Ashland, 6 p.m. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, 2100 Beaser Ave.; and
• Tuesday, March 6 - Oconto, 6 p.m., Oconto City Hall, 1210 Main St.

There also will be future opportunities for people to comment online, and materials prepared for the meetings will be posted online as they become available.

Wisconsin has long been regarded as a national and international leader in sturgeon protection, restoration and research - a reputation built since DNR began regulating sturgeon harvest on the Winnebago system in 1903.

Wisconsin offers a hook-and-line season on multiple major rivers with healthy, growing populations and boasts the world's largest self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon. In locations where sturgeon populations are not as strong, DNR and partners are working to rebuild sturgeon populations.

For more information regarding sturgeon management, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "sturgeon."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Attention Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Enthusiasts:

WCSFO Photo by: John Durben

The 2018 sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes is only a little over a month away, starting on Saturday February 10.  We've experienced some very cold weather the last few weeks and have some pretty thick ice developed throughout the system.  In fact, some of the local fishing clubs and conservation groups have already put out their tree lines and are now maintaining access points and plowed roads.  From what I've heard, Lake Winnebago is pretty rough though and there are quite a few cracks, so be sure to use caution and remember no ice is every 100% safe.

Many spearers are starting to wonder about water clarity so we had one of our technicians check clarity in a couple of locations today (January 8).  Attached is a map of where he checked clarity and what visibility was.  In the locations checked, clarity ranged from 7.5-10.5' with quite a bit of variability.  This is a very small sample size, but it appears that clarity is not great at this point in time.  Hopefully things will improve a bit over the next month.  We will be checking clarity again during the week leading up to the season and I will be sure to send out that update once it becomes available.

I also have attached a copy of the spearing rules and regulations for the 2018 season.  I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and I look forward to the month of anticipation that lies ahead between now and February 10!
  
Ryan Koenigs
Senior Fisheries Biologist / Winnebago System Sturgeon Biologist
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
625 E County Rd. Y, Suite 700
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Phone: (920)303-5450
Fax: (920)424-4404