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.