Third-party certification audits find DNR land management exemplary

MADISON – Wisconsin’s forested lands are some of the state’s most valuable resources and the Department of Natural Resources is doing a good job caring for them according to audits conducted by SCS Global Services.

Independent, third-party certification means DNR management of its properties meets strict standards for ecological, social and economic sustainability. The words “exemplary” and “superb” were used in reporting audit findings on 1,551,440 acres of state-owned lands.

Department owned lands are certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both of these nonprofits encourage responsible management of the world’s forests. Wisconsin state forests have been certified since 2004 and all other DNR properties were added in 2009.

Both certification programs require annual surveillance audits to confirm that DNR practices continue to conform to certification standards and that continual improvement is being made. Full recertification audits are conducted every five years.

“Forest certification emphasizes the state’s commitment to responsible management for a host of ecosystem and economic benefits,” said Fred Souba, DNR chief state forester. “Management of multi-use lands involves balancing the goals of conserving forestland, supporting economic activities, protecting wildlife habitat and providing recreational opportunities.”

Souba added that forest certification helps Wisconsin remain competitive in the global marketplace where buyers increasingly demand certified raw materials.

Interdisciplinary teams with expertise in forestry, social sciences, natural resource economics and other relevant fields assessed DNR land management practices in August 2016 for conformance to the FSC and SFI standards and policies. Both auditors recently issued reports of their findings. The complete reports are available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “Forest certification.”

The FSC audit team stated, “DNR personnel interviewed during the audit consistently demonstrated a high level of commitment to forest stewardship of the state lands under their management.”

DNR land management is a coordinated effort of the Forestry Division and the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division and, true to form, the audit report recognized “exemplary interdisciplinary and integrative collaboration amongst DNR personnel.”

Various goals, driven by the master plan and property type, shape the management of DNR properties. State park lands focus on scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, while wildlife areas help sustain wildlife and natural communities. State forests are managed for multiple-use objectives (including a variety of wildlife habitats, a wide range of forest-based recreation and maintaining healthy forest ecosystems) and also support a majority of timber harvests on DNR properties.

“Forest certification does not imply these lands will be managed more intensively for commercial forest products,” said Mark Heyde, DNR’s forest certification coordinator. “Certification requires continual improvement on property master plans, habitat for diverse wildlife, facilities management, public involvement and other work of great importance to all Wisconsin citizens. Forest certification audits help to assure focus on these important tasks.”

Sanjay Olson, administrator of the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division, said, “The collaboration across DNR programs results in responsible management for and stewardship of a robust array of values and resources found on the state lands.”

Auditors praised DNR’s programs to maintain and improve native biological diversity and address conservation of sites with species of concern. One example they noted was on the Rowan Creek Fisheries Area where a blue heron rookery was identified. Staff installed a buffer and denoted the area in the GIS database.

Direct links to the reports are:
FSC report [PDF]  
SFI report [PDF]

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DNR seeks comments on updated surface water assessment guidance

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on guidance that helps evaluate the status of the state’s surface water quality.

The Wisconsin Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology, known as WisCALM, provides guidance to assess surface water quality and trends against standards set by the Clean Water Act. The methodology is updated for each biennial surface water assessment cycle and the current guidance is being updated for the 2018 cycle.

Ashley Beranek, DNR water resources management specialist, said this year’s updates include:

  • A new numeric criteria quick-reference section at the beginning of the document. This includes tables of numeric criteria and links to further descriptions within WisCALM.
  • Added language on chloride assessments. This represents a clarification rather than a change in criteria or assessment methods.
  • Lake total phosphorus targets for fish and aquatic life that have been updated to match the recreation use criteria. There is no change in codified total phosphorus criteria.

Beranek said the updates do not increase the number of waters included on DNR’s list of impaired waters. Assessing water bodies against water quality standards and identifying impaired waters that don’t meet standards is part of the overarching federal Clean Water Act framework for restoring impaired waters.

Under the Clean Water Act, states are required to monitor and assess their waters to determine if they meet water quality standards and support the designated uses they are intended to provide. Wisconsin’s surface water quality is good and improving in many areas; by updating the technical guidance and maintaining the impaired waters list, the state works to address changes through targeted improvement plans.

Public comments on the latest WisCALM guidance can be made according to the process described on the following website: Proposed DNR Program Guidance. Comments also may be submitted to: dnrimpairedwaters@wisconsin.gov or via mail to Ashley Beranek, DNR, Bureau of Water Quality, 101 S. Webster St. WQ/3 Madison, WI 53707

The public comment period runs from Dec. 20, 2016 to Jan. 27, 2017.

A copy of the draft guidance can be downloaded by clicking on the following link: Draft 2018 WisCALM. For more about these changes, visit dnr.wi.gov and refer to the Water condition assessments & reporting page.

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Cold, windy December day yields important data for Lake Michigan fisheries management

ABOARD THE RESEARCH VESSEL COREGONUS – At a time of year when most Lake Michigan anglers are content to count their blessings, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff are out counting fish.

The 60 foot Research Vessel Coregonus plays a critical role in DNR fisheries research including winter yellow perch assessments in early December. The boat is used heavily throughout the year for a variety of scientific data collection and offshore stocking projects.
The 60 foot Research Vessel Coregonus plays a critical role in DNR fisheries research including winter yellow perch assessments in early December. The boat is used heavily throughout the year for a variety of scientific data collection and offshore stocking projects.
Photo Credit: DNR

With a cold northwesterly wind blowing across 5 miles of open water on this December day, it’s not an easy job. Lifting two gangs of graded mesh gill net stretching some 1,600 feet, the four fisheries team members aboard the DNR Research Vessel Coregonus are collecting data that will help inform management decisions on yellow perch and round whitefish.

The team is led by Dave Schindelholz, a DNR fisheries technician with more than 15 years of experience who is serving as biologist-in-charge. Working in an enclosed lab and processing space behind the boat’s pilot house, Schindelholz alternates between freeing fish from the incoming net and recording data from the entire team so that surviving fish can be quickly released.

Joining him are Brandon Bastar, the research vessel’s captain; Tim Kroeff, a fisheries technician based with Bastar in Sturgeon Bay; and Tom Burzynski, a fisheries technician with Schindelholz out of Milwaukee. As the men wait for the hydraulic winch to reel in the next round of fish, they talk casually about how cold air moving over warm water creates bigger waves – seemingly oblivious to the effects of the unpredictable swells as the 60 foot boat pitches forward, backward and side to side.

“The Coregonus is a critical part of our research effort and really allows to us work safely and efficiently in all kinds of weather,” Schindelholz says. Commissioned in 2011, the vessel’s name derives from the genus of nine species of fish native to Lake Michigan including the commercially important lake whitefish, lake herring and bloater chub.

With safety equipment including a 10-person life raft, emergency positioning beacon, cold water survival suits and watertight compartments to keep the boat afloat if the hull is punctured, the Coregonus represents a major advance over the 74-year-old RV Barney Devine that was retired after the 2010 season. A key feature of the Coregonus is the large winch system used for hauling in weighted gill nets that are hung in established locations and strung together in gangs of up to 2,000 feet.

View a video of the crew of the Coregonus at work on the DNR Facebook page.
View a video of the crew of the Coregonus at work on the DNR Facebook page.

The boat also supports the use of trawl nets and diving survey work. The size and scope of its capabilities keep the Coregonus busy almost continuously from early April through December as fisheries staff conduct assessments of whitefish, lake trout, burbot, forage fish such as alewife, bloater chubs and yellow perch as well as Green Bay offshore stocking activities. From its home port in Sturgeon Bay, the Coregonus travels from northern Lake Michigan and Green Bay south to Algoma, Port Washington and Milwaukee.

The yellow perch work that takes place in early December is conducted over known spawning habitat in 65 to 80 feet of water. To maximize the benefits of the time on the water, Schindelholz and the crew are also collecting data on round whitefish populations and alewife numbers as well as information about the yellow perch.

“Our focus at this time of year is on the yellow perch because we do have ongoing concerns about the survival rates given the changing Lake Michigan ecosystem,” Schindelholz says. The spread of filter feeding aquatic invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels reduce the volume of phytoplankton and ultimately zooplankton available to young perch, which also face competition for habitat from invasive round gobies. The December perch surveys follow spawning assessments conducted in early June with both gill nets and dive team members.

The invasive mussels and gobies make their presence known as the gill net rolls up from the depths, streaming in through a sliding window and onto the stainless steel table inside the processing area of the Coregonus. Hung the previous day, the net yields a remarkable diversity of aquatic species — including invasive mussels that are caught in the plastic mesh and clatter around on the table as the fisheries team members pull them off. Round gobies meet a fitting end as they are tossed back outside the window to a flock of waiting seagulls.

The net also pulls in both stocked and naturally reproduced lake trout. While open water swimming species such as chinook and coho salmon generally avoid the gill nets, alewives, brown trout, burbot and round whitefish fill out the catch of the day. The round whitefish are kept for further data collection back on shore while the other fish are quickly released.

A few young perch have found their way into the net, important evidence that the biologically significant and highly sought-after species continues to reproduce on the historic spawning grounds. It will take additional data collection and analysis in the weeks ahead to determine how overall numbers fit into the broader trends observed in recent years.

Back on shore, inside UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences, Schindelholz and Burzynski set to work on the whitefish, measuring, weighing and dissecting them with surgical skill to check on the overall health of the fish and remove the delicate otoliths or ear bones needed to ascertain age. With precision that can only be achieved through years of practice, they take turns with knife and pen, processing and preparing samples for 28 fish in about 30 minutes.

Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor, said the success of DNR’s Lake Michigan management efforts depends on the abilities of the team members as well as the research infrastructure required to support their work in the harshest of conditions.

“We’re fortunate to have the dedicated people that we do, as well as access to the tools we need to perform our full range of work,” Eggold says. “This type of applied research is critical to understanding the population dynamics of key species and the impacts of lake-wide changes in the Lake Michigan food web. The work is fundamental to our fisheries management efforts.”

To learn more, visit dnr.wi.gov and seach “Research Vessel Coregonus.” For more information about Lake Michigan management efforts and news of upcoming opportunities for stakeholder engagement, visit “Fishing Lake Michigan.”

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DNR sets January meetings to discuss sustainable harvest framework for Lake Michigan whitefish

Rule changes on hold until additional public feedback and information can be gathered

STURGEON BAY, Wis. – To address concerns expressed by stakeholders during initial meetings on the commercial and recreational management of Lake Michigan whitefish, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will host a round of meetings the second week of January to find areas of agreement through which a sustainable harvest framework can be developed.

David Boyarski, DNR eastern district fisheries supervisor, said efforts to begin developing new harvest rules will be put on hold until additional public feedback and information can be gathered. Results from stakeholder meetings held in May and subsequent comments collected by the department showed the need to gather more data on whitefish populations, explore the potential for new methods to monitor harvests and find ways to improve dual use of waters where both sport and commercial fishers pursue whitefish.

The January meetings to help find a balance between recreational and commercial interests represent a separate process from the December effort to initiate harvest reporting by Green Bay ice fishing guides who target whitefish. Both efforts by DNR reflect the growing public appeal of whitefish and demonstrate the department’s commitment to gathering data and involving stakeholders in the decision making process.

“Whitefish populations in Lake Michigan and Green Bay represent an incredible recreational, economic and biological asset and we appreciate stakeholders’ strong interest in our management of the resource,” Boyarski said. “We would like to reach consensus on the information needed and a management framework that all stakeholders can accept to help sustainably manage this shared resource. This next round of meetings on January 10 in Green Bay and January 11 in Sturgeon Bay will focus on finding areas of agreement that will allow us to develop an agreed-upon framework to sustain this critical species for current and future generations.”

Whitefish populations have changed drastically over the past two decades. Green Bay whitefish populations have increased with many younger year classes present while certain Lake Michigan populations have decreased. Presently, fewer young fish appear to be returning to northeastern Door County to spawn, which may indicate future challenges for that population.

Currently, the commercial whitefish harvest for Lake Michigan and Green Bay is set at 2.88 million pounds, a level established through calculations based on a sustainable harvest of 35 percent of the population’s most vulnerable age class. Approximately 12.5 percent or 362,185 pounds may be taken from Zone 1 in Green Bay south of Chambers Island; roughly 75 percent or 2,166,329 million pounds may be taken from Chambers Island north around the top of Door County to Kewaunee; and 12.2 percent or 351,487 pounds may be taken south of Kewaunee.

Commercial fishers are now bringing in substantially less than the overall quota due to reduced populations in Zone 2 and other factors such as overall effort and environmental conditions. However, a strong recreational whitefish fishery has emerged in Green Bay with an annual harvest of well over 100,000 fish for each of the past four years.

DNR annually monitors whitefish populations through netting and electrofishing surveys and also monitors harvest from commercial fishers and recreational anglers. Over the next few years DNR biologists will also be working with university researchers and commercial fishers to examine adult whitefish movement, larval production and recolonization of historical spawning grounds.

“It was clear from the feedback we received that many stakeholders are not comfortable moving forward with specific rule changes at this time but they do want to know more about the commercial fishery, sport fishery and changes in whitefish populations,” Boyarski said.

Both meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The Jan. 10 meeting will be at the DNR Green Bay Service Center, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, 54313 in the Lake Michigan Room. The Jan. 11 meeting will be at the Door County Government Building, 421 Nebraska St., Sturgeon Bay, 54235.

Boyarski said stakeholders also will be encouraged to participate in an online survey identifying preferences for management of the fishery. The survey will be launched following the first meeting with a link accessible through dnr.wi.gov and the search “Lake Michigan whitefish management.” Information presented at the May stakeholder meeting also is available on this webpage.

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County Deer Advisory Councils to discuss chronic wasting disease recommendations at special January meetings

MADISON — County Deer Advisory Councils will hold special meetings in January for the specific purpose of discussing recommendations for responding to chronic wasting disease statewide and on a local level.

Each council will review information regarding CWD and discuss the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ 15-year Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan. This plan guides the department’s approach to addressing CWD in Wisconsin, and is currently under review by DNR, DATCP and the Conservation Congress along with a stakeholder-based CWD Response Plan review committee.

Each council will use current CWD data, preliminary recommendations from the review committee, and online public feedback to submit recommendations on action items in the plan. The response plan covers topics including CWD surveillance and monitoring, hunting season tools, captive cervid regulations, biosecurity and safety, research, and public involvement.

To help council members gather public feedback prior to the meetings, an on-line public input form survey is available on the CWD Response Plan review. Additional public comments will be accepted at each January CDAC meeting.

For CDAC meeting information, search keyword “CDAC” and select the link labeled “Find your county’s January meeting location, date and start time.” Meeting dates can also be found through the public meetings calendar – search keywords “County Deer Advisory Council.”

Final CWD response plan recommendations will be presented to the Natural Resources Board in March 2017.

For more information regarding chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin, search keyword “CWD.”

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Eagle and osprey surveys document record numbers of nests

RHINELANDER, Wis. — Good news for Wisconsin’s bald eagles and the people who love to watch them: a record number of occupied nests were observed in spring surveys, signifying the state’s largest population since surveys started in the 1970s, according to the 2016 Bald Eagle and Osprey Survey Report [PDF] released today.

Click on image for larger size.
Click on image for larger size.

The survey results continue to document the raptors’ comeback from the brink of extinction in the 1960s and 1970s, to removal from the state threatened and endangered species list in the 2000s, to healthy and growing populations today.

The aerial surveys confirmed 1,504 occupied eagle nests, 39 more nests than the previous year and compared to 108 in 1973. Osprey nests also were found in record numbers: 558 occupied osprey nests were observed in 58 of 72 (81 percent) counties, up from 542 in 2014.

“The recovery of bald eagles in Wisconsin is a great conservation success story and one that more Wisconsin residents are seeing up close as eagles expand into new territories,” says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program. “We’re also very pleased to see osprey numbers continue to climb and appreciate our partnership with utility companies and other partners to provide artificial nesting platforms for these birds.”

Osprey populations in Wisconsin declined dramatically from the 1950s to early 1970s in response to pesticides and the loss of suitable nest habitat – tall trees or snags – as lake shorelines were developed and trees were removed. Now, 75 percent of Wisconsin osprey nests are built on artificial platforms erected on utility poles, cell phone towers and other tall structures.

The 2016 effort marked the 44th consecutive year that the bald eagle occupancy survey has been completed in Wisconsin, which makes it one of the longest running surveys of its kind in North America. DNR staff from the Natural Heritage Conservation and Wildlife Management bureaus completed statewide aerial nesting surveys for bald eagles and ospreys in cooperation with DNR pilots in March and April 2016, according to Laura Jaskiewicz, the DNR research scientist who coordinates the survey and report from Rhinelander.

Bald eagle nesting begins in late January and early February in the Midwest. In 2016, DNR biologists found the highest number of occupied eagle nests in the 44 years of aerial surveys.
Bald eagle nesting begins in late January and early February in the Midwest. In 2016, DNR biologists found the highest number of occupied eagle nests in the 44 years of aerial surveys.
Photo Credit: DNR

Jaskiewicz says the number of occupied nests continues to rise in northern Wisconsin, the heart of eagle country due to abundant lakes and rivers, and in southeastern Wisconsin, where the proportional increase was the largest in the state.

Southeastern Wisconsin has historically had a smaller population of nesting eagles, and this increase in nests, from 11 to 17, may be due to eagle numbers in the north getting close to carrying capacity, so their range is reaching farther than it previously has, she says.

Occupied eagle nests were observed in 69 of 72 (96 percent) counties, with Vilas and Oneida counties continuing to have the most nests.

The 2016 midwinter eagle survey — some counts done by air by DNR pilots and biologists and others done by DNR staff and volunteers on foot, in cars or in boats — showed an impressive 87 percent increase in wintering eagles across the state of Wisconsin over the previous winter’s count. This increase may have been due to the unusually mild winter enabling more eagles to stay in the state; typically, eagles will move south and congregate along major rivers near open water areas by dams, Jaskiewicz says.

Winter eagle-related events and activities draw tourists, and communities hosting them have lifted the state’s visibility as an ecotourism and bird-watching destination. The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council conducted identical economic surveys of eagle watchers in 1994 and 2004 in the Prairie du Sac area and found that about $1,144,000 was generated by visitors throughout the three-month eagle season in 2004, during a time that otherwise would be a slow tourist season for community businesses. That figure represented a 20 percent increase, adjusted for inflation, over the economic impact in 1994. A third economic study is underway now.

Because eagle and osprey populations are healthy and growing, this year DNR did not conduct the second aerial survey it has done in past years to assess the reproductive success of the breeding pairs. Resources are being redirected to other non-game species needing field surveys.

“The reason we continue to survey the statewide nesting eagle and osprey populations is to provide accurate locations of eagle and osprey nests within the state,” Jaskiewiczsays. “It’s important that we keep our data as up to date as possible so that we can give property owners and managers the best guidance to effectively protect nesting eagles and ospreys.”

Eagle nests are federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty, which celebrated its centennial in 2016.

Adopt An Eagle Nest, new eagle license plate help continue work to protect eagles

Citizens and organizations can help make sure these important annual surveys continue by sponsoring an eagle nest or purchasing a new eagle license plate, which provides a $25 annual donation to the Endangered Resources Fund. Search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “eagle plate” for more information.

DNR’s Adopt-An-Eagle Nest program allows sponsors, for a minimum contribution of $100, to receive an adoption certificate, an aerial photo showing the location of your eagle nest, results from the surveys and a full-color eagle calendar. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search “AEN” for more information.

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More than 30 candlelight events scheduled this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests and trails

MADISON – Early snowfall that has covered all of Wisconsin, combined with cold temperatures in the forecast to keep the snow around, should create good conditions for the 30 candlelight events planned this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests, recreation areas and trails.

More than 30 DNR properties will hold candlelight events this winter.  This image is from a candlelight ski last year at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Morain State Forest.
More than 30 DNR properties will hold candlelight events this winter. This image is from a candlelight ski last year at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Morain State Forest.
Photo Credit: DNR

“Most properties are reporting that they are already packing ski trails, and with a bit more snow most will also be able to set tracks for cross-country skiing,” said Paul Holtan, communications specialist for the state parks program.

This winter’s candlelight events kick off January 7 at Blue Mound State Park west of Madison, Mirror Lake State Park southeast of Lake Delton and Wildcat Mountain State Park near Ontario, and run on weekends through February 18.

Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight have become some of the most popular winter events at Department of Natural Resources properties, with some events attracting more than a thousand visitors. Last year a candlelight event at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest attracted so many visitors that all of the available parking at the property filled and entrance gates to the property had to be closed, causing backups and traffic problems.

A candlelight event at Horicon Marsh has become so popular that the Friends of Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center has set up shuttle busses running from Mayville and Horicon between 4:30-9:30 p.m. and is encouraging visitors to use them as parking at the facility is limited.

“We encourage people to plan ahead and to consider attending a candlelight event at a property they may not have visited in the past. Also this year we plan to use the DNR Twitter  social media platform to provide current information about specific events,” Holtan said.

Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others offer just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m. 

Many of the events include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.

People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword “candlelight.” For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords “find a park.” Regular park and trail fees apply for the events unless otherwise noted.

While most events will not be cancelled due to lack of snow, they still could be cancelled if conditions are icy, extremely cold or have severe wind chills, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if threatening weather is in the forecast.

2017 Wisconsin State Park Winter Candlelight Events

Saturday, January 7, 2017

  • Blue Mound State Park. Spend a night with family and friends at Blue Mound State Park and welcome in the New Year with a candlelight ski, hike, and snowshoe event hosted by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. A 1- and 2-mile candlelit wooded loop will be available to ski, and a separate 0.75-mile candlelit wooded trail for hikers, snowshoers, and leashed pets. Warm up with free hot drinks inside the heated Friends Shelter, and enjoy some hot food, baked goods and commemorative shirts for sale. Enjoy the bonfire and free marshmallows for roasting. Guided hikes through the illuminated woods with the park Naturalist will be held at 6 and 7 p.m. The only cost for this fun-filled family event is a daily or annual park sticker, which may be purchased upon entry to the park. 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Mirror Lake State Park. Torch Lit Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe. There will be bonfires, hot chocolate and hot cider and of course, sweet treats all for a good will donation. 6-9 p.m.
  • Wildcat Mountain State. Ski or hike (pending weather conditions) a 1.5-mile torch lit trail. Warm up by the bonfire after enjoying the trail. Sorry, no pets please. A park sticker is required and can be purchased at the park entrance. Wildcat Mountain State Park is located 3 miles east of Ontario on State Hwy 33. 5-9 p.m.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

  • Lake Kegonsa State Park. Enjoy a beautiful evening of candlelight skiing. Approximately 2 miles of trail will be lit with hundreds of glowing luminaries. When you are finished, warm up by the bonfire and enjoy hot cocoa and baked goods sold by the Lake Kegonsa State Park Friends Group. This is a ski event only. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are prohibited on groomed cross-country ski trails. This event is weather and snow conditions permitting; if snow or weather conditions do not permit, a back-up date is Saturday, February 11. 6-9 p.m.
  • Rib Mountain State Park. The Friends of Rib Mountain State Park invite everyone to explore the park trails on snowshoes. Meet at the newly constructed Friends Shelter located just past the park entrance. Plan to bring snowshoes; limited pairs will be available to borrow. Also bring flashlights or headlamps. Enjoy hot chocolate and snacks afterwards. Parking is limited and carpooling is recommended. This event is free and donations are welcome to help cover costs. An annual or daily state park vehicle admission sticker is required. 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

  • Governor Dodge State Park. 18th Annual Governor Dodge State Park Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe. Ski, hike or snowshoe (pending weather conditions) on a trail lit with glowing candlelight. Warm up by the bonfire after enjoying the trail. Snacks and hot beverages will be available for purchase. Weather and snow conditions determine trail location. Sponsored by the Friends of Governor Dodge. Sorry, no pets please. Park stickers required and will be available for purchase at the event. 6-9 p.m.
  • Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. 7th Annual Horicon Marsh Candlelight Hike/Snowshoe. The Education Center will be open for people to warm up, view the 20-minute “Horicon Marsh Story,” visit the gift shop or have the kids do a fun craft to bring home! There are also snacks available for purchase and the Flyway Gift Shop is open for shopping. The Horicon Marsh Explorium will also be open for people to learn about Horicon Marsh through these new interactive displays (fee). The event is sponsored and hosted by the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center and the Wisconsin DNR. 5-9 p.m.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit .Come explore 1.6 miles of mixed majestic pines and scenic views of the purple loop at the Nordic Trailhead. Ski, hike or snowshoe. Cozy up by the bonfire or warm up inside the warming shelter with chili and snacks for a small fee. Supplies for s’mores will also be available for purchase with roasting sticks available on site. This event is not dependent on the weather. Dogs are allowed on the ski trail-at this event only. They must be leashed at all times. State Park stickers and day passes will be available for purchase when you arrive. No skate skiing and no skijoring. 6-9 p.m.

Friday, January 27, 2017

  • Red Cedar State Trail. Cross-Country Ski the candlelit Red Cedar State Trail from the Depot to the lit ice wall. Snowshoe the candlelit trail in Riverside Park. Hike the candlelit Junction City Trail. All activities start at the Depot of the Red Cedar State Trail, Highway 29 West. Enjoy free hot chocolate provided by ConAgra/Swiss Miss. Door prizes provided by the Friends of the Red Cedar State Trail/Hoffman Hills. Bonfire will keep you warm. Depot will be open. Skis are required for the Red Cedar State Trail. Bring your own skis, or a limited number are available for rental at Stout Adventures- 715-232-5625. Bring your own snowshoes or a limited number of snowshoes are available for free use generously provided by the Mayo Clinic Health System. 6-9 p.m.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

  • Black River State Forest. Candlelight ski and snowshoe. Join the Black River State Forest and the Black River Forest Trail Foundation for a night of skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and fun. A 1.5-mile ski trail and a 1-mile snowshoe/hiking trail will be lit with candle luminaries. Warm up around a large bonfire or in the heated shelter. Hot chocolate and hot dogs will be available for purchase. Meet at the Smrekar shelter located 4 miles east of Millston off County Road O. This event will still be held as a hike/snowshoe if there is not enough snow for skiing. 6-9 p.m.
  • Hartman Creek State Park. Candlelight ski, hike and snowshoe. Come out and ski, hike or snowshoe by candlelight around Hartman Creek State Park! Start at the shelter by Hartman Lake, where fires and snacks will be waiting, and go around the lake and woods. A vehicle admission sticker is required. This event is sponsored by the Friends of Hartman Creek State Park. 5-8 p.m.
  • Point Beach State Forest. Candlelight Ski and Hike. The Friends of Point Beach State Forest will be hosting the annual Candlelight Ski and Hike. One mile of wooded trail will be lit with candles for skiers and hikers to enjoy. Be sure to stop at the lodge building where the fireplace will be going and the Friends group will be selling food and refreshments. 5-9 p.m.
  • Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. Candlelight Ski, Snowshoe and Hike. Come and enjoy a winter night ski, snowshoe or walk in the brilliance of a luminary-lit, nearly 2-mile trail. This event will be held on the trail in Amery at Soo Line Park. After some good exercise you can enjoy some hot chocolate or hot apple cider furnished by the Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. 5-7 p.m.
  • Whitefish Dunes State Park. Join the Friends of Whitefish Dunes and Park Staff for the annual winter candlelight ski, hike and snowshoe. A 1.5-mile path will be lit with luminaires for the ski trail portion, and run along a segment of the Red Trail. The hiking/snowshoe portion will take place on a 1.5-mile section of the Black Trail. Pets and sleds are not allowed on the ski trail portion of this event. If snow conditions are not favorable for skiing on the trails, a candlelit hike will still take place. Refreshments will be available at the shelter building, as well as Friends merchandise at the nature center. A park sticker is required and can be purchased upon arrival. 5-8 p.m.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

  • Big Foot Beach State Park. Candlelight Hike. The Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park are presenting a candlelight hike at the park shelter. There will be a naturalist program starting at 6 p.m. under the shelter. So come and enjoy an evening hike, then warm yourself by the bonfire while enjoying hot chocolate, apple cider and s’mores. Fun for all ages! A daily or annual park admission sticker will be required to enter the park. 6-8 p.m.
  • Blue Mound State Park. Candlelight Ski/Hike/Snowshoe. Spend a night with family and friends at Blue Mound State Park with a candlelight ski, hike, and snowshoe event hosted by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. A 1- and 2-mile candlelit wooded loop will be available to ski, and a separate 0.75-mile candlelit wooded trail for hikers, snowshoers and leashed pets. Warm up with free hot drinks inside the heated Friends Shelter, and enjoy some hot food, baked goods and commemorative shirts for sale. Enjoy the bonfire and free marshmallows for roasting. Guided hikes through the illuminated woods with the parks Naturalist will be held at 6 and 7 p.m. The only cost for this fun-filled family event is a daily or annual park sticker, which may be purchased upon entry to the park.
  • Flambeau River State Forest. 25th Annual Flambeau River State Forest Candlelight Ski. Cross-country skiing at night by candlelight will be offered for the 25th year at the Flambeau River State Forest at the Flambeau Hills Trailhead. A 1.8-kilometer trail loop will be groomed, tracked and lit with more than 600 candles. The trail is for skiers or hikers and winds through the heart of the forest. The trail is wide enough for diagonal striders and skate skiers. Hiking and snowshoeing are also permitted during this event. Picnic tables and a large barbecue grill will be available near the trail head for persons who wish to cook their food, and hot dogs, chili and spiced tea will be provided. Large warming fires will also be built and maintained throughout the night. This as a casual family-type outing for families and friends to spend the evening together. The candles should provide a luminescent atmosphere for all to enjoy. Starting at 5 p.m. all day-use fees at the trailhead will be waived. The Flambeau Hills Trailhead is located on County Highway W, 21 miles west of Phillips and 15 miles east of Winter. Note: This event will take place regardless of snow conditions. If there is no snow, take a candlelight walk. 6-9 p.m.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit. Cross-country ski or hike in the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit by candlelight. At the bonfire join fellow hikers and skiers for hot drinks and snacks provided by the Friends of the Kettle Moraine. The trail is perfect for novice skiers with no steep hills or sharp turns. The Zillmer shelter building will be lit and heated. Meet at the Zillmer Trail Area (located off County Road SS between County Road G and Hwy 67 near New Prospect).  Zillmer Trails. A winter stargazing event will also be held on Feb. 4 from at the Ice Age Visitor Center. 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Lake Wissota State Park, Candlelit ski, snowshoe & walking trails. At your leisure, enjoy the candlelit trails through woods and prairie. Campfires, hot chocolate and hot cider are available. Bring your own provisions and hot dogs to cook over the fire. Don’t forget the marshmallows! Snowshoes available on a first-come, first served basis. This event is sponsored by the Friends of Lake Wissota State Park. 5-8 p.m.
  • Peninsula State Park. Enjoy a 1-mile loop with hundreds of lit candles lining the trail. Following the ski or hike participants can enjoy a bonfire and cookies and cider in the warming shelter. Event will be cancelled if there is inclement weather. Co-sponsored by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Pets are not allowed at the event. 5:30-8 p.m.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

  • Mirror Lake State Park. Torch Lit Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe. Join the Friends of Mirror Lake for the annual winter hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing event. There will be bonfires, hot chocolate and hot cider and of course, sweet treats all for a good will donation.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

  • Brule River State Forest. Candlelight ski and snowshoe. Candles will light 5 kilometers of the After Hours Ski Trails including a part of the snow shoe trail. Grills, picnic tables, and a bonfire will be provided. Trail passes not required for this event, which is sponsored by the Brule River State Forest with volunteer assistance from the Brule Valley Ski Club. Go to www.brulexcski.com for more information. 5-9 p.m.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park. Candlelight Snowshoe. Its winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! Cure your winter cabin fever and join the Friends of Devil’s Lake State Park for this winter adventure! Go on a self-guided snowshoe (depending on snow) or hike through the park. There will be a new and longer trail this year! Warm up by the campfire and make a s’more. Bring your snowshoes or borrow a pair from the Nature Center – there are sizes to fit everyone in the family. Make sure you dress appropriately; the event will happen rain, snow or shine. Meet outside the Rock Elm shelter on the park’s north shore. Sponsored by the Friends of Devil’s Lake State Park. 6-9 p.m.
  • Interstate State Park. Candlelight night in the park. Experience a winter evening by candlelight as hundreds of candles are lit to guide skiers, snowshoers and hikers on separate trails. Both the ski and snowshoe trails begin at the Ice Age Center. There will be hiking opportunities no matter the snow conditions. Beginning at the Camp Interstate Shelter, hikers can enjoy a candlelit walk beside the St. Croix River. There will be warming fires at the trailheads. At the Ice Age Center enjoy food and refreshments served by the Friends of Interstate Park. 6-9 p.m.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit. 28th Annual Ski / Hike. Hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski two 1 mile loops lit by more than 350 luminaries. Warm up at the North Shelter and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and chili and enjoy the bonfire outside. Northern Cross Astronomy will have their telescopes out to view the crystal clear winter ski. A vehicle sticker is required. Dogs on a leash are welcome. 6-9 p.m.
  • New Glarus Woods State Park. Candlelit hike or snowshoe and campfire. Join the New Glarus Friends Group for a hike or snowshoe on a 2-mile luminary lit trail starting at the intersection of Highway H and Highway 69. Enjoy a toasty campfire and hot chocolate at the shelter building in the main picnic area after your candle lit adventure. A Wisconsin State Park admission sticker is required on all vehicles parking at the Woods.
  • Newport State Park. Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe. Experience winter beauty at Newport State Park. Ski, hike or snowshoe this easy 1.2-mile candlelit trail. Bonfire and refreshments will greet participants at the end of the trail. Starts at Parking Lot 3. 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Willow River State Park. Candlelight Ski and Hike. Join the fun at Willow River’s Nature Center for this annual candlelight event. Enjoy 2-3 miles of candlelit trails for skiing, hiking and snowshoeing. There will be two bonfires and refreshments will be available. No pets allowed. This event is sponsored by The Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks. 6-8:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

  • Governor Thompson State. Candlelight Ski and Hike. Enjoy this fun-filled evening of candlelit skiing and hiking. Warming fires and hot chocolate provided! Meet at the Woods Lake Picnic Area. The park and trails will be lit by candle luminaries and accented with ice sculptures. Skiers can take an easy 1-mile loop candlelit trail groomed for both classic (diagonal striding) and skate skiing as it weaves through the woods. Non-skiers are welcome to hike another 1-mile candlelit trail with scenic views over Woods Lake. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are not allowed on the ski trail, but are welcome on the hiking trail. Warming fires and hot chocolate will be available for everyone in the Woods Lake Shelter. Vehicle admission (park sticker) is required and can be purchased at the park office. Trails start at the Woods Lake Picnic Area off of Paust Lane, 1.5 miles west of Parkway Road off Ranch Road.
  • Rib Mountain State Park. Candlelight Snowshoe/Hike. The Friends of Rib Mountain State Park invite everyone to explore the park trails on snowshoes. Meet at the newly constructed Friends Shelter located just past the park entrance. Plan to bring snowshoes; limited pairs will be available to borrow. Also bring flashlights or headlamps. Enjoy hot chocolate and snacks afterwards. Parking is limited and carpooling is recommended. This event is free and donations are welcome to help cover costs. An annual or daily state park vehicle admission sticker is required.
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First Day Hikes to be held at 12 Wisconsin State Park properties

MADISON – People looking to start their New Year’s resolution for better health can start the year off on the right foot by participating in any of a dozen First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park System properties on January 1.

Hardy New Year's Day hikers had fun on the 2 mile snowshoe trail where they ventured out to Echo Rock along the lakeside.
Hardy New Year’s Day hikers had fun on the 2 mile snowshoe trail where they ventured out to Echo Rock along the lakeside.
Photo Credit: DNR

On a First Day Hike, visitors can enjoy walks through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park staff or volunteers. Most hikes include additional activities such as campfires, naturalist guides, wildlife tracking and hot beverages after the hike. A 2017 Wisconsin state park admission sticker is required for entrance to most parks for these events, although the Lapham Peak and Pike Lake units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest are waiving the sticker requirements for their First Day hikers.

All 50 states are participating in the sixth annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.

On Jan. 1, 2016, 802 participants hiked 2,300 miles at 9 different Wisconsin state park properties, up from the 507 participants and 1,191 miles hiked at 10 different parks in 2015.

In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:

  • Buckhorn State Park. Snowshoe or hike the 1.4-mile Central Sands Nature Trail. Bring your snowshoes, or check out a pair at the start of the hike (a limited supply of snowshoes are available). Hot chocolate, coffee and treats will be available at the south picnic shelter to warm up after the hike. Meet at the South Picnic Shelter parking lot. 1-3 p.m. Phone: 608-565-2789.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park. This year at Devil’s Lake, take a 2-mile twilight hike/snowshoe through Steinke Basin. Dress warm and bring a flashlight and your snowshoes (if there is snow). There will be some snowshoes to loan as well. Meet at the Steinke Basin parking lot on County Highway DL. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 3:30-5 p.m. Phone: 608-356-8301.
  • Harrington Beach State Park. Celebrate the First Day of 2017 with an easy 1.5-mile hike on either the Quarry Lake or Shuttle Trail. The Friends of Harrington Beach will provide a warm fire in the Welcome Center along with complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider or coffee. Bring your lunch and kick off the New Year at Harrington Beach. This event is sponsored by Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-285-3015.
  • Interstate State Park Hike or snowshoe 2 miles at Interstate to see the frozen St Croix River, spring-fed ponds, frozen waterfall and the quarry where the rock was taken to build many structures and trails by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Meet at the Camp Interstate Shelter. The hike/snowshoe will take place on the Silverbrook and Quarry trails. The Friends of Interstate Park will provide refreshments and a bonfire will be available to warm up. 9-11 a.m. Phone: 715-483-3747
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Lapham Peak Unit. The Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance will be hosting a First Day Hike at Lapham Peak. Vehicle admission fees will be waived for the day. Warm up with hot beverages and snacks at the Center afterwards. Hike 3-4 miles on the Ice Age Trail. Meet at the Hausman Nature Center parking lot. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-646-3025.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit. Hike or snowshoe 2 miles on part of the Ice Age and Green trails. Meet at the beach parking area by the north shelter. The hike will end at the Forest Headquarters with a chance to warm up and drink hot chocolate. Bring snowshoes if you have them or contact Expedition Supply for snowshoe rental – www.expeditionsupply.com. Sponsored by Friends of Pike Lake. Noon to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-670-3400.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit Meet at the Forest Headquarters on Highway 59 and start the new year off with a new nature journal. This 3-mile hike on the Ice Age Trail will examine just how dormant the world really is in winter. After hiking, warm up with hot chocolate in the museum and make your journal entries. Feel free to bring a new or existing journal or notebook. Some basic supplies are available if you don’t have a journal. This hike is geared at families, but also great for adults interested in starting a nature journal. No drawing skills required. Hike will only be cancelled if weather is severely cold or roads are dangerous. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Phone: The trail hotline, 262-594-6202, will be updated if the hike is cancelled.
  • Mirror Lake State Park. Bring your snowshoes or winter boots for some fun winter hiking around the park. This will be an easy hike on the Echo Rock Trail. Sponsored by the Friends of Mirror Lake State Park. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. Noon to 2 p.m. Phone: 608-254-2333.
  • Newport State Park. This will be an easy 2-mile hike on the Upland Trail. Bring snowshoes or hiking boots, depending on the weather, to hike or snowshoe through upland woods, an old root cellar, ancient shoreline and an old field. Pets welcome. Sponsored by the Newport Wilderness Society, the park Friends Group. The Friends will also be offering hot cider and hot chocolate after the hike in our interpretive room. Meet at the visitor center parking lot. 10 a.m. to noon. Phone: 920-854-2500.
  • Pattison State Park. Snowshoe or hike the 2-mile Beaver Trail. Bring warm clothes, proper footwear and a camera as you enjoy the trail’s rolling terrain, some steep hills and steps, with views of Interfalls Lake, the Black River and the CCC bridge. Meet at the shelter building near the main parking lot. 1-3 p.m. Phone: 715-399-3111
  • Peninsula State Park. After hearing 5-minute updates about Eagle Tower and the Nature Center addition, join Peninsula’s Naturalist for a brisk wellness walk. This classic nature walk features people who once lived near the park entrance: the Dyer sisters, Lettie Doolittle, the boy who watered horses, the beekeeper and the Carlson boys. Learn to ID a few trees, too. Depending on weather and trail conditions, Peninsula’s First Day Hike will be 20 to 60 minutes, and 1-3 miles. Afterwards, visitors can enjoy a cup of hot cocoa inside Weborg Shelter. Dress for the weather! Supported by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Meet at Weborg Shelter. 10 a.m. to noon. Phone: 920-868-3258.
  • Richard Bong State Recreation Area. Meet at the visitor center for a 1-mile hike. Dress to be outside. Event will be cancelled only if a blizzard or bitterly cold. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 3-4 p.m. Phone: 262-878-5601.
  • Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. First Day Hike, Bike or Ski. Meet at the Nye parking lot. Fat bikes and cross-country bikes are also welcome! You can choose your own distance between 1 and 22 miles. There will be hot chocolate furnished by the Brothers Country Mart. There are no entry fees but a 2017 State Trail Pass is required to bike or cross-country ski. Passes will be available and are valid for the calendar year on all state trails. This event is sponsored by Brothers Country Mart and Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. 10 a.m. to noon. Phone: 715-485-9294.

For helpful cold weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society’s website at www.americanhiking.org (both links exit DNR). For a complete listing of all State Park events, including First Day Hikes, search the DNR website for keywords “get outdoors.”

All participants are encouraged to log their First Day Hike adventures on social media with the hash tag “#firstdayhikes.”

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Incidental take notice for statewide transmission line project

MADISON — The Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project (Segments 5-8) may result in the “incidental taking” of a rare lizard and snake under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.

The Badger Coulee 345 kV Transmission Line Project is a new transmission line between northern La Crosse County and northern Dane County. The Project is jointly owned by American Transmission Company; Dairyland Power Cooperative; Northern States Power Company, a Wisconsin corporation; SMMPA Wisconsin, LLC (SMMPA Wisconsin), and WPPI Energy. ATC will be the Project’s construction manager, acting on behalf of itself and its co-owners.

The project is a new, predominantly single-circuit 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line between northern La Crosse County and northern Dane County. In the La Crosse area, the line will connect to the Briggs Road Substation in the town of Onalaska. In Dane County, the line will connect to the North Madison Substation in the Town of Vienna and continue to its termination at the Cardinal Substation in the Town of Middleton. The project consists of eight construction segments (Segments 1 through 8) and also extends through Columbia, Sauk, Juneau, Monroe, Jackson, and Trempealeau counties for a total length of approximately 187 miles. This proposed Incidental Take Authorization only covers Segments 5-8 of the Badger Coulee Transmission Line

The presence of the state endangered slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) and state endangered/federally threatened eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some lizards and snakes.

Department staff concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the slender glass lizard and eastern massasauga are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski (608-264-6040 or rori.paloski@wi.gov). The department is requesting comments from the public through Jan. 13, 2017. Public comments should be sent to Rori Paloski, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921or rori.paloski@wi.gov.

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Prune trees in winter to help prevent oak wilt

MADISON – Now is a good time for tree pruning, when temperatures are cold, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tree health experts.

Oak wilt prevention
An oak dying from and an oak killed by oak wilt.
An oak dying from and an oak killed by oak wilt.
Photo Credit: DNR

“Pruning is a good practice to help create or maintain good branch structure and minimize many tree pest and disease problems. However, if you are going to prune oak trees, it is important to do it in winter to prevent introduction of oak wilt,” said Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist for northwest Wisconsin. This is because:

  • Oak wilt is a fatal disease of oaks. It is spread by beetles that feed on the sap of tree wounds, but they are not active in the winter.
  • Without leaves on the trees it is easier to see and prune broken, cracked, hanging or competing limbs.

To help reduce the spread of oak wilt another way, do not move firewood. “Many oak wilt infections in new areas are likely the result of infected firewood or other raw oak wood being moved from areas with oak wilt,” according to Cigan.

  • Leave oak firewood where it is cut for one year, or until the bark is naturally loose, to prevent the spread of oak wilt.

Oak wilt is commonly found in the southern two-thirds of the state. It is creeping north, but is still uncommon in much of northern Wisconsin. Taking precautions to prevent the spread of oak wilt will help keep it that way. “This is a current problem for which we can still make a difference,” according to Cigan.

More information is available on pruning, oak wilt and firewood

Trees should be pruned throughout their life to maintain strong structure and remove dead wood. “Pruning should not remove more than 25 percent of the live crown of a tree. The lower third of trunks of deciduous trees should be free of limbs,” said DNR Urban Forester Don Kissinger.

Find the DNR pruning brochure at dnr.wi.gov, search “tree pruning” [PDF]. Certified arborists who offer pruning and other tree care services can be found at waa-isa.org/arborists/search.asp (exit DNR). For more information search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov, for keywords oak wilt and firewood.

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