Wisconsin State Park System to launch enhanced campsite reservation system

MADISON - Beginning Dec. 17, people booking a campsite at Wisconsin State Park System properties will be able to use a new, improved - and less expensive - reservation system.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is contracting with a new reservation provider, Camis USA, Inc., that was awarded the reservation contract through a competitive bidding process. Camis USA currently operates reservation systems for Michigan, Maryland and Washington state parks.
"We're really excited to launch this new system because we are so confident our customers will find the enhanced system easier to use, will have more options for booking facilities, and it will cost them less than under the previous system," said Ben Bergey, state park system director.
All reservations that are booked through the current provider, Reserve America, will be transferred to the new system.
Under the new system it will cost users $7.75 to make a reservation, compared to the current price of $9.65. Customers can also expect many enhancements when making reservations, including better searching for campsites, and a mobile-friendly website that makes it easier than ever to make a reservation from a phone or tablet. The new system will also accommodate reservations for shelters and amphitheaters.
Camis plans to open a call center in Kenosha that will employ between 12 and 15 operators depending on the season.
During the first two weeks in December, there will be a transition period to the new system, and campsite reservations will not be available. On Dec. 17, the Camis system will be open to make reservations. Campers can make reservations for sites up to 11 months in advance of their arrival, either online or by phone.
All customers who have previously made reservations with Reserve America will receive email notifications confirming their reservations are in the new system.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Minnesota’s wolf population remains stable

Minnesota’s wolf population estimate was 2,655 wolves and 465 wolf packs during the winter of 2017-2018 within Minnesota’s wolf range, an estimate that is statistically unchanged from the previous winter, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Subtle changes in wolf population numbers year to year indicate that Minnesota supports a healthy wolf population and the long-term trends demonstrate that the wolf population is fully recovered,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR.  
The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus about 700 wolves and makes the estimate statistically unchanged from the previous winter’s estimate of approximately 2,856 wolves and 500 wolf packs.
The population survey is conducted in mid-winter near the low point of the annual population cycle. Immediately following birth of pups each spring, the wolf population typically doubles, though many pups do not survive to the following winter. Pack counts during winter are assumed to represent minimum estimates given the challenges with detecting all members of a pack together at the same time.
Survey results suggest pack sizes were the same as last year (4.85 versus 4.8) and packs used larger territories (61 versus 54 square miles) than the previous winter. Although neither individually represented a significant change from recent years, slightly larger pack territories last winter explain the lower population estimate and are consistent with estimated changes in deer numbers in many parts of the wolf range.
“The accuracy of our wolf population estimate is dependent on radio-collaring a representative sample of wolf packs,” said Dr. John Erb, DNR wolf research biologist.
Annual wolf capture efforts are focused on areas for radio-collaring that are believed to collectively represent the overall wolf range, particularly with respect to land cover and deer density. Capture success varies each year, some collared wolves die or disperse, and some radio-collars prematurely fail, creating annual variability in the degree to which collared packs are representative of the entire population.
“Nonetheless, confidence intervals for the past two surveys widely overlap, indicating no significant change from last year,” Erb said.
Although wolf population estimates have been conducted annually since 2012, the portion of the survey that is used to calculate total and pack-occupied wolf range is completed every five years. This past winter’s survey estimated a 9,321 square mile increase in total wolf range from the 2012-2013 wolf population survey; however, the survey results indicated that only about 23 percent of this new area, or 2,175 square miles, was deemed to be occupied by resident wolf packs during the winter of 2017-2018.
Minnesota’s wolf population remains above the state’s minimum goal of at least 1,600 wolves and is above the federal recovery goal of 1,251 to 1,400 wolves.
The DNR’s goal for wolf management, as outlined in the state’s wolf management plan, is to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Minnesota while addressing wolf-human conflicts. Wolves in Minnesota returned to the federal list of threatened species as a result of a Washington, D.C. federal district court ruling in December 2014.
Visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/wolves to find the full report, an FAQ and an overview of wolf management in the state, including the wolf management plan.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Fall color show underway in Wisconsin

MADISON - Wisconsin's annual colorama is underway with some Northwoods locations reporting 5 to 15 percent color change but a few areas at nearly 25 to 50 percent peak color.
"The intensity of the fall color season is dependent on the weather that Wisconsin receives during September and October," said Colleen Matula, Forest Silviculturist/Ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-Division of Forestry. "To have the most brilliant and vibrant fall color display, a series of fall days filled with bright sunshine and cool, but frost free, evenings are required."
Peak fall color usually occurs in far northern Wisconsin during the last week of September and first week of October. Central Wisconsin peak color generally occurs during mid-October and in southern Wisconsin during the latter half of October.
"The heavy rainfall in southern Wisconsin could have some impact," Matula said. "Hardwood trees showing early color in lowland areas could be stressed from being in water too long. Additionally, the excess moisture may also increase fungal diseases and lead to early leaf drop."
Leaf pigments determine the range of the color palette. Chlorophyll, which begins to fade in the fall, gives leaves the basic green color and is necessary for photosynthesis. Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange and brown colors, are always present so trees like aspen and birch have more predictable colors each year. Anthocyanin, which produces red and purple tints, varies with the conditions and makes each autumn unique for other species. Visit the DNR website for more information about fall colors.
"While the fall color show draws many visitors to our state, the 17.1 million forested acres in Wisconsin are also a year-round economic contributor with forest products adding $24.1 billion annually to state's economy," Matula said.
As the showy fall colors move through the state from north to south, Wisconsin's state forests and parks offer a front row seat for the fall color show, Wisconsin DNR forestry experts say. Visit the DNR website at, dnr.wi.gov, and search "find a park" to find a place near you.
For current information on Wisconsin's current color status, contact the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-432-TRIP or online at the Fall Color Report on the Travel Wisconsin website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Annual tree seedling sales begin Oct. 1

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reforestation program will be accepting orders starting Oct. 1, from Wisconsin forest landowners for trees and shrubs to be planted in spring 2019.
The high-quality seedlings are native species appropriate for planting throughout Wisconsin.
Seedlings grown at state nurseries are used for reforestation and conservation plantings on private, industrial and state/county forest lands. A minimum order consists of a packet of 300 trees or shrubs of the landowner's choosing in increments of 100 of each species, or 500 shrubs or 1,000 tree seedlings. Seedlings can also be purchased by youth groups and educational organizations for their reforestation and conservation planting projects.
"The DNR Division of Forestry grows 3-5 million seedlings annually," said Joseph Vande Hey, reforestation team leader at the Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel. "However, since some species sell out quickly, customers are encouraged to place orders early.
"Planting trees or shrubs is a great way to improve wildlife habitat, increase land value, reduce soil erosion, produce future wood products and improve the overall aesthetics of your property," Vande Hey said. "Planting trees is also a great activity that involves all ages of family members. It provides an educational experience and an opportunity to become more invested in the stewardship of the environment."
Forest landowners may place orders starting Oct. 1, using an online form found on the DNR website (keyword "tree planting") or by printing the order form, completing it and mailing it in. Customers may also contact the reforestation staff or the DNR forester who serves the area where their property is located for personal assistance. Printed copies of the order form are also available at local DNR offices.
In addition to the online form, customers can also find the following items on the reforestation section of the DNR website:
* Current tree and shrub inventory to ensure their tree choices are available.
* A seedling catalog with detailed information on seedling species available.
* A Frequently Asked Questions page with information on the ordering process, payment options, minimum order requirements and more.
* Links to contact information for a local DNR forester and the Griffith State Nursery (for anyone having specific questions).
* Links to additional tree planting information (including an app to help customers create a personalized tree planting plan; tree planting tips; reforestation supplies; site preparation; publications, webcasts, and videos; and information on planting for windbreaks and wildlife).
* Listing of private nurseries in case the state's inventory of a desired species is depleted.
In addition to growing seedlings for use in Wisconsin, the reforestation program participates in research efforts, including tree improvement, nursery soils, nursery insect and disease and reforestation monitoring efforts. The DNR nurseries also purchases tree seed collected by state residents.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR invites public input on proposed forest trails in St. Louis County

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites anyone with an interest in recreational trail systems and motorized recreation in the Kabetogama and Sturgeon River state forests in St. Louis County to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to review a set of proposals that include changes to trail systems in the state forests. The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Cook Community Center, 799 Third Ave. SE, Cook.
Draft recommendations include new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-highway motorcycle (OHM) trails, permitting ATV and off-highway motorcycle (OHM) use on portions of snowmobile trails, designating portions of the Taconite State Trail to allow ATV/OHM use and designating existing hunter-walking trails.
The DNR invites the public to visit the meeting to review maps of existing and proposed trails, discuss the DNR proposals, submit comments and suggest changes to the recommendations. The DNR will also accept written comments through 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.  
Comments received at the meeting and during the public comment period will be used to develop a final recommendation that will be submitted to the DNR commissioner for approval. Changes to state forest trail designations must be made by commissioner's order and published in the State Register.  
Written comments may be submitted by:
Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Fax to 651-297-1157.
Mail to Joe Unger, Parks and Trails Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN  55155-4039.
For more information, please call:
The DNR’s Parks and Trails Division central office in St. Paul, 651-259-5279.
The DNR’s Parks and Trails Tower area office, 218-300-7842.
Information is also available online at mndnr.gov.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Minnesota’s state forests offer beautiful fall scenic drives

A drive through Minnesota’s state forests is an easy way to soak up fall color.
“Driving through our state forests in fall is like driving through a kaleidoscope - the range of color really is amazing,” said Val Cervenka, the Department of Natural Resources forest health program consultant and fall color predictor. “This is a great outing for families, and also a great time to take pictures for holiday cards.”
For a list of fall color forest drives, log onto the Scenic Fall Color Routes webpage. Or, for weekly email or text updates on where to find peak fall color, visit either mndnr.gov/fallcolor, 888-646-6367 or exploreminnesota.com/fallcolor (888-VISITMN).

Here are a few suggested drives:
Late September
* Finland State Forest: Head northwest along state Highway 1 from Finland.
Early October
* Hill River State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Hill City. Head east on state Highway 200. You can take a side trip to hike around Taylor Lake by turning south on Taylor Lake Road. Return to 200 and take another side trip to Washburn Lake by turning south on Washburn Lake Road. Return to 200 and head back to Hill City or head east to County Road 10 (Great River Road). Head south on 10 to state Highway 169. Head north on 169 to County Road 68 (540th St). Head west on 68 to County Road 29. Head north on 29 to 200. Head east on 200 to return to Hill City.
* Fond du Lac State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Cromwell. Take State Highway 73 north to County Road 122. Head east on 122 to County Road 120/Ditchlake Road. Head north on 120 to County Road 223. Here you have two options: you can drive east on 223 to the dead end, then park on the east side of the road and hike through the forest; or, you can turn right on 223 to County Road 421, then head east on 421 to County Road 1023. Go south on 1023 to state Highway 210, then west on 210 to return to Cromwell.
* Solona State Forest: This loop begins and ends in McGarth. Go north on state Highway 65 to County Road 2/220th Street Head east on County Road 2 to County Road 34/Kestrel Avenue Head north on 34, which turns into County Road 75. Continue on County Road 75 to state Highway 27, then go west on state Highway 27 to State Highway 65. Head south on state Highway 65 to return to McGarth. Before returning to McGrarth, perhaps take a detour to Porcupine Lake by heading west on West White Pine Forest Road.
* Wealthwood State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Malmo. Head west on state Highway 18, driving along the north shore of Mille Lacs Lake, to state Highway 169. Head north on 169 toward Aitkin to state Highway 47. Drive east on state Highway 47 to return to Malmo.
Mid-October
* Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Red Wing. From downtown Red Wing, head south on Highway 61 for 10.5 miles. At Frontenac take a right onto County 2 Boulevard and go east for 9 miles. Take a right onto County 3 Boulevard to head east for 4 miles. Take a right onto state Highway 58 to head north for 1.5 miles. Take a left onto Hay Creek Trail to head north for about 4.5 miles. Hay Creek Trail turns into Twin Bluff Road at Pioneer Road. Continue on Twin Bluff Road until it turns into West Avenue. Follow West Avenue to West 7th Street and turn right.  Go one block and turn left onto East Avenue to return to downtown Red Wing.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Cannon Falls artist wins duck stamp contest

A painting of a gadwall by Cannon Falls artist Jim Caturia will be featured on the 2019 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp, after he won the annual stamp contest sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources.
This was Caturia’s first time winning the duck stamp contest.
The winning painting was selected by judges from among 19 entries. Five entries advanced as finalists that were selected during the Sept. 6 contest. The other finalists were Bradley Hadrava, second place; Thomas Miller, third place; Jake Levisen, fourth place; and Stephen Hamrick, fifth place. The duck stamp contest began in 1977.
The waterfowl stamp validation for hunting is $7.50 and for an extra 75 cents purchasers can receive the pictorial stamp. It also is sold as a collectible. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to waterfowl management and habitat work. Stamp sales generate about $700,000 per year for waterfowl habitat enhancement projects on state wildlife management areas and shallow lakes.
The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work. Each year the entries are limited to a predetermined species that breeds or migrates through Minnesota. The eligible species for the 2020 stamp design will be the snow goose. For more on the stamp contests, visit mndnr.gov/stamps.

SOURCE: Minnsota DNR