New round of storms, flooding closes some state properties

MADISON - Another round of heavy rains and strong winds in many areas of Wisconsin have caused the closure of some state properties and affected local business, municipalities and private property owners.
Heavy rains and storms have caused the closure of Wildcat Mountain State Park in Vernon County and approximately 50 percent of the Long Lake Campground in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Fond du Lac County, where the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down. There were no reported injuries from any of the storms. Campers who had reservations for the holiday weekend are being notified and give full refunds. State Park officials say that most reservable campsites have been booked for the weekend.
In addition, the 400, Badger, Elroy-Sparta and Military Ridge state trails are either closed or have closed sections due to flooding from previous rain storms. The Sugar River State Trail has reopened, but is in poor condition and water levels remain very high along the trail and if they rise the trail could close again. The boat launch, beaches and some day-use areas at Governor Nelson State Park are also closed. For state parks, trails or other state property closures, please go to the Department of Natural Resources web site and search keywords "current conditions."
All other parks, forests and trails remain open and offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the holiday weekend. Search the DNR website for "find a park" for more information.
Private wells and drinking water
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has continued to offer the following guidance as many public and private property owners assess damage, check their wells and septic systems and remove sand bags and storm related debris.
Floodwaters and runoff may affect private wells. Well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water should assume their wells are contaminated and should stop drinking the water.
Homeowners are encouraged to make sure their wells are properly disinfected, then sample the well after pumping and disinfection to assure the water is safe.
Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination.
Even without obvious signs of flooding, a well can become contaminated. More recommendations for private well owners whose wells have been inundated are available on the DNR website.
More information on bacteriological contamination of drinking water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installer and labs certified to analyze water samples are available by searching the DNR website,, for the keyword "wells."
Handling sand bags and other debris
The department has online information on how to dispose of specific materials and items. Included in that information is a document on proper sandbag disposal, for disposal of both clean sand that has been removed from bags and the disposal of full sandbags.
Please visit the DNR's Cleaning up storm debris web page to get additional information. You can also contact local authorities to find out if there are special arrangements or resources for cleaning up and disposing of storm and flood debris.
People and pets are advised to limit contact and avoid swimming or wading in flood waters and runoff, which may contain bacteria and other contaminants.
Septic systems
Septic systems are regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Look for more information at, search "private onsite wastewater treatment systems program."
Additional information for those affected by the flooding can be found on DNR's website and searching key word "Flood." The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also provides information and links to resources on its Flood Hazards and Recovery (exit DNR).

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wild rice harvest season outlook now available

MADISON - Wild rice harvesters will find opportunities for harvest in Wisconsin this year and many ricers have begun harvest on some early maturing waters.
"After relatively poor rice crops in consecutive years, the 2018 crop generally appears to be faring better in northwest counties, despite heavy storms and flooding in June," said Jason Fleener, wetland habitat specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "However, the flooding had some local impacts. The Radigan Flowage in Douglas County, a popular ricing destination, remains de-watered from a dam breach. Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area in Burnett County has below average rice on its flowages this year, also thought to be caused by the floods."
Wild rice in north-central counties, including Vilas, Oneida and Price continues to struggle on several lakes.
"The main culprit appears to be a sustained high water table in this region over the last few years," said Peter David, biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. "Prolonged periods of high water on historic wild rice lakes is not conducive to wild rice growth and tends to favor perennial aquatic plants instead."
There are always exceptions to these rules, as wild rice abundance is highly variable from water to water and from year to year. Harvesters can determine local rice conditions by speaking with locals, rice processors, or by checking out the waters themselves.
Another helpful resource is GLIFWC's Off Reservation Wild Rice Management web page. This page does not contain a comprehensive list of all Wisconsin wild rice waters, but it features relative abundance reports on commonly harvested waters. This page also contains a list of date-regulated waters with opening dates and closures as they are determined. As the season progresses, lake opening notices will be posted on this page regularly as dates are determined.
Opening harvest dates for date-regulated waters are determined jointly by DNR and tribal officials. All date-regulated waters are posted at access points at least 24 hours in advance of the opening day.
Recreational boaters, anglers, and early teal and goose hunters are encouraged to take precautionary measures using watercraft on waters with wild rice beds. Wave action has shown to cause damage to rice beds as they are maturing throughout the spring and summer. Watercraft usage directly in wild rice beds cuts and damages plants. Intentional cutting of wild rice plants is illegal on Wisconsin's public waters.
DNR officials stress the importance of waiting to harvest until rice falls with relatively little effort. If most of the rice appears to be milky or still growing inside the hull, it is best to come back and try harvesting later.
Premature harvest attempts often prevent the maturation of the rice kernels and can damage plants if excessive force is made in the flailing process. This not only affects other rice harvesters, but can also have long-term effects on the sustainability of the rice beds on the body of water. As a general rule-of-thumb, rice tends to mature sooner in the northwest counties compared to the northeast, and river rice tends to mature sooner than lake rice.
The Wisconsin DNR also produced a video on harvesting wild rice that offers an introductory look at the tools and techniques of wild rice harvest. The video can be viewed on the DNR website,, by searching keywords "wild rice." Information regarding wild rice licensing and harvest regulations can also be found on the wild rice webpage.
To receive email updates regarding wild rice in Wisconsin, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics" and follow the prompts and select the appropriate distribution list.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota DNR announces fall 2018 land sale

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will offer 16 parcels at three public oral bid auctions in October and November. The auctions will be held in Grand Rapids, Wadena and St. Paul.
The properties include unimproved recreational land in Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Fillmore, Hennepin, Houston, Itasca, Kanabec, Lake, Mille Lacs, and Wadena counties. More information about the parcels and can be found on the MNDNR’s Land Sale webpage.
Public auction details, parcel information and the latest updates will be posted online at You can also call 651-259-5432, 888-646-6367 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Applications open for $11 million in Legacy grants

Groups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements can apply for Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grants that help pay for work on Minnesota prairies, forests, wetlands or other habitat for fish and wildlife.
Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to submit applications for traditional and metro grant cycles until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at
Applicants may request up to $400,000 with a total project cost not exceeding $575,000. Projects also must have a 10 percent match from a source outside a state agency.
In its first nine years of funding, over $52 million has been granted through the CPL program for habitat projects throughout Minnesota. Funding comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.
For fiscal year 2019, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended allocating $5.5 million for the traditional grant cycle, $2.5 million for the metro grant cycle (for projects located in the seven-county metro area or within the city limits of Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester) and $3 million for the Expedited Conservation Projects (ECP) grant cycle. The ECP cycle is open continuously through May 2019, or until funds run out, with the first funding round due Sept. 17.
More information about the three grant types can be found at Potential applicants are encouraged to review the request for proposal and the “how to apply” tab on the website, which guides users through the application process.
Questions can be directed to: Kathy Varble, grant program specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 651-259-5216.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

William O’Brien State Park offers end of summer wildlife celebration

Feeling a little too tame lately, as though life is passing by? Consider the “Discover Your Wild Side!” celebration from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, at William O’Brien State Park Picnic Grounds. The park is located north of Stillwater.
In a single afternoon visitors can become acquainted with a slice of Minnesota’s natural history. Identify a mammal skull, learn details of the bluebird recovery program, check out a couple live reptiles and amphibians, and at long last, learn something about the amazing lives of wolves. The International Wolf Center is sponsoring a 7 p.m. lecture at the Visitor Center on wolves.
All of this and much more can be enjoyed for the price of a $7 daily park pass, unless visitors already have an annual park permit which gets them into every park for $35/year. Rain or shine, park staff will welcome you to an unforgettable afternoon of entertainment, information and fun for everyone. The picnic grounds are near Lake Alice.
For more information on DNR Parks and Trails programs and events, go to The DNR Information Center can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Wisconsin's ruffed grouse headed for Missouri

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and the Missouri Department of Conservation will collaborate on ruffed grouse restoration efforts to translocate 300 ruffed grouse from northern Wisconsin to the River Hills region of east-central Missouri over a three-year period (2018-2020).
Ruffed grouse are a native species in Missouri, but their numbers have declined precipitously over the last several decades as forests have aged. Extensive habitat management has been conducted in the River Hills region of Missouri to maximize success. Missouri Department of Conservation has laid out a long-term plan to continue to create and maintain young forest habitat for grouse into the future.
Trapping will occur in Lincoln, Price, Sawyer, Taylor, and Rusk counties. Trapping pressure will be spread across county and state-managed properties to minimize any localized impacts. Trapping will occur from Aug. 15 to Sept.15, with an option to extend trapping activities if the annual capture goal (100 birds per year over three years) is not reached.
Translocation efforts involving 100 birds annually over a three-year period represent 0.05 percent of the 2017 estimated ruffed grouse harvest. Translocation efforts are not expected to have any impacts on the statewide ruffed grouse population.
The Missouri Department of Conservation will provide Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with a donation that will be used to create early-successional forest habitat in the areas where grouse trapping will occur. This work will benefit grouse and other wildlife species that depend on early-successional forest habitat.
Translocation of wildlife among states is commonly used to establish or bolster wildlife populations. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Department of Conservation are continuing a long-standing partnership, as Missouri provided Wisconsin with the original turkeys used to re-establish their now thriving turkey population.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

ATV riders can ride Minnesota trails for free

All-terrain vehicle users registered for private or agricultural use can explore both the old and new trails without cost Sept. 7-9. Typically they would pay the registration fee ($60 for three years) to ride the public trails.
Minnesota has 3,000 miles of state forest and grant-in-aid trails available to ATV users. The state also has more than 200 miles of new trails that were completed this year.
Out-of-state riders can explore Minnesota ATV trails that weekend as well, without the need for a nonresident trail pass ($30 annually). This is the fifth year that Minnesota is providing ATV riders with free access during “No Registration Weekend.” The date was pushed back from June so new trails could be completed, including the 159-mile route connecting communities in northwestern Itasca County, as well as a trail connecting Balsam and Bigfork.
“The September weekend gives us a great opportunity to introduce a wide variety of state and grant-in-aid trails across Minnesota,” said Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle (OHV) program consultant for the Parks and Trails Division at the DNR. “There are a large number of privately registered ATVs across the state. During the No Registration Weekend, ATV owners can check out the public trails for free.”

Minnesota’s two newest trails are:
* The Alvwood to Squaw Lake trail, which makes a 159-mile scenic tour through Bowstring State Forest and the Chippewa National Forest. Enjoy the many communities along the route. The trail is provided by Itasca County and the Alvwood-Squaw Lake ATV Club.
* The Bigfork to Balsam (B&B) 33-mile trail is full of diverse northern landscapes. It connects to the Little Moose ATV Trail off Co. Road 336.

Other recreational favorites include:
* The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, a 1,200-acre OHV park in Gilbert with 36 miles of scenic trails for riders of all abilities.
* The 100-mile trail system in Nemadji State Forest, which connects to the Matthew Lourey State Trail and the Gandy Dancer Trail.
* The 29-mile Spider Lake trail system in Foot Hills State Forest, where riders will curve around lakes and ponds, go up and down a variety of hills, and view overlooks from the ridges throughout the forest.
* The 200-mile Northwoods Regional Trail System in Aitkin and Itasca counties, where riders will use the Soo Line Trail to connect to local communities and trail loops.
Safety training is recommended for everyone that operates an ATV. It is required for ATV riders born after July 1, 1987. Children under age 18 must wear a DOT-certified helmet. Children age 16 and under must fit the ATV they are operating and be able to properly reach and control the handlebars and reach the foot pegs while sitting upright on the ATV. Trail maps, updates on trail conditions, Youth ATV Safety training and other OHV information can be found online at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR