Mississippi River Parkway Commission conference set in La Crosse

The 2019 Mississippi River Parkway Commission annual conference is on tap Sept. 17-19, in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
The conference agenda focuses on several important topics, including working with federal agencies featuring representatives from the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and an update on the National Scenic Byway Program by the NSB Foundation Board member Penny Simonson.   
Tuesday morning features a presentation on the Impact of the Tourism Economy by Travel Wisconsin’s own Tourism Secretary Designee Sara Meaney, and WisDOT Secretary Designee Craig Thompson is briefing the Commissioners on Infrastructure for the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway.
During the mobile sessions, attendees can learn about the diverse ecology of this important stretch of the river including a tour the Genoa National Fish Hatchery and an opportunity to paddle the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge which is the longest river refuge in the continental U.S.
Other activities include a welcome reception co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Great River Road and River Travel Media, Farm to Table Dinner at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and other breakout sessions and Q&A sessions.
Mississippi River Parkway Commission delegates from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana will be in attendance and registration is still open.

Forestville State Park offers Mystery Cave fall tours

If learning about the unique subterranean geology of southeast Minnesota is one of those things on your summer to-do list that you didn’t quite get to, take heart, there’s still time for a guided tour of Minnesota’s longest cave.
The Department of Natural Resources is continuing to offer weekend tours of Mystery Cave in Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park near Preston through September and most of October.
From Sept. 13, through Oct. 13, cave tours will be offered on Fridays at 11 a.m., and 3 p.m., and hourly from 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays. Hourly tours between 10 a.m., and 4 p.m., also will be offered from Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20, during the four-day weekend referred to by many as “MEA weekend” (when K-12 students in Minnesota are released from school so teachers can attend professional development conferences).
Discovered in 1937, Mystery Cave is a network of passages that span more than 13 miles underground. Tour participants will learn about the natural forces that have shaped the area’s landscape, giving rise to the many springs and underground flows of water that created Mystery Cave, while getting to see features, such as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and a beautiful underground pool.
There is a charge for the tours, and visitors must have a daily or yearly park permit displayed on their vehicle for admission. More information is available on the Forestville State Park webpage.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Midge-borne virus causes death of wild deer in Stearns County

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the first two cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in wild white-tailed deer in Minnesota.
EHD is a viral disease that is spread by a biting insect called a midge.
“All of our neighboring states have been dealing with EHD for years,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “So it was always a question of when it would show up in Minnesota.”
The DNR suspects several deer in the St. Stephen area have recently died from EHD. Tests from two of the deer were positive for EHD. Other deer were too decomposed to test. The outbreak is limited to Stearns County. The disease incubates for 5-10 days, and most infected deer die within 36 hours of exhibiting symptoms.
“EHD is both naturally occurring and seasonal,” Cornicelli said. “Given our cold temperatures, we can expect to see a shortened period of infection as frost will kill both the virus and midge that carries it.”
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed EHD in two captive deer in Houston County on Sept. 5. Those cases appear unrelated to the Stearns County case. The disease first appeared in Minnesota captive deer in October 2018, when BAH confirmed it in six deer on a Goodhue County farm.
Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio report EHD mortalities almost every year. In some cases, the disease can dramatically reduce a local deer population in the short-term but has a relatively small impact on the overall deer population. Iowa is experiencing an outbreak this year that has killed several hundred deer in the south-central part of the state.
Finding multiple dead deer near a water source is typical of an EHD die-off. Fever drives the animals to seek water, but they die from internal lesions and hemorrhages.
People who find a dead deer should report it to the nearest DNR area wildlife office. Contact information for each office is listed on the DNR website.  
EHD is not a threat to humans or animals outside the deer family. Even so, people should not consume deer that appear to be sick or in poor health.
Additional information about EHD is available on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR captures, tags silver carp in St. Croix River

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has implanted a small tracking device in a silver carp captured on the St. Croix River Tuesday. This is the first time the DNR has tagged a silver carp, an invasive species that competes with native species for food.
The tagged silver carp will provide the DNR with valuable data on the movement and habits of this invasive species in the river system. The capture and tagging of the carp was a direct result of the DNR’s tracking of a previously tagged bighead carp.
The DNR and a contracted commercial fishing business were tracking and attempting to net the tagged bighead carp Tuesday when they captured the silver carp 2 miles south of the I-94 bridge over the St. Croix River.
“We expect this tagged silver carp to provide useful information about the species’ habits, as has been the case with the previously tagged bighead carp,” said DNR invasive fish coordinator Nick Frohnauer. “Since carp tend to congregate, we’re also hopeful that the tagged silver carp will lead us to any other individual invasive carp that may be in the area, just as the tagged bighead carp has.”
The tagged bighead carp has led to four invasive carp discoveries this year and two last year.
A few more invasive carp than usual have been captured in 2019, likely because persistent high water in southern Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois created prolonged “open river” conditions in which fish could move up the Mississippi River unimpeded by the river’s locks and dams.
Open river conditions can benefit native species like lake sturgeon and paddlefish, which swim hundreds of miles in search of preferable habitat. Unfortunately, these conditions also allow other, non-native species to move upriver more easily.
Frohnauer said that while the DNR continues to be concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in Minnesota waters, individual adult fish captures do not indicate reproduction or an established population of invasive carp in the Mississippi River or elsewhere in the state. Individual invasive carp have been caught as far upstream as Mississippi River Pool 2 near the Twin Cities (bighead, grass and silver), the King Power Plant on the St. Croix River by Oak Park Heights (bighead), and just downstream of Granite Falls in the Minnesota River (bighead).
Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River from southern state fish farms in the 1970s. These large, filter feeding fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes.
The DNR Invasive Species Program has built partnerships with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, university researchers and commercial businesses to prevent the spread of invasive carp. The 2015 closure of the Mississippi River lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis was a major accomplishment resulting from these efforts.
Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest DNR fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Fall color show starting in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - As temperatures drop and the days get shorter, hints of fall color are becoming visible in the Northwoods.
"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 DNR-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.
Leaf pigments determine the range of the color palette. Chlorophyll, which begins to fade in the fall, gives leaves the primary 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. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "fall colors."
"Forests support Wisconsin's economy through spending by forest recreation enthusiasts as well as jobs and forest products," Matula said. "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."
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 Department of Natural Resources forestry experts say search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "explore outdoors" to find nearby public lands.
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

Grants available to help Minnesota communities fight emerald ash borer

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has grant money available to help communities combat emerald ash borer and manage city-owned ash trees.
Grants can help pay for tree inventories, management plans, ash removal and tree planting.
“These grants will help communities struggling with emerald ash borer to manage their ash,” said Valerie McClannahan, DNR urban and community forestry coordinator. “The grants will also be available to help communities that are not infested prepare for the threat of EAB.”
Eligibility criteria and pre-application forms will be available on Friday, Sept. 13, on the DNR’s EAB grant website. Pre-applications are required and will determine which proposals advance to the final application process. Pre-applications must be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by midnight on Friday, Oct. 4.
On average, 20 percent of community trees in Minnesota are ash, according to an estimate from a 2010 DNR survey. Minnesota communities are at risk of losing 2.65 million public and privately owned ash trees to EAB. This places a significant financial burden on cities as they manage their trees. The estimated cost to remove and replace a single city-owned ash tree is $1,000.
The loss of 2.65 million ash trees also presents environmental concerns for communities. It will result in an additional 1.7 billion gallons of water annually entering already stressed storm water systems across Minnesota. Managing city-owned trees can reduce this stress as well as prevent the increase in temperatures, especially along boulevards, that the loss of canopy will cause.
Emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that kills ash trees. To date, it has been discovered in 20 Minnesota counties. To see where EAB has been found in Minnesota, visit the Department of Agriculture’s interactive map.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Mary Kay Baum adds 'Steward of the Year' to public service titles

RIDGEWAY, WI - Mary Kay Baum - a well-known community organizer, lawyer, school board member, county board member, ordained minister and one-time mayoral candidate in southern Wisconsin has earned another title: 2019 Steward of the Year for her work caring for a remnant pine forest surviving from the Ice Age.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources State Natural Areas Volunteer Program recognized Baum for her work at Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area in Iowa County during an annual volunteer picnic in late August.
She is a founding member and president of Friends of the Ridgeway Pine Relict, which supports the 550-acre state natural area. The site preserves a "relict" ecosystem from the Ice Age. Red and white pine still cling to sandstone cliffs and northern plant species cover the ground, along with southern plant species, oak savanna and restored prairie from more recent geological times.
"Mary Kay is skilled at promoting the things that make Ridgeway Pine Relict special due to her enthusiastic spirit," says Jared Urban, who coordinates the SNA volunteer program. "Her enjoyment of nature and ability to capture it in photographs is inspiring. She also has been good at involving others who help her accomplish ecological restoration goals."
Since 2015, Baum has shared the site's beauty with others through her photography and educational talks at local locations.
"She helps organize regular workdays to remove invasive species, collect and sow prairie seeds, and knows how to take care of people by bringing the treats (banana bread is a staple) and offering appreciation," Urban said.
In 2018, the friends group donated 590 hours of work to the site.
Baum has found ways to include senior citizens with cognitive challenges, youth, and residents in caring for the site. Early onset Alzheimer's disease affected her mother and an aunt, and Baum herself suffered cognitive and physical changes due to an underlying epileptic syndrome. Medication and lifestyle changes have successfully controlled the syndrome and Baum credits her time at Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area with playing an important role as well.
In accepting the award, Baum thanked the volunteers working on Ridgeway Pine Relict, and Urban for his guidance.
"I accept this award on behalf of all those many who conserved this area in the past and who work now for its conservation," she said. "To lose hope now would be so strange to our parents and grandparents... but to decide to imagine conservation and resilience and to act together for that - is what our children and children's children count on."
She also thanked volunteers attending the picnic from across the state, "for treating me the way a person with a disability should be treated. You may have noticed I often have trouble finding my words, but you recognize that I am still able to contribute and even to lead sometimes."
Read more about Mary Kay Baum and other volunteers in "Preserving pine relicts a prescription for good health" in the February 2017 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
State natural areas protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archaeological sites. They also provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals.
Since 2011, Wisconsin's State Natural Areas Volunteer Program has grown to include 36 volunteer groups; in 2018, these groups had a direct impact on 3,296 acres at 43 state natural areas, representing $126,949 in value.
Learn more about the volunteer program, find a listing of upcoming volunteer workdays, and sign up for email notices of workdays by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "SNA volunteer."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR