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
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
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."