Same day camping reservations available at select Wisconsin state parks

MADISON - Beginning May 1, campers will be able to make a reservation for available sites on the same day they want to camp at 15 Wisconsin state parks across the state under a pilot program conducted by the Wisconsin State Park System.
Campers will be able to make same day reservations using the online system through computer, cell phone or other mobile devices. Campers can also make same day reservations by calling the Camis USA call center, having property staff assist them, or by using new "yellow phones" that will be installed at 10 of the parks.
"We hope this pilot program will provide additional camping opportunities in our parks, especially for our customers who are able to make last minute plans to camp but want to be sure they have a campsite," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director. "We also hope this will make it easier to fill campsites where people have had to suddenly cancel a reservation."
The goal of the same day reservation pilot program is to have the customer check the reservation website wisconsin.goingtocamp.com for available campsites. They can then either book the reservation online or call the toll-free reservation number 1-888-947-2757 to book the site with no reservation fee, just the campsite fee.
In addition, the weather-proof new yellow phones at 10 parks will allow customers to connect directly to the Camis call center staff by simply picking up the phone. If a campsite is available at the property, it can be booked and paid for using the yellow phones.
The 10 state parks that will have yellow phones are Amnicon Falls, Big Foot Beach, Big Bay, Potawatomi, Mill Bluff, Nelson Dewey, New Glarus Woods, Rocky Arbor, Tower Hill and Yellowstone Lake. Same day reservations will also be available at Lake Kegonsa, Council Grounds, Mirror Lake, Devil's Lake and Peninsula state parks. Reservations for those parks need to be made online, by phone to the Camis call center or at the park when the park office is open.
Same day reservations will be available whenever reservation seasons are open at these properties. They can be made seven days a week from 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
All reservations are in real time, so a campsite is removed from availability as soon as someone starts the reservation process to eliminate any chance of double booking. If campers make the reservation after the park's office hours, they will be able to check in the next morning.
Bergey said if the pilot program proves successful this year, the hope is to extend same day reservations to more properties in the future.
For more information about parks, activities and events check the Wisconsin State Parks website at wiparks.net.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Report bat roost housing survivors of white-nose syndrome

MADISON - With 2019 winter surveys showing that the bat disease white-nose syndrome has reduced bat populations to zero at some hibernation sites and decreased others by 72 to 97%, state bat biologists are calling on the public to report the barns, buildings, bat houses and other roosts where surviving bats are showing up.
White-nose syndrome, WNS for short, does not affect people nor other animal species, but causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements. Since the discovery of white-nose syndrome in 2006 in New York, millions of bats have died and the disease has spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.
"Surviving bats are starting to emerge from their winter hibernation sites and in order to protect these remaining bats, we need people to let us know the location of bat roosts," says J. Paul White, who leads the Department of Natural Resources bat team.
Bats at roost sites could be survivors of white-nose syndrome or young born this year that have not yet been exposed to the fungus causing the disease. Knowing these locations will allow bats to be vaccinated if current experimental trials underway in Wisconsin prove effective.
"If we find something that will help bats persist in light of WNS, like a vaccine, we can give it to bats at known roosts in coming years and help keep surviving bats and young bats from succumbing to white-nose syndrome," White says.
Such citizen reports also will supplement bat biologists' efforts this summer to locate bridge abutments where bats are roosting. Such information can help transportation officials plan bridge repairs to avoid when bats are having their young and nursing them, helping protect Wisconsin's remaining cave bats.
Roosts can be reported to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
DNR bat biologists and partners have conducted winter surveys for Wisconsin's four species of hibernating bats for the past decade, banded some to track their movements and fates in future years, and collaborated on research at survey sites into vaccines and treatments. The surveys have enabled DNR to estimate bat populations at different sites before white-nose syndrome arrived, to track the arrival and spread of the disease, and now, to find survivors and better understand those conditions that allow for higher survival rates and can inform future recovery efforts.
In a Grant County mine where the disease was first detected six years ago, biologists found eight individual bats of two species left from a population that, at its highest count was over 1,200 individuals of four bat species.
At sites in their fifth year of infection, bat populations are down 97 percent across the board, White says.
"As with the eastern states, who have been dealing with the disease for over 10 years now, there are major declines in the early years of infection and then the sites either drop to zero or have low-lying populations," he says.
Relatively good news is that bat populations at Wisconsin's two largest hibernation sites were down significantly, but that large numbers of bats were persisting, White says.
The prospects for recovery at those and other sites, and the impacts on Wisconsin's ecosystems and economy, are unknown at this time, he says.
Bats can eat up to 1,000 insects an hour and a recent national study put bats' value to Wisconsin's agricultural industry between $658 million and $1.5 billion a year. As well, recent University of Wisconsin-Madison research found that Wisconsin bats ate nine of the mosquito species known to carry West Nile Virus.
For more information on Wisconsin bats, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "bats."
White is also putting out a call for more volunteers to help DNR with "acoustic" surveys and for the Great Wisconsin Bat Count, held twice each summer.
Acoustic survey volunteers receive training and equipment to help them detect bat calls while the volunteers walk, drive, paddle or bike along set routes.
Other volunteers are needed for the Great Wisconsin Bat Count, which will be held May 31-June 2, and July 19-21.
The first statewide count is conducted before young bats, called "pups," are able to fly and the second count occurs after pups are flying on their own. Volunteers identify bat roosts and sit outside the roost entrance in the evening to count the bats as they emerge just after sunset and report those results to DNR.
Knowing where larger concentrations of bats are surviving, which species they are and the characteristics of their habitat, are all important to understanding bats and helping their populations recover, he says.
To learn more about these volunteering opportunities, visit DNR's Wisconsin Bat Program web site and use the "volunteer" drop down menu.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Drop the drone during fire season

Flying a drone can be a lot of fun, but it can be downright dangerous during a wildfire, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Most people wouldn’t dream of driving their car in front of a fire engine that’s responding to a fire,” said Casey McCoy, the DNR’s fire prevention supervisor. “Flying your drone during a wildfire is just as reckless. We have to ground our planes until the drone gets out of the way, and that slows down our ability to fight the fire.”
This happened last year during a wildfire in Little Falls. DNR pilots had to land firefighting helicopters because a drone was buzzing overhead. According to McCoy, “interfering with fire operations in this way is dangerous for our aircraft, firefighters on the ground and the general public.”
The reason drones pose such a problem is because they fly at roughly the same altitude as wildfire suppression aircraft. Even a small drone can cause a fire-fighting helicopter to crash if the drone makes contact with the aircraft.
Flying a drone over a wildfire isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal. Federal law prohibits interfering with firefighting operations, and that includes flying a drone over a wildfire.
To protect firefighting aircraft, temporary flight restrictions may extend over a 5-mile radius of a wildfire. Even if temporary flight restrictions are not in place, people will be penalized if their drone is caught near a wildfire.
Be fire wise and fire safe. No photo or video is worth the risk. Drop the drone near all wildfires.
For more information about drones and wildfires, log onto the National Interagency Fire Center.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Spring prescribed burn activity scheduled on DNR lands

MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will conduct prescribed burns on DNR properties throughout the state during a window of optimal conditions this week and into May.
Prescribed burning is one tool DNR uses to preserve and restore landscapes found within state-managed properties throughout Wisconsin.
In fire-dependent habitats, these burns mimic the natural benefits fire historically provided - a decrease in dead grass (thatch) buildup, improved spaces for wildlife to feed, nest, and raise young, and an increase in native grass and wildflower growth.
A significant number of habitat types in Wisconsin have developed throughout history with periodic fire occurring across the landscape. Many of these habitat types, such as prairie, wetland, oak/pine barrens, and oak savanna, would not exist without fire occasionally restoring the balance between open grass and brush.
DNR staff make the decision to conduct prescribed burns only when weather and vegetation conditions meet strict standards for safety, smoke management and burn effectiveness. If prescribed burns are conducted near roads or recreational trails, signs will be posted to notify the public on the morning of the burn. For public safety, people are asked to avoid these areas while the burn is being conducted.
To view where DNR prescribed burns are occurring across the state, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "WisBURN," then click on "View Current Fires," and from the "show" dropdown menu select "Today's Prescribed Burns".
DNR staff spend months comprehensively planning each prescribed burn, and also begin pre-season preparations and refresher trainings in January. For burn safety and smoke management reasons, specific weather conditions are required for each prescribed burn to occur. Staff assess weather forecasts (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction) and vegetation moisture to determine if fire behavior will be within the desired range and meet the objectives of the burn. As weather forecasts can change leading up to the burn day, the decision to burn is re-evaluated in the morning and at the burn site. Where required, local law enforcement and fire officials are notified in advance when and where DNR prescribed burns will take place.
For more information about the benefits of prescribed burning in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "prescribed fire." Written or verbal comments are encouraged, and can be directed to Michele Witecha, DNR prescribed fire specialist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI or at 608-333-3664.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Spring burning restrictions begin in Minnesota

Warm temperatures and dry conditions mean increased wildfire risk, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict open burning in the following counties effective immediately: Anoka, Benton, Chisago, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Todd, Traverse, Washington, and Wright.
The state will not issue burning permits for brush or yard waste in these counties until restrictions are lifted.
“Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of wildfires, so that’s why we issue these restrictions,” said Casey McCoy, DNR fire prevention supervisor. “They really work. We’ve reduced wildfires by nearly a third since we started spring burning restrictions in 2001.”
McCoy encourages residents to use alternatives to burning, such as composting, chipping, or taking brush to a collection site. For information on how to compost yard debris, visit the DNR’s guide to composting yard debris.
People who burn debris will be held financially responsible if their fire escapes and burns another property.
Burning restrictions will be adjusted, including extension of restrictions to additional counties, as conditions change.
For information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, visit the Minnesota DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


OutWiGo Girls Mother's Day weekend event on tap

MADISON - Mothers and daughters looking for a fun and healthy way to share time on Mother's Day weekend can participate in a variety of outdoor activities at an "OutWiGo Girls" event on Saturday, May 11 at the Scuppernong Trail System.
OutWiGo is a Wisconsin State Park System health and wellness initiative focused on promoting the mind, body and community benefits of outdoor recreation.
OutWiGo Girls offer activities including group hikes, paddling, fishing, scavenger hunts and more. Outdoor demos will be happening throughout the day with focuses on campfire cooking, backpacking, mountain biking skills and a variety of other topics. All activities are free, with the exceptions of horseback rides ($10 for 30-minute intro and ride, riders must be over the age of 7, with limited pony rides available for riders under the age of 7) and paddling rentals ($10 for one hour). Fishing poles and tackle will be provided free of charge.
Most activities will be held at the Scuppernong Trail Head, located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit in Dousman. The fishing clinic and paddling activity will be held at the boat launch at Ottawa Lake Campground Visitor Center in Dousman, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A dog trialing demo led by the Wisconsin Amateur Field Trial Club will be held at Ottawa Trial Field Grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Attendees may also attend inspiring and educational talks led by DNR staff, partners and outdoor enthusiasts, including Chelsey Lewis, Travel and Outdoors Reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ruth Oppedahl, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Foundation, David Spiegelberg, Southeast Regional Tourism Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and others. Talks will cover a variety of topics from accessible recreation to tips for trip planning and will take place every hour, on the hour from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
While most activities will be geared toward women, this event is open to OutWiGo Girls of all ages and their families. Snacks will be provided, and picnic tables will be available for those who would like to bring their lunch to the event. Public restrooms are available at the Scuppernong Trail Area Parking Lot.
This event is free however, a Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker is required for entry, and horseback riding and paddling will be at an additional cost. While attendees may purchase their admission stickers at the parking lot entrance, purchasing them in advance will make the admission and parking process more efficient for themselves and others. Attendees are invited to attend the event anytime between 10 a.m.-4 p.m., as activities and talks will run every hour and trails will be open all day. A complete schedule of activities is available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword: OutWiGo. The rain date for this event will be Sunday, May 12.
Address for the Scuppernong Trail Head Parking Lot:
S58 W35820 County Road ZZ, Dousman, WI 53118 or search "Scuppernong Trail Head."
Address for the Ottawa Lake Campground Visitor Center:
Off County Road ZZ in Dousman, WI 53118 or search "Ottawa Lake Campground."
A sign will point towards the boat launch from the visitor center entrance.
Address for the Ottawa Field Trial Grounds:
Off Highway 67, North of Ottawa Lake Recreation Area in Dousman or search "Ottawa Field Trial Grounds."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota DNR conservation officer dies in line of duty

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer has died in the line of duty following an incident Friday, April 19, on Cross Lake in Pine City.
Eugene Wynn (pictured), who patrolled the Pine City station, and a deputy with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office were responding to a report of a possible body in the water. The two officers launched Wynn’s boat and motored away from shore.
Within a minute, both were thrown from the boat into the water. Rescuers were able to rescue the deputy, who was treated and released from the hospital, but Wynn slipped beneath the water before rescuers could get to him. Wynn’s body was recovered at 1:35 a.m. on April 20.
An autopsy will be conducted. The Pine County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the incident. Questions about the investigation should be directed to the sheriff’s office at 320-629-8380.
Once called game wardens, conservation officers have protected Minnesota’s natural resources and people since 1887.
Wynn is the 22nd Minnesota conservation officer to die in the line of duty. He had been a conservation officer since 2001. Wynn is survived by his wife and two children.
“Words can’t describe the sense of loss we feel at this time,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Officer Wynn’s service to the state of Minnesota is a debt we can never repay.”
Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director, said, “Officer Wynn served the Enforcement Division, the DNR and the people of Minnesota with distinction. We’re devastated by his loss and ask the people of Minnesota to keep Officer Wynn and his family in their thoughts during this difficult time.”

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR