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DNR Weekly News Update for May 15, 2018

Weekly NewsPublished - May 15, 2018 by the Central Office


Free Fun Weekend is June 2-3

Free fishing and free admission to state parks and trails among offerings

MADISON - Free Fun Weekend is June 2 and 3 in Wisconsin, so save the date and get ready to get outdoors.

On June 2 and 3, Wisconsin residents and visitors can fish for free, hike or bike state trails for free, enjoy free admission to state parks and forests and ride public ATV trails for free.

"Free Fun Weekend is a great time to get outside and try something you've never done before, or introduce a family member or friend to something you've always enjoyed," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer. "Whether it's fishing, hiking or riding the trails, experiencing Wisconsin's great outdoors during this weekend could just be the start of a new tradition for you."

On June 2 and 3 people can get a double discount on fun by attending one of the fishing clinics being held at a Wisconsin State Park. - Photo credit: DNR
On June 2 and 3 people can get a double discount on fun by attending one of the fishing clinics being held at a Wisconsin State Park.Photo credit: DNR

On Free Fun Weekend, June 2-3, 2018:

  • No fishing license is needed to fish any waters. This includes inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing, which normally would require a trout stamp in addition to a license. Fishing rules such as limits on the size and species of fish that can be kept do apply, however.
  • All state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned state trails are waived and cooperatively-run state trails also may waive fees.
  • All state park vehicle admission sticker fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived.
  • ATV registration and trail pass fees are waived.

Free fishing equipment is available for loan at more than 50 state parks, DNR offices, and partner organizations, and free fishing clinics are scheduled at many state parks and popular waters, including High Cliff, Kohler-Andrea, Lakeshore state parks and the southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

In addition, on Saturday, the Friends of the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest are holding Discovery Day with geocaching, archery, t-shirt painting, a wildlife show, kayak demos, telescope viewing, fishing and hiking. This event concludes with a grand opening ceremony and dedication of the new outdoor amphitheater featuring live music and guest speakers.

On Sunday, the Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks are holding Art Along the Willow at Willow River State Park with more than 40 art and craft vendors, kids activities and concessions. Visit the Friend's website [exit DNR] for more information.

Free Fun Weekend is also a terrific opportunity to participate in Wisconsin State Parks' new OutWiGo initiative, promoting good health through the great outdoors. Be sure to tag your Free Fun Weekend photos with #OutWiGo and sign the pledge to a healthier 2018!

More information about free fun weekend in Wisconsin's outdoors is available on DNR's website. Go to and search "free fun."

And, people can follow DNR on social for media for more updates between newsletters. DNR has social media platforms on FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTube and Pinterest.



"Universe in the Park" returns for its 22nd season to Wisconsin State Park System properties

First sessions May 26 at Blue Mound and Kohler-Andrae state parks

MADISON - Visitors to Wisconsin State Park System properties will have more opportunities than ever to view and learn about the night sky by participating in the "Universe in the Park" outreach program conducted by students and staff of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This year students will be putting on 54 program at 25 different properties starting May 26 and running through Oct. 13

"Universe in the Park," (exit DNR) which began in 1996, is predicated on the idea that the best environment in which to enjoy astronomy is outside under dark skies, according to Prof. Eric M. Wilcots, who coordinates the program.

It's not unusual to see groups of up to 100 campers and park visitors gathered around a telescope gazing at the night sky at Wisconsin state parks on late spring, summer and early fall evenings. - Photo credit: University of Wisconsin Department of Astronomy
It's not unusual to see groups of up to 100 campers and park visitors gathered around a telescope gazing at the night sky at Wisconsin state parks on late spring, summer and early fall evenings.Photo credit: University of Wisconsin Department of Astronomy

The programs also offer another incentive for people to bring their families out to visit park system properties to enjoy many of the other recreational opportunities. The state park system is encouraging people to stay active in parks through a new OutWiGo initiative to promote good health through the great outdoors

A typical session begins just after sunset, usually about 9 p.m., with a 20- to 30-minute talk and slide show about astronomy. Topics are left up to the speaker, and present a broad overview of astronomy and recent astronomical news such as the discovery of new solar systems and the latest results from the Hubble Space Telescope. Afterwards, if nights are clear, participants can gather around telescopes to view astronomical objects with the guidance of UW-Madison astronomy students.

Most of the question-and-answer period takes place around the telescopes. During the height of the summer, the sessions can attract audiences of 70 to 80 people.

Visitors can show up for the slide show and question-and-answer period even if it is cloudy and the sky cannot be viewed through the telescope. If it is raining the sessions are held only if there is a shelter available.

Universe in the Park events are free, but visitors to most Wisconsin State Parks System properties must have a daily or annual vehicle admission sticker.

Anyone interested in attending a session should always contact the park to make sure the program is being held as scheduled, because the schedule occasionally changes. A "UitP Schedule" (exit DNR) is available on the Universe in the Park website and these and other astronomy events at Wisconsin state park properties can be found by searching the DNR website for "Get Outdoors" and selecting "astronomy" under the activity "type" button.

2018 Universe in the Park Schedule

May 26 Blue Mound State ParkKohler-Andrae State Park

June 9 Devil's Lake State Park

June 15 Willow River State Park

June 16 Governor Thompson State ParkInterstate State Park

June 23 Governor Dodge State ParkMirror Lake State Park

June 29 Flambeau River State Forest

June 30 Northern Highland/American Legion State ForestKettle Moraine State Forest--Southern UnitWildcat Mountain State Park

July 7 Mirror Lake State ParkYellowstone Lake State Park

July 12 Rock Island State Park

July 13 Devil's Lake State ParkNewport State Park

July 14 Buckhorn State ParkPeninsula State Park

July 15 Potawatomi State Park

July 21 Governor Dodge State ParkKohler-Andrae State Park

July 27 Kettle Moraine State Forest--Southern Unit

July 28 Lake Wissota State Park

Aug. 3 Pattison State Park

Aug. 4 Amnicon Falls State ParkBlue Mound State Park

Aug. 10 Potawatomi State ParkWillow River State Park

Aug. 11 Governor Dodge State ParkInterstate State ParkPeninsula State Park

Aug. 12 Newport State Park

Aug. 13 Rock Island State Park

Aug. 17 Flambeau River State ForestBuckhorn State Park

Aug. 17 Copper Falls State Park

Aug. 18 Northern Highland/American Legion State ForestBig Bay State ParkDevil's Lake State Park

Aug. 25 Kettle Moraine State Forest--Southern UnitMirror Lake State Park

Sept. 1 Lake Wissota State ParkYellowstone Lake State Park

Sept. 8 Devil's Lake State Park

Sept. 14 Newport State Park

Sept. 15 Governor Dodge State ParkPeninsula State Park

Sept. 22 Kohler-Andrae State ParkMirror Lake State Park

Sept. 29 Copper Falls State ParkWildcat Mountain State Park

Oct. 12 Newport State Park

Oct. 13 Peninsula State Park



Public meetings set for the draft Northern Lake Michigan Coastal regional master plan

Public comment period open through June 12

STURGEON BAYWis. - The public will have an opportunity at two open house meetings and through a comment period to provide input on a draft master plan for Department of Natural Resources lands in Door and Oconto counties and parts of Marinette and Shawano counties. The draft Northern Lake Michigan Coastal regional master plan establishes the level and type of resource management and public use permitted on these department-managed properties.

Whitefish Dunes State Park is one of the properties included in the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal regional master plan. - Photo credit: DNR
Whitefish Dunes State Park is one of the properties included in the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal regional master plan.Photo credit: DNR

State-owned lands covered by this master plan include state parks--five on the Door Peninsula--as well as State Natural Areas and numerous wildlife and fisheries areas. The state parks covered by this plan include Rock Island, Newport, Peninsula, Whitefish Dunes, Potawatomi, Grand Traverse Island and Copper Culture Mounds.

The public input sessions will provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the regional planning process, review the draft recommendations for resource and recreation management on DNR properties in the region and provide feedback.

  • Tuesday, May 29, Sturgeon Bay at the Stone Harbor Resort and Conference Center, 107 N. 1st Avenue, from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 30, Peshtigo at DNR Service Center, 101 N. Ogden Road, Suite A, Office Hours from 1 to 5 p.m.

"We are excited to present the draft plan and gather feedback from citizens interested in the proposed land management and recreational use of properties in the region," said Diane Brusoe, property planning section chief.

Under the regional master planning process, guided by Chapter NR 44, Wisconsin Administrative Code, department staff develop a plan for properties located within a defined region. The regions are based on 16 previously defined Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin, areas with similar ecological attributes and management opportunities. The Natural Resources Board approved the regional planning approach at the June 2017 board meeting.

People can learn more about and engage in the regional planning process for the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Ecological Landscape by searching the DNR website, for keywords "master planning" and selecting the Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Ecological Landscape.

For additional information people may contact DNR Planner Ann Freiwald, by email at, phone at 608-266-2130, or US mail at Ann Freiwald, Wisconsin DNR, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI, 53707-7921.

The public review and comment period for the draft regional plan is open through June 12, 2018.



Helpful tips can help Wisconsin homeowners avoid potential conflicts with black bears

MADISON - Black bears have begun to emerge from their dens throughout Wisconsin and homeowners are encouraged to take precautions to avoid potential conflicts.

Black bears normally avoid contact with people, but when food sources are available bears can quickly learn to associate humans with food.

"Bear are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of available food sources," said Brad Koele, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife damage specialist. "Bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, and uncontained compost or pet food left outside can be targets for hungry bears - it's important to make these attractants inaccessible to bear at all times of the year but particularly in the spring time when natural food sources are limited."

Prevent bears from getting into trouble by bringing in bird feeders, securing garbage cans, not feeding pets outside and cleaning out the grease from grills.  - Photo credit: Michele Woodford
Prevent bears from getting into trouble by bringing in bird feeders, securing garbage cans, not feeding pets outside and cleaning out the grease from grills.Photo credit: Michele Woodford

Intentionally feeding bears is illegal in Wisconsin, but it is also important for homeowners to ensure that they do not unintentionally feed bears via an accessible food source near their home. Black bears normally avoid contact with people, but when food sources are available bears can quickly learn to associate humans with food.

If a bear finds food such as bird feed or garbage near your home it will likely return, but visits are more likely to stop when food is no longer available. Bears will periodically check sites where food was once available, so it may take several days to weeks before a bear will stop visiting a site once the food source has been removed.

The "Living with Bears in Wisconsin [PDF]" document, found at, keywords "wildlife damage" will help landowners learn more about co-existing with bears in Wisconsin.

Homeowners can follow these steps to avoid attracting black bears:

  • Do not knowingly feed a bear.
  • Completely remove bird feeders, even during daytime hours - bears are active during the day and may cause problems even if the feeders are out only during that time.
  • Clean areas where bird feeders were located so that accumulated deposits of spilled seed are removed.
  • Reduce garbage odors by rinsing food cans before putting them in covered recycling containers or garbage cans.
  • Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day, and if possible, keep garbage cans in a closed building until the morning of pick-up.
  • Be sure to lock commercial dumpsters.
  • Keep pet food inside or inaccessible to bears even during daytime hours.
  • Keep barbeque grills and picnic tables clean.

"If a bear is near your home, wave your arms and make noise to scare it away--back away slowly and seek a safe location where you can wait for the bear to leave," said Koele. "Make sure it has a clear escape route - never corner a bear. If you encounter a bear while in the woods, stay calm and do not approach the bear. Never approach a sow with cubs, and do not attempt to break-up a fight between your pet and a bear."

The department partners with U.S. Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services to respond to approximately 800 bear-related complaints reported in Wisconsin each year. Homeowners who are unable to resolve a conflict with a bear should contact the USDA Wildlife Services toll-free line at 1-800-433-0663 for properties in Southern Wisconsin, and 1-800-228-1368 for properties Northern Wisconsin.

For more information regarding bears in Wisconsin, visit and search keywords "bear."



Natural Resources Board to meet May 23 in Madison

MADISON - A request for approval of antlerless deer harvest quotas, antlerless permit levels and a deer hunting season framework for 2018 and a request for an easement purchase of more than 20,000 acres in Sawyer county are among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address when it meets May 23 in Madison.

The board will convene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23, in Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 S. Webster St., Madison.

Whitetail deer. - Photo credit: DNR
A 2018 deer hunting season frameworks that includes antlerless tags in all but one county is one of the issues the State Natural Resources Board will consider when it meets in Madison May 23.Photo credit: DNR

The Department of Natural Resources is proposing 2018 deer hunting season frameworks that include antlerless tags in all but one county. Iron County is the only county where the department recommended a buck only season for 2018. Two others (Ashland and Price) were recommended by County Deer Advisory Councils (CDACs), but where the department recommends offering a limited number of private land antlerless tags. The department is in agreement with many northern CDAC recommendations to lower antlerless quotas from preliminary recommendations in response to significant April snow storms and public concern. As it has for decades the department will be offering hunters a "buck plus antlerless by tag" general deer season during the archery, crossbow, firearm deer seasons along with a four-day December antlerless only hunt. Several counties have also recommended additional late season antlerless hunts and extended archery seasons.

The board will also consider a request to purchase a 20,902-acre conservation and access easement from Northwoods ATP for $7.2 million from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. The conservation easement spans the towns of Winter and Draper in Sawyer County. The easement would preserve and protect the land and provide the public with additional access to the land for recreational purposes. If approved the land would be known as the Lake of the Pines Conservation Easement.

On Tuesday, May 22 the board will have an informal dinner meeting with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress leadership council at approximately 5:30 p.m. at the Great Dane Pub in Madison to discuss voting alternatives and participation at spring hearings and how to increase it.

The complete May board agenda is available by searching the DNR website, for keyword "NRB" and clicking on the button for "view agendas."

The public is welcome to attend. Those that want to testify at the board meeting must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison. Public participation deadline: Board liaison receipt of your request to testify or written is 11 a.m. on Friday, May 18, 2018. No late requests or comments will be accepted. Registration informationis available on the agenda on the DNR website.

Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month's meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.

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