Jun 22 2021

2021 Essay Contest Winners Announced by FCAL

Forest County Association of Lakes (FCAL) is proud to announce this year’s essay contest winners from the 5th and 6th grades of Crandon, Laona and Wabeno schools. 

This year’s essay theme was “ Aquatic Invasive Species and How They Affect Forest County Lakes and Streams”.  The essays were judged by 12 volunteers from FCAL.  They were judged on content, composition and originality.  3 prizes are awarded to each school:  !st place wins $100, 2nd place wins $50 and 3rd place $25.  The Crandon 5th grade moved the judges for Crandon to create 2 honorable mention awards this year of $10 each.  In addition to these cash awards, the winners and their parents are invited to attend FCAL’s Fall Banquet in October where the winners will be honored by the FCAL members attending. 

And the winners are: 

Crandon: From left:  Auron Garrow HM, Kylie Thiel HM, Pam Schroeder FCAL President, Cilla Packard 3rd place, Lindsey Mihalko 2nd Place, Peyton Hauser 1st place.  
Wabeno: From left:  Kendric Allen 6th grade teacher, Addisyn Lochen 1st place, Torie Rosio 3rd place, Ava Hanmann 2nd place, Pam Schroeder FCAL President. 
Laona: From left:  Melissa Chrisman, Elementary Principal, Pam Schroeder, FCAL President, Cameron Tilton, 1st Place, Braiden Kelley, 3rd place, Mike Chrisman, 5th grade teacher. 
Laona: From left:  Dan Lazzeroni, 6th grade teacher, Melissa Chrisman, Elementary Principal, Pam Schroeder, FCAL President, Faith Novak, 2nd place, Michelle Ferm, 5th & 6th grade reading teacher. 

Sep 30 2021

Spotted Lanternfly Alert

The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species native to Asia. In 2014 it was found in Pennsylvania and has since spread to multiple counties which are now quarantined.

If you see a spotted lanternfly, kill it, squash it, smash it…just get rid of it. In the fall, these bugs will lay egg masses with 30-50 eggs each. These are called bad bugs for a reason, don’t let them take over your county next.

The spotted lanternfly causes serious damage including oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling and dieback in trees, vines, crops and many other types of plants. In addition to plant damage, when spotted lanternflies feed, they excrete a sugary substance, called honeydew, that encourages the growth of black sooty mold. This mold is harmless to people however it causes damage to plants. In counties infested and quarantined for spotted lanternfly, residents report hundreds of these bad bugs that affect their quality of life and ability to enjoy the outdoors during the spring and summer months. Spotted lanternflies will cover trees, swarm in the air, and their honeydew can coat decks and play equipment.

In addition to damaging trees and affecting quality of life, the spotted lanternfly is a huge threat to Pennsylvania agriculture industry. The economic impact could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs for those in the grapes, apple, hops, and hardwood industries.

The spotted lanternfly is approximately 1″ long and 1/2″ wide at rest. The forewing is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands.  Immature stages are black with white spots, and develop red patches as they grow.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Sep 20 2021

Land Management Plans

Why do you need a land management plan?

They are the key to the successful management of your forest. Land management plans are long-term and provide continuity through generations of ownership. Make sure to go over your plan with family members that may be purchasing or inheriting the land in the future. If you don’t already have a land management plan in place, make sure to talk with your natural resource professional to set up a free on-site walk-through of your property and begin the process of creating your personalized land management plan!

Practice Plan: This is written to cover a very specific action that will happen on your land. An example is a tree planting plan, which can include goals, map of the area, site preparation, what species to order and how many, and any cost-share assistance that could be applied for.

Basic Plan: This kind of plan will outline general management practices for a property. It may be in letter form or a summary of management activities. This is most often received from a natural resource professional after an initial conversation about your goals and a walk through of the property.

Comprehensive Plan: These are the most detailed plans that incorporate sustainable forestry principles. One example is a Forest Stewardship Plan, which has 16 natural resource elements that can be addressed. The needs of this plan can be agreed upon between the landowner and a natural resource professional after a property walk-through and conversations about land objectives. Another example requiring a comprehensive plan is the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law (MFL) Program. This is a landowner incentive program that offers reduced property taxes when following sound forest management. A MFL plan is needed for the MFL Program application and must be written by a DNR certified plan writer.

Basic and comprehensive forest management plans should include these aspects:

  • Property ownership & property description
  • Statement about the landowner’s management goals & objectives
  • Description of resource conditions & concerns
  • Recommended management activities & schedule
  • Maps (property, soils, etc.)
  • Resources & information (publications, permits, professional assistance contracts)

If you are interested in a management plan for your woodlands, contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Aug 30 2021

Surface Water Grants Program

Landowners, have you considered adding a rain garden or native plants to your shoreline?  By stopping run-off from entering your lake or river, you can protect them for future generations.  A rain garden or native planting can provide beautiful flowers all summer long.  They will bring more wildlife to your yard and deter geese and even reduce mosquitos.

Through the DNR’s Surface Water Grants program you can learn about the Healthy Lakes program and their grant opportunities.  Healthy Lakes & Rivers offers a 5 Step Process to apply and receive funding.

  1. Review the grant application.

Visit the Wisconsin DNR’s Surface Water Grants Website to learn more about the grant program. Check in with your local DNR Environmental Grant Specialist and Lake Biologist to be sure your group is eligible to apply and get guidance on next steps.

  • Recruit shoreland property owners to participate.

Contact folks around your lake or river to see if they are interested in implementing a Healthy Lakes & Rivers practice on their property. Successful recruitment tools include presenting at your lake or river organization meeting, surveying your community, hands-on workshops, and good ol’ door knocking.

  • Complete initial site visit and design work.

Once you know who will be implementing Healthy Lakes & Rivers practices on their property, set up site visits to identify where the practices will be implemented and determine if any design work is needed.

The following resources can help make your project happen:

1. Local citizen champions – perhaps a master gardener or retired engineer

2. Landscapers

3. Native Plant Nurseries of Wisconsin

4. Wisconsin Restoration Contractors

5. Graduates of the Lakeshore Habitat Restoration Training for Professionals

6. County Land and Water Conservation Departments

7. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension professionals

8. Healthy Lakes & Rivers Team members

9. Decision Tool: Managing Runoff with Healthy Lakes & Rivers Practices

  • Apply for funding.

Use your shoreland property owner list and site visit work to complete the Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grant application. In the application list participating properties and the best practice(s) and cost(s) for the given properties. You should also describe the lake(s) and/or rivers(s), partners, and how the project fits into other planning efforts. Healthy Lakes & Rivers applications are due November 1st each year, and funding is determined by March. The grant program is competitive and successful applicants give considerable thought to their project before applying. Work with your regional DNR Lake Biologist and Environmental Grants Specialist to create a strong application.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS:

1. Application

2. Authorizing resolution

3. Map with project (i.e. parcel) locations

  • Your grant is awarded. Congratulations! Now what?

The DNR will notify you whether or not you received a grant award. If you were successful, you will receive a Grant Agreement soon after this good news. The Grant Agreements are standardized across all Healthy Lakes & Rivers projects and require the same deliverables. Healthy Lakes & Rivers Grants are reimbursement grants. This means the shoreland property owner or grant applicant spends his/her/their own money and then gets reimbursed by the state. Be sure to track volunteer time and project expenses. Now you are ready to roll!

Again, if you’re interested in a project, Forest County Land & Water can help with the application and design process.  For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Aug 23 2021

Governor Evers Signs Bill Encouraging More Wetland and Floodplain Restoration

Governor Tony Evers put his final approval on Senate Bill 91 (now 2021 Act 77) which focuses on restoring the natural capacity of wetlands to manage water. The legislation calls for the creation of a hydrologic restoration general permit for simple, voluntary projects that repair hydrology, often involving upper watershed wetland restoration and floodplain reconnection. 

Instead of needing multiple permits, certain restoration projects may qualify for a single general permit that will be developed by the Department of Natural Resources. To be eligible, the projects must improve wetland and stream health by improving hydrologic connections, conditions, and functions. As more Wisconsin communities grapple with water-related problems, 2021 Act 77 will create an efficient review process for hydrologic restoration projects.

“Especially here in Wisconsin, wetlands are key to healthy, resilient watersheds,” said Wisconsin Wetlands Association Executive Director Tracy Hames. “Wisconsin has lost nearly half of its original 10 million acres of wetlands, so we need to facilitate restoration to improve storage and slow the flow of water across our landscape.”

Wisconsin communities are facing more water-related problems each year and need more tools to confront these costly and destructive problems. Flooding damages homes, businesses, farms, roads, and wildlife habitat, impacting the economy and overwhelming the budgets of local governments.  These same storms also intensify water quality problems by unleashing sediment and runoff into the surface water of lakes and rivers.

“No single action will solve all the problems we face, but restoring healthy hydrology must be part of our overall strategy to build resilience,” said Hames.  “This permit will encourage more consideration of wetland solutions to problems like flooding, erosion, sedimentation, run-off, and water quality.”

This legislation was introduced by Representatives Oldenburg (Viroqua) and Steineke (Kaukauna), and Senators Cowles (Allouez) and Bewley (Mason).  It received bipartisan support of 40 unique cosponsors over the last two legislative sessions.  A diverse array of organizations also supported the bill, including conservation, sporting heritage, local government, and real estate affiliated groups.

Senate Bill 91 (2021 Act 77) builds upon 2019 Act 157, which appropriated $150,000 to Ashland County to demonstrate simple wetland restoration practices that can be used to manage runoff and reduce downstream flood risks.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Aug 20 2021

European Frog-bit

Earlier this summer, botanists discovered a population of the wetland invasive plant European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus‐ranae) in Oconto County. This is the first time this species, which is widespread along the coastal areas of lakes Erie and Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula, has been found in the wild in Wisconsin.

The population was discovered north of the city of Oconto near Lake Michigan.

European frog-bit grows in shallow, quiet, or slow-moving water; along the edges of lakes, rivers, and streams; and in swamps, marshes, and ditches. It is a free-floating, stoloniferous aquatic plant that can grow to form dense floating mats of interlocking plants. The leaves are leathery, measure 0.5-2.5” across, and are round to heart-shaped. The flower has three white petals and the stem has horizontal runners that produce new plants.

The dense growth form of this species can get caught in boat motors, affect fish and waterfowl movement, and decrease oxygen levels in water as plants decompose.

European frog-bit is extremely difficult and costly to control, and its ability to form new plants vegetatively has allowed it to spread and proliferate quickly. The plant has been declared a noxious weed in parts of the United States.

If you see European frog-bit, take one or more photos, make note of the location, date, and time of the observation, and report to Forest County Land & Water, lcc@co.forest.wi.us or 715-478-1387.

For more information, visit the Wisconsin DNR’s webpage on European frog-bit as well as the press release issued August 9, 2021, by Wisconsin DNR on the discovery in Oconto County.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Aug 09 2021

PFAS Coordinating Council

In 2019, Governor Tony Evers declared it the Year of Clean Drinking Water.  As part of the state-wide initiative to ensure Wisconsinites have access to clean, safe drinking water, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #40 in August 2019 to address the issue of PFAS(per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Wisconsin.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s.PFAS do not occur naturally and are widespread in the environment. They are found in people, wildlife and fish all over the world.  Some PFAS can stay in peoples’ bodies a long time and do not break down easily in the environment.

Executive Order #40 directed the DNR to create the PFAS Coordinating Council (now known as the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council, or WisPAC in partnership with other state agencies. WisPac has developed statewide initiatives to address growing public health and environmental concerns regarding certain PFAS substances. These initiatives are part of a statewide PFAS Action Plan.

Michigan also has formed a citizens’ alliance to help fight PFAs pollution.  The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network (GLPAN) is a coalition centered and driven by people impacted by toxic PFAS pollution.

GLPAN combines the resources and expertise in PFAS impacted communities and then combines it with other organizations’ resources and expertise.  Together, they educated decision-makers at the state and federal level, secure funding for large-scale cleanup, and ensure accountability for swift, comprehensive solutions to PFAS contamination for people across the Great Lakes region.

Over the past decade, it has become clear that PFAS – which are used in everything from furniture, clothing and cookware to food packaging, child car seats and fire-fighting foam- is responsible for serious health impacts to people and wildlife.

PFAS contamination may be in food, drinking water, dust, some consumer products and workplaces.  The EPA concluded that diet is the major contributor of exposure to PFAS compounds, with drinking water and/or dust being additional exposure sources.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has additional information on PFAS, and the US EPA also provides additional health information on PFAS.  Another area of interest is PFAS accumulation in wildlife.  Little is known about the effects of PFAS accumulation in wild animals and fish. 

For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Older posts «