Jan 16 2020

Conservation Corner

In a Press Release from Wednesday, January 8th, the Legislative Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality seeks to increase county conservation department funding by nearly three million dollars.  “We heard overwhelmingly at the Task Force hearings throughout the past year that Wisconsin’s county conservation department staff are undisputedly our state’s greatest asset in protecting water quality,” said Matt Krueger, Executive Director of WI Land+Water.  “At every hearing, county conservation staff and supervisors presented pragmatic solutions that demonstrated their unique role in helping landowners achieve management goals, while meeting conservation standards at the same time. These folks are the trusted, boots-on-the-ground professionals whose efforts to get conservation practices on the landscape prevent groundwater contamination and improve drinking water conditions. We commend the Task Force for recommending a much-needed increase in funding that will more adequately provide resources for local conservation departments to protect and improve water quality.”

WI Land+Water provided direct testimony to the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality last April, illustrating how, despite funding shortfalls, county conservation departments are making a difference in addressing water quality issues, working with farmers to promote healthy and productive soils, and responding to severe weather events and patterns.

“It is clear that the status quo is not working for water quality and the recommendations by the Task Force are good steps toward helping us change course,” said Krueger. “Wisconsin needs to make a serious commitment to funding conservation and water quality initiatives, which are bipartisan issues – all Wisconsinites need clean water.”

Jan 16 2020

Conservation Corner

Forest County Farmers and Landowners, you may have received a survey in the mail from our office at the end of 2019.  Land Conservation Technician, Cassidy Neilitz, put the survey together and has been receiving your responses.  This week, she put together a Flow Chart to explain the process.

Step 1: On-Site Visit 

Conservation Staff will meet with the Landowner/Grantee onsite to discuss the project. 

Step 2: Permit Application Submission

The landowner will submit any required permits. 

Step 3: Conduct Site Survey

If required, Conservation Staff will work with a Surveyor to conduct a site survey with landowner permission.

Step 4: Design Plan 

Conservation Staff will design the project to meet the applicable Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standards. This design will include cost estimates as well as specifications. 

Step 5: Plan Approval

Conservation Staff will submit the plan to a DATCP Engineer. The DATCP Engineer will review the design plana and note any required alterations to be made. 

Step 6: LCC Approval

Conservation Staff will present the approved design plan to the Land Conservation Committee and they will vote on the allocation of funds to support the project. 

Step 7: Landowner Consultation

Conservation Staff will meet with the Landowner/Grantee to review the design plan, estimated costs, and the contractor selection process. 

Step 8: Contractor Selection

The Landowner will work with the Conservation Staff to select a contractor to install the practice. 

Step 9: Contract Signing 

The Landowner/Grantee must sign the required contracts before a Notary Public and submit them to the Department. 

Step 10: Owners Contact Contractor 

The Landowner/Grantee should notify their selected contractor and establish an approximate time for project installation. 

Step 11: Project Installation

The Contractor should notify Conservation Staff of the impending installation of the project. 

Step 12: Installation Approval 

Conservation Staff will work with the DATCP Engineer to determine if the project was properly installed. 

Step 13: Payment is Disbursed 

The Department will issue a two-party check to the Landowner/Grantee and the Contractor. The Landowner/Grantee should sign this check and forward it to the Contractor. 

Step 14: Project Monitored (Operation & Maintenance Period) 

Conservation Staff will periodically visit the property to verify the project is being properly operated and maintained. 

Dec 27 2019

Conservation Corner

The Trails are open! On Friday morning, Wirtzie, one of the 100-mile Snow Safari trail groomers, reports that trails are beautiful (for now). Langlade County trails are closing and we can probably expect the same after the rains in Forest County on Saturday. Roger Hilberg reports that Lake Lucerne isn’t safe and Lake Metonga was turning dark. A few hard water fishermen have ventured out, but we can expect ice conditions to deteriorate into the new year.

Earlier in December the trail opening was hindered by wet swamps that weren’t freezing up. Frozen ground is necessary to conduct forest management in much of northern Wisconsin to protect sensitive soils, cross wet areas, and haul on unpaved roads. Over the 20th century, frozen ground conditions declined across northern Wisconsin. As winter temperatures have increased, snow conditions have also become more variable. Some places have seen an increase in snowfall (such as lake-effect snow belts), while warm periods also lead to more melting between snowfalls. Snow acts as an insulator and protector for the soil during winter, so a change in snow levels has consequences for management and the duration and depth of frozen ground. Frozen ground duration is expected to shrink by another 1–2 months by the end of the century. The exception may be those areas that currently have deep snowpack, where snow reductions may expose soils to sufficiently cold temperatures and allow for a deeper frost.

This weekend we can expect rain and later some snow. Intense rainstorms are happening much more frequently in recent decades, and this trend is occurring across the entire Midwest and Northeastern US. Flooding and erosion from heavy rainfall has severe consequences for ecosystems, infrastructure, and local communities, and is likely to increase flooding frequency. These events can also disrupt and delay forest management operations. Longer growing seasons also mean that the timing of snowmelt, runoff, and peak streamflow will be earlier in the year. Peak flow amounts in winter and spring could more than double, depending on ground conditions, timing, and amount of rainfall.

More information regarding our changing climate in the Northwoods can be found at https://forestcountylandandwater.org/ and by accessing the Climate Change Field Guide for Northern Wisconsin Forests. If you have questions or concerns, contact us at the Forest County Land and Water Conservation office.

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.

Dec 14 2019

Census 2020

If you’re not aware, 2020 will be another Census year.  The US Census is updated every ten years.  We met with our area representative this week and he wanted us to spread the word that the Census will be coming soon.  In March 2020, post cards will be mailed out to physical addresses containing information on how to register your household information online.  It should only take a few minutes to update with only ten questions that need to be answered.  If you have a PO box, you can expect a visit by a Census taker beginning in April 2020.  If you’re interested in becoming a Census taker, you can apply @ census.gov or via their toll free number 1-800-923-8282.  Starting salaries are $15/hour plus mileage.  There are many positions available; not all of them involve knocking on doors.

When is the Census? 

April 1, 2020, however, the census takes place throughout the year of 2020.

What is the Census? 

As mandated by the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, our nation gets one chance every ten years to count its population.  The U.S. census counts every resident, once, in their primary residence throughout the first year of a new decade.  

Why do we have a Census? 

The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. When you respond to the census, you help your community get its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.

Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and this creates jobs. Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

The Census representative informed us that there will be Scammers out there.  He assured us that Census takers will travel in pairs, have identification, will never ask for your social security number or banking/financial information.

More Information Coming Soon! 

Dec 14 2019

Farmers are you aware of the cost share program?

Forest County Land Conservation Department has been working on ways to provide farmers and agriculture producers with basic information regarding state regulation which may affect their operations. A cost-share program is a method for sharing installation costs for non-point source pollution controls between a governmental entity and a farmer. This program provides reimbursement for up to 70% of your costs! 

      More than 90 percent of farms in the U.S. are classified as small, with a gross cash farm income of $250,000, or less. These farms, most of which are family-owned and operated, confront considerable challenges due to current trends, such as increased movement into cities, an aging population, farm consolidation, and changing weather patterns. Forest County has its own unique challenges for small farms including very limited markets, long distances to suppliers, short growing seasons, and challenging soil conditions. 

      Small farms like yours are vital to our economy and well-being as a county and a nation. Not only do they support the competitiveness and sustainability of rural and farm economies, they serve to protect our natural resources, provide local food sources, and maintain our population! 

      As a farmer or agricultural producer, you do have a substantial liability in regard to state statutes with special attention to soil erosion and water quality. Two primary statutes that affect your operations are, Chapter NR 15 RUNOFF MANAGEMENT and Chapter ATCP 50 – SOIL AND WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. 

      Wisconsin DNR is primarily responsible for adopting performance standards to prevent pollution runoff from farms. The department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection (DATCP) must prescribe conservation practices to implement the DNR performance standards. DATCP must also establish soil conservation and farm nutrient management requirements. ATCP 50 spells out a single set of farm conservation practices that incorporates DNR performance standards by reference. Counties play a major role in implementing conservation practices on farms. Conservation requirements are contingent on cost-sharing. The Forest County Land Conservation Department has contacts with State and Federal Agencies to provide resources and cost sharing to assist you in meeting the requirements of the State Laws. 

      The following are some practices that qualify for cost share assistance that may apply to you: 

  • ATCP 50.68 Cover Crop
  • ATCP 50.62 Manure storage systems 
  • ATCP 50.64 Barnyard runoff control systems 
  • ATCP 50.65 Access Road 
  • ATCP 50.70 Diversions 
  • ATCP 50.705 Feed storage runoff control systems 
  • ATCP 50.71 Field Windbreaks 
  • ATCP 50.72 Filter Strips 
  • ATCP 50.73 Grade stabilization structures 
  • ATCP 50.75 Livestock feeding 
  • ATCP 50.76 Livestock watering facility 
  • ATCP 50.78 Nutrient management 
  • ATCP 50.79 Pesticide management 

      Please contact us if you would like to discuss the applicable regulations, cost share programs or schedule a “No hassle” visit.

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 or Cassidy Neilitz, Land Conservation Technician at (715) 478-1387 or by e-mail at lcctech@co.forest.wi.us 

Nov 24 2019

Gun Deer Hunters

As you read this week’s submission, we will probably be in the midst of Wisconsin’s Gun Deer Season. Last week the DNR reported that our waterways and landscape may be treacherous because of all the fall rain we received. I reposted some of their safety tips if you didn’t get their newsletter.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller said hunters are known to like a bit of snowfall to help with seeing and tracking deer. “However, the ground is saturated statewide, leaving wet conditions and ice forming on ponds, lakes, streams,” Schaller said.

The result is a possibility of walking into a marsh or a swamp that has an ice cover concealed by the snow. “The hunter will not know until that first step and the ice breaks, possibly causing a fall into the water with the firearm,” Schaller said. “The marsh or swamp that the hunter believes is usually a certain depth may be quite a bit deeper due to the saturated conditions. If a hunter falls into deeper water, the next danger is the onset of hypothermia.”

Schaller urges hunters to check the hunting area this week before the gun deer starts. “No one needs the surprise of a sudden fall into deep water or a slip on icy mud. What you thought is normal is not normal this year,” he said.

Here are more easy-to-follow ice safety tips:
• In all likelihood, the ice looks thicker – and safer – than it is.
• The best advice to follow is no matter what the month, consider all ice unpredictable.
• There can be cracks and changes in the thickness you may not be able to see. This is especially true after the first cold nights, and the early ice is spotted.
• Always remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
• Go with a friend. It is safer and more fun.
• Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions.
• Carry a cellphone and let people know where you are going and when you will return home.
• Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
• Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
• Do not travel in unfamiliar areas – or at night.
• Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents, which can thin the ice.
• Take extra mittens or gloves, so you always have a dry pair.
• The DNR wants you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice-related accidents.

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.

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