Anglers re-write state fish records in catch and release and by weight categories

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MADISON — Records are made to be broken, and anglers quickly proved this truism in the first year of Wisconsin’s new program recognizing catch-and-release state record fish. Traditional state records for fish by weight also fell in 2017, but the bigger story was the multiple first-time records hauled in by two anglers.

“We’re happy that some anglers have taken advantage of the new Live Release record fish category. We’re expecting a lot more activity in 2018 as more people learn about this exciting opportunity,” says Karl Scheidegger, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who coordinates the state record fish programs.

Catch and release state records

Rod Eberly of Appleton secured a spot in state fishing history when his 17.75-inch white bass, caught and released May 8, 2017, was recognized as Wisconsin’s first ever catch and release record. His record, however, was short-lived.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 8 photos

Anglers nab catch and release fish records

Kevin Larson of Hudson knocked Eberly off the leader board with the 18-inch white bass he caught and released on Cedar Lake in St. Croix/Polk counties on Aug. 23. Larson edged out Eberly’s bass out by a quarter of an inch.

Erika Carter of De Pere became the first female angler to set a new catch and release record in Wisconsin and bested an existing catch and release record. Carter caught and released an 8.75-inch pumpkinseed sunfish on July 4 from Lake Noquebay in Marinette County. Her haul bested the 8.25-inch pumpkinseed sunfish Eric Amenda from Germantown caught and released May 28 from Pleasant Lake in Waushara County.

Other initial records set in 2017 in the catch and release category that were still standing as of Feb. 1, 2018, are:

  • Aaron Fuchs of Baraboo wrestled a 47-inch flathead catfish on September 3 from the Wisconsin River in Sauk County. The fish was returned to the water with a ceremonial SPLASH!
  • Dennis Wilkerson of Twin Lakes caught and released a 10.5-inch rock bass on June 10 from Powers Lake in Kenosha County.
  • Ben Halfen of Prairie du Sac caught and released a 10.5-inch bluegill on June 16 from Reynard Lake in Bayfield County, establishing the first live release state record for bluegill.
  • Jacob Holmstrom from Danburry caught and released a 53.0-inch musky on June 24 from a Burnett County lake.

DNR recognizes live release records by length for specific fish species meeting qualifying lengths. The angler is required to submit an official record application and photos showing the fish lying along a ruler or other measuring device, and with the angler, which are reviewed and certified by DNR fish biologists.

Traditional by weight state fish records

Anglers in the traditional state fish record categories landed 11 new records in 2017, with two anglers accounting for six of them. DNR recognizes anglers who have legally taken the largest fish on record by hook and line, as well as those fish that have been taken by alternate methods including spearing or bowfishing.

Independence Day was more than just fireworks for 12-year-old Parker Welch of Merrill, Wis. The sixth-grader set three hook and line records on July 4, 2017 (see sidebar below):

  • She established the first-ever record for stonecat with her 9.3 inch, 5.4-ounce fish caught from the Wisconsin River in Lincoln County; established the first-ever shorthead redhorse record with an 18.9-inch, 1 pound 12.1-ounce fish caught from the Prairie River in Lincoln County; and bettered the existing golden redhorse record by about 1/4 pound with a 21-inch, 3-pound, 1.4-ounce fish caught from the Prairie River in Lincoln County.
  • Shawn Schmidt of Denmark Wisconsin established a new alternate method (spear-gun) record for yellow perch with a 14-3/4-inch, 8-ounce. fish taken from Lake Michigan in Kenosha County on June 22, 2017.
  • Schmidt also broke his own existing alternate method (spear-gun) record with a 16-inch, 2 lbs. 7.7 oz. yellow bullhead taken from Silver Lake in Washington County on June 29, 2017. The fish bettered the record by over 1-1/4 pounds. Schmidt was one of six anglers to set traditional records in the
    opening months of the 2017-8 fishing season, listed in this June 20, 2017, news release

These records bring his alternate method (spear-gun) record total to seven, for rock bass, bluegill, black bullhead, yellow bullhead, round goby, yellow perch and pumpkinseed.

For more information on state record fish and the process anglers should take if they have caught a fish that might be a state record by weight or under the new live release program, visit dnr.wi.gov and search “record fish.”

Anglers who want to pursue state records for less well-known fish species will want to make sure they do not possess endangered and threatened fish species.


12-year-old angler lands three state record fish in one day

In a year when anglers hauled in a stringer full of state record fish, Parker Welch’s feat stood alone.

Parker Welch, 12, of Merrill, Wis., set three state fish records on July 4, 2017: for golden redhorse, top; shorthead redhorse, middle; and stonecat, bottom. - Photo credit: Contributed
Parker Welch, 12, of Merrill, Wis., set three state fish records on July 4, 2017: for golden redhorse, top; shorthead redhorse, middle; and stonecat, bottom.Photo credit: Contributed

The 12-year-old sixth grader from Merrill, Wis., set three fish records in a single day, spincasting a fish story that begins with the love between a daughter and her father and their appreciation for Wisconsin’s lesser known fish: shorthead redhorse; golden redhorse; and stonecat. “It was exciting,” says Parker.

Her fish story begins 40 years ago, when her dad was growing on up a resort on Pelican Lake between Rhinelander and Antigo. From the time Alan Welch could walk he was catching fish, and by the time he was his daughter’s age he was guiding resort guests on fishing trips and cleaning the fish they caught for money to buy a new bike.

“I caught thousands of walleye and musky,” Alan Welch says. “To keep it interesting, I got into fish identification and I’d start going after weird stuff – fish like gar and carp. They are harder to catch because people don’t target them and there is no information on them.”

When his daughter Parker was a toddler, Welch introduced her to fishing and the two became fishing buddies, a shared bond and commitment to the outdoors that mom Jackie Welch appreciates. Parker became an accomplished angler although the father and daughter mostly focused on lesser known species in surrounding lakes and streams.

Parker enjoys fishing, and continues to make time for it even as she maintains a 4.0 Grade Point Average in school, serves as the wrestling team manager, and shot her first buck this fall.

“I like spending time with my dad,” Parker says. “Whatever he’s trying to catch I try to catch too.”

One day last year her father told her about his idea of trying to set multiple fish records. “I wanted to do it all on the same day so it was hard to beat,” he says.

That the pair set out to accomplish the feat on July 4th was coincidental; they knew from fishing those species before that the catching was easier when it was sunny and hadn’t rained for a couple of days. Fishing from shore with nightcrawlers, Parker caught the shorthead red horse in the morning on the Prairie River. “At that point, I think we knew we could get all three in a day,” Alan says. Parker caught the golden redhorse at noon, and then the pair went home until nighttime, when they went fishing on the Wisconsin River and caught the stonecat, a member of the catfish family whose name reflects its habit of hiding out under stones or logs during the day.

The fishing duo took Parker’s catches to a meat market in Wausau to get them weighed. “Most of them had never seen a fish like that. We had some comments, but they were happy for us,” Alan Welch says.

The daughter and father fishing duo are not ready to rest on their laurels. They’re angling for two records this summer: greater redhorse and longnose sucker.

Incidental take notice for Lafayette County

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MADISON – A proposed Lafayette County bridge replacement project may result in the “incidental taking” of a rare frog under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.

This project consists of the replacement of an existing bridge on Bethel Grove Road and will include grading, resurfacing and permanent signing. The project consists of 0.56 acres total of which approximately 0.2 acres is asphalt and gravel shoulder.

The presence of the state endangered Blanchard’s cricket frog (Acris blanchardi) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some frogs.

Department staff concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the Blanchard’s cricket frog are available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for incidental take public notice or upon request from Stacy Rowe (608-266-7012 or stacy.rowe@wi.gov). The department is requesting comments from the public through Feb. 6, 2018 regarding project-related impacts to the Blanchard’s cricket frog. Public comments should be sent to Stacy Rowe, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or stacy.rowe@wi.gov.

Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund proposals due April 6

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MADISON – A new Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund will provide $1 million to improve wildlife habitat and increase the amount of land accessible to the public for hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing.

Eligible projects include habitat restoration, enhancement, or management activities that benefit priority wildlife habitat and enhance the public experience in the outdoors. Eligible applicants include local units of government, tribes and qualified 501(c)(3) conservation organizations.

Project proposals are due April 6, 2018. Projects will be selected for funding in late April and awards will be issued mid-June 2018. For more information, including an application, search the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund.”

“The Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund is a great opportunity to partner with Wisconsin DNR to improve habitat for wildlife and provide for recreational opportunities,” said Eddie Shea, DNR assistant wetland habitat specialist. “This program provides a mechanism to assist all of the great conservation partners who are working in innovative ways to address wildlife habitat needs across the state.”

To receive funding, respondents must provide public access for hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing for a period based on the amount of funds awarded. The respondent or other project partners are responsible for 25 percent of the total project cost.

Winter volunteer workdays at State Natural Areas provide perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy great scenery

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MADISON – Now is your chance to get outside and get some exercise while exploring some of Wisconsin’s most pristine public lands. Sign up for any of the nearly two dozen winter volunteer workdays scheduled at State Natural Areas throughout Wisconsin this winter.

Morning workdays are scheduled at many sites throughout the state, typically from 9 a.m. to noon, mostly on Saturdays. Volunteers need no training beforehand, but are provided equipment and training on site to complete the work, which typically involves helping cut, pile and burn brush or scattering prairie seeds on snow.

Enjoy camaraderie, exercise and great views at winter volunteer workdays at many Wisconsin State Natural Areas. - Photo credit: DNR
Enjoy camaraderie, exercise and great views at winter volunteer workdays at many Wisconsin State Natural Areas.Photo credit: DNR

Enjoy camaraderie, exercise and great views at winter volunteer workdays at many Wisconsin State Natural Areas.

“We have volunteer groups stepping up all over the state to care for Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas and these winter volunteer workdays are a great way to warm up,” says Jared Urban, who coordinates the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program for the Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program. “Participants can get some exercise and also get a great opportunity to see these special places and experience some great views.”

State Natural Areas feature outstanding examples of Wisconsin’s native natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites and are often the last refuge of many rare plants and animals. While nearly all state-owned natural areas are open for activities including hiking, nature photography, bird watching and hunting, they are largely undeveloped.

Among sites where people can lend a helping hand and volunteer are Observatory Hill in Marquette County, which famed naturalist John Muir explored as a child, Ridgeway Pine Relict, and several other sites with beautiful ice formations. Many sites feature majestic bur oaks that will really stand out against the winter landscape.

A list of workdays and flyers for each event can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “SNA volunteers.” Here, people can also sign up to receive email notices for workdays at state natural areas throughout Wisconsin. For more information regarding this volunteer program, contact Jared Urban via email at jared.urban@wisconsin.gov.

2017 a top year for State Natural Area habitat restoration

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MADISON – Prairies, oak barrens and oak savannas and other imperiled natural communities on Wisconsin State Natural Areas got a big boost in 2017 and stand to get more of the same in 2018.

Thanks to warm and dry fall weather in 2017, success in securing grant money, strong partnerships, donors and volunteers, State Natural Areas containing these rare natural communities received a record level of management.

SNA crews, field ecologists and partners enhanced 12,500 acres by cutting brush, pulling and spraying invasive plants, seeding areas with native plants, and conducting many other management activities. Their greatest gains came from applying prescribed fire to the land to control invasive plant species and jumpstart growth of native wildflowers and other desirable plants.

“We had another very productive year in 2017 and that’s good news for all Wisconsin wildlife,” says Jim Woodford, field operations supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation program. “While this habitat management work may benefit non-game species like Karner blue butterflies or eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes, it benefits game species as well. Our work controls invasive species, perpetuates oak on the landscape, a key resource for many game and nongame species, and maintains and restores some of Wisconsin’s best remaining habitats.”


State Natural Areas – Prescribed Fire 2017

State Natural Areas feature outstanding examples of Wisconsin’s native natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites and are often the last refuge of many rare plants and animals. Prairies and oak savanna are among the natural areas getting the most attention. They once covered each more than 5 million acres in Wisconsin and now less than one-tenth of 1 percent remain.

“These are our most imperiled natural communities and they simply take more work to sustain,” says Matt Zine, a field supervisor for State Natural Area crews in southern Wisconsin, where most of these communities exist. “We are very pleased with our hard-working crews – through good partnerships with other DNR programs, we got a lot of work done in 2017.”

DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program employs 20 limited term staff stationed in seven geographically based work crews to manage State Natural Areas and work cooperatively with other DNR programs to manage natural areas within state parks, forests and wildlife areas.

In 2017, State Natural Areas also benefitted from work done by 36 volunteer groups organized under the SNA Volunteer Program, and from work done under new and formalized partnerships.

For example, a new memorandum of agreement with four partners in the Chiwaukee Prairie Illinois Beach Lake Plain, a 4,000-acre complex of wetlands and prairies straddling the Wisconsin and Illinois border, now enables partners to coordinate and conduct restoration, management and outreach work across borders. This agreement allowed an Illinois partner to lead a 286-acre burn in fall 2017 on land including Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area in Wisconsin.

A new partnership, the Wisconsin Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Exchange, brought federal field staff to Wisconsin to get more experience conducting prescribed burns on conservation lands including State Natural Areas. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin also helped to secure funds to manage several areas.

“We continue to expand our burning window and our work with partners to get as much work done as possible,” Woodford says. “Our goal this year will be to do the same or even more restoration work to benefit these last remaining really, really good habitats.”

Find state natural areas by county by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “SNA.” Donate to the Endangered Resources Fund online or through filling in an amount on your Wisconsin income tax form to help get more work done on State Natural Areas.

Deer Management Assistance Program application deadline for priority consideration set for March 1, 2018

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MADISON – Landowners, hunters and land managers with properties of 160 acres or more are encouraged to enroll in the Deer Management Assistance Program prior to March 1, 2018.

Applications submitted prior to this deadline will receive priority access to the program’s perks, including a site visit in 2018 by a professional wildlife biologist and forester.

DMAP provides informational resources and professional assistance regarding wildlife habitat management techniques for properties of any size to help participants improve habitat for wildlife.

Neighboring landowners with properties within one-half mile are encouraged to enroll as a group cooperative. Landowners in a DMAP cooperative with a combined acreage of 160 acres or more are eligible to receive a site visit and management plan. Group cooperatives also provide an opportunity to monitor local wildlife populations and share costs and equipment on habitat projects to benefit deer and other wildlife over a greater area.

For more information regarding DMAP and to apply, go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “DMAP.”

To receive DMAP email updates and other information, click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for “subscribe for updates for DNR topics.” Follow the prompts and select the “Deer Management Assistance Program” option, found under Wildlife Management.

Hunter Ethics Award honors character, not harvest: Nominate by Feb. 15

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LA CROSSE, Wis. — If a hunter’s action impressed you as kindness, courtesy, respect, responsible — or any way you witnessed a moral compass in action — consider nominating the individual for the annual Wisconsin Hunter Ethics Award for 2017.

First awarded in 1997, the annual Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources honor recognizes the hunter whose action are emblematic of Wisconsin’s hunting heritage. A heritage that is of an outdoor tradition enjoyed responsibly, respectfully and safely by and for all and not about trophy bucks or number of pheasants.

DNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller, also a member of the award committee, says ethical behavior often means going above and beyond.

“That means actions that help another during a hunt, or taking steps to ensure the resources are there for all,” Schaller said. “The award is focused on a singular action or event such as past recognition; returning lost gear, helped others find lost game or assisted another hunter facing a challenge of some kind.”

Anyone–hunter or non-hunter–can nominate a licensed Wisconsin hunter for the DNR Ethical Hunter Award for an action that took place during the calendar year of 2017. While many nominations are made during gun-deer season, the ethical action could be something done during a squirrel hunt, turkey hunt, waterfowl hunting or any other Wisconsin hunting season.

A four-person committee studies the nominations and selects the person judged most deserving of this award. The annual honor was established by Bob Lamb, retired outdoors editor of the La Crosse Tribune, retired DNR conservation warden supervisor Steve Dewald and retired University of Wisconsin-La Crosse biology professor and outdoors writer Jerry Davis.

Last year, Wisconsin-based Vortex Optics partnered with the award and provided package of a range finder, binoculars and a rifle scope for the award winner. Highlighting Wisconsin hunting heritage, Vortex is planning to continue the partnership.

“Hunting ethically continues to be significant in helping set examples for young hunters. The DNR annual ethical hunter award brings examples of this behavior public,” Davis said. “We’re privileged to have Vortex Optics, Inc. as a sponsor.”

Simply send the name, address and other contact information to Chief Warden Todd Schaller, by email or letter and explain what the ethical act was.

To become eligible for the 2017 award:

  • The nominee must be a licensed (resident or nonresident) Wisconsin hunter.
  • The ethical hunting act must have occurred in Wisconsin during the 2017 calendar year.
  • Nominations will be considered for any DNR-regulated hunting activity, not only deer hunting, in Wisconsin.
  • Written nominations must contain the name, address and telephone number of the witness or witnesses, or be aware of the behavior, which led to the nomination. Mail to Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller at Todd.schaller@wisconsin.gov or to Department of Natural Resources, Attention: Chief Warden Todd Schaller LE/5, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, by Feb. 15, 2018.

Scott Walter hired as Wisconsin DNR large carnivore specialist

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MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has named Scott Walter as the state’s new large carnivore specialist.

Scott Walter - Photo credit: DNR
Scott Walter, Wisconsin DNR’s new large carnivore specialist, will oversee the development and coordination of wolf, bear and cougar management within Wisconsin.

Photo credit: DNR

Walter will oversee the development and coordination of wolf, bear and cougar management within Wisconsin. Walter will be stationed in the Madison DNR office, and is coming to this position from the Ruffed Grouse Society, where he served as the director of conservation programs. In his former position, he worked with staff, members, DNR personnel and the public to develop and apply a variety of programs and projects.

Walter previously held the upland wildlife ecologist and Farm Bill coordinator positions at DNR from 2011-2015. Walter has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Beloit College and a master’s degree and doctorate in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“As a Wisconsin native, I’ve always appreciated the diversity of our wildlife community and been particularly fascinated by the many biological and social issues surrounding large carnivores,” said Walter. “Certainly, there is a lot of public interest in wolves and bears in the state, and I very much look forward to engaging with our committed partners and the public as we explore opportunities and address challenges related to the management of these important species.”

To learn more about Wisconsin’s Wildlife Programs, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “wildlife.” Search keywords “bear“, “wolf” or “cougar” for more information regarding Wisconsin’s large carnivore programs.

Mid-winter Wisconsin waterfowl survey results show increase in waterfowl use compared to 2017

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MADISON- Results from Wisconsin’s 2018 Mid-winter waterfowl show an increase in waterfowl seen compared to 2017 totals.

Despite sub-zero degree weather during much of the survey, Wisconsin saw an increase in waterfowl in the state compared to 2017. Winter weather varies each year — so far, 2018 has seen milder weather compared to last winter. Species like mallard ducks and Canada geese that move with the snowline were both observed during the January 2018 survey.

20,170 common goldeneye were counted during the 2018 mid-winter survey. - Photo credit: DNR
20,170 common goldeneye were counted during the 2018 mid-winter survey.Photo credit: DNR

“Department of Natural Resources biologists visited any open bodies of water they could find from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8 to count waterfowl and eagles,” said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. “Work done by our biologists is part of coordinated efforts nationwide to survey waterfowl in areas of major concentration on their wintering areas and provide winter distributions of species using aircraft, vehicles and boots on the ground.”

DNR biologists counted 123,883 total waterfowl in the state during the January survey work – observed species totals are as follows:

  • 58,357 Canada geese (47 percent of total number of waterfowl observed);
  • 26,778 mallard ducks (21 percent of total number of waterfowl observed); and
  • 20,170 common goldeneye (16 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).

This survey serves as a primary source of data for developing population trends for some species that breed in remote Arctic locations and are difficult to survey during the breeding season. This survey also lets us monitor where species of ducks, geese, and swans are concentrated and distributed during winter, while helping identify population trends and informing our management decisions.

For more information regarding Wisconsin’s waterfowl species, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “waterfowl management.” Additional survey information can also be found on the department website.

Next three weekends offer best opportunities to participate in candlelight events at state properties

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[EDITOR’S ADVISORY: A candlelight event scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 3 at Blue Mound State Park has been cancelled due to poor conditions.]

MADISON – Interested in experiencing the beauty of a Wisconsin winter night? Ski or hike along a trail illuminated by candles! More than 20 candlelight events are scheduled at state park, forest and other DNR properties across Wisconsin over the next three weekends.

“Despite the lack of snow in southern Wisconsin so far this winter, turnout at candlelight events has been very good,” says Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Parks System for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We’re hoping the weather cooperates and we receive fresh snow and milder temperatures over the next two weekends.”

There will be more than 20 candlelight events held over the next three weekends, including the 26th annual event at the Flambeau River State Forest. - Photo credit: Jim Kuchler, Friends of Flambeau River SF
There will be more than 20 candlelight events held over the next three weekends, including the 26th annual event at the Flambeau River State Forest on Feb. 3.Photo credit: Jim Kuchler, Friends of Flambeau River SF

There are eight candlelight ski and hikes scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4 and nine scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9-10. Following these events, six more candlelight events are scheduled Saturday, Feb. 17, and the final event will be a candlelight snowshoe hike Saturday, March 3, at Rib Mountain State Park. A special Valentine’s theme candlelight event is being held Feb. 10 at Richard Bong State Recreation Area that requires preregistration

The events are held on generally easy trails, illuminated by candles every few yards. Park and forest crews and volunteers from local park friends groups may put out as many as 300 to 400 candles on a trail.

A few of the properties offer only candlelight-lit ski trails or only candlelit hiking or snowshoeing trails, but if there is sufficient snow many properties offer both.

In addition to putting out candles, many parks have bonfires, and some have warming houses open. At some events, friends groups providerefreshments such as hot chocolate and snacks. Any fee or donation accepted by the friends are used to support the property.

People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword “candlelight.” For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords “find a park.” Regular park and trail fees apply for the events unless otherwise noted.

While most events will not be cancelled due to lack of snow, they still could be cancelled due to icy conditions, extreme cold or severe wind chill, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if severe weather is in the forecast.

New groomed ski trail conditions page launched on the DNR website

People can now check on cross-country ski conditions at many state properties through the DNR website. - Photo credit: DNR
People can now check on cross-country ski conditions at many state properties through the DNR website.Photo credit: DNR

Cross-country skiers can now find conditions at groomed ski trails on DNR properties in one location. Conditions are updated at least weekly, and as conditions warrant, for all groomed ski trails at which a Wisconsin State Trail Pass is required and at some other properties where ski trails are groomed but the pass is not required.

To view ski trail conditions, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “trail conditions.” The page provides conditions by property as well as by trail for some properties that have multiple groomed ski trails. The new system allows for sorting by property or by condition, to find the best trail conditions. Color-coded conditions ratings span from “excellent” (purple) to “good,” (green) to “fair,” (yellow) to “poor” (orange) to “not recommended for skiing” (red). Each entry shows when the trail was last groomed, level of grooming (for example packed or tracked), when the report itself was last updated, and notes the kind of skiing for which the trail is groomed (classic, skate, or both).

The page also offers quick links to the property web page, a map to the property location, and indicates if a state trail pass is required to ski at the property.