View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Early spring snowstorms brought up to a foot of snow to southwestern Wisconsin early in the week and then 3 to 6 inches to central and northern Wisconsin midweek. While not welcomed by everyone, the snow did alleviate very high to high wildfire conditions that were in place last week. Much of that snow has already melted, and warm weather by early next week is expected to melt the rest, so dry conditions could return very quickly.
There was not enough snow to open snowmobile trails or groom ski trails, but the wet melting snow has closed many mountain bike trails on state park and forest properties. The snow is also keeping the limestone screening on rail trails wet and soft and bicycles are asked to refrain from using these trails until they dry out.
Colder temperatures in the last week have firmed up the ice on northern lakes, with most holding at 10 to 14 inches of ice cover. However, areas around inlets, access sites and south-facing shorelines still have spots of open water. With the questionable ice conditions, many anglers have put away their ice fishing gear for the season, although there have still been a few panfish anglers venturing out and having fair success on crappie and perch.
Most boat landings on Green Bay remain covered in ice, but the Fox River landings at Fox Point and Metro are open and fishing pressure was heavy with both boaters and shore anglers. There were some walleye in the 20-inch plus range caught, along with large numbers of whitefish being caught and released. Many access points along Door County are no longer usable. The Sturgeon Bay shipping canal is open and big ships departing toward Green Bay are offering some close-up views at Potawatomi State Park.
Southeastern Wisconsin Lake Michigan tributaries are mostly open but so far the steelhead run has been slow with many steelhead just beginning to move into rivers. The Root River Steelhead Facility is tentatively planning on processing fish for the first time this year on Monday. This upcoming weekend kicks off the trout season opening on the lower portion of the Bois Brule River flowing into Lake Superior. Water levels are lower than normal but the early spring thaw is providing easy access and fresh steelhead were beginning to enter the river.
Raccoons, skunks, and small mammals are becoming more active. Red fox pups are being born.
Red-shouldered hawks and goshawks are defending nesting areas. Turkeys are dispersing and have been seen breeding already. Ring-necked pheasants are starting to crow. Larger flocks of sandhill cranes and Canada geese, along with mallards, northern shovelers and many other dabbling and diving ducks can be seen on the partially frozen wetland areas.
And a reminder that hunting and fishing licenses expire on March 31. Licenses for 2015-16 are on sale now and can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents and at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays).
An early spring snowstorm squelched fire danger across southern Wisconsin last week. Fire danger went from Very High to snow covered overnight. As the weather warms, much of the snow has melted, once again revealing dead grass and fallen leaves. As we dry out, expect fire danger to increase. Stay apprised of fire weather conditions by checking the DNR fire danger web page each day after 11 a.m.: dnr.wi.gov (search 'fire danger'). Anyone planning on burning leaves and brush as part of a spring clean-up routine, must first check the Burning Restrictions web page to find out if a permit is required in the area and then check the day's fire danger and burning permit restrictions BEFORE lighting that match. People are asked to use extra caution when disposing of ash from fireplaces and wood heaters - make sure they are completely cold to the touch before dumping outdoors. Embers can remain smoldering in ash for long periods of time. Also, be extra cautious around power lines that may have come down on windy days. Always assume a downed power line is energized and dangerous.
Firewise Tip: Remove leaves and other debris that has accumulated next to buildings, in lawns, and on and under decks. Take special care to clean out dead leaves from evergreen shrubs near buildings. Move firewood at least 30 feet away from buildings. - Jolene Ackerman, wildland-urban coordinator, Madison
In April, County Deer Advisory Councils will release preliminary recommendations regarding antlerless harvest quotas and permit levels, and a public comment period from April 1- 15 will provide an opportunity to provide feedback.
Antlerless quotas recommendations will help determine the number of antlerless permits available for the 2015 deer hunting season, and will also help councils work to increase, decrease or maintain their local deer herd, depending on which objective was selected as a result of 2014 meetings.
Once the public comment period has closed, each council will incorporate feedback received from public input forms and submit final recommendation to the department. Public comments are also welcome as the department reviews council recommendations from April 20 - 23, and can be sent to DNRCDACWebMail@Wisconsin.gov.
For more information regarding CDAC recommendations, agendas and membership, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC." To receive email updates and other information regarding deer hunting and season structure in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "white-tailed deer" within the "hunting" list. - Sawyer Briel, communications specialist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - This upcoming weekend kicks off the much anticipated spring tradition on Brule with trout season opening on the lower portion of the river (north or Hwy. 2). Water levels are lower than normal but the early spring thaw provides easy access to the most of the river for anglers. Fresh steelhead are beginning to enter the river so we hope for an enjoyable and rewarding opener for anglers. Be sure to read your trout regulations as rules do change on different portions of the river. With the incredible weather we have had this spring in the Northland, camping is a great way for fisherman and other outdoor enthusiast to enjoy their stay in the area. Check out our website for camping information in our state forest campgrounds. Campers are now able to reserve a site online for dates between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wildlife staff, in cooperation with friends groups, are gearing up to host sharptail grouse observations in the next few weeks. The mating "dance" of these birds is truly a site to see! People interested in seeing this up close and personal, can check out the friends of the bird sanctuary (exit DNR) website to schedule a spot and time in the observation blind. Sharptail grouse are not the only bird's beckoning the spring season to continue. There have been a large number of siskins heard chirping in the tree tops and dancing through the air as yet another reminder that warmer weather is on its way. Spring turkey hunting is also fast approaching and hunters will be hitting the woods in the next few weeks. Season dates are posted on the DNR website for those who possess a permit. Information regarding available over the counter permits can also be accessed online and will go on sale Friday, March 27. With the early thaw, fire control staffs are gearing up for prescribed burning and wild land firefighting. Check the DNR website for more information on wildfire prevention and burning regulations. The Douglas County Fish and Game League Sports Show is being held this weekend Mach 27-29. This is a great opportunity to meet vendors and see Exhibits from around the area. The DNR will have a booth where you can have questions answered that you may have. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) -
Colder temperatures in the last week have firmed up the surface of the ice and most lakes have been holding at 10 to 14 inches of ice cover. However, areas around inlets, access sites and south-facing shorelines still have spots of open water and any late-season fishermen should still be very cautious when venturing out. In addition, ice conditions can deteriorate very quickly on a warm sunny day so anglers should stay aware of changing conditions when out fishing. With the questionable ice conditions, many ice fishermen have put away their gear for the season. But there have still been a few panfish anglers venturing out and they have been having fair success on crappie and perch. The crappie have been found suspended about 4 to 6 feet off the bottom in deeper water areas, and the perch up on the mud flats in 6 to 12 feet of water. Electronics have been helpful in locating the fish and small minnows fished on tip-downs have shown some good success. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - There is still ice on local lakes, but very unstable. Both north and south forks of the Flambeau River are open. We received about 3 inches of snow on Wednesday. We are seeing geese, trumpeter swans, sand hill cranes and robins. We are starting to see pussy willows along road sides. Twenty five participants gathered at the new Flambeau River State Forest headquarters on a beautiful late winter day to help celebrate Aldo Leopold weekend. The March 7 event included a screening of the video "Green Fire," which documented Leopold's life and work as well as shared readings from his classic book "A Sand County Almanac". An eight year old girl took part in the readings and did marvelously. A Felsenmeer Hike with Leopold is being planned for late April. The Felsenmeer is a unique geologic formation in the Blue Hills of Rusk County. Anyone interested in the hike may contact Ron Weber at the headquarters 715-332-5271. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Winter is not giving up. The ground is once again snow covered and snow is expected through the weekend. Not enough snow fell however to groom ski trails, which have remained closed. Hopefully with the predicted warming temperatures next week they will soon be able to be hiked. The southern part of the forest (American Legion) has less snow remaining on the ground than the Northern Highland. This is true for ice on lakes as well. The lakes on the southern part of the forest, on average, open up earlier than lakes on the Northern Highland. The reason for this could be that lake snow squalls from Lake Superior tend to taper off the farther south on the state forest they travel. Temperatures are also slightly colder so combined with more snow, the Northern Highland spring thaw is actually slightly behind the American Legion or southern half of the state forest. Lakes in the area open up on average around April 20. Shallow dark water lakes tend to "open" or lose ice cover first. Trout Lake is usually last of the lakes to form ice in fall and last to have open water in spring. Each year seasonal crews are interviewed and hired to work on boat landings, campsites and trails. The goal for boat landings is to first complete safety inspections, which are done on all of public use areas, then to have all the ramps repaired from the annual ice heave, then install boarding docks. Crews try to have this completed by opening day of game fishing, but road weight limits and late ice can delay this goal. Firewood gatherers, with permits of course, have until April 30 to harvest downed trees within the campgrounds on the forest. There is still a lot of stuff lying on the ground from hazard tree cutting last fall. Campground conditions vary from almost no snow remaining to nearly completely snow covered. Current best bets for some early spring camping (little to no snow on roads and many of the campsites) are Clear Lake and West Star Lake Campgrounds. We are still looking for a couple of volunteer campground hosts for this summer. Contact Joe Fieweger at 715-385-3355 ext. 113 or email@example.com to discuss the available host opportunities. - NHAL operations and visitor services staff
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - Wildlife is on the move! The first sure signs of spring in the Antigo area have arrived. Sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, woodcock, robins have been seen in the area. Wild Turkeys have begun call from the roost in the mornings and toms are beginning to display for hens. Three inches of snow fell last night but it is expected to melt quickly. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center
Florence and Forest counties - With spring officially here, most all of the snow has melted away with the exception of some north and east facing slopes. American robins have made their way back north, which means sandhill cranes and other migrants are soon to follow. There is still ice on the lakes, but the rivers are open. Numerous boats have been hitting the open waters, so get yours ready and come enjoy the north woods fishing; or maybe tie on your hiking shoes to enjoy the beginning of springtime bird watching! - Jason Cotter, wildlife Biologist, Florence
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Winter's grip still has all the landings on Green Bay covered in ice. The Fox River landings at Fox Point and Metro are open. Fishing pressure was heavy on the Fox with both boaters and shore anglers. There were some walleye in the 20-inch plus range caught. There were large numbers of whitefish being caught and released. Anglers were using everything in their arsenal from live bait to jigs and stick baits. Almost all the boats were fishing in the vicinity of Voyageur Park. Surface water temperatures were around 37 degrees according to anglers. Two docks are in at Fox Point. Boaters were also launching from the Fair grounds. Metro had 12 anglers with no walleye, but anglers were catching crappie using jigs and minnows, with fishing being best in the early morning and late afternoons. The landing at Metro seems to be under some kind of construction covering half the landing. No dams were open on the Fox. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - As the weather continues to stay nice the ice continues to recede in the Bay. The Dyckesville access continues to be closed because of open water at the shore and dangerous ice conditions. At Red River Park the ice has melted near shore allowing no access to the remaining ice that is left. At Volk's Landing there was no open water that could be seen close to shore but that doesn't mean that the ice is safe. Take caution if you choose to access the ice here. The road to the boat launch at Bayshore Park is now open. The ice is still holding close to shore but many patches of open water and many cracks close to shore can be seen. One angler was fishing just off the beach out about 40 feet over the weekend. There is open water that starts at shore near Rites Cove and goes south through Sugar Creek and can still be seen farther from shore at Chaudoir's Dock. Also other patches of open water and a few cracks could be seen from shore at Sugar Creek and Chaudoirs Dock. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Door County - The canal for the most part in town is open water and a few anglers braved the cold this weekend and could be seen fishing from boats. At Stone Quarry the ice was very slushy with open water patches and cracks that started near shore and headed out deep. There is some remaining ice in and around the docks at the Yacht Club in town but no anglers have been seen fishing there. At Bullhead Point the ice to the east seems to be breaking up and there are open water patches, but the ice to the west still had a few anglers using tip-ups over the weekend. Anglers at Potawatomi Park are heading out just before dusk and are accessing the ice from the road just before the parking area for the boat launch. The ice to the west out of the boat ramp area is open. A few anglers have been also seen off of Cabot's Point and Cliff View Road heading out in the hours before dusk as well. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - The Branch River is running low. The fishing at the Manitowoc piers fell off this week. Manitou Park ramp is still frozen. On the West Twin River some fish movement has been spotted. The rainbow trout are reluctant to bite, but some anglers have caught rainbows with spawn sacs. These fish were caught at the Shoto Dam and Shoto Sportsman's Club. Veteran's Park ramp and the Manitowoc Marina are still closed. The East Twin River and the West Twin River are lower in water levels than usual. The consensus is that we need a good rain. There has been little fishing pressure in Manitowoc County due to the cold weather. Water is clear in all the rivers, except at the mouth of the Manitowoc River, which is very dark. - Jason Ruckel, fisheries technician, Manitowoc
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Snow fell this week with more expected, but warmer temps in the forecast mean it won't last long. Red-shouldered hawks and goshawks are back and defending their nesting areas. Ice is still covering some lakes but it is looking in pretty rough shape. Most places with any flowing water are ice free. Many of the usual first arrivals are back--robins, cranes, red-winged blackbirds. I have not yet heard any frogs or woodcock but a few warm days could change that. Turkeys are dispersing and have been seen breeding already. The recent cooler weather has slowed down the ticks, and mosquitoes have not yet emerged... so enjoy the bug free recreation time while you can! - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Potawatomi State Park - Fishermen have been looking for walleye and northern in Sturgeon Bay waters. There is ice in Sawyer Harbor. Ships are departing Bay Shipbuilding to begin the season on the Great Lakes. If they are heading to Green Bay waters, the park offers a close-up view of the big ships. Trails are open for summer use. Sandhill cranes are in the area. The tower is open. The south area of Daisy Field Campground (Sites 1-81) will open on April 1. The north camping area (Sites 82-125) and group sites will open on May 1. Water for the shower building, sanitary dump station, fish cleaning station, and park wells will be turned on beginning April 20. All facilities should be operational by May 1. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Porcupines are abundant along hilly segments of the red trail. If you don't see one at the tops of sugar maples, check out their recent chewing along the trail. Pileated woodpeckers can be heard daily in the forested dunes, hike the red trail to hear them calling and hammering at trees to reach insects. As you hike the sandy shoreline, keep an eye to the sky-the bald eagle has been sighted soaring during the evening hours. American beech tree buds are enlarging and soon will open. - Carolyn Rock, natural resources educator
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - The area received 3 inches of snow Tuesday night. Most area lakes still ice covered. Wolf River now open and receiving some fishing pressure, no reports yet of anyone catching anything. Area trout streams have near perfect water levels for fishing, would be a great time for catch and release trout fishing. The only migratory birds I have seen in any numbers are Sandhill Cranes and Mallards. Chickadees and Cardinals have been singing in the mornings lately. Nice time of year to be in central Wisconsin. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Mother Nature has thrown a curve ball here in Waushara County. A day after seeing a tom turkey in full strut for some hens he was with, the area received a blast of snow and ice. Almost 3 inches of snow with ice under it made for some tricky travel and put recreation on timeout for most folks. The snow and ice will melt in short order and things will slowly crawl back into spring. Song birds are migrating back and setting up their territories, with calling in the early morning sun becomes more prevalent. Ice fishing season is officially over as the edge of the ice on almost all the lakes in the county is too far to trek to and total ice out is only a matter of time. Early trout fishing has been slow with the ups and downs in temperatures the water still remains quite cold. Waterfowl are paired up and staking out their marsh and waters-edge claims for their nesting season. Despite the cold, Mother Nature pushes on with longer days telling these critters that the time is now to begin their spring traditions. Get up early, take a chair, and find a piece of state property to sit and listen. You will be amazed at all the different things you will hear and see, whether it is a turkey gobbling, song birds singing, deer bounding through the fields, an owl out for its last hunt of the night, or a hawk out for its first hunt of the morning - you will never be disappointed. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
High Cliff State Park - Lake Winnebago ice is beginning to break up with extended sunny days and warmer weather. Bike/horse trails remain closed until May 1. Winter trail use by fat tire bikes is allowed along the cliff side of the Red Bird Trail when the ground is frozen. Trail maintenance will be done in April. A decision to open the bike/horse trails sooner due to the very dry winter will be made mid-April assuming the trail maintenance is able to be completed. The turkey vultures are back. - Cynthia Mueller, naturalist
Outagamie County - The Wolf River is open and the water is rising. Walleyes are starting to be caught but fishing is slow. There is no size limit for walleyes on the Winnebago system the season for walleyes is open year round with a bag limit of five. The northern pike season is closed until May 2 and then the size limit is 26 inches with a bag limit of two. Boaters should use caution this time of year since ice flows are coming out of some of the marshes and bayous. These flows can climb up an anchor rope and submerge a boat. Boaters should wear their life jackets this time of year.- Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The ski season at Lapham Peak has ended. All trails now are open to hiking however there is still some snow and ice but more so mud and water along the trails. The Mountain Bike/Horse Trail will be closed to all use except hiking until the trail dries out and the surface hardens.
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan the south pier continues to see the most fishing pressure, with some anglers reporting catches of brown trout. The fishing is slow, but they have been caught mostly casting small spoons, with some being caught on shiners as well. The Sheboygan River is mostly open, with some ice remaining from 8th street to Pennsylvania Ave. Some success has been reported catching browns and steelhead using spawn or casting small spoons. The Pigeon River is mostly open and fishable, but some ice remains between the LS bridge and the mouth. A few boats have fished the Sheboygan harbor area with little success.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington, a few browns and rainbows have been caught by shore anglers fishing near the power plant and off the south pier. Spawn fished on the bottom has been a popular bait, but some fish have also been taken on shiners. Sauk Creek is open and fishable, but few steelhead have been seen. Trollers in Port have had some success fishing the harbor for browns and rainbows with spoons and stick baits.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee the lower Milwaukee River and the majority of the harbor remain free of ice. Boats launching from Riverfront Ramp report catching browns and a few lake trout while jigging Gulp and casting crank baits in the main and south gaps. The ice has melted near the launch at McKinley, and some pockets of open water can be seen in the marina. South Shore Ramp is open. The launch at Bender Park is also open, and trollers have been fishing near the Oak Creek Power Plant discharge. Crank baits, shad raps, and small spoons on planer boards have worked well for most boaters. Milwaukee shore anglers fishing behind Summerfest have been catching a few browns on minnows or roaches under slip bobbers, but fishing has been slow overall. Shore fishing access under the Hoan Bridge at Jones Island will be closed this year due to construction on the bridge. Anglers fishing Oak Creek in Grant Park have been catching a few steelhead here and there, and most have been taken on spawn sacs or skein under slip bobbers. The fishing pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant remains closed due to the buildup of ice on the pier. The new projected opening date is April 1. Flows are relatively low on area rivers, but some rain is in the forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday, which should help push some fresh steelhead upriver. On the Milwaukee, anglers have been catching decent numbers of steelhead in Kletzsch and Estabrook Parks, with spawn sacs producing more than flies. On the Menomonee, anglers fishing around Miller Park have been catching a few steelhead on flies and spawn sacs. A mixed bag of northern pike, smallmouth bass, and bluegill have been taken on minnows fished under slip bobbers at the MMSD offices.
Racine County - At the Racine lakefront anglers have been out in decent numbers early in the morning, when they report having the best success getting bites. Anglers have landed a few brown and rainbow trout along the north pier, getting bites on a variety of spoons and spinners. The Root River Steelhead Facility has been up and running since Thursday, March 19. The first processing day is tentatively scheduled for Monday, March 30. Large numbers of anglers were out on the Root over the weekend. Despite high fishing pressure, low numbers of fish were landed, as many steelhead are just beginning to move into the river mouth. The anglers that did catch fish over the weekend reported some success with small spinners in fast moving water, and reported the best action was by casting spawn sacks through deeper pockets of water.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha there is still ice near Simmons Island marina, but there is open water on the south end of the harbor. The boat launch is not yet usable. Shore anglers were out in decent numbers over the weekend fishing around the harbor, with most anglers soaking minnows and others trying crank baits, but little action was reported. The Pike River is ice free, but fishing effort on the Pike has been minimal.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Spring wildlife activity has picked up with many critters visible on the landscape -- deer feeding in fields, turkeys displaying, larger flocks of sandhill cranes and Canada geese, mallards, northern shovelers. and many other dabbling and diving ducks can be seen on the partially frozen wetland areas. Raccoons, skunks, and small mammals are becoming more active. This week crews completed two wetland burns on the north end of Theresa Marsh - one along the north side of Hwy. 28 west of the "Legacy Greenwing sign totaling 25 acres, the other along North Pole Road south of Hwy. 28 totaling 11 acres. We are planning two other larger wetland burns later this week along the south side of Hwy. 28. The water level on the Theresa Marsh main pool behind the dam is being held low until the marsh burns are complete. The radial gate at the dam is open about 1 foot to keep water levels low and allow northern pike passage for spawning. Two local County Deer Advisory Committee meetings were held this week, one for Washington County at the Daniel Boone Conservation League, and one for Ozaukee County at Riveredge Nature Center, to set preliminary antlerless deer quotas and public/private antlerless permit numbers for the two counties. The official public input process on the CDAC website is April 1-15. One more meeting is being held in each County in late April to review public input and finalize the deer quotas before they are submitted to the Natural Resources Board. The public is encouraged to provide input and attend the meetings. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Iowa County - Iowa County is covered in snow after a recent storm, up to 12" in some places. However, warming temps near the weekend should reduce the snow amounts. Despite the snow, many migratory birds have arrived: red-winged blackbirds, robins, grackles, killdeer, fox sparrow, meadowlarks, sandhill cranes, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and woodcock. Canada geese are pairing up, bald eagles are sitting on nests, and ring-necked pheasants are starting to crow. Red fox pups are being born. Wild turkeys and deer are very active, and can be seen in agricultural fields. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville
Lafayette County - The ice on Yellowstone Lake is breaking up fast, turkeys are busy strutting and the Cheese Country Trail is still closed Snowmobile and ATV use. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Walleye are on the move up the WI River from the lake to the Dells Dam. Sauger are still holding tight in the upper end of Lake WI. Just about every boat checked this past weekend had legal size fish. Turkeys are starting to disperse from their winter flocks and plenty of deer are out feeding on fresh green shoots coming up. Reminder for people wanting to burn leaves/brush to have their annual burning permit and check for restrictions before they light anything on fire. Conditions for burning change daily due to the changing weather conditions.- Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Sauk Prairie Recreation Area - The Wisconsin Army National Guard will conduct a site survey on the grounds of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area on March 28. The Sauk Prairie Recreation Area occupies 3,400 acres of the decommissioned 7,350 acre Badger Army Ammunition Plant. The Department of Natural Resources and the soldiers of the 105th Cavalry are teaming up for an exercise that will support the unit's duty readiness. The Cavalry will perform a final, thorough inspection of the grounds, roads and fencing prior to opening the state-owned portion of the property to the public for full time use later this year. - Bob Manwell, public affairs manager, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Pepin County - Ice has broken free from most area lakes. Fishing efforts below the Alma Dam on the Mississippi River have been focused on perch and walleye with mixed results. Some are finding success near the dam. Shed hunters have been out in full force and are having good luck finding antler. There are a few reports of bucks still holding on to their antlers. Robins have been seen the past couple days as a sign of Spring and warmer weather in the forecast will be welcomed by local residents. The youth turkey hunt is around the corner and increasing temperatures are expected to pick up outdoor activity. - JJ Redemann, conservation warden, Durand
Perrot State Park - The hiking trails are open. Hikers will find small areas of snow and a few soft muddy areas. Enjoy the view from Perrot Ridge with no leaves yet out. Soon the pasque flowers will be out on Reeds Peak to signal the start of spring. The dock will be installed once river levels and conditions allow. The ice has disappeared from Trempealeau Bay and the Mississippi River is open. Water levels are low enough that you will be able to reach the main channel from the park's boat landing. The open water has brought back trumpeter swans, tundra swans, mergansers, shovelers, and a few buffleheads. More sandhill cranes are showing up and we are waiting for the first blue herons to arrive. Eagles are nesting in the adjacent Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge and can be seen soaring in the bluffs and above the bay. - Lois Larson, park manager
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Winter weather has decided to stick around a bit longer in the Black River Falls area. We received around two inches of snow earlier this week but most of it has already melted off. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s to low 40s this weekend with a slight chance of rain/snow on Sunday. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Red Cedar State Trail - It certainly is a lull period for outdoor recreation. One day we get beautiful spring weather and the next day 3 inches of snow. This changing weather has really slowed down getting trails cleaned up. The Red Cedar Trail continues to dry out making it difficult for maintenance staff to clear debris and grade the tread. Ice out progress has also slowed down on many of the local lakes. Ice fishing is pretty much over with as most of the lakes have opened up but the bays and boat landing are still frozen so even boaters can't get out. Shore fishing is the best option right now along the Red Cedar and Chippewa Rivers. The one bright side to the weather is it's really helping the maple sap flow. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds seen or heard include: goldfinches, ravens, crows, phoebes, northern juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, red headed and pileated woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, mourning doves, and blue jays. The bald eagles are moving back into the area and have been seen feeding along the roadsides. The barred owls have been aggressively trading territorial calls during the early night hours. The sandhill cranes, robins and red winged blackbirds have begun to arrive. Trails are very wet at the moment with the frost still leaving the ground. We expect to be able to open the horse trailer parking area on April 1. Maple sugaring continues and has been productive this year. The rivers have open water, as do a few of the larger lakes. Small lakes and most bays continue to hold well over one foot of ice. - Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Trails may be muddy as frost is leaving the ground. We currently have high fire danger with little rain in the forecast. If camping, make sure fires are not left unattended and that they are completely out before leaving. Ice is opening up around the Buckhorn Bridge. The lake is still in draw down so piers will not be placed until the lake is back to normal level. Launch A and C are still iced over. Launch D and E are ice free. Canoe launch has ice and very little water during the draw down. Looking for camp hosts in June. Mark your calendars for the annual work and play day, Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Warmer weather is melting snow off trails and roads. Trails may be muddy with thawing ground. Main gate will open Saturday, May 2 for our annual park cleanup day. Looking for camp hosts for the summer and fall! Mark your calendars for the annual work and play day, Saturday, May 2 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. - Heather Wolf, park manager