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Outdoor Report for March 5, 2015Published by the Central Office

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View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

For current statewide information on statewide snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

Much of Wisconsin received at least some snow in the last week, with 2 to 3 inches in the south, and up to 5 inches in some areas of the north. That was followed by the return of very cold temperatures, but that is forecast to change abruptly in the next week, with temperatures in the 40s to possibly 50 degrees.

Snowmobile trail status remains virtually unchanged from recent weeks on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR), with only trails in the northern tier of counties open. The snow did improve ski conditions, with both the Northern Highland-American Legion and Brule River state forests in the north reporting some of the best conditions of the winter, and Blue Mound State Park and the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forests reporting improved conditions in the south. The last candlelight event of the winter will be held this Friday, March 6 with a snowshoe hike at Rib Mountain State Park near Wausau.

The cold snap continued to increase ice depths on lakes and on Green Bay. The game fish season closed last weekend on most inland waters just as there was an uptick in walleye fishing in the Northwoods. Walleye seem to be starting their move to stage near spawning areas and anglers reported a few limits. Northern pike activity also saw a bit of an increase as a couple of sunny days bumped up feeding activity. Panfish action has also showed signs of improving, with some fair catches of crappie, perch and bluegill. A reminder that permanent ice shanties need to be removed from inland waters south of Highway 64 by the end of the day, Sunday March 8. Anglers may continue to use portable shelters but they must remove them daily.

On Green Bay anglers were reporting up to 2 feet of ice. Walleye and whitefish along with some northern pike were being caught on the west shore and whitefish action remained fair to good along the east shore.

Male turkey are starting to strut around hens. The coyote and fox mating season is winding down, but they are still visible. A few raccoon have been seen poking around already looking for food.

Great horned owls and bald eagles are sitting on nests incubating eggs, common ravens are performing courtship flights, greater prairie chickens are dancing in central Wisconsin and barred owls are performing duets statewide. The warm weather forecast should accelerate spring migration so be on the lookout for the return of sandhill cranes and red-winged blackbirds.

With the snow starting to melt in the coming weeks, keep your eyes open for skunk cabbage and the first of the early spring ephemerals peeking through the snow.

State Natural Area Workday Update

Get outside and cut up buckthorn at Bluff Creek SNA. On March 14, come cure your cabin fever and help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays [PDF] on the second Saturday. Enjoy a short hike in the wetland, then help cut and pile brush, learn something, meet knowledgeable people, and enjoy the beauty of this fen area in the process. Buckthorn can spread and shade out rare fen plants at this site. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

Statewide Birding Report

Things are finally shifting a bit in the bird world. Great horned owls and bald eagles are sitting on nests incubating eggs, common ravens are performing courtship flights and nest building in the north, greater prairie chickens are dancing in central Wisconsin, and for those listening after dark, barred owls are performing duets statewide. All just in time for the start of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project (www.wsobirds.org/atlas - exit DNR), which will mobilize thousands of volunteer birdwatchers statewide to document occurrence and breeding behavior of Wisconsin's birds. The first northbound golden eagles were reported this week north to the Lake Superior shore, while building numbers of long-tailed ducks were observed off the Lake Michigan shore in Ozaukee County. Observers also noted scaup, mergansers, and goldeneyes in numbers, as well as white-winged scoters in Milwaukee and red-throated loons unusually close to shore in Port Washington. Ice dominates elsewhere as winter carries on. Pine siskins, common redpolls, and purple finches remain common across the north, in addition to small numbers of pine grosbeaks, evening grosbeaks and Bohemian waxwings. Sightings of redpolls at feeders saw an uptick in the south this week. Snowy owls also continue on their wintering areas in high numbers. Most will depart this month into early April so enjoy them while you can! A warm weather forecast should accelerate spring migration in the week ahead and birders in the south should be on the lookout for sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, killdeer, American woodcock, eastern meadowlarks, and other early migrants. Statewide, expect bald and golden eagles, rough-legged and red-tailed hawks and various waterfowl to be on the move. Rarities spotted this past week included a black-billed magpie in Bayfield County, gyrfalcon in Douglas, northern hawk-owl in Eau Claire, and varied thrushes at feeders in multiple locations. Last but not least, bird lovers wishing to create better habitat for birds on their properties should attend the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative's Private Lands for Birds conference in Chippewa Falls, 20-21 March (wisconsinbirds.org/annualmeeting-2015.htm - exit DNR). As always, please report your sightings and find out what others are seeing at www.ebird.org/wi (exit DNR). Good birding. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - After receiving about 5 inches of fresh snow earlier in the week, all Afterhours cross-country ski trails have been groomed and tracked. Conditions are excellent! - Kurt Janko, forestry technician

Hayward DNR Service Center area

Sawyer County - Snowmobile trails are still in good condition. Some were showing ground exposure from heavy wear with little snow during the month of February. A fresh coating of 3 to 5 inches was received on Tuesday, which should help repair some of those spots. With the predicted warm up next week, trails could change rapidly. For those looking for a change of pace and to pass the winter blues, there are individuals chasing around snowshoe hare which has a year-around season and unlimited daily and possession limits. Look for them in young aspen and balsam cover. Hunters should be sure of their targets though as cottontail rabbit season closed on February 28. Male turkey are starting to strut around hens and getting aggressive around other toms. Also, a few raccoon have been seen poking around already looking for food. Most are being seen at bird feeders trying to steal suet. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Burnett County - The Grantsburg area received approximately 4 inches of snow recently. Area snowmobile trails are open but are in poor condition. With future forecasted temperatures reaching the upper 40s by the end of the week, it won't be long and the snow will be gone. Wildlife viewing will be improving when the snow pack recedes. Ice conditions and slush vary across the county with approximately 30 inches of ice on most lakes. Use caution when traveling on any frozen lakes, ice conditions can change rapidly this time of year. - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the recent cold weather, ice depths have continued to increase and most lakes now have between 18 and 22 inches of ice. Strong winds have also been pushing a lot of snow around and this has created some deep, heavy drifts - which has made vehicle travel quite difficult once off any plowed or packed trails. Snowmobile travel has remained the best method of traversing most lakes. The gamefish season ended this past weekend on a rather quite note, with strong winds and blowing snow keeping fishing pressure at a low to moderate level. Walleye anglers saw the season end on a bit of a high note, with a little spike up in activity. The walleye seem to be starting their move toward staging near spawning areas and anglers reported a few limits of nice eater-size fish. Northern pike activity also saw a bit of an increase as a couple of sunny days seemed to bump up feeding activity. Panfish action has also showed signs of improving, with some fair catches of crappie, perch and bluegill being reported. Good electronics seem to be a key in finding the panfish, with waxworms, wigglers, and small minnows all producing some action. Look for panfish action to improve with the longer days and warming temperatures. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - Snowshoe trails are in great shape and the Little Falls Slough Gundy Trail is especially beautiful right now. Ski trails were last groomed last Friday and we are planning to groom & set track again March 6. The trail should be in excellent condition. Aspen buds are starting to pop. We've been in the deep freeze for the past month, we started with minus 20 degrees this morning, but it looks like spring weather is finally going to come with temps expected to climb into the 40s this weekend. Join us at the new Flambeau River State Forest Headquarters building this Saturday March 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a screening of Green Fire to help celebrate Aldo Leopold Weekend. See the first full-length, high-definition documentary film ever made about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold and his environmental legacy. Green Fire shares highlights from his extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation and the modern environmental movement. It also illustrates how Leopold's vision of a community that cares about both people and land continues to inform and inspire people across the country and around the world, highlighting modern projects that put Leopold's land ethic in action. Discussion will follow the 70 minute video as well as reading of selected passages from A Sand County Almanac. Feel free to bring a copy of the book if you have one. Treats and refreshments will be provided. For more information contact Ron Weber at 715-353-2993. The headquarters is located on county highway W 22 miles west of a Phillips and 15 miles east of Winter right on the Flambeau River. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Oneida County - Snowmobile trails in the Minocqua area remain in good conditions with trails in great condition in outlying areas! Pan fishing has been improving specifically for bluegill and crappie. Travel conditions have also improved on the lakes with minimal to no slush layers. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The forest did get a few inches of snow this week, which will make for some pretty perfect conditions on the cross-country ski trails. With the "fullish" moon this weekend, a night time ski would be beautiful. Starting this weekend the temperatures will be getting into the mid to high thirties so that will have an impact on the trails. With the warmer temperatures, please start thinking about the March 15 deadline for removing ice fishing shelters on waters north of Highway 64. Don't wait until the last minute and deteriorating ice conditions. After March 15, anglers may continue to use a portable shelter but must remove it daily and when it is not occupied or actively being used. The forest still has a couple campground host spots open for the coming season. If interested please contact Joe Fieweger at 715-385-3355 ext.113. There are still campsites plowed at Clear Lake for winter campers. Portions of the roads in the Clear Lake and Crystal Lake Campgrounds are plowed for winter walking and leashed dogs are welcome. Snowshoeing should be fantastic the coming week with the sun shining and temperatures reaching in the seeming balmy 30s. The Raven Snowshoe trail is packed and has several loops. Snowshoers can park at the Clear Lake Picnic area and boat landing off Hwy J. Also popular for snowshoeing are the Fallison, North Trout and Star Lake Nature trails, these trails are not groomed, but the lots are kept open for parking. - NHAL operations and visitor services staff

All forest cross-country ski trails are in very good to excellent condition. Escanaba was last groomed on March 3. Raven, McNaughton and Madeline were groomed on March 4. The only reason they are not rated excellent condition is a small amount of leaves in the track, which naturally occurs this time of year. This weekend should be some of the best conditions of the year for consistent conditions. On average we groom until mid-March. For great track skiing March 5 through March 9 would be best. Crews will be grooming a limited amount after that and conditions will become variable once the 40 degree temperatures arrive. By variable conditions I mean fast frozen tracks in the morning and slower softer tracks in the afternoon, with klister wax and proper waxing becoming critical for traction and glide. - Dan Jacoby, forestry facilities worker

Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center

Florence and Forest counties - With 3 inches of fresh powder on the ground, the area is still looking good for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and keeping abreast of winter animal tracking skills. Ice conditions remain solid for panfishing as well. Remember, the general game-fish season is now closed. People passing Keyes Lake boat landing may see some new fish structures being built by the fisheries and county staff that will provide refuge and spawning cover once the spring thaw arrives. - Jason Cotter, wildlife Biologist, Florence

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Fishing pressure was low to moderate this past week. Warmer temperatures helped to bring the anglers out and very little snow made traveling easy. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

Marinette County - A few walleye and northern pike were being caught just north of the Peshtigo Harbor. Anglers are jigging for walleye with raps tipped with minnows and using tip ups with large shiner minnows or smelt in the round. No anglers were seen out of Little River for whitefish this past week. Walleye were still being caught at the Hattie Street Dam on the Menominee River, with jigs and minnows working best. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Geano Beach anglers were catching walleye and whitefish on the reef south of the landing in 5 to 10 feet of water. Jigging with minnows or minnow heads has been effective. The northern pike bite has been slow, with only seven fish registered at this year's Gatorfest. Warmer weather and some run off should turn these fish on. No whitefish activity was observed off the mouth of the Oconto River. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers at Voyageur Park were still catching walleye and quite a few whitefish. Jigging for both species has been working well. Anglers are fishing in 9 to 16 feet of water with raps and colored jigs tipped with minnows. Some perch and a few walleye are being caught at Long Tail off the Lineville Road access. Jig and minnow as well as tip-ups with jig head and minnow are catching some fish. The pike bite still remains slow. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Many anglers have been seen accessing the ice out of Sand Bay with good numbers of whitefish being caught here. Some anglers park just on the ice and use an ATV or sled and others are seen driving right out to their fishing location. There are many shacks on the ice in the bay by Carmody Park with low angler activity seen mid-week but busy on the weekends. The number of anglers fishing off of Lime Kiln road is pretty consistent with moderate catch rates for good sized whitefish this past week. Anglers are reporting 16-24 inches of ice here. Anglers have been seen driving on at Wood Lane and walking on at Big Rock Place, two popular locations. Anglers fishing on the south side of the Sturgeon Bay canal off of the Yacht Club for northern pike increased this past week with some success being reported. Most are using tip-ups in between the docks with shiners for bait. Many anglers have taken to the ice out of Potawatomi State Park in hopes of catching some perch. Some anglers have been successful here, but most are reporting small sized perch. They are also catching walleye and whitefish here. Anglers fishing out of the Stone Quarry continue to be successful fishing for whitefish out in deep water, up to 90 feet, using stick baits, gold spoons or swedish pimples tipped with wax worms or minnow heads. Remember to use caution when out on the ice, especially now with warmer weather moving in soon. Ice conditions can change rapidly, so always check local ice conditions before taking to the ice. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Shawano County - Ice conditions are still very good. Landings are starting to deteriorate with ice expanding with the very cold temps. Fishing has been steady with panfish cooperating. Ice shacks have to be off after March 8. But some of the better fishing is just starting. Snowmobile trails are open around parts of Shawano County but make sure to call the Association number as warmer weather is coming and will close down sections of the trails. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Door County - Up in the Door County area we have had some very cold conditions and there really hasn't been a lot of snow on the ground, so our traditional winter activities have been lacking. Because of the lack of snow the ice is getting very thick, up to 36 inches in locations. Lots of individuals have been trying for whitefish with mixed results. Perch fishing is still very slow and the walleye activity has been hit or miss. We are starting to see more activity from bald eagles. - Brandon Bastar, fisheries research vessel captain, Sturgeon Bay

Peninsula State Park - Peninsula has varying snow depths up to 4 inches. Icy, slippery conditions exist all over the park. Cross-country ski trails are in fair condition, a few bare spots. Most loops were groomed March 3. Snowshoe/hiking trails may be icy in areas. The sledding hill is open. Warmer temperatures may cause hill conditions to deteriorate, call the park for update over the weekend. Snowmobile trails are open. - Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate

Potawatomi State Park - About two inches of new snow fell on March 3. Ski trails will be groomed by March 6. The trails should be in good condition for the weekend. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in fairly good condition. Recent grooming and tracks reset on March 3. The snow base too thin on the yellow/green trail closest to Clark Lake and red pines to set tracks but able to pack down for skiing. Some debris under trees on red trail. Ski trails are groomed for classic skiing only. No dogs, hikers or bikers on the ski trails (Red, Yellow and Green). - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Snow conditions nearly unchanged, with 3 to 4 inches on the level, snowmobile trails never did open and won't at this stage of the season. People who want to early season trout fish this week will need an ice chisel. You can walk on all area streams right now. With the exception of Canada geese, no migrants have returned. On Monday temperatures were in the 30s and sunny and the turkeys were gobbling like crazy. They want it to be spring too. Game fish season now closed, didn't much matter - fish had a bad case of lockjaw all February. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Calumet County - Repeated stretches of cold weather have led to very good ice conditions on Lake Winnebago along the east shore. Many local fishing clubs still have their ice roads marked and bridges out covering a few cracks. Now that sturgeon spearing season is over, fishermen are reminded to remove their ice shelters from Lake Winnebago by the March 8 deadline. Fishing has been hit or miss along the east shore, with white bass making up most of the daily bag. Coyote hunting in the area has been tough due to the lack of fresh tracking snow. Deer have been seen in large groups along the east shore during evening hours. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge

High Cliff State Park - Cross-country ski trails at High Cliff State Park have most likely been groomed for the last time as warmer temps are expected to deteriorate them quickly. The volunteer groomer was out March 3 and combed the skate ski trail. He felt the traditional ski trails would be better left alone since the tracks looked in good condition. The inch or two of snow we received should have covered some of the leafy debris. Bald eagles are on their nests, but no sign yet of osprey, as Lake Winnebago is still ice covered. A few Red-winged blackbirds and Sandhill cranes have been spotted in the area this week, a sure sign that spring is really coming! - Linda Guelig park manager and Cynthia Mueller, naturalist

Outagamie County - Fishing in the Wolf River bayous has slowed up due to the lower water levels. Northern pike season closed on March 1 on the Winnebago system, which includes the Wolf River up to the Shawano dam. Walleye fishing on the Wolf River will pick up in the New London area as we get closer to ice out. With the fresh snow coyote hunters are finding some success. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Milwaukee County - With the start of March, you can now visit any DNR service center or licensing agent to purchase your 2015 hunting license. Turkey Learn to Hunt workshops and free turkey clinics are being held throughout Southeast Wisconsin, search "learn to hunt" or "turkey clinics" at dnr.wi.gov for more information. Now is also the time to get outside and enjoy the arrival of spring. Look for increased activity from deer, hawks, and squirrels, and be on the lookout for displaying turkeys, even within the city! With the snow starting to melt in the coming weeks, keep your eyes open for skunk cabbage, the first of the early spring plants (known as ephemerals) peeking through the snow. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - Lapham Peak received a little over 2 inches of new snow Tuesday. All the trails were groomed and a new track was set. Everything now is well snow covered and in good condition. Lights will be on until 10 p.m. every night except Sunday. - Jay Abts, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - The Southern Unit received 2-plus inches of new snow on Tuesday. All three trail systems at the forest, Scuppernong, Nordic and McMiller were groomed on Wednesday with new classical tracks set and skate lanes packed and groomed. All three trail systems have very good conditions at this time. Get out and enjoy the great snow before the warm weather starts to appear.- Paul Sandgren, property supervisor

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Sheboygan County - Anglers fishing around the docks in Deland Marina report catching a few rainbows and browns. An occasional northern pike has also been taken through the ice.

Ozaukee County - The south end of the Port Washington harbor stays open over the winter due to the power plant discharge. This area provides a good open water fishing opportunity, and anglers there have been catching a few browns and rainbows. Spawn sacs remain the most effective bait.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee ice is impeding fishing in the harbor and river mouth. With cold weather in the forecast the rest of the week, the ice will continue to be an issue. When it becomes fishable again, the area under the Hoan Bridge should be producing a few browns and rainbows. Spawn, minnows, and Gulp are generally good baits to try. Ice anglers have been fishing in the lagoon at Lakeshore State Park as well as in McKinley Marina, but fishing has been spotty in both locations. The fishing pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant is scheduled to reopen for the season on March 15.

Racine County - In Racine the harbor in Reefpoint Marina remains frozen over. There are aerators running near some docks, so be aware of varying ice depths. Anglers fishing in Reefpoint have been catching a few browns on minnows, spawn sacs, and jigging Gulp. A few rainbows and northern pike are in the area as well.

Kenosha County - In Kenosha some ice anglers have been working in Simmons Island Marina, and they report a foot of ice or more in spots. There are aerators running near the docks, however, so use caution when out on the ice. Anglers at Simmons Island have been catching occasional brown trout on tube jigs tipped with wax worms or on spawn.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Washington County - Washington County snowmobile trails are still closed due to lack of snow. A free turkey hunter education clinic will be held this Saturday (March 7th) beginning at noon at the West Bend Public Agency Center. The clinic is open to anyone with no pre-registration required. Enter behind the building at the lower level. - Robert Lee, conservation warden, Hartford

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - There are still opportunities available for novice turkey hunters wanting to participate in a "Learn to Hunt Turkey" event. Consult the DNR website for more information on local turkey clinics and Learn to Hunt events. This week, Pike Lake DNR Wildlife Management staff will be working shifts at DNR booth of the Milwaukee Sports Show, which runs from March 4-8 on the State Fair grounds. 2015 Hunting Licenses can be purchased beginning March 4. The coyote and fox mating season is winding down, but they are still visible and we continue to receive questions from people who wonder if they need to do anything to protect their children or pets. The DNR website has a lot of good information about coyotes, fox and other common critters (raccoons, turkey, deer, etc.) on the "Urban Wildlife" and "Nuisance Wildlife" sections of the website. As the weather starts to warm up over the next few days more locally nesting Canada geese will be showing up on Theresa Marsh and all around the area to stake out their nesting sites on top of the ice, or begin nesting. Good areas for viewing geese are the frozen impoundments along Hwy. 28 on Theresa Marsh. Most of those geese that we will see in the next couple weeks are the locally nesting "giants," and not the "interior" subspecies species that nest in Canada and migrate through our area later in spring. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Green County - In Green County, Warden Ryan Caputo reports that starting on March 1st until the first Saturday in May, the Albany Dam, Decatur Dam, and the Old Brodhead power house are fish refuges from the dam downstream for a distance of 500 feet. No fishing is allowed in these areas during this time. Ice shanties need to be removed by March 8th. Snowmobile trails are currently closed. Snowmobilers are reminded to check the State Line Trail Blazers website at Statelinetrailblazer.com for up to the minute trail information. Remember if you abuse it you lose it, so make sure you are only operating on trails and properties open to public use. As always, please report any violations you observe and stay safe! - Ryan Caputo, conservation warden, New Glarus

Iowa County - Bird watchers have reported that some bluebird scouts are back and already looking for suitable places to nest and raise their young. Now is the time to clean out those bluebird houses from last year if you haven't done so already. Anglers report very few fish have been biting at Long Lake. Two anglers had their six tip-ups out for four hours on Sunday and had not had a flag yet. The ice in the Iowa and Sauk County areas is getting very tenuous, especially along the Wisconsin River sloughs so use a lot of caution when venturing out on these. A pair of eagles has been observed north of Barneveld spending a lot of time on their nest and it appears that they are incubating some eggs. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville

Richland County - Trout fishing conditions should be good for the next couple of weeks based on long term forecast. Ice fishing conditions remain slow along the LWSR. Bird migrations have started as certain species of waterfowl have been observed in open water in the area. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center

Blue Mound State Park - All cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked on March 2. Pleasure Valley still has a few thin spots. As always, skate skiing is only allowed in the campground and picnic area.

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - With warm weather in the forecast, already poor snow conditions are set to deteriorate further. However, ice conditions on Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County remain solid. Anglers have been picking up crappies and saugers near Okee, Sunset Bay, and near the railroad trestle. Wardens caution anglers that as temperatures warm, ice conditions can change rapidly on Lake Wisconsin. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette

There have been sightings of good numbers of turkeys still in their winter flocks. Fishing on local lakes has been hit and miss. Reminder that fishing shelters need to be removed from Columbia County waters by the end of the day this Sunday, March 8. Fishermen can still fish from shelters, but they need to be removed when not being actively fished from. Even though game fish season is now closed on inland lakes, the Wisconsin River is still open. Parents looking for Hunter Safety classes should start checking online as many groups will start or have started spring classes. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Lake Kegonsa State Park - Cross-country ski trails are open and in fair condition. They were groomed and tracked on Tuesday, March 3. Some areas still have a thin snow base and other areas may be icy. Conditions are expected to deteriorate this weekend due to temperatures forecast in the upper 40s. - Sarah Bolser, park manager

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Early March typically marks the beginning of northward bird migration. Over the next two months, many species of birds will migrate into and through Wisconsin as they move to their breeding areas. This influx starts gradually and builds toward a climax that usually occurs in late April or early May. As the Mississippi River begins to open, it offers outstanding waterfowl viewing opportunities, especially for diving ducks - ringnecks, scaup or bluebills, buffleheads, redheads, canvasbacks and goldeneyes. These ducks will be sporting their showy breeding plumages which should greatly aid in their identification. Keep a careful watch out for other birds too - bald and golden eagles, shorebirds, and various gull species. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - This may be one of the last weekends for winter recreation as warmer temperatures move into the area. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 30s this weekend and are forecasted to reach the low 50s by mid-week. Camping is available at the Pigeon Creek and Castle Mound campgrounds. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Dunn County - This looks to be the last weekend for cross country ski trails in Dunn County. Extended forecast shows spring is on its way! Volunteer groomers are not planning to groom after this last little bit of snow we got this week, so get out and enjoy the snow while you can. Menomonie has had some unique visitors this week with two pairs of trumpeter swans hanging out along the river near the Highway 29 bridge. Expect early season migrating birds, especially waterfowl staging along any open stretches of water. - Calvin Kunkle, ranger

Wausau DNR Service Center area

Marathon County - Snowmobile trails are still open at this time, county wide; however there are some specific trails that are closed due to poor conditions. People wanting to get out before the end of winter should do it before this weekend as trail conditions are now in late season conditions and temps are forecasted to be in the 40s all next week. Ice shacks south of Hwy. 64 are required to be off the lakes by the end of the day on Sunday March 8. Please remember to clean up around your shacks when you remove them from the ice. - Benjamin Herzfeldt, conservation warden, Wausau

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in fair to poor condition as there has been no extra snow since 2/11 and warmer temperatures are in the forecast. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, March 05, 2015

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