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Outdoor Report

Published February 1, 2018 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).

While the southern portions of the state have continued to suffer from a lack of snow, some northern areas received additional snowfall as recently as January 30. About 20 northern counties are now rating snowmobile conditions as fair to good on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

The same is largely true for those looking to ski or snowshoe, with many counties in the northern sections of the state ready with groomed trails for cross-country skiing and trails with enough snow pack for snowshoeing. Be aware that the recent warmth and following cold may have made trails icy in areas. People can now check on cross-country ski conditions at a number of state park and forest properties through the DNR website by searching keywords "trail conditions."

People can now check on cross-country ski conditions through the DNR website. These freshly groomed trails are at Pattison State Park. - Photo credit: DNR
People can now check on cross-country ski conditions through the DNR website. These freshly groomed trails are at Pattison State Park.Photo credit: DNR

With the rain and wind in late January came huge ice shoves on the Bay of Green Bay at the Oconto breakwater stacking up ice and creating difficult travel conditions. Anglers who are venturing out are staying away the from larger cracks and staying close to the breakwater and are reporting limits of whitefish, smaller perch and variable sizes of northern. Anglers at the Peshtigo harbor in Marinette County have been catching smaller northern pike on tip-ups. Anglers off Voyageur's Park are landing good numbers of walleye, along with fewer whitefish and northern. Those fishing out at Bayshore and Volk's Landing were targeting whitefish, but having a tougher time of it.

Hunting seasons for squirrel, grouse and bobcat closed on January 31. Shed hunters are beginning to travel through cornfields and swamps in search of antlers that most bucks will have shed by now. While hunting seasons may have closed, expect to see tracks for active otters, fisher and bobcats as they traverse the landscape, particularly on warmer days.

There are a number of songbirds active and singing despite the weather, with sightings of juncos, cardinals, horned larks, goldfinches and common redpolls continue to be numerous this winter. Several robin sightings have also come in. Those who regularly feed birds are noticing only sporadic attendance, as warmer bouts in this winter have allowed birds to forage in the fields and forests. A large number of eagles are also being reported by those observing the Wisconsin River at the Petenwell Dam. Northern shrike, rough-legged hawk and tree sparrows were present this week at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area where a golden eagle and great gray owl were also seen.

With the good snow in the north, a number of properties are featuring snowshoeing this weekend. Crex Meadows will host a candlelight snowshoe hike Friday night and on Saturday Willow River State Park is hosting a learn to snowshoe while Interstate Park is hosting a Snowshoe Superbowl Olympics with games and outdoor art. Candlelight events continue with the Flambeau River State Forest holding its 26th annual candlelight ski and hike. Other properties in the southern half of the state will only be holding candlelight hikes due to the lack of snow. Big Foot Beach, Mirror Lake and Peninsula state parks and Black River and Northern Kettle Moraine state forests all have events Saturday. One scheduled for Blue Mound has been cancelled due to poor trail conditions. For all details and a complete list of activities search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties
Friday, February 2, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Find a park, forest trail or recreation property

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

February 7, 9-noon - Stauffacher Unit of Muralt Bluff Prairie: Get outside and help restore the Stauffacher unit! Help cut and pile brush, and enjoy the beauty of this savanna and remnant prairie in the process. Lack of fire has allowed mesic tree species and brush to encroach on prairie and savanna here. Cut remaining brush and trees to encourage native prairie plants to fill in. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Click for more information.

February 9, 9-noon - Ridgeway Pine Relict: Ridgeway features towering cliffs of pine with northern plant species underneath and extensive oak savanna. Help the Friends of Ridgeway Pine Relict, Inc. care for this site by removing invasive plants and planting native plants. Workdays are once a month on the second Friday. This month we will be cutting and burning brush. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Click for more information.

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - The beginning of February has brought blue skies and cold temperatures. High temperatures in the coming week are expected to be in the teens, with lows in the single digits below zero. No significant snow has fallen in the past couple of weeks, and none is in the forecast. However, we still have enough snow on the ground to enjoy winter sports! All cross-country ski trails were groomed and track set Jan. 31. There is still about a 3-4 inch base. Conditions are very good. The additional inch of snow from yesterday helped to cover up the pine needles and debris that was mentioned in the report from earlier in the week. The After Hours Snowshoe trails are now being groomed for snowshoe and fat tire bike use! The Fox Loop is 1.1 km, the Coyote Loop is 3.1 km. Trail passes are required for those 16 or older who are using the trails. This Sunday Feb. 4 there will be a learn to ski program. Next Saturday, Feb. 10, is the Candlelight Ski Event. The event starts when it gets dark around 5 p.m. Approximately 5 Km of the trails will be lit by luminaries, there will be bonfires, and marshmallows, hot chocolate and apple cider will be provided. A gas grill will also be available for those that would like to use it. This is a great family event, and it's free! No trail passes are required during the event. Snowmobile Trail information condition reports for Douglas County are at Douglascountywi.org; search "snowmobile" or call 715-378-4528; and for Bayfield County at Bayfieldcounty.org; search "snowmobile trail conditions" or call 1800-472-6338. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Copper Falls State Park - Cross-country ski trails are groomed and tracked Wed., Jan. 31 for skate and classic and are in excellent condition. Maps are available at the office, which identify the different ski trails for skate and classic skiing. - Brent Couperus, ranger

Snowshoieng has been good in the north and a number of properties are holding snowshoe events this weekend. Snowshoeing at Amnicon Falls State Park. - Photo credit: DNR
Snowshoieng has been good in the north and a number of properties are holding snowshoe events this weekend. Snowshoeing at Amnicon Falls State Park.Photo credit: DNR

Amnicon Falls State Park - Snow cover has settled to an average depth of about 7 inches. The snow is not crusty but trails are icy in places. Snowshoe fans are making the most of conditions and enjoying the quiet woods. - David Lindsey, ranger

Pattison State Park - Trace amount of new snow over the weekend. We have a snow total of 6 inches on the ground. The cross-country ski trail was groomed and tracked on Friday Jan. 26 and is in very good condition. There are 3 inches of base on the ski trail. - Gervase Thompson, ranger

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Birds are scarce now in the Grantsburg area. Common redpolls are one highlight species that is numerous this winter. They like to hang out around bird feeders especially, so if you come across a bird feeder, stop and wait for a few minutes. Northern shrike, rough- legged hawk and tree sparrows were present this week. Rarities include the golden eagle which is spending its third winter with us and a great gray owl spotted along County Road F. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Interstate Park - Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and were still in good condition as of Jan. 29. - Matthew Densow, ranger

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail was groomed Thursday, Feb 1 and is in very good condition. There is at least an 8-inch base and it is groomed and tracked for skating and traditional skiing. Snowmobile trails are in very good condition. The groomers are out almost daily. Snowshoe trails are open throughout the Forest. The snow depth varies throughout the Forest from 12 to 20 inches depending upon the location. Lake of the Pines is reported to have approximately 20-plus-inches of ice and fishermen are catching crappies and northerns. Connors Lake ice depth is reported to be about 20 inches and fishermen are catching walleye. Friday is Groundhog Day, and if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter, otherwise there will be an early spring. It sure is winter on the Flambeau, with 20 inches of snow and bitter cold. Wildlife movement is decreased in the subzero weather. Deer and elk are browsing in aspen clear cuts and logging areas where food is easier to obtain. They are still in relatively good body condition but movement is somewhat hampered due to the snow crust. Body condition may lessen as the winter progresses. Grouse may be having a tougher time snow roosting with the fluctuating temperatures, allowing for easier predation. Winter is a hungry time in the north. The weather forecast for this week end calls for Friday to have a 30 percent chance of snow showers, with a high of 7 and a low of -1 with more snow during the night. Saturday is forecasted to be a 40 percent chance of snow with a high of 12 and low of -9, and more snow during the night. Sunday, will be sunny, with a high of 7 and a low of -9. Be safe and be sure to bundle up if going outside and keep warm! Join us for the Flambeau River State Forest for the Twenty-Sixth Candlelight Ski from 6-9 p.m. this Saturday Feb. 3. This event will be held at the Flambeau Hills Trail Head. A 1.8 kilometer loop of trail will be groomed, tracked and lit with over 600 candles. The trail is for skiers or hikers and winds through the heart of the forest. The trail is wide enough for diagonal striders and skate skiers. Hiking and snowshoeing are also permitted during this event. Picnic tables and a large barbecue grill will be available near the trail head for persons who wish to cook their food, and hot dogs, chili, spiced tea and goodies made by the staff will be provided. Large warming fires will also be built and maintained throughout the night. The Forest Staff promotes this as a casual family-type outing and hopes that families and friends come and spend the evening with them. The candles should provide a luminescent atmosphere for all to enjoy. Starting at 5 p.m. Saturday all day-use fees at the trail head will be waived. The Flambeau Hills Trail Head is located on County Highway "W" 21 miles west of Phillips and 15 miles east of Winter. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - All cross-country ski trails are in good condition. Escanaba was tracked Jan. 27. McNaughton skaters loop groomed and all other loops tracked Jan. 26. Madeline Trail had all loops tracked Jan. 29. Raven Trail was tracked Jan. 26 - Tony Martinez, parks and recreation specialist

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - Anglers at Peshtigo harbor have reported catching a few small northern on tip-ups. There was one gate open on the Hattie Street Dam. Slow fishing is being reported on the Menominee River at the Sixth street slip and Menekaunee harbor. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - There were reports of limits of whitefish being caught earlier in the week out from Geano Beach. Anglers are also reporting catching lots of small perch with few keepers and northern on tip-ups. With the rain and wind on Monday the Jan. 22 came huge ice shoves at the Oconto breakwater stacking up ice and creating difficult travel conditions. Anglers who are venturing out are staying away the from larger cracks and staying close to the breakwater report having success catching whitefish and the occasional perch and northern jigging Swedish pimples and spoons tipped with waxies. There has also been reports of larger northern caught on tip-ups out of the Oconto breakwater area as well. Reports for perch fishing at County Park 2 are angler catching a lot of smaller fish as of late with very few keepers. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers at Voyageurs park have reported success catching good numbers of walleyes on jigging raps, slender spoons and Swedish pimples tipped with minnows. The occasional whitefish are also being landed. The walleye bite seems to be the hottest early in the morning. Anglers fishing the Longtail area have reported catching good numbers of perch but having to sort through a lot of smaller fish to find a few keepers, with a few northern in the 20-30 inch range thrown into the mix as well. While anglers off Sunset Beach are reporting catching a few small perch and northern. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Anglers at Bayshore County Park and Volks Landing had varying luck this week. All anglers interviewed reported targeting whitefish, some coming back with only two fish while others were able to catch their limit for a few hours spent on the ice. The lots both averaged around 8 cars and trailers during the week while averaging upwards of 50 cars and trailers over the weekend. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Early in the week Door County had poor weather conditions. Towards the end of the week anglers were at Sugar Creek County Park where most were able to come off a half day on the ice with their limit of whitefish. The lot averaged around 10 cars and trailers during the week and near 50 over the weekend. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Most of the snowmobile trails in Marinette County remain open and clubs are reporting the trails in fair to good riding condition. A recent snowfall brought an additional 2-3 inches of fresh snow on Jan. 30. Trail systems in southern Marinette County around the Coleman area remain closed. For the most recent trail report, please go to: marinettecosnowtrails.com. Ice fishing has been slow but a few crappies and northern pike are being caught on Caldron Falls. Caldron Falls is under special panfish management and has specific regulations regarding panfish harvest. Please refer to the fishing regulations and posted signs at the boat landing regarding the special regulations. Most area lakes have approximately 12-16 inches of ice, but as always, caution should be used when traveling on frozen lakes. Avoid areas around inlets, outlets, dams, and river channels. As an additional reminder, all ATV/UTV/snowmobiles used on frozen lakes must also be registered with current registration. - Tim Werner, conservation warden

Warm weekend weather melted some snow, but there is still 5-8 inches on the ground in northern Marinette county. A small amount of snow is expected to fall on Wednesday and then cold temps should settle in. The snow levels should hold and I expect snowmobile and ski trails to be in decent condition for the weekend. If you are riding trails in the Dunbar area, please be aware of logging activity south of Dunbar off of CCC Camp road. Loggers there are cutting aspen to improve grouse habitat in Marinette County Forest and wildlife staff are cutting patches of alder to improve woodcock habitat. This work is taking place in the Pike River Ruffed Grouse Management Area and is a cooperative project involving many groups including; Ruffed Grouse Society, Dunbar Sportsman's Club, Marinette County, and DNR. Squirrel, grouse and bobcat seasons closed on Jan. 31. Snowshoe hare and cotton tail rabbits may still be hunted as well as coyotes and fox. Ice fisherman took advantage of another warm weekend and many fish were caught including crappie, perch, and walleye. Most bucks have now shed their antlers (some will hold on to them until as late as April!), and shed hunters are beginning to walk the cedar swamps and cut cornfields in search of a prize. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Peninsula State Park - The park received about 1-2 inches of snow Jan. 31. Some of the ski trails were tracked for classic skiing Feb. 1 and are in fair condition. Others were not groomed and are in poor condition. - Jessica Doell, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Lake Michigan ice formations are very beautiful, but extremely unstable, please stay off these structures for your safety. Remember, park staff do not monitor ice conditions. Winter is a great time for birding along the Lake Michigan shoreline. There have been lots of buffleheads near the shoreline by the office and they are fun to watch bobbing in the waves. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy, red-bellied woodpeckers, and squirrels. A porcupine was spotted in a tall pine on the Black Trail. Cross-country ski trails were last groomed and tracked for classic cross-country skiing Jan. 19 and are now in poor condition. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Not much snow left after the inconsistent weather we have had. No trails have opened yet! Plenty of ice for ice fishing but have not heard of anyone having any success. Otters, fishers and bobcats are all active on the north end of the work unit. Ruffed grouse season ended Jan. 31. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

It is a great time to be an ice skater. With little snow on area lakes, the lake's ice is smooth and great for skating. As always, please check the local ice conditions before going out. Fishing has been slow on most waters. But there has been an active night bite for walleyes on Lake Puckaway. Anglers are doing well with tip ups baited with shiners. Because there is little snow, now is a great time to get out and visit your public properties. It is easy to hike and get around to see your State lands. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The entire man-made snow loop of the cross-country ski system was groomed Wednesday night, Jan. 21, and a new track was set. Overall the trail is in pretty good shape. Lights will be on until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday nights. Snowmaking will resume all day Friday. Please use caution while skiing around snow guns. - Brian Jacquette, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - There is little to no snow left on the trails after recent warm temps and rain. Several areas are hazardous due to icy conditions or have frozen puddles or small ponds of water depending upon temperature and time of day. Skiing is not recommended at this time and use extreme caution if hiking on the trails.- Anne Korman, property supervisor

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Blue Mound State Park - All ski trails are closed due to lack of snow. A candlelight ski scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 3 has been canceled. - Kevin Swenson, park manager

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Tree sparrows, juncos, cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, horned larks, nuthatches, goldfinches, blue jays, and tufted titmice are the majority of songbirds currently active in the area. A few scattered robins have also been reported. Many people who feed songbirds have reported sporadic feeding activity at their feeders this winter, as the open winter has allowed songbirds the luxury of obtaining enough food from the fields and forests. Unfortunately, people who feed songbirds during the winter have been deprived of the enjoyment that winter feeding provides. That situation may certainly change in a hurry, though, if we get a significant snow accumulation. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - Cross-country ski trails have a packed thin base, with grass and tree debris present on trails. It rained on Jan. 22 with some snow on top. Warm weekend resulted in melting and icy conditions. Probably need 5-6 inches snowfall to get in good conditions. - Peter Bakken, superintendent

Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the single digits to mid-teens with a chance of snow Friday night and Saturday. Mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb. 3. The Black River Forest Trail Foundation will be holding their annual candlelight ski, hike and snowshoe event from 6 -9 p.m. at the Smrekar warming shelter. Food and refreshments will be available as well as a raffle with great prizes. This event will be held as a hike if we do not have enough snow for skiing or snowshoeing. Snowshoe trails are open to hiking, snowshoers are allowed anywhere on the state forest that is not a groomed trail. ATV and UTV trails will reopen on Thursday, Feb. 1. Snowmobile trails remain closed due to lack of snow. Trails are icy in spots please ride with caution.- Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Lake Wissota State Park - The cross-country ski trails are groomed and in good condition. Recent warm weather has hardened the track and made it slick in some areas. There are a few spots in the flat stretches with a thin base. We have a new multi-use winter trail system in the park that is groomed and designated for all silent sport activities. This provides lots of parking options and great trails for our snowshoeing, hiking, fat biking, skijoring and sled pulling folks! Check out the new winter maps available at the park shop and at the trailheads. Ice fishing is in full swing on Lake Wissota with the walleye bite being productive early and late in the day.Species of birds seen or heard include: goldfinches, ravens, crows, phoebes, northern juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, red headed and pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, snowy owls and blue jays. - Dave Hladilek, park manager

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Adams County - There are beginning to be some good numbers of eagles hanging around the Wisconsin River at the Petenwell Dam. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship



Last Revised: Thursday, February 01, 2018

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