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Weekly News Published December 17, 2019

 

Enjoy Wisconsin State Parks In A New Light

Candlelight events offer a variety of options. Some have cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. Others may just offer one activity. - Photo credit: DNR
Candlelight events offer a variety of options. Some have cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. Others may just offer one activity. Wyalusing State Park offers hiking and snowshoeing and if the night is clear, astronomy viewing.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Paul Holtan, DNR Communications Specialist, 608-267-7517

MADISON, Wis. - It's never too late to make candlelight events part of your annual tradition. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is excited to announce more than 40 candlelight events happening this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests, recreation areas and trails.

"Winter candlelight events are some of the most popular activities at Wisconsin State Park System properties," said Ben Bergey, DNR State Park System director. "We have had candlelight skis and hikes during the last few winters that have attracted hundreds and even over a thousand visitors."

Candlelight events have become a long-standing tradition at state properties such as Pike Lake (Washington County) celebrating 31 years of candlelight events, 30 years at Newport State Park (Door County), and 28 years at the Flambeau River State Forest (Sawyer County).

Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. Properties offer an array of activities from skiing, snowshoeing to hiking, and include bonfires and hot chocolate. Depending on the property, other refreshments may be available for sale. Some candlelight events even provide grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows while some properties have warming shelters.

This winter's candlelight events kick off Jan. 4 at Blue Mound (Iowa County) and Mirror Lake (Sauk County) state parks. The largest number of events take place on Jan. 19, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9.

Due to high turnout and limited parking at Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area (Dodge County), shuttles are available from nearby businesses. Also expect large crowds at the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit (Waukesha County). Visitors will need parking vouchers in advance for the Lapham Peak event, and carpooling is encouraged.

Many events offer fires and refreshments, like this one at the Flambeau RIver State Forest. - Photo credit: DNR
Many events offer fires and refreshments, like this one at the Flambeau RIver State Forest.Photo credit: DNR

View specific event details here. Stay up-to-date on event cancellations by following the DNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share your photos from the events using the hashtag #OutWiGo, the DNR's initiative to promote activity and good health through the great outdoors. Feel free to call properties directly to confirm the event if there is inclement weather in the forecast.

Note: Several candlelight events are organized by property Friends Groups, which provide much of the volunteer support.

Candlelight Events Calendar

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020

Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020

Friday, Jan. 31, 2020

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020

Friday, Feb. 7, 2020

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020

Friday, Feb. 21, 2020

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020

Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

  • Big Foot Beach State Park - Candlelight Hike
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    15 First Day Hikes Happening Across Wisconsin On Jan. 1, 2020

    First Day Hikes offer a way to begin the New Year rejuvenated and connected with nature. First Day hikers at Mirror Lake State Park. - Photo credit: DNR
    First Day Hikes offer a way to begin the New Year rejuvenated and connected with nature. First Day hikers at Mirror Lake State Park.Photo credit: DNR

    Contact(s): Paul Holtan, DNR Communications Specialist, 608-267-7517

    [EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated with an additional hike scheduled at Perrot State Park.]

    MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' State Park System is once again hosting First Day Hikes on New Year's Day at 15 state properties across the state, from Newport State Park in Door County to the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail in Polk County. These hikes offer visitors an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenated and connected with nature.

    First Day Hikers take advantage of the Department of Tourism selfie photo stand to capture their hike at the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. - Photo credit: DNR
    First Day Hikers take advantage of the Department of Tourism selfie photo stand to capture their hike at the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.Photo credit: DNR

    This is the ninth year Wisconsin has participated in the nationwide First Day Hikes campaign. Last year, 1,150 participants hiked 2,902 miles at 10 different Wisconsin state park properties on New Year's Day.

    Stay up-to-date on event cancellations by following the DNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share your photos from the events using the hashtag #OutWiGo, the DNR's initiative to promote activity and good health through the great outdoors. Feel free to call properties directly to confirm the event if there is inclement weather in the forecast.

    A 2020 Wisconsin state park admission sticker is required for entrance to most parks for these events and will be on sale at property offices. First Day Hikes on New Year's Day are happening at the following locations:

    1. Buckhorn State Park -- First Day Hike

    2. Devil's Lake State Park -- First Day Hike

    3. Interstate State Park -- First Day Hike

    4. Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit -- First Day Hike

    5. Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit -- First Day Hike

    6. Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit -- First Day Hike

    7. Mirror Lake State Park -- First Day Hike

    8. Newport State Park -- First Day Hike

    9. Peninsula State Park -- First Day Hike

    10. Perrot State Park -- First Day Hike

    11. Red Cedar State Trail -- First Day Hike

    12. Roche-A-Cri -- First Day Hike

    13. Richard Bong State Recreation Area -- First Day Hike

    14. Straight Lake State Park -- First Day Hike

    15. Stower Seven Lakes State Trail -- First Day Hike

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    Pollinating Rare Wild Orchids By Hand Pays Off

    Effort to Aid one of Wisconsin's 48 Orchid Species Bears Fruit

    An eastern prairie white fringed orchid, one of the rarest of Wisconsin's 48 orchids. - Photo credit: Rich Staffen
    An eastern prairie white fringed orchid, one of the rarest of Wisconsin's 48 orchids.Photo credit: Rich Staffen

    Contact(s): Kevin Doyle, Conservation Biologist, 608-416-3377

    MADISON, Wis. - A painstaking effort by state conservation biologists to pollinate Wisconsin's rarest wild orchids by hand has paid off: all flowers pollinated by hand produced more seed than flowers left to be pollinated by insects.

    The results are good news for the eastern prairie white-fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea), one of Wisconsin's 48 native orchids and a species considered endangered in Wisconsin and threatened nationally.

    "We're very excited that our hand pollination of this rare orchid appears to be boosting the amount and quality of seed produced," said Kevin Doyle, a conservation botanist for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation program. "One hundred percent of the flowers that were hand pollinated produced large fruits with numerous tiny seeds. In multiple cases, these were the only flowers on that plant that did produce seed."

    View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 10 photos

    Pollinating rare plants bears fruit

    The beautiful and delicate white-fringed orchid is found in the wet-mesic prairies of southeast Wisconsin. These and other tallgrass prairie types have been reduced by well over 99% of their historical abundance in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest, primarily due to conversion to croplands and pasture due to their fertile soil. Wet-mesic prairie is now globally rare and provides a critical habitat for some of Wisconsin's rarest and most sensitive native plants and animals.

    Many orchids have specialized flowers, which require specific pollinators, and eastern prairie white-fringed orchid, which is pollinated by night-flying hawk moths, is no exception. As these prairies become more and more fragmented and crowded by invasive species, the hawk moths fail to find the orchids, and pollen is not moved between populations. The result is that the orchids suffer from inbreeding.

    For the past two summers, NHC staff and partners have hand pollinated orchids at several State Natural Areas in southeastern Wisconsin to ensure this species is not lost from the state. Using toothpicks, the human pollinators collect pollen from blooming plants at one site and transfer it to other plants at another site.

    Doyle noted that the hand pollination has successfully been used in Illinois prairies, and they are encouraged at the results thus far here, too. The true test of this project's success will not be seen for some years, though. Eastern prairie white-fringed orchids take five years to go from germinating seed to flowering adult plant. It's Doyle's hope, though, that the hand pollination efforts now will lead to more genetically diverse, more substantial and ultimately more viable populations in the future.Learn about other rare plant restoration efforts in the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation 2019 Field Notes, and learn about opportunities to get involved in DNR's Rare Plant Monitoring Program and other citizen-based monitoring programs to help rare species.

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    Read more: Previous Weekly News

    Last Revised: Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    Contact information

    Need an expert? Contact the Office of Communications.

    The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email DNRPress@Wisconsin.gov and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.