Embrace winter with family

XC skiing at Lapham Peak


The Online 24-hour event aims to raise hundreds of thousands for nonprofit organizations in Dane County.
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks is a participating nonprofit -FWSP Link          MADISON — Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW) today announced it will host the area’s first-ever online giving day, The Big Share™, on Tuesday, March 3, to benefit 70 local nonprofits that are building a fair, just community and protecting our environment.
The Big Share is a 24-hour fundraising event to rally support for Community Shares’ nonprofit groups. Modeled on successful giving day events in other parts of the country, The Big Share is an easy, flexible way to donate to and to learn more about organizations that help our community—largely through online engagement and interactions on social media. From a single web page, donors can select sub-pages from among all 70 nonprofits and direct their gifts to the causes they care about. Further, prizes from local businesses will offer nonprofits and donors a way to increase the impact of any single gift.
According to Crystel Anders, Community Shares’ Executive Director, “A giving day like The Big Share does not replace traditional fundraising, but it can greatly expand our members’ base of donors.
“Community Shares of Wisconsin welcomes donations of all sizes and allows donors to direct gifts specifically to the groups of their choice. Workplace giving has always been a key part of our fundraising.
“The Big Share now allows us to reach out to new supporters, including young donors who may prefer to connect with causes online, people working from home, and retirees who no longer have the chance to give through the workplace.”
Community Shares of Wisconsin is raising funds with help from many local businesses and individuals who are offering matching gifts and cash prizes to donors selected at random. In addition, the Madison Community Foundation serves as partnering sponsor of The Big Share, contributing both funding and leadership.
Bob Sorge, Madison Community Foundation President, said that “over the last five years giving days have become a major part of the work of community foundations, so when Community Shares approached us about supporting their efforts, it was the perfect opportunity to get involved. We’ve given grants to 28 of the participating nonprofits and 11 hold their endowments at MCF. We’re excited to be part of this effort and delighted to bolster these groups’ fundraising capacity.”
Because of Community Shares’ unique cooperative model, it fosters its member nonprofits’ ability to reach out to the next generation of donors and nonprofit leaders. As part of The Big Share, CSW is boosting the digital fundraising and communications skills of nonprofit members through trainings and 1:1 assistance. The Big Share also builds on an established partnership with the UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. UW students are gaining real-world training while helping nonprofits build capacity and refine their social media skills. A grant from the Evjue Foundation is helping to support these training efforts.
To find out more about The Big Share, visit www.thebigshare.org.
About Community Shares of Wisconsin
Community Shares of Wisconsin is a member-directed fundraising federation; all of its member groups hold a seat on the CSW board. CSW raises money through workplace giving campaigns, the Round Up program at Capitol Centre Market, and the Community CHIP™ program at Willy Street Co-op. Community Shares not only raises money for its groups, it actively helps expand their capacity through training, 1:1 support from experts, networking, and technical assistance.

Membership Helps Preserve, Protect, and Enhance…2015

Wisconsin’s state parks, forests, trails, and recreational areas!

We invite you to join us in Preserving, Promoting, Protecting and Enhancing Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas in 2015! There are several ways that you can contribute to this effort and be part of the work that Friends of Wisconsin State Parks has planned for this year. Please consider one or more of these options so that we can continue to enhance our beautiful Wisconsin park system and the beautiful resources that we all enjoy for hiking, skiing, biking, camping, kayaking and so many other recreational activities. Click to download pdf
The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks offer the following opportunities:
  • Support the statewide activities of FWSP with a donation
  • Support the statewide Naturalist program- activities throughout the summer and fall season that include interpretive programs at state parks.
  • Support Environmental Education for children at state parks
  • Support FWSP by contributing to FWSP Endowment Fund  
  • Become a member of Friends of Wisconsin State Parks in 2015
Your dollars help us to enhance our beautiful state parks and trails! Also consider supporting these efforts in 2015:
  • Volunteer at Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state in April 2015 
  • Volunteer and join a local Friends group 
  • Attend Friends events at the parks, forests, trails and recreation areas

Be a Campground Host.

downloadWould you like to spend some time camping in one of Wisconsin's state parks and stay for free? Consider being a Campground Host!
Some of the Wisconsin State Parks are looking for Camp hosts for the 2015 camping season.

Host Benefits:
  • As a campground host volunteer, you receive free camping.
  • Each site usually comes with a free electrical hook-up and may include water and/or sewer.
  • The schedules of our volunteer hosts allow you ample time to enjoy recreational activities with friends and family members while providing volunteer services within the state park.
  • Hosts will have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and perhaps develop new friendships.
  • One of the most important benefits hosts receive is a sense of satisfaction that comes in knowing you have helped make the camping experience more enjoyable for other campers.

Who Can Host:
  • Hosts can be individuals or teams such as a wife and husband.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older and have your own camping gear. 
  • Hosts may stay from 2 weeks to the entire season and there could be an opportunity to rotate hosts among other state parks for a broader experience
As a representative of the Department of Natural Resources, a host:
  • Stays in a campsite at the campground and volunteers a few hours a day.
  • Greets and assists campers with information about the park and facilities.
  • Assists in daily campground operations and set an example by being a model camper.
  • May clean campsites, bathrooms, and facilities and assist with light maintenance.
  • Dispenses park information and assists with campground programs.
  • Enjoys the company of other campers and makes sure that they enjoy their stay.
You must be willing to provide services five days each week, including weekends and holidays (a minimum of 25 hours per occupant). The property manager will try to be flexible and balance a host's schedule with visitor season demands and the host’s own needs.
  • Expected to serve a minimum of two to four consecutive weeks
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • DNR employees are not eligible
  • Must provide own camping equipment, food, and other personal items for your stay
  • Required to pass a background check

If you are interested in volunteering in Wisconsin State Parks, contact the property supervisor where you would like to volunteer to discuss available opportunities. Anyone who would like be a volunteer must fill out a Volunteer Agreement (PDF). Property superintendents will review the agreement and interview and select all volunteers. Find a State Park, Forest, Recreation Area, or Trail Volunteer Agreement [PDF]


Wisconsin Master Naturalist Are you fascinated with nature?  Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge and skills with others?  The Wisconsin Master Naturalist (WIMN) program, a statewide effort to promote awareness, understanding and stewardship of the state’s natural resources, is developing a corps of informed volunteers throughout the state. You can become a WI Master Naturalist Volunteer!
A volunteer training course will be held at the Hartman Creek State Park Conference room, with field trips each week in the Park, beginning March 7 (the course will meet Six Saturdays from 9:00 to 4:00 on March 7, March 21, April 18, April 25, May 2, May 16.  The $250 (paid to the state) course involves 40 hours of training in natural history, interpretation and conservation stewardship.   Once trained, a Wisconsin Master Naturalist provides volunteer service in one of three areas:  education/interpretation, stewardship, or citizen science.   To maintain certification, volunteers must complete 40 hours of service each year, in addition to eight hours of advanced training.
For more information about the WIMN program, please visit www.wimasternaturalist.org. Go to www.wimasternaturalist.org/event/volcoursecalendar to register for this course.
Registration for the Waupaca course closes in late February.  If you are unable to register online, please contact Martha Martin, WIMN State Office, (608)262-0020, mlmartin3@wisc.edu
Instructors for this course:  Mrs. Sue Eiler (715-258-8086; aseiler@charter.net) and Dr. Mary Trainor (pastormaryt@gmail.com). Contact the website and them for more details.

The Kettle Moraine State Forest has the cure for cabin fever*


Hoarfrost hangs over the mostly forested terrain in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. © Mike McFadzenStory and photos by Mike McFadzen. 

Work had taken most of my day, but with excellent snow conditions and a full moon, I wasn't about to waste a perfectly good ski outing. Woody, my 50–pound yellow Lab mix, knew he was in for an evening adventure, as I ditched the khakis and dressed in cold weather ski garb.
It was 15 degrees out when we unloaded at a nearby snowmobile trail. Marginal snow conditions for sledders would make for a perfect evening ski. Woody charged down the trail with me on my fat waxless skis. I caught and passed Woody on a long rolling downhill. We both enjoyed our evening ski in the heart of the Kettle Moraine. Pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails but are allowed on snowmobile trails that also may be used for skiing. Pets should be on a leash no longer than 8 feet.
The snow was falling at the rate of one inch per hour with 4 inches already on the ground and more on the way. Winter storm warnings were posted but I knew there was time for a quick ski outing. I barely made it to the Greenbush Recreation Area trails in the Northern Unit as bowed roadside trees formed a tunnel from several days of accumulating snow. It wasn't long before I heard trees cracking, collapsing from the weight of the heavy, wet snow.
I was surprised to see head groomer Jeff Welsch making corduroy in these difficult conditions with the trail groomer. I warned him about the conditions, but he shrugged it off as usual. I found out later he had to chainsaw his way out to make it home. Another good winter at Greenbush!
The Kettle Moraine State Forest is divided into two large and three small units, which spread across a hundred miles. The kettles are one of southern Wisconsin's most popular recreation areas with well over 2 million visitors annually.
It's all connected by the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. The route stretches 115 miles, from Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County to Whitewater Lake in Walworth County. The drive takes in all five forest units and is close to almost all natural features the forest offers. How's that for planning?
This mostly forested and undulating terrain makes a great place for a cadre of outdoor sports. This area is unique in the Midwest, containing landforms such as kettles, kames and eskers. The distinctive geology was caused by the receding glaciers over 10,000 years ago, which created depressions called "kettles." These kettles range in size from tiny potholes to large lakes. Some of the best known formations of the ridged moraine area are Holy Hill, Lapham Peak and infamous Dundee Mountain, with its numerous reported and published UFO sightings.
A group of hearty skiers. © Mike McFadzen
A group of hearty skiers take a break while skiing the Ice Age Trail near the Parnell Tower. Be prepared for big hills with sharp turns when venturing off trail in the Kettle Moraine.
Northern Kettle Moraine
The 30,000–acre Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest is 50 miles northeast of Milwaukee. The Greenbush and Zillmer groomed ski trails in the Northern Unit both have heated shelters and cater to thousands of skiers annually. An expansive trail system offers over 130 miles of skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and snowmobiling. For an overview of the area's unique glacial features, visit the Henry S. Reuss Ice Age Center located west of Dundee on State Highway 67.
The silent sports crowd loves Greenbush with its myriad of trails. It's a snowshoer's dream to connect the various systems through the Ice Age or equestrian trails, both which run the length of the forest. Be aware when the snowmobile trails are posted open. Greenbush also provides 9 kilometers of challenging single track bike trail, which make for an excellent snowshoe or fat bike experience in winter. You'll be shoeing alongside huge eskers and kettles with 40–foot drops.
A thriving cross–country ski scene is led by the Northern Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club. The club recently completed a $25,000 trail renovation, which brought the trails up to national standards. Greenbush's 2–kilometer Brown Loop is lighted for cross–country skiing, which makes it a perfect trail for the local youth ski program. Skiers joke that the heated Greenbush shelter typically becomes the largest day care center in the county on a snowy weekend. There also is a sledding hill right out the door.
Long Lake and Mauthe Lake Recreation Areas are very similar to state parks with camping, good swimming and paddle sports access.
There's good–natured banter between staff at the two larger units, each claiming to be the better state forest.
"The Northern Unit is the largest and best," laughs Property Superintendent Jason Quast. "You can't beat the cross–country skiing and fall hiking."
"It's nice if you have several days to explore," Quast says.
Southern Kettle Moraine
The Southern Unit is located south of a line between Milwaukee and Madison, offering over 22,000 acres of glacial hills, kettles, lakes, prairies and forests. The forest headquarters is 3 miles west of the village of Eagle on State Highway 59.
The most popular groomed trails for cross–country skiing are the Nordic ski trails located on County Highway H. Back–country skiers have many options including sections of the Ice Age Trail, John Muir trails and others. Snowshoe use is growing and very visible on the Emma Carlin trails.
Nine State Natural Areas are contained in the forest, as well as the Scuppernong River Habitat Area, which is the largest wet prairie east of the Mississippi River.
Another top attraction is Paradise Springs located on State Highway 67, where you can see a spring bubbling up through the sand at the rate of 3,000 gallons per hour.
With so many trail offerings, it's hard to pick a favorite. For a short and scenic snowshoe try the Lone Tree Bluff Nature Trail. It is one of the few areas where the Niagara Escarpment pokes above ground in southern Wisconsin.
Lapham Peak
Lapham Peak is located 20 miles west of Milwaukee near the city of Delafield. An active Friends organization has concentrated on the cross–country ski scene, which includes the development of a heated shelter, a 2.5–mile lighted ski trail, snow–making equipment and a thriving youth ski program. Don't miss the observation tower, which provides a commanding view of the glaciated countryside.
Pike and Loew lakes
The Pike Lake Unit is located adjacent to the city of Hartford and the Loew Lake Unit is less than 10 miles south of there. Pike Lake is the more developed of the two, with a popular 32–site campground, a swimming beach, picnic areas, several miles of hiking and skiing trails and an observation tower. Loew Lake is a rustic respite offering hiking, kayaking, fishing and other silent sport activities.
Ice Age Trail
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail meanders more than 60 miles through the Kettle Moraine, connecting all five units and providing stunning vistas, prairie displays and arboreal tunnels through climax forest. Backpack campsites are available for long–distance hikers. Designers managed to place the trail in some of the most scenic areas of the forest.
"The Kettle Moraine offers a surprisingly wild feel for a place so close to the metro areas of southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois. It's wonderfully accessible, well maintained and provides a high–quality trail experience within a short drive of millions," explains Mike Wollmer, Executive Director of the Ice Age Trail Alliance.
Partnerships are key to the forest's future
The kettles get millions of visitors annually and continued growth puts increasing pressure on one of the busiest recreational forests in Wisconsin. The demand for events such as skiing, running, biking and adventure races is also growing, adding additional challenges for staff and property.
User partnerships are key to maintaining current offerings. Organizations like the Northern Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club have made it possible to sustain and even grow programs. Ski Club President Clark Reinke understands the DNR's position.
"With DNR's cooperation, our club buys the grooming equipment, grooms the trails, developed a lighted ski trail and built a four–season recreational shelter," explains Reinke. "It's a great relationship, everyone benefits."
*Author: Mike McFadzen writes from Greenbush, Wis.
Wisconsin Natural Resources (WNR) magazine started as The Wisconsin Conservationist in 1919. Since that time there have been several name and design changes, but for almost 100 years, Wisconsin’s natural resources agency has produced a magazine to keep the agency in touch with Wisconsin residents and visitors.