Embrace winter with family

XC skiing at Lapham Peak


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.

Friends Regional Summit 2015

Thanks to all of you who attended the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Regional summits in 2014.  The summits, held around the state,  were a great success. A special thank you is extended to Mike Samsa and Terry Jensen, members of the FWSP Outreach Committee, who attended all 4 summits.  Also, thank you to all the other FWSP board members whom attended and supported the Summits.
Under Roger Putnam's leadership, The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks have worked through the information gathered at each summit to find the topics most concerning the local Friends Groups. (Link to Summary)
The 2015 Regional Informational Summits dates and places have been established. The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks are looking forward to seeing you again at the summits and please encourage other Friends Groups to attend as well.
2015 DATES:
Southwest Region Friends Summit: Saturday – January 24, 2015 1:00-3:30 Comfort Inn & Suites – Madison
Northeast Region Friends Summit: Saturday – April 25, 2015- Kohler-Andrae S.P.
Southeast Region Friends Summit: Saturday – June 13, 2015 – Milwaukee
Northwest Region Friends Summit: Saturday – Sept. 26, 2015 – Wausau
Bill Zager
FWSP Outreach Committee Chair

Grants Available -

Norma & Stanley DeBoer Quiet Trails Fund

The Wisconsin Conservation Endowment’s Norma & Stanley DeBoer Quiet Trails Fund (Download Link) is available for 2015. The fund provides grants ranging from $500 to $1,000 to promote the knowledge, enjoyment and stewardship of Wisconsin’s natural resources.
The primary purpose of this fund is the creation and maintenance of walking trails open to the public on public lands, including, but not limited to the following activities: identification or trail locations; surveying; purchase of materials; construction; clean-up activities; repairs of trail surfaces, railings, or existing signage; and fees for necessary professional services. The secondary purpose is the enhancement and promotion of walking trails accessible to the public on public lands, including, but not limited to: habitat improvement adjacent to the trail; development, creation and installation of directional or explanatory signage and trail guide booklets; and modest costs of events designed to increase awareness and/or use of walking trails.
The fund cannot be used for activities associated with any trail open to motorized vehicles (except for authorized maintenance or construction vehicles or motorized equipment for the disabled). This includes, but is not limited to: trails for snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and motorcycles.
To apply, send your completed application to caitlin.williamson@wisconsin.gov by February 15, 2015.

David & Joyce Weizenicker Endowment Fund for State Parks.

The fund provides grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 for projects by park property friends groups. (Download Link)
Qualified projects will support the primary purpose of facilitating accessibility for senior citizens, especially trail development, maintenance and restoration, and the development and maintenance of rest-stops including benches, overlooks, and interpretive signage. Qualified applicants are required to match gift with cash or in-kind support on a 1:1 basis.
To apply, send your completed application to caitlin.williamson@wisconsin.gov by February 15, 2015.

2015 Holiday Gift Packages: “Give the gift of Recreation”

Welcome to Friends of Wisconsin State Parks online store.

Pkg. #12015 Wisconsin Resident state park sticker and a donation to Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (a certificate of donation included) $35 +$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #22015 Wisconsin Resident state park sticker and a one year subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine and a donation to FWSP (a certificate of donation included) $45+$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #32015 Wisconsin Resident state park sticker and a 2015 Wisconsin State Trail Pass and a donation to FWSP (a certificate of donation included) $65+$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #42015 Non-Resident Wisconsin state park sticker - for use on a vehicle not bearing a Wisconsin license plate - and a donation to Friends of Wisconsin state parks (certificate of donation included) .   $55 +$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #5 – 2015 Wisconsin Resident state park sticker and a Donation to Support state parks and trails throughout Wisconsin
The receiver of this gift package will receive a 2015 resident park sticker and a certificate of donation for tax records. This gift will be used to support education and enhancements at state parks, forests and trails throughout the state. $60 +$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #62015 Wisconsin Resident state park sticker and a “Gift of a Tree or Flowers” for Wisconsin state parks. The receiver of this gift will receive a 2015 Resident state park sticker and a certificate of Planting. A tree will be planted at a state park/forest/trail property or flowers to be planted in a garden area at a park/forest/trail property in spring 2015   $75+$3.00 S/H  

Pkg. #72015 Wisconsin Resident state park sticker and a Silver level donation to Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. The receiver of this gift will receive a 2015 Wisconsin resident state park sticker and a certificate of donation for tax records. Friends of Wisconsin State Parks work to Preserve, Protect, Promote and Enhance Wisconsin’s beautiful state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas around the state. $100 +$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #82015 Wisconsin State Trail Pass and a donation to Friends of Wisconsin State Parks ( a certificate of donation included) $40 +$3.00 S/H

Pkg. #9 – 2015 Wisconsin State Park sticker and a copy of the “Easy Campground Cooking” cookbook and a donation to FWSP (a certificate of donation included) $50+$3.00 S/H .

Pkg. #10 – 2015 Wisconsin Resident State Park sticker and a 2015 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar and a donation to FWSP (a certificate of donation included) $45+$3.00 S/H .

Pkg. #112015 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar $10 +$3.00 S/H .

Pkg. #122015 Membership with Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (includes a copy of their “Between Friends” quarterly newsletter) $25 + $3 S/H

    Pkg. #13 –“ Easy Campfire Cooking” Cookbook  $12.95+$3 S/H