Candlelight events begin Dec. 31 at Minnesota state parks, trails

Not that many decades ago, Minnesotans lit the farmland and countryside only with the use of lanterns.
This winter, people can get the same visual effect at the popular annual candlelight events at Minnesota state parks and trails.
Each year, many staff and volunteers line trails with lanterns, candles and other luminaries. Visitors can then walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski those trails, depending on the event and the amount of snow. After hitting the trails, they can warm up with hot cocoa or cider in the visitor center or around a bonfire.
More than 30 candlelight events are scheduled at Minnesota state parks and trails this winter, starting Dec. 31, and continuing through early March, according to the Department of Natural Resources. A few events include these:
* 4-8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul.
* 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Lake Maria State Park, Monticello.
* 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, Whitewater State Park, Altura.
For the complete schedule, including dates, times and other details, visit mndnr.gov/candlelight.
“Few things transform a winter evening like soft light on snow,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “Candles and lanterns help to create an unforgettable experience, especially beneath the light from a starry sky and full moon.”
Snowshoes and cross-country skis can be rented or checked out at some parks. Fees are typically $6 per person for snowshoes and $10 per person for skis, boots and poles. Call in advance to confirm the availability of equipment if needed.
The candlelight events are free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit). Permits can be purchased at the park, but visitors can avoid waiting in line by getting one in advance at mndnr.gov/reservations.
Skiers age 16 and older also need the Great Minnesota Ski Pass to participate in the candlelight ski events. The ski pass ($6/day or $20/season) allows access to hundreds of miles of trails in state parks, state forests, city parks and other public lands throughout Minnesota (visit mndnr.gov/skiing/skipass/list.html for a complete list and map).
For information on snow depth and trail conditions, visit mndnr.gov/snow_depth.
Note that events may be changed or canceled due to weather. For updates, call the park or the DNR Information Center, 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


DNR invites input on proposed trails in Huntersville, Lyons state forests

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites anyone with an interest in recreational trail systems and motorized use in the Huntersville and Lyons state forests in Wadena County to attend a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, to review proposals that include changes to trail systems in the state forests.
The meeting will be held at the Menahga Public School building, 216 Aspen Ave. SE, Menahga.
Proposed changes include adding 14.3 miles of off-highway motorcycle, .9 miles of all-terrain vehicle/off-highway motorcycle and 4.3 miles of horse trail, as well as undesignating 5.1 miles of unsustainable trail. The draft proposals reflect feedback gathered during an open house in October 2017.
The forests are classified as “limited” with respect to motor vehicle use. That means that OHVs may only use forest roads and trails that are posted open. The DNR does not propose changing the “limited” classification.
At the meeting, the DNR invites the public to review maps of existing and proposed trails, discuss the DNR proposals, submit comments and suggest changes to the recommendations. The DNR will also accept written comments through 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13.
Comments received at the meeting and during the public comment period will be used to develop a final recommendation that will be submitted to the DNR commissioner for approval. Changes to state forest trail designations must be made by a commissioner's order and published in the State Register.
Written comments may be submitted:
* By fax to: 651-297-1157.
* By email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
* By U.S. mail to: Joe Unger, DNR Parks and Trails, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4039.
For more information, call the DNR Parks and Trails Division central office, 651-259-5279, or the DNR Division of Parks and Trails regional office, 218-308-2372. Information is also available online at mndnr.gov.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued its annual ice safety warning for lakes with winter aeration systems.
Aeration creates areas of thin ice and open water that are extremely hazardous to people and pets. Open water areas can shift or change shapes, depending on weather conditions, and leaks may develop in air lines, creating other areas of weak ice or open water.
The updated list of aerated lakes and more information is available at mndnr.gov/eco/lakeaeration.
“We’re urging people to use caution anytime they venture onto lake ice, especially at night,” said Amanda Yourd, DNR hydrologist and aeration coordinator. “Extreme care should be taken on aerated lakes. Watch for the large orange and black warning signs at high-use public accesses and the required thin ice signs around open water areas.”
Aeration systems help prevent winterkill of fish populations by adding oxygen to the lake and, in certain situations, to protect shorelines from ice damage. They are generally operated from the time the lakes freeze until the ice breaks up in the spring. About 280 lakes will have aeration systems operating on them this winter. Private hatchery operators also use aeration systems, usually on small lakes without public accesses.
A permit from the DNR is required to install and operate an aeration system. Permit holders must publish public notices, post warning signs and inspect the systems at least once every seven days. Liability insurance is generally required of private groups or citizens operating aeration systems in protected waters. Watch for notices in local media identifying aerated lakes. DNR staff ensure permittees comply with all requirements and regularly inspect systems for safety.
Some municipalities may have ordinances that prohibit entering into the thin ice marked area and/or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation.  These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.
Questions concerning aeration or thin ice can be answered by calling a regional or area fisheries office or the DNR at 888-646-6367.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


More than 35 candlelight events scheduled this winter

MADISON - Warmer temperatures in the last week and little snow so far this season have winter snow enthusiasts hoping for a cool down and some timely snowfalls before to get trails ready for the more than 30 candlelight events scheduled for this winter at Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area and trail properties.
"Winter candlelight events are some of the most popular activities at Wisconsin State Park System properties," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director. "We have had candlelight skis and hikes in the last few winters that have attracted hundreds and even over a thousand visitors. They have also become a long-standing tradition at some of our properties. This will be the 29th year for candlelight events at Pike Lake and Newport and the 27th year for the Flambeau River State Forest."
This winter's candlelight events kick off Jan. 5, with Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks holding events. The largest number of events will be held Jan. 19, Feb. 2, and Feb. 9.
Events at Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center attract so many visitors that all of the available parking fills. Horicon offer shuttles from other locations and Lapham Peak encourages people to car pool. Parking vouchers are required prior to arrival at the Lapham Peak event.
The park system plans on again using the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Twitter social media platform to alert people when an event has reached capacity or has been canceled due to inclement weather.
Event visitors are encouraged to post photos on their Twitter and Instagram accounts using the hashtag #OutWiGo, the park system's new initiative - pronounced "Out-We-Go" - to promote activity and good health through the great outdoors.
Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others offer just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
Many of the events include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.
People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword "candlelight."
Some friends groups had not finalized details for events this winter, so additional events will be added as they are finalized. For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords "find a park." 2019 Wisconsin State Park admission fees and trail passes apply for the events unless otherwise noted.
While most events will not be canceled due to lack of snow, they still could be canceled if conditions are icy, extremely cold or have severe wind chills, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if threatening weather is in the forecast.

2019 Winter Candlelight Events at State Parks, Forests and Trails
Saturday, Jan. 5
Blue Mound State Park - Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
Mirror Lake State Park - Candlelight Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe
Saturday, Jan. 12
Lake Kegonsa State Park - Candlelight Ski
Wildcat Mountain State - Candlelight ski, snowshoe, hike and winter star gazing
Saturday, Jan. 19
Governor Dodge State Park - 20th Annual Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
Heritage Hill State Park - Luminary Walk $
Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center - Candlelight Hike
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit - Candlelight Ski and Hike
Lake Wissota State Park - Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
Rib Mountain State Park - Candlelight Snowshoe Hike
Friday, Jan. 25
Red Cedar State Trail - Annual Candlelight Ski and Hike
Saturday, Jan. 26
Brunet Island State Park - Candlelight ski, snowshoe and family sledding party
Hartman Creek State Park - Candlelight ski, hike and snowshoe
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit- Friends of Lapham Peak Annual Candlelight Ski/Hike
Point Beach State Forest - Candlelight Ski and Hike
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Candlelight Ski and Hike
Friday, Feb. 1
MacKenzie Center - Candlelight Snowshoe Hike
Saturday, Feb. 2
Big Foot Beach State Park - Candlelight Hike
Black River State Forest - Candlelight ski and snowshoe
Flambeau River State Forest - 27th Annual Flambeau River Candlelight Ski and Hike
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit- Candlelight Ski/Hike
Mirror Lake State Park - Candlelight Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe
Peninsula State Park - Candlelight Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe
Saturday, Feb. 9
Copper Falls State Park - Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe
Devil's Lake State Park - Candlelight Snowshoe
Interstate State Park - Candlelight Night in the Park
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit - 29th Annual Pike Lake Candlelight Ski and Hike
Newport State Park - 29th Annual Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - Return to Romance $
Saturday, Feb. 16
Brule River State Forest - Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe
Governor Thompson State - Candlelight Ski and Hike
Willow River State Park - Candlelight Ski, Hike and Snowshoe
Wyalusing State Park - Candlelight hike and astronomy viewing
Saturday, Feb. 23
Hank Aaron State Trail - Urban Candlelight Hike
Rib Mountain State Park - Candlelight Snowshoe Hike

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR plans public meeting to discuss CWD response efforts

The public can get more details about what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is doing to respond to chronic wasting disease found in wild deer in southeastern Minnesota at a meeting scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18, in Preston.
At the meeting in the Fillmore Central School Auditorium, 702 Chatfield St., DNR staff will explain the CWD response efforts planned for this winter, including late-season special hunts, landowner shooting permits and targeted culling.
“DNR’s actions are designed to limit disease spread and keep Minnesota’s deer populations healthy,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager. “We’re having this meeting so people can hear face-to-face about what’s going on and ask their own questions.”
Staff also will discuss potential future actions, including a snow-dependent aerial deer survey and expansion of the disease management zone, that now encompasses a 10-mile radius around the city of Preston.
To date, sampling efforts taken by the DNR in cooperation with hunters have detected 30 cases of the neurological disease in wild deer in southeastern Minnesota. The DNR discovered 12 new cases this fall in or around the disease management zone in Fillmore County. The agency discovered one additional case that was recently confirmed for a wild deer harvested in Houston County, about 30 miles from the disease management zone.
Complete Minnesota CWD test results, including locations of positive test results and statistics, are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.
Complete information for hunters about CWD for current and upcoming hunting seasons is online at mndnr.gov/cwd.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


10 First Day Hikes scheduled Jan. 1, in Wisconsin

MADISON - The Wisconsin State Park System is once again hosting First Day Hikes on New Year's Day.
These hikes offer visitors an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenated and connected with nature.
First Day Hikes will be happening at 10 state properties, across the state from Newport State Park on the Door County to the Red Cedar State Trail in Dunn County.
This is the eighth year Wisconsin has participated in the nationwide First Day Hikes campaign. On Jan. 1, 2018, 373 participants hiked 1,023 miles at 14 different Wisconsin state park properties. That first day of January was a bitter cold day and three of the events were canceled due to sub-zero temperatures and dangerous wind chills.The most exciting story for 2018 was the addition of a major all-day ski event in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit hosted by a local ski group on man-made snow, a joint effort of parks staff and volunteers. Participants in this event contributed over 578 miles traveled (more than 50 percent of total miles) between 93 attendees.
The park system plans on again using the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Twitter social media platform to alert people when an event has to be canceled due to inclement weather.
Event visitors are encouraged to post photos on their Twitter and Instagram accounts using the hashtag #OutWiGo, the park system's new initiative - pronounced "Out-We-Go" - to promote activity and good health through the great outdoors.
A 2019 Wisconsin state park admission sticker is required for entrance to most parks for these events and will be on sale at park offices.

2019 First Day Hikes at Wisconsin State Park System properties
Buckhorn State Park - First Day Hike
Devil's Lake State Park - First Day Hike
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit - First Day Hike
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit - First Day Hike
Mirror Lake State Park - First Day Hike
Newport State Park - First Day Hike
Perrot State Park - First Day Hike and Snowshoe
Red Cedar State Trail - First Day Hike - Wildlife and history hike/ski
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - First Day Hike
Stower Seven Lakes State Trail - First Day Hike, Bike and Ski

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Prune oak trees in winter to help prevent oak wilt

MADISON - It may not sound like fun, but winter in Wisconsin is an excellent time to prune oak trees. Pruning in winter offers all the benefits of pruning while minimizing the spread of tree diseases. One such disease is oak wilt, a fatal tree disease that spreads through tiny sap-feeding beetles attracted to open wounds on trees.
"Dormant trees in winter are easier to prune because damage is much more visible on tree branches after their leaves have fallen, and pruning is more effective because harmful pests are inactive in cold temperatures," said Paul Cigan, forest health specialist in northwestern for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Trees should be pruned throughout their entire life to maintain strong structure and remove dead wood. Young trees should be pruned to establish a central trunk, proper trunk taper, and good branch structure and spacing. Older trees should be pruned to remove dead and/or hazardous limbs. But pruning oaks during warmer months of April through July places them at greatest risk for oak wilt infection and should be avoided where possible.
While oak wilt often spreads locally through tree injury, it can also move greater distances on or in firewood logs. Taking recommended precautions, such as pruning in winter, and keeping firewood local will help protect trees in your area and prevent the spread of oak wilt to new counties and townships.
"Several recent oak wilt finds in northern Wisconsin, including first finds in Bayfield and Douglas counties and in over a dozen new northern townships, may have been the result of infected firewood brought from areas with oak wilt," Cigan said.
Experts recommend keeping oak firewood at the same location where it is cut for one year, or until the bark is naturally loose, to prevent the spread of oak wilt.
The DNR offers a pruning brochure with more detailed, step-by-step tips for tree pruning. Find it by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "tree pruning."
Certified arborists who offer pruning and other tree care services can be found at waa-isa.org/arborists/search.asp. For additional information about oak wilt, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "oak wilt."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR