Halloween events scheduled on Wisconsin state properties

MADISON - There will be multiple opportunities for costumed Halloween revelers to hike along trails lit by jack-o-lanterns or other luminaries, some with visits from "non-scary" costumed wild creatures, and then enjoying hot cider 'smores and other treats around bonfires at Wisconsin State Park properties Oct. 19, 20 and 27.
Many of the events also offer games, arts and crafts, storytelling and music.
Events at state parks are free, but all vehicles entering parks are required to have a current Wisconsin State Parks daily or annual admission sticker.
For a listing of events, search the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website for "Get Outdoors" and then select "festivals" under the "type" button.

Friday, Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m.
Governor Nelson State Park, Waunakee, 608-831-3005 - Halloween Hike and Bonfire. As we approach the end of autumn, come and celebrate Halloween with an evening hike on the Woodland Trail (1.2 miles) lit with glowing luminaries. Enjoy marshmallows, hot dogs and hot chocolate while supplies last alongside a bonfire at the beach shelter. Come dressed up in costume or regular attire. Bring a flashlight. Pets are welcome, but must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet.

Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit- Campbellsport, 920-533-8322 - Four on the Floor Halloween Nature Hikes. Meet those animals with four on the floor: the Forest Sprite waits to greet visitors as they begin an extraordinary evening adventure that includes a menagerie of costume characters including the know-it-all bobcat, the bumbling Urban Trio, super villain star-nosed mole, and overly confident treefrog awaits you and your friends as you stroll through the dark autumn woods. The hikes take place at the Mauthe Lake Recreation Area located off County Road GGG south of County Road SS near New Prospect (approximately 20 miles north of West Bend and 20 miles south of Fond du Lac). Guided groups leave every six minutes with the last one going out at 8:30 p.m. Each hike lasts about one hour. These non-scary hikes are best for those over the age 5. Before or after the hikes, play exciting games and create clever crafts. The Friends of the Kettle Moraine provide free apple cider and popcorn for all the hikers to enjoy by a roaring campfire. 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 20
Devil's Lake State Park, Baraboo, 608-356-8301 ext 140 - Candlelight Halloween Hike. There's a lot of Halloween fun at this annual event sponsored by the Friends of Devil's Lake. Go on a 1-mile torch lit hike; show off your costume by the campfire while roasting a marshmallow or two, and listen to the songs of Campfire Kevin; enjoy some tasty treats sold by the Friends group; and find out about bats! You can even make a bat to take home with you. The event is held at Chateau (North Shore Concessions). 6-9 p.m.
Heritage Hill State Park, 920-448-5150 - Heritage Hill's Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Halloween Event.Come one, come all and join us at Heritage Hill for a Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Halloween Event. Meet Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Puss in Boots, and Snow White, and many more. Visitors can Trick- or-Treat in a family-friendly environment and visit each area of the park to hear stories from the Brothers Grimm and play Games, like Pumpkin Plinko and candy abound throughout the park. Children and adults alike are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. Make a Halloween craft and a Brothers Grimm print! Play our traditional snap apple game, a fun twist on bobbing for apples. Special Admission Rates Apply: $7 for All Adults & Children Ages 3 and up, and Children Ages 2 and under are free. If you purchase online there is a 50 cent convenience fee will be applied. For more information visit heritagehillgb.org. 3-8 p.m.
Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center, Horicon - There is no better place to enjoy "fangtastic" October than at Horicon Marsh! The Horicon Chamber of Commerce and Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center are uniting to present two unique, spooktacular events: Invasion on the Marsh and the Horicon Haunted Marsh Tour. Although these events are free, a donation of $5 per person is strongly suggested. During Invasion on the Marsh from 6:30-8:30 p.m. families are invited to "creep it real" with their best costume as they join forces with DNR staff to keep wicked invasives from taking over the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center's hair-raising exhibit, the Explorium. The evening's frightful festivities won't be limited just to the Explorium. Join us in making batty crafts, playing games by moonlight, and other eerie activities. Enjoy a spider egg cookie or poison apple during a ghoulish bake sale held to support the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. Invasion on the Marsh! tours will depart at designated times. Space is limited, and slots open on the day of the event will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. All tour participants must check in at the front counter upon arrival; please arrive 10 minutes early. Participants can pre-register on Eventbrite at: https://bit.ly/2CXNy0A: Horicon Haunted Marsh Tour: With the help of our volunteers, the 0.8 mile Indermuehle trail will transform into the place of your spookiest nightmares. A kid-friendly "light fright" will take place 5:30-6:30 p.m., before dark. Older audiences are invited to a scarier, spine-tingling walk 6:30-8:30 p.m. With more monsters released every hour, audiences will startle their senses as they courageously brave the haunted woods and are rewarded with a sweet treat. Participants are not required to pre-register for this walk on the Indermuehle trail.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit, Eagle, 262-594-6200 - McMiller Fall Candlelight Hike.Enjoy the smell of leaves in the air and take a 1.1-mile hike around the seldom-hiked McMiller Trails. The trail loop will be lit by LED lights. Hike at your own time and pace. There will be a bonfire, kids crafts and activities, and snacks for sale. Pets are allowed at this event but must be on leash at all times. Meet at the McMiller Trailhead-Hwy NN, about a half mile west of Hwy 67 (South of Eagle). 6-9 p.m.
Lake Kegonsa State Park, Stoughton, 608-873-9695 - Candlelight Hike. Enjoy a beautiful autumn evening hiking along the 1.2-mile White Oak Nature Trail which will be lit with hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns and luminaries. When you are finished, warm up by the bonfire and enjoy refreshments sold by the Lake Kegonsa State Park Friends Group. 6-8 p.m.
George W. Mead Wildlife Area,Milladore, 715-457-6771 - Spooktacular & Food Drive.8th Annual non-scary, family fun night Halloween event: Play games, craft a craft, decorate a pumpkin or cookie, warm-up by the campfire. Admission is free with a non-perishable food item, or $2 per person. 5:30-8 p.m.
Merrick State Park, Fountain City, 608-687-4936 - "Not So Spooky" Hike. Join park staff and volunteers for a "Not So Spooky" self-guided night hike on one of the trails lit by jack-o-lanterns and tiki-torches. Try your hand at making fall decorations or just hang out by the bonfire and roast a hot dog or marshmallow! There will be s'more-making materials on hand along with hot chocolate and hot apple cider. Bring a flashlight, if you wish, and please dress appropriately for the weather. Meet at the Nature Center. 6-8 p.m.
Mirror Lake State Park, Lake Delton, 608-254-2333 - Halloween Mystery Candlelight Hike. Join park staff and the Friends of Mirror Lake for a fun, family evening at Mirror Lake. There will be an easy 1-mile trail lit with clue stations along to way to help discover the Mystery Guest. Start at the beach, read the clues and try to identify the Mystery Guest you will see at the Amphitheater. When you are not out on the trail, enjoy stories and songs around the bonfires. The Friends will have food and beverages for sale as a fundraiser. Meet at the beach picnic area. 6-8 p.m.
Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, 262-878-5600 - Eco-Halloween Hike. You are invited to meet some "Cold-blooded Creatures" at this non-scary, family event. Enjoy jack-o-lanterns, Halloween nature skits, fires, games and crafts. Refreshments for sale. You may arrive anytime between 6:30 and 8 p.m. to sign up for a hike. Hikes take about a half-hour. Entire event is held outdoors: dress accordingly. Meet at Shelter #1. $2 fee per person (ages 4+) payable at registration. 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 27
Willow River State Park, Hudson, 715-386-5931 - Willow River Halloween Bash. Join Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks and PowerUp on this fun and spooky evening with free snacks, crafts, storytelling and more for the family to enjoy. Don't forget to wear your costume! No pets allowed. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please contact the park if you'd like to help out with this event! 5:30 -7:30 p.m.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks applications for advisory committee on natural heritage

Citizens with a strong interest in the state’s native prairies, forests and wetlands and the wildlife in them are invited to apply by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12, for a key advisory board.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking people to fill four vacancies on the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage. Appointees will be responsible for advising the DNR on issues related to sustaining the state’s natural heritage and biological diversity.   
Since 1966, the committee has made recommendations and given support to state scientific and natural areas, in which native plant communities and rare wildlife species are protected. The committee also now advises other programs within the department’s Ecological and Water Resources Division including nongame wildlife, Minnesota Biological Survey, prairie protection, rare resources, wetland monitoring, and terrestrial invasive species.   
Any Minnesota resident with interest or expertise in sustaining the state’s natural heritage may apply online until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12, at mndnr.gov/cac.
Applicants should have knowledge, demonstrated dedication or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, geology, environmental education, natural resource management, protection of Minnesota's rare species, or marketing, communication or promotions focused on natural resources.
Members are expected to participate in five, four- to five-hour long meetings per year plus one, one- to two-day field trip. Members may also choose to participate in subcommittees or other meeting preparation. The DNR commissioner will appoint committee members for terms of up to five years starting in January.
Interested applicants can learn more by visiting the Committee’s website at mndnr.gov/cac.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Blue Mounds State Park prairie, bison tours continue

An autumn prairie view is stunning enough, but add a herd of Minnesota bison and that view becomes spectacular.
Ninety-minute weekend-only prairie and bison tours continue through Oct. 21 at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota. A special tour truck will take visitors into the prairie to see the bison.
Same-day tickets can be purchased at the park office until 15 minutes before the tour starts. Reservations are recommended. Visitors are reminded that October days can be chilly and that the tour truck is open air, so dress for the weather.
The tours are at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and teens age 13 and older, and $6 for children age four to 12. Children under four years of age are not permitted on the tour truck due to safety restrictions. A vehicle permit is needed to enter Minnesota state parks. The cost is $7 per day, or $35 per year for unlimited visits to all the state parks.
In the event of severe weather, rain or poor trail conditions, the tour will be canceled. Check the park website for visitor alerts the day of the tour.
For more information on the tour and the park, go to mndnr.gov/bluemounds. To make a reservation, call 866-857-2757.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Friends of MacKenzie Fall Festival set this weekend

MADISON - Outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of fall foliage are encouraged to visit the MacKenzie Center Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the 2018 MacKenzie Center Fall Festival.
This family friendly event provides attendees an opportunity to participate in some of the many activities available at the MacKenzie Center: archery, compass skills, wildlife viewing, fire building, hiking, scavenger hunts and studying pond life.
Seasonal activities like pumpkin painting, a hay bale maze, gunny sack races, face painting, scarecrow making and hayrides will put the whole family in the fall mood.
To add to the adventure, participants will also get hands-on experience with furs and skulls, cut a "wood cookie" using a two-person crosscut saw, make leaf and wildlife track rubbings, and create other crafts.
"Fall is truly a wonderful time of year to experience the MacKenzie Center! Thanks to the Friends of MacKenzie and many volunteers, the property is able to offer this exciting family-friendly fall event showcasing a beautiful Wisconsin State Park System property," said Samantha Kueffler, property manager.
"Fall Festival is a great opportunity for people to enjoy the beauty of fall in Wisconsin while experiencing many of the programs the MacKenzie Center has to offer," said Hayley Parsons, natural resources educator. "Join us for the third year of this fun annual event,"
The $15 vehicle admission will cover parking and all event activities. The Friends of MacKenzie will have food and gift shop items will be available at an additional cost. The rain date for this event is Oct. 14, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
All proceeds go to the Friends of the MacKenzie Center to support the facility and its programs.
The MacKenzie Center, is located outside of Poynette, 25 miles north of Madison and has interpretive trails, exhibits, museums and programming available for school and youth groups. For more information search the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "MacKenzie."
People interested in volunteering at the event are encouraged to contact the Friends of MacKenzie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the MacKenzie Center at 608-635-8112.
For more information about the event, visit the Friends of MacKenzie website or facebook page.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Near-misses mark fourth season of comprehensive bird survey

MADISON - Four bird species rarely if ever confirmed as breeding in Wisconsin were sighted, but not confirmed in 2018, tantalizing near-misses among the most notable results from the fourth season of a comprehensive bird survey.
"2018 was a year with a lot of exciting sightings, but ultimately, near-misses," says Ryan Brady, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and science coordinator for the survey, known as Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II. "So check barns for barn owls, and keep an eye out for these other species to see if we can claim them as Wisconsin breeding birds in our final year of data collection."
The four species sighted, but not confirmed as breeding included a pair of eared grebes in Columbia County and a yellow-crowned night heron in Jefferson County. The most talked about finds were a pair of American three-toed woodpeckers in Bayfield County and several barn owls found in southwestern Wisconsin.
American three-toed woodpeckers had been photographically documented only twice in Wisconsin since 1986 and never documented breeding here. The bird, named for having three instead of four toes like most woodpeckers, prefers boreal forests in Canada. Unfortunately, this year's Bayfield County pair departed in May before any further evidence of nesting was found, as recounted in this blog post by Brady, the observer.
Barn owl populations have rebounded somewhat in more favored breeding areas of Iowa and Illinois, Brady says.
"With sightings in Wisconsin slightly on the rise, it might not be long before they attempt to breed again in our southern or western grasslands," he said.
Through four survey seasons, more than 1,700 volunteers have observed 242 bird species and confirmed 225 of them as breeding in Wisconsin. The total of new species confirmed breeding in Wisconsin since the first atlas survey 20 years ago still stands at 12.
The five-year atlas effort aims to document every bird species breeding in Wisconsin, and where and when breeding occurs, to help guide conservation efforts.
"Preliminary data is showing some species groups like grassland and aerial insectivores on the decline compared to the first survey, while other species, particularly those that may be benefiting from more forest cover, on the increase," says Nick Anich, Atlas survey coordinator for DNR.
The data collection portion of the survey is slated to wrap up in 2019 after the summer breeding season ends and coordinators are still looking for more volunteers.
"While 85 percent of priority survey areas are completed or well underway, there are still over 500 survey blocks in which we need more help! Volunteer to survey one of these areas, and/or report birds nesting or engaging in other breeding behaviors," Anich says.
The biggest remaining gaps are in northern and western Wisconsin, but there are still opportunities in every area of the state to help," Anich says. The best way to get involved is visit the project website, https://wsobirds.org/atlas and contact the County Coordinator for your county.
Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, which is sponsoring the survey along with the DNR, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, says it's easy to participate and people don't have to be an expert birder to help.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Help DNR staff monitor Wisconsin’s wolves

MADISON - Wisconsin's wolf monitoring program relies upon volunteers from around the state to help track animals each winter.
Individuals, who are interested in playing a key role in wildlife management, are encouraged to sign up for one of several classes offered statewide.
Department of Natural Resources biologists and volunteers have partnered to provide informative classes focused on aspects of wolf ecology, population biology and field study techniques. Tracking is a great way to experience the outdoors and contribute to natural resource management.
Carnivore tracking classes focus on learning to identify the tracks of medium to large-sized carnivores in Wisconsin, as well as a few other common mammals. Wolf ecology and management classes cover the history of wolves in Wisconsin, wolf biology and ecology, how DNR staff monitor the population, and state management and research. Completion of both classes is required to participate in the wolf monitoring program as a volunteer carnivore tracker.
"DNR staff and volunteers tracked over 16,000 miles last winter searching for wolf, coyote, bobcat and other medium to large size carnivore tracks in Wisconsin," said DNR wolf biologist Nathan Kluge. "It's a great way to get out and enjoy Wisconsin in the winter while helping the department monitor some of the state's most interesting wildlife."
For a list of courses offered, search the DNR website for volunteer carnivore trackingpage and select the "training courses" option on the right side of the page.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Annual Swan Watch Bus Tour on tap Nov. 17

The Friends of the Refuge Headwaters will again offer a bus tour to view the fall migration and changing colors of the Upper Mississippi River from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Participants have the opportunity to view migrating tundra swans and other waterfowl up close on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The trip also includes a stop at the Refuge Visitor Center on Brice Prairie.
The bus tour leaves from Winona, MN, travel to Brice Prairie, and then travel downriver to the Brownsville Overlook near Brownsville, MN. Interpreters will be on-board to answer questions, and binoculars, spotting scopes and brochures will be provided for the day.
There is limited seating and reservations are required. Cost is $25 per person, which includes a box lunch. There will be no refunds issued after the registration deadline.
New this year, to make your reservation and pay on-line, visit https://friendsoftherefugeheadwaters.org/swan-watch-2018/
If you prefer to make your reservation by phone or email contact Mary Stefanski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or at (507) 454-7351. Please leave a message if she is unavailable when you call. Registration is due prior to Friday, Nov. 9.
This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Refuge Headwaters and Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service