Updated: 05/23/2014 5:54 PM
Created: 05/23/2014 5:34 PM WDIO.com
Weather is looking very good for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and lots of people are expected to head out to finally enjoy some warmer temperatures. Wisconsin State Park System properties are reporting that almost all reservable campsites are filled for the weekend, and that first-comes sites were expected to fill quickly. People looking for last-minute camping opportunities can check the campground availability for the rustic campgrounds at the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.
People heading to campgrounds are being reminded to get firewood where they plan to use it to help keep pests like emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, oak wilt and others from spreading around the state. State-certified firewood is the only wood allowed on state properties from out of state or from more than 25 miles away this Memorial Day weekend.
Ice is finally out of inland lakes, though there are still some ice flows on Lake Superior. Daily walleye bag limits increased May 23 on 447 lakes in northern Wisconsin in time for the long Memorial Day weekend. The bag limits are adjusted to reflect actual tribal spearing harvests. Anglers should consult the 2014-2015 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations, signs at boat landings, and the 2014-2015 Revised Ceded Territory Walleye Bag Limits for lake-specific information.
Anglers fishing at the mouth of the Menominee River caught good numbers of walleye. Walleye fishing was also very good on Green bay in the Little Suamico area and anglers had great success fishing for white bass in the Fox River. Lake Michigan trollers were catching good numbers of coho, and occasional rainbow trout and chinook off Racine and Kenosha, and shore anglers continued to have luck with brown trout at Milwaukee.
With many people putting boats on the water for Memorial Day Weekend they are being reminded about aquatic invasive species laws. Clean all visible aquatic weeds from boats and trailers and drain live wells and bilges prior to leaving the landing.
We are nearing the peak of white-tail deer fawns being born, and already some well-intentioned but misguided people have brought in fawns they thought were abandoned to DNR offices. Does intentionally leave their fawns alone for protection and return to take feed and take care of them - they are not abandoned. Please, help keep wildlife wild.
Peak bird migration for most migratory birds has now passed in the south Wisconsin, but not without first providing great numbers and views of warblers, thrushes, vireos, tanagers, and other highly-sought Neotropical migratory songbirds, which are now moving through central and northern Wisconsin. Short-distance migrants and resident birds like chickadees, cranes, herons, robins, and blackbirds should be well into their nesting attempts across much of the state. Backyard feeders have been exceptionally active this year due to below-average natural foods caused by the later spring. Orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, scarlet tanagers, American goldfinches, indigo buntings, purple finches, blue jays, ruby-throated hummingbirds and other species have provided an amazing array of colors.
Blooming wildflowers include anemone, bloodroot, hepatica, Dutchman's breeches, trout lily, spring beauty, marsh marigold, violet, woodland phlox and trillium, and morels were being reported in much higher numbers than in the past few weeks.
Wildfires continue to burn in the state, particularly where vegetation has not completely greened up. Over the past week, 33 wildfires burned 37 acres in DNR Protection Areas. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning. The largest fire of the week was a 30-acre Waupaca County fire caused by debris burning. People are urged to continue to use caution with all types of outdoor burning and equipment use. Remember that a free annual burning permit is required to burn small piles of debris and to burn in a burn barrel. You must check the daily fire danger every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online at dnr.wi.gov (enter keyword 'fire') because restrictions can change day to day as weather conditions change. Larger piles and daytime burning require a special permit from a DNR Ranger. Main wildfire concerns this time of year are in sand-pine areas, oak stands, and swamp grass. When jack pine and red pine produce pollen this time of year, the moisture levels in their needles drop several percentage points. This drop in "live fuel moisture" is one of the factors that can creates the right conditions for crown fires (i.e. fire burning in the tops of the trees) in pine-dominated landscapes of the state.
Firewise Tip: Make sure campfires are made in a fire-safe pit or container. Clear an area 10 feet around the fire pit and never burn when it's windy. Before leaving, drown your campfire thoroughly with water, stir the ashes and add more water until it's out cold.
Statewide Birding Report
What a week it was for birding across Wisconsin! Spring took its sweet time getting here but for most birders it was well worth the wait, as both field and feeder have been major hubs of activity statewide. In southern Wisconsin, peak migration for most migratory birds has now passed, but not without first providing great numbers and views of warblers, thrushes, vireos, tanagers, and other highly-sought Neotropical migratory songbirds. These birds will continue to move through in lower numbers over the upcoming week and birders there will focus on later migrants such as Connecticut warbler, black-billed and yellow-billed cuckoos, olive-sided and yellow-bellied flycatchers, common nighthawks, and others. Shorebirds en route to arctic breeding grounds, including dunlin, white-rumped and semipalmated sandpipers, phalaropes, ruddy turnstones and black-bellied plovers, have also been seen and will continue to move through into early June. Meanwhile, short-distance migrants and resident birds like chickadees, cranes, herons, robins, and blackbirds should be well into their nesting attempts now across much of the state. Central and northern Wisconsin finally got in on the action this week as well, with warblers, thrushes, and other long-distance migrants pushing northward in earnest. These areas are at or near peak activity and should remain so for another week or two. Backyard feeders have been exceptionally active this year due to below-average natural foods caused by the later spring. Orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, scarlet tanagers, American goldfinches, indigo buntings, purple finches, blue jays, ruby-throated hummingbirds and other species have provided an amazing array of colors. If you can provide sunflower seeds, orange halves, sugar water, jelly, suet and/or a water source, you too can reap the benefits! May is peak season for rare bird sightings and this week was no exception. Rarities spotted across the state included a state first crested caracara in Door County, tricolored heron in Manitowoc, black-bellied whistling duck in Ashland, piping plover in Ashland and Iron, chuck-will's-widow in Walworth, northern mockingbirds and summer tanagers in a well above-average number of locations, western tanagers in Polk, Burnett, and Ashland, and lazuli buntings in Brown, Waukesha, and Grant. As always, report your sightings and find out what others are seeing at www.ebird.org/wi.
- Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Pattison State Park - All hiking trails are open and in good condition. Big Manitou and Little Manitou Falls are at full flow. The public can enjoy seeing both falls by hiking from the campground, or are short walks from two parking lots. Waterproof boots would be recommended for our longer hiking trails. The spring flowers should be at full bloom this holiday weekend. Marsh marigolds and trilliums are the most obvious woodland flowers right now.
- Kevin Feind, supervisor
Interstate Park - Come to the Ice Age Center at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 23 and join our celebration of World Turtle Day. Learn some tips to help save turtles and learn about the species we have right here in Wisconsin. Also meet Gizmo, a live Greek tortoise which is one of the many species in the world that is threatened or endangered. The 14th annual World Turtle Day is on May 23. The day was created as an observance to help people celebrate and protect these ancient creatures and their disappearing habitats around the world. The American Tortoise Rescue, a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of turtles, is sponsoring the event. Most hiking trails are open; however, some trails may have wet or flooded areas. A portion of Lake O' the Dalles Hiking Trail is flooded. All campgrounds are open. Water systems including flush toilet facilities will reopen prior to the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Water is available year round at the Ice Age Center and outside the Stone Building. Watch for large birds including bald eagles, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks and great blue herons soaring overhead. Deer are easy to spot throughout the park. Blooming wildflowers include anemone, bloodroot, hepatica, Dutchman's breeches, trout lily, spring beauty, marsh marigold, violet, woodland phlox and trillium. The River Bottoms picnic area has been closed periodically due to flooding; check at the park office upon arrival for current conditions. Picnic shelters and vault toilets are open throughout the rest of the park. The Ice Age Center is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exhibits about the Ice Age and a 24-minute movie about the Ice Age Trail can be viewed upon request. Accessible restrooms and a gift shop are also available at the Ice Age Center.
- Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Straight Lake State Park - Wildflowers are again blooming in the park. Look for anemone, bloodroot, hepatica, trillium, and violet. Bald eagles, loons, king fishers, sandhill cranes, and trumpeter swans have all been seen around the waters of Straight Lake. The Ice Age Trail segment running through the park is in good condition. The Ice Age Trail provides excellent views of Straight Lake, the tunnel channel, and other glacial features in the park. Rainbow Lake was stocked with trout before the season opener and success has been good. Straight Lake had a winter kill so expect fishing to be slow. Boat access to both lakes is carry in only and no motors are allowed.
- Matthew Densow, ranger
Flambeau River State Forest - Flood waters have receded on both the north and south forks of the Flambeau River, but the water is still high. Paddlers report good trips with a swift current. Trail conditions are wet. ATV trails opened May 22 today and are passable, but there are some difficult portions that still need some repairs so please use caution. Indigo buntings, red breasted grosbeaks, finches, hummingbirds & orioles have all found their way back to the northwoods. Fiddlehead ferns are up and trilliums, blood root, wild strawberries and spring beauties are all blooming. Lilac bush leaves have opened and we are starting to see the flower heads. Lake of the Pines is open and Connors Lake Campground will opened May 22. It's looking like a beautiful weekend for camping. Campers will enjoy meeting our new campground hosts Jim & Kathy Jones this year, who will be staying at the Connors Lake Campground.
- Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
St. Louis County Follows National Rise in Female Incarceration
The number of women behind bars in the U.S. is rising at an alarming rate: nearly double the increases seen for male incarceration. While the number of incarcerated women in this country is still significantly less than men, but it's a 646 percent increase in women behind bars over the last 30 years that's turning heads.
UMD Professor Getting National Recognition for Research
Professor Byron Steinman is in his second semester at UMD, but he is already making a big impression. Steinman has been working over a year on the causes of climate change, and his recent work is getting published in Science Magazine. Furthermore, it is getting some national attention, including from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
Gogebic Taconite Suspends Investments, Closes Hurley Office
Blaming regulatory uncertainty, Gogebic Taconite has suspended investments in its proposed northern Wisconsin mine and closed its office in Hurley, leaving four people without jobs and raising questions about whether the mine will ever be built.
Minnesota's Anticipated Surplus Swells to $1.87 Billion
Minnesota's bank account is projected to run up a $1.87 billion surplus over the next two years, which will drive calls for new spending, tax cuts or most likely a mix. The surplus is substantially more than the $1 billion estimated in December.
Middle Schoolers Tackle Ice Fishing on St. Louis River
Middle school students from St. James School put their lessons into practice on Friday. They have been studying ice fishing in their life science curriculum this year, thanks to funding from a STEM grant.