Historic Cedarburg, Wisconsin to host 27th Annual Strawberry Festival June 23-24

Celebrate the most luscious fruit of summer, fresh home-grown strawberries, during Historic Cedarburg’s 27th Annual Strawberry Festival, Saturday, June 23, 10-6 and Sunday, June 24, 10-5. Over 100,000 people visited Strawberry Festival last year for this delightful and delicious free, family-oriented weekend festival.

Local grower, Schmit’s Berry Farm provides ripe, juicy berries by the quart. Mouth-watering festival delicacies include: The “Original” Strawberry Brat, Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Crepes, Strawberry Slush, Strawberry Schaum Torte, Chocolate-Covered Strawberries and Strawberry Cheesecake. Enjoy Cedar Creek Winery’s Strawberry Blush Wine and purchase one of their award winning wines by the glass. When you’ve over-indulged in succulent strawberries, there are dozens of savory food courts all over town. Cedar Creek Settlement merchants serve more than 1000 happy people at the Sunday Morning Strawberry Pancake Breakfast, from 8:00-11:00 a.m., with live music outdoors along Cedar Creek.

Festival-goers will enjoy strolling Washington Avenue for Arts on the Avenue, including the Cedarburg Cultural Center’s Fine Art Fair, Cedar Creek Settlement’s Arts Fair and the Ozaukee Art Center’s Fine Art Fair. A highlight is the 12th Annual Plein Air Painting Competition, which attracts hundreds of regional artists with Adult & Youth Divisions. Saturday morning registered artists can participate in a two hour Paint the Festival Competition in the Historic District. All paintings are juried and can be purchased during the festival. Cedarburg’s entire six block Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places with many unique restaurants, pubs and charming shops that are a signature of Cedarburg’s tourism appeal.

Lively music all over the Festival’s Historic District includes Top Forty, Bluegrass and Rock & Roll. Cedar Creek Settlement events include live bands, food booths and a Merchants Marketplace as well as Strawberry Contests, including Strawberry Shortcake Eating and Strawberry Bubblegum Blowing.

The festival Kids Korner in Cedar Creek Park offers daily pony rides, a petting zoo, bouncers, food vendors, a paintable mural and lots of entertainment. The CedarQuacker 500 launches duck races on the creek, Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. “Race to the finish” with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Ozaukee County’s “Berry Big” 5K Run/Walk, Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Tour Historic Cedarburg aboard Tractor Hayride Shuttles and enjoy Quilt Day on the Farm, previewing exhibits at the new Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. Come visit us…just 20 minutes north of Milwaukee off I-43!

State scenic rivers program offers options to donate

COLUMBUS, OH – People interested in supporting Ohio’s Scenic Rivers Program have several convenient options to make their donations count in the ongoing effort to promote stream quality and protect diverse aquatic wildlife habitats, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Watercraft, which administers the state scenic rivers program.

Various types of donations, which can be made any time of year, go directly into the Scenic Rivers Protection Fund to support stream restoration and dam removals, stream quality monitoring and education efforts, land acquisition and scientific research that together help conserve Ohio’s scenic rivers.

A check or cash donation can be made directly to the Scenic Rivers Protection Fund by mail. Simply mail in the tax deductible check or money order payable to:

Scenic Rivers Protection Fund
c/o Ohio Department of Natural Resources
2045 Morse Road, Building A-3
Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693

The Ohio Scenic Rivers Program offers two distinct conservation license plates. Purchase of a Scenic Rivers license plate supports a wide array of scenic waterways conservation efforts. Go online to www.oplates.com for purchasing options or contact any Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle deputy registrar.

People wanting to make a memorial donation to the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program may contact Bob Gable, manager of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program, at 614-265-6814 or email him at bob.gable@ohiodnr.state.oh.us for personal assistance. Gable can also be helpful for people who want to assign land and other personal property to support scenic rivers as part of their estate planning.

Ohio’s scenic river lands include riparian forest corridors, floodplain lands, river access and other sensitive areas adjacent to Ohio’s scenic rivers that total nearly 2,300 acres and are permanently protected.

Illinois DNR certifies new state record walleye

Fish caught on the Pecatonica River near S. Beloit Illinois

ROCKFORD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Fisheries has officially certified the catch of a new state-record walleye – the second time the state record has been established this year.

On March 11, 52-year-old James Zimmerman of Beloit, Wisconsin caught a 15.08-pound walleye on the Pecatonica River in Winnebago County. The fish was measured at 31 and 1/2 inches with a girth of 20 and 3/8 inches. IDNR Division of Fisheries Regional Administrator Dan Sallee certified the new record walleye on March 12. IDNR Conservation Police Officer Dennis Frichtl assisted in the weigh-in and certification.

Zimmerman caught the fish on a 1/8 ounce Northland Fire-Ball jig.

Fifteen-year-old Nick Tassoni of Rockford caught a 14-pound, 12-ounce walleye on Jan. 7, 2012 on the Pecatonica River between Rockton and Harrison in Winnebago County that eclipsed the former state record 14-pound walleye caught on the Kankakee River in 1961.

For more information on catching fish, state-record fish and fishing opportunities in Illinois, go to the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/fishing or check out www.ifishillinois.org.

Gillette Nature Center at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park offers full lineup of spring break nature programs

Families looking for affordable, fun things to do during spring break can find entertaining, educational hikes and activities at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park’s Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center, located at 6585 Lake Harbor Road, Muskegon.

Park naturalist Elizabeth Tillman said spring break programs were designed with families in mind.

“Spring is a great time to get outside as a family and experience nature in a state park. Exploring a state park can be a rewarding experience that builds lifelong family memories," Tillman said. "Our programs for spring break were all designed around traditional Easter-time themes to give visitors of all ages a new experience with familiar topics.”

The park features 10 miles of hiking trails, 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center and a variety nature programs. The visitor center will be the meeting place for the Exploring Nature programs. Each program includes an activity or short hike. The following programs explore a variety of nature topics suitable for all ages:

April 3 
  • 11 a.m. Cottontails and other Hoppers: Learn about the lagomorph group and rodents that move in a hopping pattern. Play some games and make some tracks! 
  • 2 p.m. Signs of Spring: Take a short hike and explore the signs of spring. 
  • 3 p.m. Fast Food, A Predator's World: Watch an inviting wildlife-in-action DVD and play a fun game. 

April 4 
  • 11 a.m. Nests, Nature’s Egg Cartons: Enjoy a hands-on program exploring different nest styles. 
  • 2 p.m. Bird Beak Buffet: Get a complete look at how birds eat. Hands-on activities and a snack included. 

April 5 
  • 11 a.m. Peeps of Spring: Take a closer look at Michigan frogs and toads. 
  • 2 p.m. A Good Home is Hard to Find (puppet show). 

April 7 
  • 11 a.m. Wiggly Worms: Learn all about worms and dissect a gummy worm. 

For more information, contact the Gillette Visitor Center at 231-798-3573. For a listing of other events taking place in Michigan state parks and recreation areas, visit www.michigan.gov/dnrcalendar.

All programs are free; however a Recreation Passport is required for entry into the park. The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan's outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.

Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "YES" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. Learn more about the Recreation Passport at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or 517-241-7275.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Leave Wildlife in the Wild

Author's Note: It amazes me how dumb people can be. I'm sorry if that statement offends you, but every year we hear about people injuring themselves because they failed to use the common sense God gave them. Which brings us to this news item from the Michigan DNR...

Unseasonably warm weather may have Michigan’s black bears and recently born cubs out roaming earlier than usual. Great-horned owl chicks are already hatched and will be out of the nest before long. Spring is the season for wildlife to give birth. The Department of Natural Resources reminds Michigan residents to resist the instinct to try to help baby animals that may appear to be abandoned because in nearly every case a parent is nearby and the baby animal is not abandoned

"The truth is, the animal doesn't need help – for example, even if a fawn appears to be abandoned, its mother is almost always nearby," said DNR wildlife ecologist Sherry MacKinnon. "We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but the animals are better off left alone than removed from the wild."

MacKinnon said it's not uncommon for does to leave their young unattended for up to eight hours at a time; an anti-predator strategy that minimizes scent left around the newborn animals. "The same holds true for rabbits, ground-dwelling birds and other wildlife," she said. "Even avian parents will continue to care for hatchlings that have fallen from a nest."

The DNR advises that:
  • Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.
  • Some "rescued" animals that do survive become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild. It is illegal to possess a wild deer or any other wild animals in Michigan, and every day a deer spends with humans makes it that much less likely to be able to survive in the wild.
  • Eventually, habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behaviors. Habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they mature, and raccoons are well-known for this, too.

"If you come across a deer or other animal that you are certain has been orphaned early in the year - for example, if a doe is dead nearby - please call your local DNR office. They can refer you to a licensed rehabilitator," said MacKinnon. "Licensed rehabilitators are trained to handle wild animals and know how to release them so that they can survive in the wild." Michigan licensed rehabilitators are also listed on the DNR website at http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/.

Illinois’ 2012 spring trout fishing season opens April 7

Rainbow Trout stocked at 43 locations statewide

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The 2012 spring trout fishing season in Illinois will begin at 5 a.m. on Saturday, April 7, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller announced recently.

“From veteran anglers to children getting a first taste of fishing, the spring trout season is always a popular family activity in Illinois,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “The spring trout opener is always a big day in Illinois and it’s a great way to begin our new fishing season.”

The IDNR stocks more than 60,000 rainbow trout each spring in bodies of water where trout fishing is permitted during the spring season. The Illinois catchable trout program is funded entirely by those who use the program through the sale of inland trout stamps.

Illinois fishing licenses and inland trout stamps are available at DNR Direct license and permit locations, including many bait shops, sporting goods stores and other retail outlets. For a location near you, check the IDNR website at this link: http://dnr.illinois.gov/DNRDirectMonitor/VendorListing.aspx

Fishing licenses and trout stamps can also be purchased by using a credit card through DNR Direct online via the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov, or by calling DNR Direct toll-free at 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).

To legally participate in the trout fishing program, anglers must have a valid Illinois fishing license and an inland trout stamp. The annual fishing licenses for the 2012 season are valid through March 31, 2013. Anglers may also purchase a 24-hour Illinois fishing license, which includes trout fishing privileges for the 24-hour period the license is valid. A license is required for fishing in Illinois unless the angler is otherwise exempt (under age 16, blind or disabled, or is an Illinois resident on active military service who is home on leave).

Anglers may not take trout from any of the stocked sites from March 15 to the opening of the season on April 7 at 5 a.m. Anyone attempting to take trout before the legal opening will be issued citations. During the spring trout season the daily possession limit for trout is five fish.

While the statewide spring trout season opens at 5 a.m. on April 7, anglers are reminded to check in advance for any site-specific regulations and the opening time of their favorite trout fishing

For more information about the trout stocking program, contact the IDNR Division of Fisheries at
217-782-6424 or check the web site at www.ifishillinois.org.

Anglers in central Illinois are advised that the catchable trout program which operated previously at the IDOT Lake in Springfield has been relocated to the Southwind Park Pond in Springfield. The pond at
Southwind Park offers enhanced public amenities and shoreline access.

In addition, anglers in central Illinois will find that the spring catchable trout program in Bloomington has been temporarily relocated from Miller Park Lake to White Oaks Park Lake. The location was changed because the water level in Miller Park Lake has been lowered by the Bloomington
Park District to repair the dam, making shoreline access difficult at Miller Park.

Anglers in northwest Illinois are advised that the catchable trout program operated previously at the
Coleta Trout Ponds has been relocated to Centennial Park Lake in Rock Falls.

Stocked sites (by county) for the spring catchable trout program:

  • Adams County: Siloam Springs State Park Lake
  • Boone County: Mill Race Ponds in Belvidere
  • Bureau County: Hennepin Canal Parkway
  • Cass County: Gurney Road Pond at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area
  • Champaign County: Lake of the Woods
  • Christian County: Manners Park Pond, Taylorville Park District
  • Cook County: Axehead Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Cook County: Belleau Lake, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Cook County: Sag Quarry East, Cook County Forest Preserve District
  • Coles County: Eastern Illinois University Campus Pond in Charleston
  • DuPage County: Silver Lake, DuPage County Forest Preserve District
  • Grundy County: Gebhard Woods State Park Pond
  • Jefferson County: Mount Vernon Game Farm Pond
  • Jo Daviess County: Apple River and tributaries
  • Johnson County: Ferne Clyffe State Park Lake
  • Kankakee County: Bird Park Quarry in Kankakee
  • Kankakee County: Rock Creek at Kankakee River State Park
  • Kendall County: Big Lake at Silver Springs State Park
  • Lake County: Banana Lake, Lake County Forest Preserve District
  • Lake County: Sand Lake at Illinois Beach State Park
  • LaSalle County: Illinois and Michigan Canal at Utica
  • Macon County: Sportsman’s Club Pond, Macon County Conservation District
  • Marion County: Boston Pond at Stephen A. Forbes State Park
  • Massac County: Fairgrounds Pond in Fort Massac State Park, Metropolis
  • McLean County: White Oaks Park Lake, Bloomington Park District (Temporary location for Spring 2012)
  • McHenry County: Lake Atwood, Hollows Conservation Area, McHenry County Conservation District
  • McHenry County: Piscasaw Creek
  • Moultrie County: Wyman Lake in Sullivan
  • Ogle County: Pine Creek in White Pines State Forest
  • Randolph County: Derby Lake at World Shooting and Recreational Complex, Sparta
  • St. Clair County: Frank Holten State Park main lake
  • St. Clair County: Jones Park Lake in East St. Louis
  • Sangamon County: Southwind Park Pond in Springfield (New Location for Spring 2012)Sangamon County: Washington Park Pond in Springfield
  • Shelby County: Forest Park Lagoon in Shelbyville
  • Stephenson County: Waddams Creek (Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park)
  • Stephenson County: Yellow Creek in Krape Park, Freeport
  • Vermilion County: Clear Lake at Kickapoo State Park
  • Wabash County: Beall Woods Lake, Beall Woods State Park
  • Wayne County: Sam Dale Conservation Area Trout Pond
  • Whiteside County: Centennial Park Lake in Rock Falls, Coloma Park District (New Location for Spring 2012)
  • Will County: Lake Milliken at Des Plaines Conservation Area
  • Winnebago County: Four Lakes Forest Preserve, Winnebago County Forest Preserve District

Commitment to Grand Lake St. Marys Continues with Spring Alum Treatment

In this July 2010 image from nbc4i.com, the toxic algae
problem at Grand Lake St. Marys is clearly evident.
Author's Note: This latest update on the state DNR's efforts to solve the toxic algae problem at Grand Lake St. Marys is notable in that the state is leaving no stone unturned in what has become an immense and complex issue. Kudos to the Ohio DNR for its steadfastness in this regard, and here's hoping there will be some positive results this summer.

COLUMBUS, OH – A step toward improving water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys will occur this spring when an alum treatment will be applied to cover the entire lake. This treatment is part of Gov. John Kasich’s approach to improve Grand Lake St. Marys through rough fish removal, dredging, installation of a treatment train, wetland creation, watershed improvements and other water quality initiatives.

“We are committed to improving the water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer. “A healthy and thriving lake will not only benefit the residents of Mercer and Auglaize counties, but this improvement will benefit all Ohioans.”

Ohio has offered steep discounts for campground reservations at Grand Lake Marys State Park, which obviously has seen a huge drop-off in campers since the lake problems first surfaced several years ago. One significant result was the findings of an outside company in determining the cause and solution of the toxic algae.

ODNR continues to work collaboratively with Ohio EPA to improve water quality in Grand Lake St. Marys. This is the second year an alum treatment has been applied to the lake.

The 2012 funding for the alum treatment totals $5 million and includes funding from the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund administered through the Ohio EPA and the Distressed Watershed Loan Program administered through the Ohio Water Development Authority. Additional funding will be provided by ODNR’s Division of Parks and Recreation for investigations at other inland lakes in Ohio that experienced harmful algal blooms (HAB) over the last few years.

“This partnership is demonstrative of the wonderful relationship we have with the leadership of Ohio,” said Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission Manager Milt Miller. “From day one they have been at our side, asking what they can do to help as part of the process of rehabilitating our lake. It’s truly been a dialogue, which has been extremely appreciated locally.”

Phosphorus within the lake contributes to HAB. This year’s alum treatment will start two months sooner than the treatment in 2011, which should allow the phosphorus to bind to the alum more effectively and improve water quality. The alum treatment is projected to begin April 1.

Grand Lake St. Marys is a 13,500-acre recreational lake located in western Ohio. Last year’s alum treatment was applied to more than 4,900 acres in the center of the lake and removed 56 percent of the phosphorous from the treated area.

Through dredging in 2011, approximately 272,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed from Grand Lake St. Marys. This quadrupled the amount of cubic yards removed from the lake compared to the previous two years. ODNR’s Ohio State Parks and Division of Wildlife also removed nearly 14 tons of rough fish from Grand Lake St. Marys last year. An additional four tons were removed during a carp derby planned by the Lake Restoration Commission. Rough fish stir up sediment and contribute to phosphorus-related problems.

Volunteer in Michigan State Parks throughout April and on Earth Day

Join in the effort to protect Michigan's critical dune, prairie and forest habitats stretching from Berrien to Muskegon counties. State recreation officials announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of April, which include opportunities to celebrate Earth Day and Global Youth Service Week throughout Southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to GO Get Outdoors in many of our cherished state parks, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get a bit of exercise while enjoying beautiful scenery and precious landscapes.

Volunteers are needed to help map locations and remove garlic mustard, an invasive, non-native plant that grows in the forest understory. Removal is similar to weeding a garden and is an enjoyable way to spend time outdoors. Registered youth participating on the weekend of April 21-22 will receive a free giveaway to celebrate Earth Day and Global Youth Service. Those earning the most hours for removal of garlic mustard and other invasive species in state parks and recreation areas from April through the end of July will receive a free Recreation Passport T-shirt to show their dedication to our natural resources. Shirts are limited and will be awarded to the top 40 volunteers in Southwest Michigan.

Dates, times and locations of group workdays are as follows:
  • Saturday, March 31; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 1; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 7; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 14; Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 15; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 21; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Earth Day, April 22; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29; Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, sturdy closed-toe shoes, and bring gloves and drinking water.

Volunteers are also able to work on an individual basis pulling, mapping, and locating garlic mustard populations or as a part of new efforts to track forest health and monitor Eastern box turtle populations. All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward workdays or how you can be involved in the Forest Health Watch program or turtle surveys in Southwest Michigan.

The Volunteer Steward program is part of the Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.

For information about the activities at each workday, find directions or park information and to check the Volunteer Steward calendar of events, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.”

DNR urges caution as wildfire season returns to Michigan

Author's Note: Similar to an earlier post from the Ohio DNR, this release from the Michigan DNR regarding wildfire precautions is applicable to everyone. The above video, from The Oakland Press (my employer), is of a brush fire earlier this month that closed down the Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Center shopping mall in Auburn Hills.

Firefighters at the scene of a brush fire near the Great Lakes Crossing
Outlet Center in Auburn Hills, MI. The fire caused the shopping mall to
close temporarily while firefighters fought the blaze. (Oakland Press)
Wildfire season has returned to areas of Michigan where winter snow has melted. A recent handful of warm, windy days has contributed to wildfires in southern and central portions of the state. Department of Natural Resources officials urge residents and visitors to use extreme caution before engaging in outdoor activities with the potential for wildfire.

“Several winter storms have created a tremendous clean-up task in many areas,” said Bill O’Neill, the DNR’s acting Forest Resources Division chief and state forester. “We are urging people to consider fire-safe alternatives, such as chipping instead of burning the debris. Chipping eliminates the risk of wildfire altogether and it reduces exposure to unhealthy smoke. An added bonus, the wood chips can be used as mulch for landscaping around your home.”

For those who do expect to burn yard waste, the DNR asks that you plan carefully and follow the following fire-safe tips:
  • Check first with local fire official to be certain burning is not prohibited where you live.
  • Choose a day that is cool and damp to conduct your burn. The likelihood an ember will escape from a burn pile and ignite a wildfire drastically increases on warm, windy days. 
  • Arrange small mounds of debris in spots cleared of flammable vegetation or adjacent to any remaining snow, which will further reduce the chances of a wildfire igniting. 

“Springtime is Michigan’s busiest time of year for wildfires. With a little planning and careful attention to outdoor surroundings, residents can play a huge role in helping us reduce the number of wildfires,” said O’Neill. “It’s all about keeping our people, property and natural resources safe from fire’s devastating effects.”

Burn permits are required anytime the ground is not snow-covered. In the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, residents can obtain a free burn permit online at www.michigan.gov/burnpermit. Persons without Internet access may call toll-free at 866-922-2876. In southern Michigan, burn permits and information on burning can be obtained from local fire departments and township offices. For more information on wildfire safety, open burning, home preparedness and other fire-related topics, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park hosts “Maple Sugaring Days” Saturday, March 24

Photo courtesy of Travel Michigan
Tahquamenon Falls State Park will host ‘Maple Sugaring Days’ at the park’s Upper Falls area, Saturday, March 24, from 12 - 4 p.m.

Participants will visit multiple demonstration stations set up along a nature trail to learn about the process of converting maple sap into syrup. The demonstrations will include both historical and modern methods of making syrup.

“Maple sugaring is a great outdoor activity for families to enjoy in March, when the temperatures start to rise and the sap starts flowing,” said park interpreter Theresa Neal. “Visitors in the past have been amazed to learn that the trees in your own back yard can produce this seasonal treat.”

The sugar bush demonstrations will feature hands-on activities, and maple syrup experts will be on site to answer questions and provide advice about at-home maple sugaring.

For more information about Maple Sugaring Days, contact Theresa Neal at 906-492-3415 or go online to www.michigan.gov/tfallseducation.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is located at 41382 West M-123 in Paradise. Semi-modern campsites and a modern lodge are available during the winter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The campsites include electrical outlets, but no flush toilets; the lodge includes heat, electricity, a furnished kitchen, a bathroom and bedrooms. Reservations can be made by calling the park headquarters at 906-492-3415.

A Recreation Passport is required for all vehicles entering the park. Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "YES" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area.

Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. Learn more about the Recreation Passport at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or 517-241-7275.

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend marks arrival of Spring March 31 - April 1

Author's Note: Please take two minutes to watch the video of the Swan parade. Follow the link at the end of this post. It's pretty neat!

Stratford salutes spring with a swan weekend of family fun March 31 to April 1!

Saturday, events take place downtown with the return of the Swan Quest, carriage rides and spring garden workshops. Sunday’s Swan Celebration takes to the street along Lakeside Drive (between Waterloo St. and Morenz Dr.) from noon – 4 pm. The return of the swans to the Avon River is one of Canada’s most unique events announcing the arrival of spring with the Swan Parade at 2 pm on Sunday.

Saturday, March 31
  • Stratford City Centre businesses present the Stratford Swan Quest, distinctive topiary swans decorated and displayed in front of downtown businesses marking the arrival of spring. Shoppers are invited to find all twelve swans and nominate their favourite for the People’s Choice Award for a chance to win a $50 City Centre gift certificate. Ballots are available at each shop with a decorated swan and at Stratford Tourism Alliance where completed ballots will be received until 5 pm Saturday, March 31.
  • Free horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered by the businesses of downtown Stratford from  noon - 4 pm.
  • Free Guided Swan Walk invite participants to view the swans in their winter quarters and see popular nesting spots as stories about Stratford’s swans are shared. Tour begins at 10:30 am at the Wm Allman Arena.
  • Cozyn’s Garden Gallery presents a Spring Outdoor Planter workshop at 11 am.
  • The Stratford Public Library is screening Swans on the Avon at 1:30 pm featuring music by Loreena McKennitt, narration by Colm Feore and photography by Kaarn and Allan Gough. Admission is free to this 80 minute video documenting a year in the life our Stratford swans.
  • Anything Grows presents a Swan Watering Can Planter workshop using grasses and bulbs for spring at 2 pm.
  • Children Sing: St. Marys Children’s Choir and Festival Singers along with 7 choirs from across Ontario perform at Knox Church at 7 pm.
  • Fred Eaglesmith returns to Stratford for an evening of lively entertainment presented by Live @ the Masonic beginning at 8 pm.

Sunday, April 1
  • Bring your family to the Swan Celebration from Noon – 4 pm along Lakeside Drive. Enjoy the premier performance of an original puppet show presented by The Other Hand Puppet Troupe, children’s entertainer Madame Buskerfly (on stilts!), street performers, story-tellers, face painting, bouncy castle, swan hats and crafts for children. A charity BBQ, free popcorn, cotton candy and Tim Hortons coffee will be available.
  • A Swan photography exhibit by photographer, Erin Shipley, will be featured at the Kiwanis Community Centre.
  • Gallery Stratford invites you to participate in creating a “hand–feathered” swan mural
  • Pose for photos with BJ, the official swan mascot.
  • Guided Swan Walks take place at 12 Noon and 3 pm at Wm Allman Arena.
  • At 2 pm, The Swan Parade, organized by the volunteer Civic Beautification and Environmental Awareness Committee, begins as The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums lead the swans from their Winter Quarters along the parade route to the Avon River.

Free Parking is available in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival parking lot, corner of Lakeside Drive and Queen Street and along Lakeside Drive east of Front Street. People are encouraged to walk or ride their bicycles to the event.

For more information, a Swan Quest Ballot and a video clip of the swan parade, go to www.visitstratford.ca/swans, call 519-271-5140 or 1-800-561-7926, or visit us at Stratford Tourism Alliance, 47 Downie Street, Stratford.

Illinois DNR Conservation Police seek public’s help in shootings of bald eagles

Two eagles found shot last month in southeast Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police are asking for information from the public about two recent incidents in southeast Illinois in which Conservation Police officers (CPOs) were notified of bald eagles that had been shot.

The first incident was discovered on February 5 when a mature bald eagle was found injured in Louisville, Illinois near the Little Wabash River. An x-ray determined the eagle had been shot. The bird is being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation center.

The second incident was reported on February 24 in southern Richland County when a dead bald eagle was recovered. An x-ray revealed that the mature eagle had also been shot.

Bald eagles are protected by federal law with violators facing up to one year in prison and fines up to $100,000.

In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of an individual or individuals involved in either of these cases. Anyone with information is asked the contact the Illinois Target Poacher Hotline at 1-877-236-7529 or any local IDNR Conservation Police officer, county sheriff’s office, or the Illinois State Police. Callers can remain anonymous.

20th Annual Northwest Michigan Camper & RV Show is coming to the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, March 30-April 1

The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) is sponsoring the 20th Annual Northwest Michigan Camper & RV Show, March 30-April 1, 2012, at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center in downtown Traverse City.

Over 50 new recreation vehicles will be on display including folding campers, travel trailers and fifth wheel travel trailers. There’s something for everyone—prices from $4,000 to more than $75,000. Booths featuring parts and accessories, campground information, on site RV financing and RV rentals make this the complete RV show experience.

The new, 2012 RV & Campsite, a guide to camping in Michigan, will be available free to consumers. Coupons for $1 off any adult or senior admission are available on www.marvac.org, Big Boy restaurants and Traverse City area TBA Credit Unions. Consumers can also register to win free tickets to the show on www.marvac.org, compliments of Big Boy.

The 20th Annual Northwest Michigan Camper & RV Show will be held at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center March 30-April 1, and is open Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The cost for adult admission (ages 13 and up) is $5; senior admission (ages 55 and older) is $4; children ages 12 and under are admitted free. Parking is also free.

The show is sponsored by the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC), a member organization representing all aspects of the camping and RV industries.

Call 517-349-8881 or visit marvac.org for additional information on the RV show.

Mission Point Lighthouse Keepers Needed

Mission Point Lighthouse in Traverse City, Michigan, has immediate openings for Lighthouse keepers for this coming April, as well as some time during the summer, fall, and winter seasons 2012/2013.

Lighthouse Keepers help preserve the local maritime history of our region by enlightening visitors regarding that history.

Keepers live in the 1870 lighthouse, which has a full modern kitchen, living room, bathroom, dining room, and bedroom; it sleeps one or two comfortably. Everything is provided except for linens and food (there is even a washer and dryer). Children, pets, and smoking are not permitted.

Depending on the season, duties include sweeping or shoveling main walkways, washing windows, vacuuming, and other light housework. When the Lighthouse is open to the public, additional duties include taking admission and running the small gift shop. Keepers may also be asked to stock the gift shop, price items, and complete other related duties, as well as paint or help with small fix-up projects.

The Lighthouse is open weekends from 10-6 from April through October, weekends in November and December, and it is closed January through March (though keepers are still needed).

The cost for this unique experience is $150 per week. The Lighthouse is surrounded by miles of wooded trails, ideal for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. This is a great opportunity for nature enthusiasts, as well as photographers and other artists, as the view and sunsets are spectacular year-round. The Lighthouse sits at the end of Old Mission Peninsula in pristine wilderness.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, know someone who may be, or are wondering what other possibilities are available for helping at Mission Point Lighthouse, please visit our website: www.missionpointlighthouse.com or call or email Sonja Richards: 231-645-0759 or missionpointlighthouse@charter.net .

Get Tips on Trout at Steelhead Fishing Clinic, March 31-April 1, at MI's Mitchell State Park

Go RVing
Get the fishing season off to a good start with a Go Get Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Clinic taking place on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 at Mitchell State Park in Wexford County.

Anglers will meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the park’s Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center to learn the basics. The group will assemble again at 6 a.m. Sunday at the Tippy Dam to do some fishing.

The clinic is free of charge and open to 25 participants. Those attending should bring waders, a net, rod and reel, tackle, rain gear and proper clothing. There will be time to stop at one of several bait and tackle shops to gear up after class. Pre-registration is required. For details or to register, call Edward Shaw, 231-779-1321 or email shawe@michigan.gov.

Mitchell State Park is located at 6087 E. M-155 in Cadillac. 
A Recreation Passport is required for entry into the state park. 
The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan's outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.
Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking "YES" on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michigan state park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call 517-241-7275.

Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp Available for Purchase

A spotted salamander lapel pin is also included in this year's stamp package

COLUMBUS, OH – The newest Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp is now available for purchase, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The 2012 edition depicts a spotted salamander, submitted by wildlife photographer Nina Harfmann.

Proceeds from the sale of the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp help support a range of wildlife diversity projects including management of endangered and threatened wildlife species and their habitats; habitat restoration, land purchases, and conservation easements; and development of educational products for students and wildlife enthusiasts.

“Purchasing the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp is a direct contribution to Ohio’s Wildlife Diversity Fund,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “As an example, these funds will help provide wild places and special habitats for birds during migration season.”

Fourteen dollars of every $15 paid from purchasing an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp is invested in the state’s Wildlife Diversity Fund. In addition to receiving the stamp, people will also acquire a collectable spotted salamander lapel pin to acknowledge their dedication to conservation.

Those interested in purchasing the 2012 Legacy Stamp can visit wildohiostamp.com for details. Additional information about the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp and other wildlife-related topics can be found at wildohio.com.

Through the years, Ohio’s conservation efforts have been funded largely by hunters, anglers and trappers through the required purchase of licenses and permits. The Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp provides an additional funding opportunity to support conservation especially among wildlife watchers, photographers, campers, hikers and others who support wildlife causes.

The ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.com.

The 2012 print edition of the New York Campground & RV Park Guide is now available for free

Campground Owners of New York (CONY) announces the release of its 2012 Campground & RV Park Guide. The guide is free and available by visiting CONY website and filling out the online request form, or calling CONY toll-free at (800) 497-2669.

You can also enjoy a digital version of the CONY 2012 Campground & RV Park Guide online.

The theme of the directory is, "Get Outdoors. Go Camping New York," with the 100-page directory highlighting the features and amenities for over 200 privately-owned and operated campgrounds and RV parks across New York State. The guide is a handy reference tool for researching and booking just the right campsite for your next vacation. It is available in print format, and is also accessible in digital format on the homepage at www.nycampgrounds.com.

Backyard Pool & Spa Show coming to Suburban Collection March 23-25

Author's Note: I'm willing to bet that this show will have some pretty cool things for the RV! Okay, maybe not a hot tub. But there's probably a lot of other cool toys and stuff.

The 17th annual Novi Backyard, Pool & Spa Show will run from Friday, March 23 through Sunday, March 25 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

“Every weekend is a vacation for a homeowner with a pool, spa, hot tub and backyard living amenity from the show,” said Christopher Ferriss, president of Association of Pool & Spa Professionals: Michigan Chapter.

Hundreds of ideas, products and services are available from the major outdoor living environment categories on display including inground and aboveground pools, spas, swim spas, decks, patios, outdoor living spaces, landscapes, patio furniture and accessories.

Homeowners will find the information they need about buying a pool or spa at show exhibits. Experts are available with tips and advice on purchasing, planning, maintenance, safety, exercise, health, financing and landscaping.

“Homeowners can compare options with the inground and above ground pool builders and dealers and hot tub and spa dealers,” said Ferriss. “Everything you need to create a backyard environment for use this spring and summer will be available.”

Suburban Collection Showplace is located at 46100 Grand River Avenue between Novi and Beck Road in Novi. Show hours are from 3 – 9 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8; $4 for children 6-14 and children 5 and under admitted free. Discount coupons for $2 off adult admission on Friday and Sunday are available at show’s Web site. On site parking is available for a fee. For more information, visit www.NoviPoolShow.com or call (734) 398-9700.

Camping and shelter reservations at Illinois Parks available online

Go Rving
Make reservations through Reserve America now for upcoming camping season

SPRINGFIELD, IL – With the busy spring and summer camping seasons approaching, Illinois residents and visitors can make reservations now for campsites, cabins, group campsites and shelters at many Illinois state parks by using the online Reserve America reservation system at www.reserveamerica.com.

“For a weekend getaway or an extended stay at a beautiful Illinois campground, the online reservation system is the most convenient way for visitors to our state parks, fish and wildlife and state recreation areas to ensure their campsite is waiting for them when they arrive,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.

Reserving campsites and shelters through Reserve America’s website allows users to receive instant confirmation of their reservations at IDNR sites. The IDNR no longer accepts camping and shelter reservations through the mail or over the phone.

The online reservation system for regular campsites and group campsites requires a $5 non-refundable reservation fee and payment of the full camping and utility fees at the time the reservation is made. MasterCard and Visa may be used to make those reservations. Camping fee information for IDNR sites is available at this link through the IDNR website: www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/Programs/Camping.

Payment of the entire camping and utility fee amount will guarantee that the reservation will be held for the entire length of the stay. Shelter reservation fees are $25.

Campsites can be reserved for a maximum of 14 nights per 30-day period and reservations must be made at least seven days (three days at some facilities) before the campsite is needed. Reservations for some holiday weekends may require a two- or three-night minimum stay reservation, depending on the facility.

Campsite reservations through the online system are available at 67 of Illinois’ state parks and other sites managed by the IDNR. Shelter reservations are available at 51 sites. Campsites that are not subject to reservation at IDNR sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Campground hosts needed
The IDNR is also recruiting campground hosts for some sites. For more information on the campground host program, phone 217/785-8129 or use this link: www.dnr.state.il.us/volunteer