VIDEO: Dicor's Ulltra Sealant System for TPO Roofing



Enjoy this 3:56 video from Dicor, featuring Mark Polk of RV Education 101, about the Ulltra Sealant System for TPO Roofing.
Here's what RV Education 101 had to say about their video:
In this informative RV how to video, presented by Dicor https://www.dicorproducts.com/catalog/roof-products/, Mark Polk with RV Education 101 http://www.rveducation101.com/ demonstrates using the new Ultra Sealant system on RV TPO roofing. This Dicor Ultra Sealant System is the first system specially formulated for RV TPO roofing. It consists of two parts, The Ultra Sealant Primer and the Ultra Sealant.

Michigan State Park yurts available for unique winter camping experience

The yurt at Craig Lake State Park (Michigan DNR photo)
Editor's note: If you're like us and aren't able to use your camper during the winter (we have an expandable hybrid), then maybe camping in a yurt is right up your alley!

Outdoor enthusiasts seeking a unique winter getaway are reminded that several of Michigan’s State Parks have yurts available for rental year-round.

Yurts are sturdy, round, tent-like structures – the use of which can be traced back through history for an estimated 3,000 years. The year-round yurts found in Michigan’s State Parks have become popular alternative lodging options for winter hikers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers wishing to explore some of the most remote locations and stunning scenery the state has to offer.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon County currently offers four year-round yurts, while Craig Lake State Park in Baraga County has one yurt on Teddy Lake.

“The Porkies’ yurts are not accessible by snowmobile,” said park manager William Doan. “The yurts offer visitors an alternative experience to a traditional cabin, but they are only accessible by cross-country skis, snowshoes or by hiking in during winter months.”

Yurts at the Porkies are located various distances from parking areas, with some as close as a few hundred yards, to one that requires a nine-mile ski or hike into the forest.

“The nine-mile trek is not for the faint of heart, but is a worthy endeavor for those looking for a unique challenge and an opportunity to truly get in touch with nature,” Doan said.

Craig Lake State Park’s Teddy Lake yurt is located three-and-a-half miles from the park’s established snowmobile trails, and is an easy snowshoe or cross-country ski in from the plowed parking area. Park supervisor Douglas Barry says the yurt’s remote location is part of why people seek it out.

“One of the best things about the Teddy Lake yurt is that there’s nothing around it,” Barry said. “It’s cozy and guests who stay there often remark that they hear nothing but quiet.”

Barry added that the yurt was booked steadily through January, February and March of last year with guests coming from as far away as Wisconsin and Grand Rapids.

The yurts found in Michigan’s State Parks are 16 feet in diameter, accommodate four people, and come equipped with bunk beds and mattresses, a table, chairs, and woodstove that can serve as a heater and cooktop. Running water and electricity are not provided, but primitive restrooms and stocked woodsheds are situated nearby. Campers should bring along their own linens, lighting and water.

Along with the yurts located in the Upper Peninsula, the Glenbrook yurt at Pinckney Recreation Area and Green Lake yurt at Waterloo Recreation Area in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula each are available for rental year-round and are supplied with a heating source.

Yurts rent for $60 per night plus an $8 reservation fee. To learn more about the various types of lodging available in Michigan State Parks, visit, www.michigan.gov/cabinstepee. For yurt availability and reservations call 800-447-2757 or go to www.midnrreservations.com.

VIDEO: Pure Michigan Dog Sledding



Enjoy this video from Pure Michigan on dog sledding.

Here's what Pure Michigan had to say about their video:
Dog sledding, a historic form of transportation is also a fun way to get out and enjoy the winter months. With more than 2,000 miles of dogsledding trails, 11,000 frozen inland lakes and a number of snow-covered national forests, Michigan is a great destination for a dog sledding adventure. Experience the rush and excitement as a pack of huskies pull us along the glistening Michigan winter landscape. For more information or to plan your winter vacation, visit http://www.michigan.org/winter

VIDEO: Pure Michigan Winter




Enjoy this 2:37 video from Pure Michigan

 Here's what Pure Michigan had to say about their video:
Pure Michigan winter means plenty of snow and a variety of adventures for everyone to enjoy. Ice climbing, dog sledding, tubing, ice sailing, skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing and so much more. To celebrate the winter season, we are kicking off a Pure Michigan winter video series, which will highlight the different activities that Michigan has to offer. Watch as we give you a preview of what's to come. For more information or to plan your winter vacation, visit http://www.michigan.org/winter

VIDEO: Pure Michigan's snow tubing



Enjoy this 2:08 video from Pure Michigan about tubing down snow-covered slopes.

Here's what Pure Michigan had to say about their video:
One of the most popular and well-known wintertime activities is sledding and snow tubing. A Pure Michigan winter offers plenty of hills and slopes for families and kids of all ages. Watch as we take you on a snow tubing adventure and imagine yourself flying down a snowy hill, racing your friends or family members to the bottom, and taking in the scenic Michigan winter wonderland on your way back up to the top. For more information or to plan your winter vacation, visit http://www.michigan.org/winter

42 campgrounds and RV resorts make the 'A' grade in Guestrated.com's 5th annual consumer satisfaction survey

More than 30,000 consumers submitted online reviews of campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the United States

Forty-two campgrounds, RV parks and resorts earned all around “A” grades in the fourth annual consumer satisfaction survey of campgrounds, RV parks and resorts.

The top parks were announced Friday during the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, which took place at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

More than 30,000 camping and RV enthusiasts participated in the online survey, which evaluated guest experiences at 3,200 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that are affiliated with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

“Consistently earning an overall ‘A’ grade from guests is difficult, and our 42 winners this year represent less than 2% of all of the nation’s campgrounds. But what is even more impressive is that 9 of this year’s winners have also received this award for five years in a row,” said Bob MacKinnon, president and CEO of GuestRated.com, the Murrieta, Calif.-based company that conducted the online survey on behalf of ARVC.

“Consumers should take the time to check out the ratings that are posted for each campground on GoCampingAmerica.com because it is the quickest way to tell which parks are best meeting – and exceeding – guest expectations,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC’s president and CEO.

The 42 parks earning “A” grades this year are listed below. They include:
South Haven Family Campground's
2012 Halloween camping event

The GuestRated.com national online survey program was launched in February 2008 in collaboration with ARVC. Consumers are invited to submit their own reviews of campgrounds and RV resorts they have recently visited by finding the park’s page on www.GoCampingAmerica.com and clicking on the “Reviews” tab. Previous guests’ comments and ratings are posted on this park’s page along with a review submission form.

For more information about the online survey program, please contact Bob MacKinnon of GuestRated.com at (877) 707-7080 as well as Jake Poterbin of ARVC at (303) 681-0401. Also be sure to visit www.GuestRated.com and www.GoCampingAmerica.com.

Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center hosts 'Wildlife of Michigan in Winter' photo contest

The Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon today announced a “Wildlife of Michigan in Winter” photo contest. Entrants are asked to submit favorite photos from last year or take a trek through the woods, fields or wetlands this winter and capture the beauty of wildlife in a wintry scene.

Photos must be of Michigan wildlife photographed in nature during winter. Entries are limited to two photos per person. Photos must be securely matted without a frame or glass, with a minimum size of 8 x 10 and maximum size of 11 x 16. Laminated photos or those without a matte will not be accepted. An entry fee of $4 per photo must accompany each submission. Please include photographer’s name, address, email, phone number and name of wildlife and location photographed on the back. This contest is intended for amateurs only; the works of published photographers will not be considered.

The deadline for submission is 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. An impartial team of volunteers with knowledge of photography will judge the photos. Winners will be announced Feb. 2. Three winners will be chosen. First-, second- and third-place winners will receive a gift card and/or prize with a value equivalent to $50, $35 or $25.

Photos may be submitted by mail or delivered to:
Gillette Nature Association
6585 Lake Harbor Road
Muskegon, MI 49441

Winning photos will be on display at the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center through Feb. 28. Entries may be picked up on or after Feb. 28; those not picked up within two months will become property of the Gillette Nature Association.

Questions may be directed to Elizabeth Brockwell-Tillman, park interpreter, at 231-798-3573. The Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center is one of 10 visitor centers managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnrvisitorcenters for more information.

HGTV's RV 2013 to air New Year's Day

"RV 2013" Host Brandon Jackson
The always popular RV special program that airs on HGTV will make its debut on New Year's Day (6 p.m. EST). I'll be watching college football, but I'll be sure to catch the show during a rebroadcast.

The show's format will be the same as it has in the past: three families will be searching the Hershey, PA RV show for their next RV. I'll never forget seeing it one year, don't remember how long ago, to see that one of the families looking for a new RV was none other than Mark and Dawn Polk of RV Education 101!

Anyway, here's the programming note on the show sent by HGTV:
 
RV 2013 HRVS10-S13TH – premieres Tue. 1/1/13 @ 6p et/3p pt

Host: Brandon Johnson

Tag along for a one-of-a-kind sneak peek at the latest and greatest recreational vehicles and travel accessories on RV 2013! HGTV's Brandon Johnson will lead three lucky families on the shopping trip of a lifetime as they hunt for their perfect RV at the largest RV show in America. From the most luxurious and over the top motor coaches, to tricked out trailers and toy haulers, get an insider's guide to everything you ever wanted to know about the most high-tech, eco-friendly, and all around coolest RVs. So, before you drive another mile, fasten your seatbelts, you'll need to see this - it's RV time!

Also, here's a list of the RVs and accessories that will be featured during this year's show:
  • Fleetwood: Discovery, Excursion, Jamboree 
  • Thor Motorcoach: Palazzo 
  • Winnebago: Vista, Minnie 
  • Roadtrek Motorhomes: N6 Active 
  • Leisure Travel Vans: Freespirit SS 
  • Pleasureway: Pursuit 
  • Coachmen RV: Leprechaun, Freedom express; liberty edition 
  • Show Hauler Motorhomes 
  • Forest River: Aviator 
  • Dry Flush toilet vendor 
  • Point Pong vendor 
  • Coleman vendor 
  • Mobile Suites: Tradition 
  • Open Range: Open Range 
  • Heartland RV: Cyclone 
  • TailGator blender vendor 
  • American Coach: American Heritage

CBS’s “Undercover Boss” to Feature KOA CEO Jim Rogers, Friday, Jan. 11

Jim Rogers, the gregarious chief executive officer of Kampgrounds of America Inc., will transform into mild-mannered Tim Bickford, an out-of-work accountant from San Francisco on CBS’s hit series “Undercover Boss,” Friday, January 11 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET/PT).

Rogers has been at the helm of KOA – the world’s largest system of family-friendly campgrounds – for the past 12 years. The company, born in Billings, Montana in 1962 and still headquartered near that first campground location, now has 489 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

The Emmy Award-winning Undercover Boss show is now in it’s fourth season.

“My front line assignments on ‘Undercover Boss’ affirmed the importance of creating KOA systems that maximize the time that campground staff members can spend with guests,” said Rogers. “I learned that the great people we have on the front lines can always use more time to better know and serve our campers. Genuine engagement, ultimately, is what it’s all about. KOA campground owners and their staffs are the real heroes of KOA.”

Rogers said he welcomed the chance to go undercover, taking on the persona of a “front line” KOA employee.

“’Undercover Boss’ is great entertainment, but it also does a great service by taking the general public behind the scenes of popular companies,” Rogers said. “Every episode is a case study in business management.”

“My experience on ‘Undercover Boss’ once again confirmed to me the importance of ‘sweating the small things,’” Rogers said. “Being undercover gave me an unobstructed view of where our business gets done. Being there were no special advanced preparations for me, and that led to a lot of surprises – some good and some not so good.”

Rogers said he was heartened by KOA frontline staff’s understanding of the “Golden Rule” when serving campers, always doing their jobs in a manner that would exceed a guest’s expectations.

“It was also great to see our franchisees and our staff’s commitment to our charity effort for KOA Care Camps for children with cancer,” he said. “Their support for Care Camps really makes a difference.”

Each week, the Emmy Award-winning UNDERCOVER BOSS, which is in its fourth season, follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies. While working alongside their employees, they see the effects their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering and rewarding the unsung heroes who make their companies run.

For more information on the Kampgrounds of America/Jim Rogers episode of CBS “Undercover Boss” that airs Friday, January 11, go to KOA.com or http://www.cbs.com/shows/undercover_boss/.

DNR awards $735,100 in Recreation Passport grants to local communities for park improvements

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently announced that 19 communities across the state will share $735,100 in Recreation Passport grants. Money for this fund is derived from the sale of the Recreation Passport, which replaced the resident motor vehicle permit (MVP) - or window sticker - for state park entrance in 2010.

Grants have been awarded to Rollin Township (Lenawee County), Bay de Noc Township (Delta County), city of Cadillac (Wexford County), Maple Ridge Township (Delta County), Charlevoix Township (Charlevoix County), city of Munising (Alger County), city of Portage (Kalamazoo County), Garden Township (Delta County), Marquette County, Tilden Township (Marquette County), Wheatland Township (Hillsdale County), Jackson County, Oakland County, Sherman Township (Iosco County), village of Lake Linden (Houghton County), city of Westland (Wayne County), Genesee County, city of Rochester Hills (Oakland County) and Emmet County.

The full list of award recipients, grant amounts and description of their projects are available at www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants by clicking on Recreation Passport Grants.

The cities, counties and townships selected to receive a Recreation Passport grant clearly demonstrated projects that are designed to provide better public outdoor recreation opportunities or facilities, infrastructure and economic development plans that support public outdoor recreation activity. The successful entries were chosen from a field of 82 grant applications seeking some $2.9 million in funding.

While slightly fewer projects were funded this year, each project received more money, ranging from $20,200 to $45,000. The grant applicants sought funding for a broad range of public recreation projects, including playground development and renovations, picnic areas and pavilions, replacement of bathroom facilities, and improved access for those with disabilities. The DNR expects that, in future years, the maximum grant amount will increase as revenue from sales of the Recreation Passport also increases.

“The projects that were funded this year further strengthen partnerships at the state and local level," said DNR Director Keith Creagh. "These partnerships are critical to providing recreational opportunities where we live, work and play.”

Application materials for future Recreation Passport grants are available at www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants. Interested individuals also may call DNR Grants Management at 517-373-9125 or write to Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Grants Management, P.O. Box 30425, Lansing, MI 48909-7925.

Honor a loved one this holiday season by supporting Michigan’s wildlife

This holiday season, Michigan residents can honor friends or loved ones by making a donation to the Michigan Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund in their name. The recipient will be notified of the donor’s generosity with a beautiful certificate and a Living Resources patch featuring one of Michigan’s unique nongame species.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, a donation of $20 or more makes a world of difference for the fish and wildlife species in Michigan. These tax-deductible gifts benefit species that are endangered, threatened or considered rare in the state, helping to restore rare species populations and also to keep common species common.

Since the Michigan Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund was established in 1983, the program has had three main goals:
  • To restore populations of endangered and threatened species through management and protection; 
  • To maintain present populations of animals and plants; and 
  • To promote appreciation and awareness of Michigan's nongame wildlife and endangered species through education and first-hand opportunities to experience wildlife. 

Peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, piping plovers, gray wolves, Kirtland's warblers, Mitchell's satyr butterflies, lake sturgeon and common terns are just a few of the hundreds of wildlife species that have benefited from projects supported through the Michigan Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund. For more information on projects that have been supported by the fund, visit www.michigan.gov/nongamewildlife.

The Michigan Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund supports a network of more than 100 watchable wildlife sites throughout the state. These sites provide a variety of opportunities to view some of Michigan’s most popular wildlife species. The watchable wildlife program also promotes efforts that teach people how to responsibly photograph and view all forms of wildlife and plants.

Since its inception, the Michigan Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund has raised more than $9.5 million in support of critical projects for nongame species, but the fund will not continue without donations. To make a donation in someone’s honor – perhaps as a holiday gift – resident can make out a check or money order to: State of Michigan, Nongame Wildlife Fund and send it, along with the person of honor’s name and address, to: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 30451, Lansing, MI 48909.

To get news and information about Michigan’s unique and wonderful wildlife species, sign up for the DNR’s Wildlife Viewing email list – visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife and click on the red envelope.

VIDEO: Pure Michigan Snow Skiing



Enjoy this 2:20 video from Pure Michigan on snow skiing.

Here's what Pure Michigan had to say about their video:
A Pure Michigan winter is a snowboarders' paradise. Explore the diverse snowboarding terrain that Michigan has to offer for all levels and ages -- from steep runs and 30-foot cliff drops to beginner parks with small jumps and rails. For more information or to plan your winter vacation, visit http://www.michigan.org/winter

DNR awards $544,900 in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants to support local communities' park improvements

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced that seven community parks and recreation facilities across the state would share $544,900 in Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants. The federal LWCF program, administered in Michigan by the DNR, supports cities, counties and townships in their efforts to provide better public outdoor recreation opportunities for their residents.

The LWCF grants have been awarded to Emmet County, Cannon Township (Kent County), Bedford Township (Monroe County), Byron Township (Kent County), Presque Isle County (Presque Isle County), Muskegon County and Ypsilanti Township (Washtenaw County).

The full list of award recipients, grant amounts and description of their projects are available at www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants; click on Land and Water Conservation Fund.

"This year's grant recipients will build and renovate public recreation facilities and upgrade playground equipment to meet accessibility standards," said Steve DeBrabander, DNR Grants Management section supervisor. “These projects exemplify the partnership between state and local government and stimulate economic activity in these communities.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program administered in Michigan by the Department of Natural Resources on behalf of the National Park Service (NPS). The DNR uses LWCF funding to help develop public outdoor recreation facilities and to provide matching grants for local governments to do the same. The LWCF is supported by revenues from federal gas and oil development from the outer continental shelf. Following congressional appropriation, LWCF monies are apportioned to the states by the U.S. secretary of the interior each fiscal year in accordance with the apportionment formula contained in the LWCF Act.

Application materials for future Land and Water Conservation Fund grants are available at www.michigan.gov/dnr-grants, by calling 517-373-9125, or by writing to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Grants Management, P.O. Box 30425, Lansing, MI 48909-7925.

Hitch Carriers and other Tips to Make the Most of Your Small RV Space



These tips are brought to you by StowAway2.com, providing the highest quality hitch cargo carriers and racks on the market.

RV travel is an adventure – the kind that takes creativity if the space inside is limited. RVs range between 150 and 400 square feet, making space a commodity and efficiency a must. When you’re ready to hit the open road in your small RV, the following guide will help you make the most of every inch.

Space-Saving Ideas for RVs

Add a hitch carrier. You don’t have to carry everything inside your small RV. Hitch cargo carriers are easy to install on the back of your vehicle, simpler to access than rooftop boxes and give you up to 16 cubic feet of extra space. Hitch carriers are rugged, weather-proof and can be attached using a swing-away or fixed frame. The larger models have full-function taillights. These carriers are ideal for towing items that you don’t immediately need, such as extra toilet paper, golf clubs, souvenirs, extra linens, skis, an inflatable raft, lawn chairs, cleaning supplies or an outdoor grill.                

Downsize. Before you begin packing, go through the current contents of your RV to see what you don’t need. Take out anything that’s broken, as well as expired food and items you didn’t use at all during your last trip (except first aid and safety supplies).

Amplify your closet space. A plain closet with a single rod has vertical space you can maximize. Hang an extra rod half way between the first one and the floor so you have twice the space for hanging clothes. Use thin, no-slip hangers for shirts and dresses and tiered hangers for pants and skirts. For your folded clothes, use a hanging shelf organizer.

Double your shelf space. If there is ample space between the shelves, double the space with wire cabinet shelves. Use this trick to free up some counter space in the bathroom.

Go vertical. A bathroom wall, the back of the door, the front of a cabinet – they all have vertical space you can use as a smart storage solution. Pocket organizers made for shoes are the ideal size for items such as toiletries, scarves, hats, craft supplies, kitchen tools, jewelry and other knick-knacks that take up drawer space. For items like towels, bags and hampers, a well-placed hook can do wonders.

Optimize your counter space. Use the space between the kitchen counter and cabinets for items you use regularly – like maps, an address book, pens, flashlights or snacks – by mounting simple shelves or sliding wire baskets to the underside of the cabinets.

Compact and miniaturize. An RV isn’t a full-sized home, so you don’t always need full-sized items. Opt for the smaller versions of appliances, tools and other products. Instead of filling your shelves with disposable plates, cups and flatware, bring along a few sets of reusable kitchen items and free up space in cabinets and drawers. Fill travel-sized containers with soap, shampoo and the like to use inside the RV, but keep the full-sized bottles in the hitch cargo carrier so you can refill them as needed. Recycle the small boxes breath mints come in by cleaning them out and filling them with your favorite spices.

With some creativity and forethought, you can pack everything you need for a trip in a small RV, especially with the help of hitch carriers. The trick to keeping the RV from seeming overly cramped is to maintain its tidiness and organization while leaving a bit of extra wiggle room so you have a place to store new items you pick up along the way.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Newsbits for December 2012



Remaining Muzzleloader Deer Permits:  Illinois muzzleloader-only deer permits are still available over-the-counter (OTC) from DNR Direct license and permit vendors through Dec. 9 (or until quotas are exhausted).  Find a vendor near you at this link:  http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/LicensePermitVendors.aspx
Find counties with permits available at this link:

Resident Archery Deer and Fall Turkey Permits:  Resident combination archery deer permits, resident antlerless-only archery deer permits, and resident archery fall turkey hunting permits are still available over-the-counter from DNR Direct license and permit vendors through the end of the seasons on Jan. 20, 2013.  Find a vendor near you at this link: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/LicensePermitVendors.aspx

Non-Resident Deer and Turkey Permits:  The remaining non-resident 2012-13 Illinois combination archery deer permits, as well as non-resident antlerless-only archery deer permits and non-resident archery fall turkey permits are available over-the-counter (OTC) from DNR Direct license and permit vendors.  Find a vendor near you at this link:
  
Late-Winter and CWD Deer County Permits:  2012-2013 Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer county permits will be available over the counter (OTC) through DNR Direct license and permit vendors beginning on Tues., Dec. 11.  County permits for the CWD Deer Season will also be available OTC beginning on Dec. 11.  Late-Winter and CWD Deer season dates are Dec. 27-30, 2012 and Jan. 18-20, 2013.

Spring Turkey Applications:  Hunters may apply for the second lottery for 2013 Illinois Spring Wild Turkey Season permits online. Go to the IDNR website for more information at this link:
The application deadline for the second lottery for spring turkey permits is Jan. 11, 2013.

Spring Youth Turkey:  Spring Youth Turkey Special Hunt Area online permit applications will be accepted online from Jan. 15, 2013-Feb. 18, 2013.  For more information on 2013 spring turkey hunting:
Spring Youth Turkey Season County Permits will be available over-the-counter from IDNR license/permit vendors beginning on March 5, 2013.

Apply Now for Outdoors Access for Youth Turkey Hunting:  The Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) is now taking applications from young hunters for 2013 spring turkey hunting.  Youth hunters will be assigned a hunt site in one of the 23 counties in which private property has been leased by IDNR. Most assigned hunting areas are at least 40 acres in size and all have been evaluated for turkey activity and the high possibility of a good hunting experience for the youth. Eligible youth hunters must be under the age of 16 at the time of the hunt and must have completed a hunter safety education course.  Applicants can apply for two of the three turkey seasons for which IRAP has leased sites for the spring of 2013 – Youth Season, 3rd Season and 4th Season.   For more information, go to www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/irapYouth are encouraged not to miss out and apply early.

Online Free Site Hunting Permits:  Hunters are reminded that Free Site Hunting Permits (windshield cards) to hunt upland, forest game and waterfowl at IDNR sites are available online from the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov.  Click on ‘Hunting/Trapping’ and then ‘Public Hunting Areas’ to print these permits.  Hunters are encouraged to view the link to hunter fact sheets also available at the site. For information or assistance, hunters should contact the site where they intend to hunt.

Youth Goose Hunt:  The deadline is Friday, Dec. 7 for interested youth to register for the 13th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt.  The hunt, sponsored by the IDNR on Dec. 26-27, will be conducted at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties. Youth hunters must phone in to 217-785-8060 to register for a drawing to participate in the hunt by Dec. 7.  The drawing will be conducted on Dec. 10 and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing.  The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.  All applicants must have successfully completed a hunter safety education course, possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman's license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20-gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner's identification (FOID) card.  To register for the hunt or for more information, call 217-785-8060.

Target Hunger Now:  Hunters are encouraged to donate whole deer to the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program – part of the IDNR ‘Target Hunger Now!’ initiative.  Participating meat processors turn the donated deer into ground venison for delivery to food banks and charities in Illinois. 

For more information on ‘Target Hunger Now!’ and the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, check the IDNR website at
or by email tracy.shafer@Illinois.gov or write to Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

Sportsman’s Raffle Drawing Dec. 6:  It is the last chance to purchase tickets for the 2012 Illinois Conservation Foundation Sportsman’s Raffle, with proceeds supporting youth conservation education and outdoor recreation programs in Illinois.  Sportsman’s Raffle tickets are $100 each and prizes, including a grand prize of up to $100,000, will be presented at a drawing in Sangamon County on Thursday, December 6, 2012.   Proceeds from the raffle will support programs at the ICF Torstenson Family Youth Conservation Education Center in Pecatonica, IL.  The raffle is being conducted in accordance with the Raffles Act.  All business operations of the raffle take place exclusively in Sangamon County. Raffle tickets are available online at www.ilcf.org.  For more information, phone the ICF at 217-785-2003.

Pere Marquette Bald Eagle Programs:  Enjoy watching bald eagles on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers near Pere Marquette State Park this winter by participating one of the park’s popular Bald Eagle Days tours.  The site interpreter at Pere Marquette presents informative programs about bald eagles on select dates through early March.  All programs begin at the Pere Marquette Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 618/786-3323.  Programs are on select dates from Dec. 21 through early March.  To check the schedule of program dates, go to the Pere Marquette State Park web page and click on “Bald Eagle Days” at this link:

Super Saturdays:  The Illinois State Museum’s ‘Super Saturdays” event on Sat., Dec. 8 features Story Time Art.  Children are invited to explore the imagery, mediums, and techniques of winter-themed picture books. Children will create a pop-up book, make a found-object snowman collage, design a story character-inspired postage stamp, and vote on their favorite seasonal classic.  In addition, there will be stories read aloud, games, and other activities.  The free event is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Illinois State Museum in the State Capitol Complex in Springfield.   For more information, phone 217-782-6044 or check the Museum website at www.museum.state.il.us/events

ISM Science Series:  The Illinois State Museum’s Science Series program on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. is ‘Maya 2012.’  The location of the event will be the Thorne Deuel Auditorium at the Illinois State Museum at 502 S. Spring St. in Springfield.  The program will be presented by Dr. Ronald K. Faulseit of Tulane University, a Visiting Scholar in the Center for Archaeological Investigations at SIU Carbondale.  The end of the Mayan “Great Cycle” (December 21, 2012) is fast approaching, and with it there are many predictions of disaster and/or transformation. This presentation will consider some of these proposed scenarios and discuss what the Maya themselves wrote (and are still writing) about their calendar.  Admission is free for the event on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Illinois State Museum (special location for the December Science Series program). 

For more information, phone 217-782-0061 or check the website at www.museum.state.il.us/events

State Park Lodges:  For a winter getaway in a beautiful setting, book at stay at one or several of Illinois’ state park lodges.  Find details and links for reservations on the IDNR website at http://dnr.state.il.us/Lodges/

Follow the IDNR:  Keep up to date with events and information on outdoor recreation and natural resources in Illinois through IDNR postings on Facebook and Twitter.  Just click on the tabs on the IDNR website homepage at www.dnr.illinois.gov

Bluffton/Fort Wayne South KOA Wins Major Awards During Annual Convention

The Bluffton/Fort Wayne South KOA Campground has been awarded the 2013 KOA President’s and Founder’s Awards by Kampgrounds of America, Inc., the world’s largest system of family-friendly campgrounds. The awards were presented Saturday, November 17 at KOA’s annual International Convention in Orlando, Florida. Las Vegas, Nevada. KOA is also celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2012.

The KOA Founder’s and President’s Awards are presented annually to campgrounds that receive the highest scores in customer service from their campers, and also receive top scores in KOA’s annual Quality Review.

The KOA Founder’s Award, named in honor of Dave Drum, who founded KOA on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana in 1962, is given to those campgrounds that attained the very top scores in both customer service and the KOA Quality Review. KOA surveys hundreds of thousands of campers each year regarding their KOA camping experience.

“Our KOA owners rely on the feedback they receive from our camping guests to make almost instant changes and improvements to their operations,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “KOA owners do a wonderful job a listening to our campers, and I’m proud to be able to recognize the best among the best with the KOA President’s and Founder’s Awards.”

Kampgrounds of America was founded in 1962 on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana. To find out more about this KOA, any of the other 484 KOAs in the U.S. or Canada, go to www.KOA.com.