2013 highlights of the Wisconsin DNR

MADISON - From the first winter free fishing weekend to a massive wildfire in Douglas County, to the first year of expanded hunting in state parks, to the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, to the launch of a new Department of Natural Resources free hunting and fishing mobile app and a new Public Lands Atlas, here is a look back at the natural resources issues and highlights of 2013.
  • Drinking water monitoring and reporting violations cut by one-third 
    Wisconsin public water supply system operators reduced by one-third their violations of monitoring or reporting requirements for drinking water and continued their stellar record of serving water that met all health-based standards in 2012, a recently released report shows.
  • "Endangered Resources" bureau name changes but mission stays the same
    The state program charged with caring for Wisconsin's endangered resources, nongame animals and State Natural Areas is taking on a new name and organizational structure to better reflect and carry out its broad mission. As of July 1, the Bureau of Endangered Resources officially became the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation within the Department of Natural Resources.
  • Petroleum cleanup program gets new home at DNR
    Wisconsin's petroleum tank clean-up program is getting a new home with the signing of the state's biennial budget bill. Effective July 2, the petroleum environmental cleanup fund award program, known as PECFA, moved to the Department of Natural Resources Remediation and Redevelopment Program.
  • DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to throw out first pitch at inaugural DNR Days at Miller Park
    There are few traditions Wisconsin residents hold more dear than hunting, fishing, and baseball. This Friday, July 19, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Milwaukee Brewers team up for the first DNR Days at Miller Park.
  • Public hearings set on changes to statewide shoreland zoning standards
    Proposed changes to minimum statewide shoreland zoning standards aimed at providing more flexibility for property owners and making the standards easier for counties to implement are the topic of public hearings in August. People also may file comments electronically or by U.S. mail through Sept. 5.
  • Successful calving year good for state's growing elk herd
    Despite a very late spring and hordes of biting insects, more than 250 hardy volunteers joined Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists to search the forests near Clam Lake for elk calves during May and June. This effort revealed that the year has started out exceptionally well for Wisconsin's growing elk herd.
  • Ice fishing season comes early 
    Ice fishing opportunities are going to come early and often this season, good news for the growing number of ice anglersdrilling down into this favorite winter sport, state fisheries officials say.
  • No Asian Carp DNA found in Sturgeon Bay water samples
    Water samples collected from Sturgeon Bay last month and analyzed for evidence of Asian carp DNA have come back negative, state officials announced today.
  • Wisconsin chinook stocking strategy set for 2014 and beyond
    The state's strategy for stocking chinook salmon in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters in 2014 and beyond is set and seeks to maintain existing great fishing opportunities in spring and summer all along the coast while tweaking the state's original proposal based on public input to improve fall fishing.
  • New DNR staff to focus on environmental compliance for industrial sand mining
    As part of Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget, the State Legislature approved the hiring of two new engineers to focus on environmental compliance for industrial sand mines in Wisconsin.
  • New Atlas of Public Access Lands of Wisconsin available online or in print
    A new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Public Access Lands Atlas is now available online and in a printable format. The atlas highlights the significant increase in public access to Wisconsin lands made possible through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, as well as other lands open to the public for outdoor recreation.
  • Capitol ceremony marks chief warden transfer 
    More than 100 wardens and other law enforcement agency representatives were among those at last week's symbolic ceremony at the State Capitol Assembly Chambers as the Department of Natural Resources and its Bureau of Law Enforcement saluted its 17th Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark as he ended his more than 31-year career, paving the way for the state's 18th Chief Warden, Todd Schaller.
  • Electronics recycling opportunities continue to grow under E-Cycle Wisconsin
    Wisconsin residents now have access to nearly 450 permanent electronics collection sites, and continue to recycle their old TVs, computers and other consumer electronics at an impressive rate, according to new data compiled by the Department of Natural Resources.

VIDEO: 'Travel Trailer & 5th Wheel Backing Tips' by KOA and Mark Polk of RV Education 101

Enjoy this 3:31 video from KOA and Mark Polk of RV Education 101 on "Getting to KOA - Travel Trailer & 5th Wheel Backing Tips"

Here's what KOA and Mark had to say about their video:
In this informative RV how to video Mark Polk with RV Education 101 http://rveducation101.com/ offers some helpful tips on how to back a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer into a site at the campground when there is a driver and a spotter.

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:

  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Michigan DNR seeks participants in Statewide Trails Summit, Jan. 21, in Acme

Help set the course for the future of Michigan's world-class trails!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources - in collaboration with our valued partner organizations - invites you to attend the Statewide Trails Summit on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Acme, Mich. Our goal for this day is to share an overview of Michigan's comprehensive trails plan; provide the opportunity forBicyclists on Lakeland Trail attendees to have real conversations about the best ways to manage trail priorities for multiple user groups; and lay out action steps over the next five years.

Michigan's trails are an incredibly big part of Michigan's recreation, economic and quality-of-life picture. If you, your organization or your community has a vested interest in our state's trail system, don't miss this chance to lend your voice to the discussion.

WHO: Trail user groups, trail owners and trail enthusiasts

WHERE: Grand Traverse Resort, 100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd., Acme

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

COST: $50 per person for the Trails Summit ONLY or $90 per person for the Trails Summit and access to the Michigan Recreation and Park Association (MRPA) Conference Keynote Address and Trade Show Exhibit Hall with dinner on Tuesday

For more information
It's easy to register. Get more information, complete your registration, and book your spot online at www.mrpaconference.com.

The flyer above provides more details about the Trails Summit agenda. Please feel free to print and share it (or email it) with others who may be interested.

VIDEO: How would you like to bike the Big Apple?

Bicycle Adventures to host 'Cycling Buffs On Urban Adventure' for four days in May 2014 culminating with 'NYC Five Boro Bike Tour'

A leader in North America bike tours Bicycle Adventures, celebrates 30 years in 2014 with time-tested and first-ever tours including a new concept in adventure travel – the urban adventure. It’s a four-day tour of the greater Manhattan region culminating with participation in the world’s biggest recreational bike ride, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour expected to draw some 32,000 participants to the region May 4, 2014.

For details please see: http://bicycleadventures.com/tours/adventure-rewards-tours/Five-Boro-Bike-Tour

Bicycle Adventures’ program for up to 18 participants begins May 1 at the Westin New York Grand Central for an introduction to Manhattan. Day two guests are fitted with bikes before traversing to Central Park and then ending the day with a Broadway show. Day three is a guided tour into the surrounding countryside. And day four everyone participates in the bicycle festival organized by Bike New York and the New York City Department of Transportation. Riders bike through all five boroughs - Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island - on streets totally free of traffic. On average guests will cycle between 25 to 50 miles a day.

The per person double rate of $2,495 includes three nights accommodation at Westin New York Grand Central, all meals except for one lunch, bikes and event fee.

“This is an amazing event you just have to see to believe,” said Todd Starnes, president of Bicycle Adventures. “The Five Boro is really the New York Marathon…for cyclists.”

To capitalize on the growing trend of urban-based adventure, Bicycle Adventures also offers four day trips in Seattle and Portland.

For more information, availability and reservations contact Bicycle Adventures by phone: 800.443.6060, email: office@bicycleadventures.com or visit online at: http://bicycleadventures.com/.

About Bicycle Adventures - North America’s Premier Bicycle Touring Company
Scenic byways, four and five-star accommodations and local dining and visits to National Parks are trademarks of Bicycle Adventures, founded in 1984.  Types of tours include Classic (25-50 miles a day), Classic Plus (50-60 miles a day) and Epic (70+ miles a day with the most demanding terrain). Value-driven Casual category trips offer budget-conscious lodging and meals, with the same full van support.

Pre-set and custom tours embrace the Pacific Northwest into Canada, California and the Southwest, as well as Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, New York, Hawaii and New Zealand. Excelling in its own backyard the Issaquah, WA-based company also conducts tours into Washington State’s wine country. Cyclists can opt for tours embracing the following National Parks: Arizona - Saguaro; Canada - Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes; Colorado - Rocky Mountain; Hawaii - Hawaii Volcanoes and City of Refuge; Montana - Glacier; Nevada and California - Death Valley; New Mexico - Bandelier; Oregon - Crater Lake and Columbia River Gorge NSA; South Dakota - Badlands; Utah- Zion, Bryce and Arches; Washington - North Cascades and Mt. Rainier.

VIDEO: Top Extended Stay RV Parks chosen by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory

The Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory has just released its list of the Top Extended Stay RV Parks in North America. Compiled by the guide’s editors and consultants, the list is tailored for travelers seeking RV resorts that provide amenities and social activities for vacations stays in some of North America’ most popular regions.

Lake View RV Resort, Houston
The Good Sam RV Travel Guide’s top Extended Stay RV parks are:

Staying a While
Located across North America, extended-stay RV parks provide guests with all the amenities needed to enjoy a long vacation in one place. While some RV parks put strict limits on how long guests can stay, many parks cater to seasonal visitors, even providing special sections long-term guests.

Snowbird parks commonly embrace long-term guests, as more than 1 million RVers trek to the Sunbelt every year to spend their winters away from the snow. However, parks like Brookhollow RV Park in Kelso, Washington, remain open all year and give guests a chance to enjoy the Pacific Northwest all four seasons.

RV parks that accommodate RVers for long periods give guests a reason to stay. Ocean Lakes RV Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has a church, 12,000-square-foot market, bicycle rentals and a recreational building. The resort’s 12-month activity calendar features events like a family scavenger hunt, entertainment and a New Year’s Eve Party.

At Sun Vista RV Resort in Yuma, guests have few reasons to leave the premises. Amenities include in-park hair stylists, massage therapists, ballroom dancing classes and regular entertainment. Guests have access to locked mail boxes and free forwarding services and can get toned at the park’s two-story fitness center.

Good Sam Guide
RV travelers can find more information about extended-stay RV parks in the 2013 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, which combines two of the RV industry’s most popular and respected brands — the Trailer Life Directory and Woodall’s Campground Directory — into one comprehensive volume. The guide contains detailed information more than 8,000 private RV parks across North America; each campground is personally inspected and rated by the Good Sam’s consultant teams.

The guide also includes lifestyle features, regional trip guides and essential travel facts. Readers can get vital tech tips, learn about must-see points of interest in all of North America’s states and provinces, follow a meal and fitness planner and get Road Ready with a special products section. Also included are guides to RV-related state laws and information needed for trouble-free trips into Canada and Mexico.

For more information about the 2013 Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory, click on www.goodsamcamping.com.

Illinois DNR reminds snowmobile operators to 'Play it Safe this Winter'

Author's note: This information from the Illinois DNR would apply for snowmobilers in all states in the entire Great Lakes region.

Practicing safety and using common sense prevents accidents

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to take extra caution this year when snow falls in Illinois. Every year throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles.  Many of these accidents could have been prevented had reasonable and proper precautions been taken.

In most instances, being alert and sober, knowing the trail, and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most accidents.  In North America, more than 50 percent of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.

Last season (2012-2013) in Illinois, 34 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in three fatalities.

“Most snowmobile accidents or fatalities we see could have been prevented had common sense and safety been practiced before and during the ride,” said Illinois Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez.  “It doesn’t matter what your intentions are before you set out to ride – if you aren’t prepared, accidents are more likely to happen.”

While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the season, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and less than 16 years must have in possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.

While most of the traditional instructor-led safety courses administered by the IDNR have taken place this year, snowmobilers can also satisfy state safety requirements by taking one of two online courses to become familiar with safe sledding practices or to refresh themselves on staying safe.  Individuals can earn legal safety certification through either www.snowmobilecourse.com or www.snowmobile-ed.com.  Both courses are administered by private companies, and do charge a fee to take the course.

Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling: 
  • Never consume alcohol before or during a ride
  • Know your equipment, and make sure that equipment is in proper working order.
  • Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling, like a full-size helmet, goggles, or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice chips, and flying debris. 
  • Avoid wearing long scarves, which may get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile. 
  • Know the terrain you are going to ride. If unfamiliar to you, ask someone who has traveled over it before.  Be aware of trails or portions of trails that may be closed.
  • Drowning is one cause of snowmobile fatalities. When not familiar with the thickness of the ice or water currents, avoid these areas. 
  • Know the weather forecast, and especially the ice and snow conditions in the area. 
  • Always use the buddy system. Never ride alone or unaccompanied. 
  • Travel at a reasonable rate of speed for your visibility and conditions.

Ohio DNR approves grants to enhance and improve Outdoor Recreation statewide

State and federal grants to help develop and improve public access for outdoor recreation facilities have been approved by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“Playgrounds, basketball courts and trails are all a great way of encouraging people of all ages to enjoy time in the great outdoors,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “We welcome the opportunity to aid and assist these communities, and we hope other communities will take advantage of these grant opportunities.

The NatureWorks and Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants, which ODNR administers, will fund 92 community-based projects to create and renovate parks and outdoor recreation areas. The grants will support the acquisition of more than 30 acres of green space, the development and improvement of 28 playgrounds, 11 shelters and gazebos, nine park restrooms and dozens of other local improvement projects, many of which will make Ohio’s park infrastructure more accessible for all Ohioans.

ODNR has recommended that more than $2 million in NatureWorks grants and more than a half-million dollars in LWCF grants be awarded to communities across the state. People may go to http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/10762/Default.aspx#parks to learn more about the grant projects.

NatureWorks provides up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance to local government subdivisions (i.e., townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts and conservancy districts) for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreational areas. The projects are funded through the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue, which was approved by Ohio voters in November 1993. Additional legislation authorized the creation of the NatureWorks Grant Program.

Similarly, the LWCF provides up to 50 percent reimbursement assistance for state and local government subdivisions (i.e., villages and cities) for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreational areas. Many local parks, trails, pools and other outdoor recreation facilities that Ohioans enjoy today were made possible through the federal program. Since its inception in 1965, more than $150 million has been awarded to projects in Ohio.

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

Guest Post: Winter exploration awaits at Sleeping Bear Resort

Author's note: As we cocoon ourselves indoors during the winter months, I'll be sharing more posts about travel destinations that can help us endure the season and stave off Cabin Fever. Enjoy this guest post from Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan.

LAKE ANN — No matter the season or the reason, Sleeping Bear Resort in Lake Ann welcomes visitors to explore the natural wonders that exist around Herendeene Lake. The Resort consists of six cabins a five bedroom log home and a six bedroom remodeled farm home.  Sleeping Bear Resort can accommodate as many as 60 guests for a weekend, or longer.  The resort is located 15 miles from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and 15 miles from Traverse City.

Resort Facilities
The Lodge (five bedrooms and two bathrooms, accommodating  12 individuals) and The Bear’s Den (six bedrooms and three bathrooms, accommodating 18 individuals) each offer entertainment rooms with a ping pong table, foosball table, pool table and large flat screen TV for hours of family fun. The six individual one- and two-bedroom cabins each sleep five.

Every unit at Sleeping Bear Resort includes a fully-equipped kitchen, with stove, refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker, as well as cooking utensils. Linens and towels are also provided. The entire resort offers wireless internet access, grills and a central fire pit, for warming up after a day of playing.

Nearby Activities
With its 450 feet of lake frontage on the 40-acre Herendeene Lake, Sleeping Bear Resort is more than a summer vacation destination. In the winter months, the iced-over lake welcomes fisherman to drop a line in search of panfish and largemouth bass.

Countless opportunities exist for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing just miles from the resort. Guided snowshoe hikes with a National Park ranger are offered on Saturdays and during winter holidays, starting at 1pm at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire. Self-guided snowshoeing is also permitted on all snow-covered dunes, fields and forests in the Lakeshore. A popular trek is the Empire Bluffs trail, which offers exceptional views of Lake Michigan, the towering snow-covered dunes and the Manitou Islands in the distance.

The resort is located within 20 miles of six different cross country ski trail networks with miles and miles of trail offerings. The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is groomed for cross country skiing, with access at the Dune Climb, Glen Haven village and on Forest Haven Road in Glen Arbor. The famed Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive also welcomes Nordic skiers. Countless other non groomed trails can be found throughout Benzie and Leelanau counties.

Downhill skiers and snowboarders can head 21 miles south to Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville for access to 45 slopes. Hiking, mountain biking and snowshoeing in the Michigan Legacy Park or cross country skiing along 40km of groomed trails is also available. A full-service spa is also available, allowing for a bit of pampering after a day out in the snow.

To the north, skiers will find The Homestead – America’s Freshwater Resort, located in Glen Arbor.  Two surface lifts, three chair lifts, 15 unique runs and a terrain park are set overlooking the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and an intimate spa facility are also offered.

Discounted skiing vouchers to both Crystal Mountain and The Homestead are available to Sleeping Bear Resort guests.

Those seeking speed can access more than 135 miles of Benzie County’s groomed snowmobile trails, accessible from Sleeping Bear Resort. Staging areas can be found at the Platte River Association Hall, east of Honor; in the village of Thompsonville; and at the downtown Beulah Trailhead & Visitors Center. A trail map for the area – including Leelanau County – can be found here. Please note, snowmobiling is not permitted on the lands or waters of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Additional activities, such as wine tastings, local restaurants, cultural venues and shopping, can be found on the Sleeping Bear Resort website.

Merry Christmas ... $@%!!#*$ full!

Found these on the Internet. I want.

Video: 'How to Inspect your RV for Water Damage' from RV101.TV

Enjoy this 2:13 video on "How To Inspect your RV for Water Damage" by Mark Polk of RV Education 101 and RV101.TV.

Here's what Mark had to say about his video:
RV101.TV - expert help for your RV with Mark Polk of RV Education 101. In this informative RV how to video Mark Polk walks you through some simple steps on how to inspect your RV for water damage. Periodic RV inspections can prevent costly repair bills caused by water damage.

Check out more free RV how-to videos at RV 101 TV http://rv101.tv/

RV Education 101 e-book series
As I've said many times, Mark Polk is my favorite RV expert. I'm pleased he and his wife, Dawn, have allowed me to sell his RV e-book series. E-books (electronic books) are immediately downloaded to your computer after you make the purchase. The RV Education 101 e-book series includes:
  • "The Original Checklist for RVers"
  • "The RV Book"
  • "RV Campground Basics"
  • "101 Tips for RVers"
  • "RV Care and Maintenance"
  • "Insiders Guide to Buying an RV"
  • "Winterizing & Storing your RV"
  • "RV Awning Use & Care"
  • "Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance"
  • "RV Buyers Survival Guide"
  • "Complete Guide To: RV Towing, Weights, Hitch Work & Backing"
  • "Pop-Up Basics 101"
  • "Dinghy Towing"

Guest Post: The Homestead celebrates 30 years of great northern Michigan skiing

Author's note: Enjoy this guest post from Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan.

The Homestead Celebrates 30 Years of Great Northern Michigan Skiing with Special Events, Concerts & Nordic-Inspired Festivals

Hard to imagine there’s another Michigan winter right around the corner. Yet, The Homestead is already preparing for a season-long celebration marking three decades of ski and snowboarding fun.
“Our thirtieth ski season is a special milestone,” says The Resort’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Jamie Jewell. “There have been many changes to the ski area at The Homestead since it opened in 1983. It’s really amazing when you look back at how modestly it all started.”  
1983 — The Homestead’s ski area opened with two three-person chair lifts, one two-person chairlift and a rope (pony) tow and state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment. Lifts were carefully installed below the tree line and closer to the ground than lifts at other ski areas for the purpose of providing a secure, safe feeling for new skiers and children learning to ski.
1985 — The Homestead became the first resort in the Midwest to limit ticket sales to prevent overcrowding.
1989 — The Homestead launched its $5 ski club program, a unique season pass for locals who paid just $5 for a pass and an additional $5 every time they came to ski.
1993 — The Homestead added three downhill race courses and broke ground on development of chalet style homes and rental properties for vacationing families and couples.
1996 — A Par 3, 9-hole golf courses was added, built in part on the downhill ski slopes.
2000 — The Magic Carpet© and was installed, along with a new “Lifetime Skills Learning Center: Ski School” and Gnomes lift-ticket and rental building.
2002 — Glade Run and terrain park were added.
2008 — Expanded multi-seasonal use of the ski area by adding wedding ceremony and reception patios overlooking Glen Lake valley and Sleeping Bear Bay.
2012 — The Homestead’s Snowsports School was remodeled
The Homestead has always been a favorite winter retreat for young couples and families with children, according to Jewell. Striving to improve service for this core group of winter guests has inspired every change to the ski area over the last 30 years.
“Children who learned to ski at The Homestead thirty years ago are now parents themselves,” she says. “There are hundreds of families that grew up skiing here. And in a way, The Resort has grown up with them. Yet some things have never changed. Namely our dedication to providing a top-notch experience, which includes limited lift ticket sales so the slopes are never crowded and the best lift ticket, rental, lesson and ski packages in Northern Michigan.”
The schedule of events celebrating 30 years of skiing at The Homestead’s is already shaping up to include many events, parties and special deals, says Jewell. Already on the docket are:
  • A New Year’s Eve dinner and dance party — including a cocktail reception, three-course “surf and turf” dinner, champagne toast at midnight and dancing with special musical act The Corvairs — at Mountain Flowers Lodge.
  • The Homestead’s 30th Anniversary sweepstakes offering $10,000 in prizes throughout the winter season.
  • Ski demo days where representatives from major ski manufacturers will be at The Homestead allowing guests to try out new, state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Special food events at the newly designed open-air at Beppi’s, which features outdoor seating, two outdoor gas fireplaces and outdoor heaters.
  • Family magic show & dinner in early January featuring Magic Stu (aka Stuart MacDonald) World Class Magician who is in the Hall of Fame of  Magic
  • Live entertainment throughout the season at Beppi’s with regularly scheduled musicians including Chris Skellenger, New Third Coast, Accidentals, Blake Elliott, Drive South and E-Minor.
As part of its 30th Anniversary sweepstakes, The Homestead is currently running a photo contest on Facebook. Past guests who share their old ski vacation photos from The Resort get a chance to win some great prizes every month throughout the winter season. For more information on this and more 30th Anniversary events and festivals currently in the works, check out The Homestead’s website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

Missouri acquires 330 acres near Current River State Park

Missouri State Parks recently announced that the state has acquired 330 acres of property in Shannon County. The property, historically referred to as Camp Zoe, is located adjacent to Current River State Park and downstream from Montauk State Park. It also abuts the 64,000-acre Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry, which is managed by Missouri State Parks.

Originally opening in 1929 as a youth camp, Camp Zoe provided opportunities for thousands of young people to connect with the outdoors. Missouri State Parks has looked to acquire the property for several years, recognizing its beauty and the potential to give visitors even more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in this beautiful part of the State.

“This Ozark gem showcases beautiful natural resources, including Sinking Creek near its confluence with the Current River.” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “Its location near Current River State Park and minutes away from the beloved Montauk State Park will provide visitors great opportunities to enhance their Missouri State Parks experience in the Ozarks.”

Plans for development of the property and future use are in the preliminary stages.

For information about state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

VIDEO: New Michigan DNR video provides tips for identifying juvenile Asian carp

Author's note: I firmly believe Asian Carp is a menace to the Great Lakes that needs to be eliminated as a threat. The closest comparison I can think of is the Emerald Ash Borer, but from everything I've read the Asian Carp will all but render our waterways lifeless of other species of fish. We need to do everything we can to prevent this. If this video can help, then so be it. That's why I'm sharing it with you.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently developed a video to assist anglers and the public in identifying juvenile Asian carp. The video was produced in collaboration with Michigan Out of Doors Television.

The DNR is doing many things to prevent adult Asian carp (bighead and silver) from entering the Great Lakes, but many people don’t realize that juvenile Asian carp pose a threat to the state’s waters as well. Juvenile Asian carp can be confused with common baitfish – such as gizzard shad, emerald shiner, spottail shiner or golden shiner. Because bait is often transported across state lines, including from areas with breeding populations of Asian carp, it would be easy for juvenile Asian carp to make their way into the bait supply without anyone realizing it.

This new video showcases five characteristics viewers can use to distinguish between juvenile Asian carp (bighead and silver) and common baitfish. These characteristics include color, scales, eyes, mouths and keels.

The video can be viewed on the DNR’s Asian carp website at www.michigan.gov/asiancarp and the national Asian carp website at www.asiancarp.us.

"We hope anglers and concerned members of the public will watch this video to learn how to identify juvenile Asian carp,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “Public awareness is a critical component of our efforts to prevent these invasive fish from impacting our world-class fisheries.”

The video also describes what anglers can do if they think they have a juvenile Asian carp in their bait bucket, or any odd fish for that matter. Anglers are encouraged to discard the fish in the trash or to contact the DNR to correctly identify the fish in question.

This video is one of several items the DNR has developed to educate the public about Asian carp. For more information on this issue, please visit www.michigan.gov/asiancarp.

Take a Virtual Tour of Glamorous Camping at Oakland County (Mich.) Parks

For illustration only; not the actual Glamping experience
at Oakland County Parks
OAKLAND COUNTY – With an interest in diversifying the types of camping experiences it offers, Oakland County Parks and Recreation is previewing a “glamper” (glamorous camping model) at Waterford Oaks County Park now through Jan. 2, 2014.

The 33’ x 12’ unit is equipped with a stove, refrigerator, microwave, table and chairs, couch, shower and flush toilet. Individuals interested in viewing the unit can stop by Waterford Oaks Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (no viewing available on weekends or county holidays). Visitors are asked to check in at the administration office to access the unit.

“This is the closest overnight option we will have to a hotel room at our campgrounds,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said. “We try to stay on trend with the camping industry and debuted yurts in 2013. With the glamping option, we hope to bring the camping experience to those who love the outdoors but aren’t interested in roughing it. And guests with small children or mobility issues may want to camp but need a more convenient option than pitching a tent or hauling a trailer.”

According to Glamping.com, the global glamping trend has traction because travelers can leave the uncomfortable negatives of camping – such as sleeping on the ground - behind and enjoy some comforts of home in the outdoors.

The parks system operates two campgrounds from mid-May through October – Addison Oaks County Park near Leonard and Groveland Oaks County Park near Holly. In 2013 the parks system constructed yurts, circular, spacious canvas-walled tents that sleep six and are furnished with two bunk beds, one double bed, night stand/mirror, small refrigerator and table and chairs. The campgrounds also offer furnished four and six-person cabins plus individual and group sites for tents and RVs. All sites feature outdoor fire circles and picnic tables.

Waterford Oaks County Park is located at 2800 Watkins Lake Road, Waterford.

For more information about the 13 Oakland County Parks, call 248-858-0906 or visit DestinationOakland.com. Find Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook and follow via Twitter @DestinationOak.

Wildlife biologists to examine cougar found in Illinois

Wildlife biologists will examine the remains of a cougar found on a farm near Morrison in rural Whiteside County in an effort to learn more about the animal’s recent history and origin, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced recently.

An IDNR Conservation Police Officer (CPO) on Nov. 20 responded to a call from a Whiteside County farm owner that a large cat had been seen exiting a corn field, running toward the farm owner’s home and utbuildings.  When the CPO arrived at the farm, he made contact with the farm owner’s wife, who was in the house, and checked a horse barn and lot where the landowner’s horses were located.  The cougar was discovered in a concrete tunnel beneath a corn crib.

After consulting with the farm owner’s wife and IDNR law enforcement and wildlife personnel, and at the farm owner’s request, it was determined that the ougar should be euthanized.  The CPO dispatched the animal with his IDNR-issued rifle.  The cougar ppeared to weigh more than 100 pounds and was 5-and-half to 6-feet in length.  Wildlife biologists will take possession of the animal and conduct a necropsy.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions, were extirpated from Illinois before 1870 and are not protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code. There is no evidence that a resident breeding population exists in Illinois, but occasional transient cougars have been found in the state in recent years, likely dispersing from states to the west of Illinois, including South Dakota.

There were three confirmed cougars in Illinois between 2002 and 2008.  A male was killed by a train in Randolph County in 2002. Another male was killed by a hunter in Mercer County in 2004. A third male as shot and killed on the north side of Chicago in 2008. Although analysis indicates these three animals were genetically similar to mountain lions from South Dakota, their history in the wild is uncertain.

More recently, images taken by trail cameras in Jo Daviess County (September 2012) and in Morgan, Pike and Calhoun counties (October and November 2012) were confirmed by IDNR as showing a live cougar. Given the long distances typically traveled by cougars, and the proximity of the counties (especially Calhoun, Morgan and Pike), it is possible that the camera images may show the same animal.

For more information on cougars, check the Living with Wildlife in Illinois website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/

Showcasing the Michigan DNR: Looking for the right strain of brown trout

DNR fisheries managers are optimistic that if they can identify
the right strain of brown trout, they’ll be able to grow more big
fish like this male held by fisheries technician James Zellinger.
Is it possible that no one strain of brown trout is best for Michigan’s state fish hatchery system? State fisheries biologists are beginning to wonder.

A four-year research project that compares two strains of brown trout that have been stocked in a pair of rivers, a handful of inland lakes and four Lake Michigan ports, is heading into the homestretch and is preliminarily showing that neither strain is best in all situations, according to Department of Natural Resources (DNR) research biologist Todd Wills.

The DNR Fisheries Division has long used Wild Rose-strain brown trout for stocking across the state. Fisheries officials have become concerned about diminishing returns from the stockings of the Wild Rose strain, which has been in the system for many years.

So the DNR launched an experiment in which similar numbers of Sturgeon River-strain browns, taken from wild broodstock, were stocked in various bodies of water. The fish were fin-clipped (right ventral fin clip for Wild Rose strain, left ventral fin clip for Sturgeon River browns) for easy identification. The rivers (both tailwater fisheries, the Au Sable River below Mio Dam and the Manistee River below Hodenpyl Dam) have been subject to mark-and-recapture, electro-fishing surveys – running a current through the water that stuns the fish and causes them to temporarily float to the surface – for the last four years.

“In the two tailwaters, the Sturgeon River strain is far outperforming the Wild Rose strain,” Wills said. “We’re getting better survival with the Sturgeon River fish and good growth.”

DNR fisheries biologist Todd Wills (left) and technician Ed
Melling collect trout from the Au Sable River below Mio.
The Sturgeon River strain fish go into the river a little bit smaller than the Wild Rose strain, which has been in the hatchery system for many years and seem to grow more quickly than the Sturgeon River fish while in the system. But the Sturgeon River fish are nearly as long as the Wild Rose fish after a year in the river, showing the kind of vigor biologists like to see.

Results from the five inland lakes, however, where both species have been stocked (Bear Lake and Starvation Lake in Kalkaska County, Lake 15 and McCormick Lake in Montmorency County and Bridge Lake in Otsego County) are just the opposite.

"In the inland lakes, the Wild Rose strain fish are doing better,” Wills said.

Added DNR fisheries biologist Tim Cwalinski: ““Anglers report catching more Wild Roses than Sturgeon Rivers. That backs up what we’re seeing when we shock the lakes.”

Returns of the fish from stocking at the four Lake Michigan ports (Frankfort, Ludington, Cedar River and Menominee) have been disappointing.

“In three years we’ve only seen four fin-clipped fish,” explained Wills. “With that amount of data we really can’t say much of anything other than we’re not seeing a lot of returns to the creel. I don’t think that’s much of a surprise; brown trout have not done well in the Great Lakes in recent years. And that’s doesn’t seem to be a strain thing; it’s more likely a changing-ecosystem issue.

DNR fisheries biologists hope to find a strain of brown
trout that will thrive in both lakes and streams.
“We spend a lot of time and money raising fish in the hatchery and we want to know that what we’re stocking is surviving well enough and living long enough to be worth the effort,” Wills said. “The project will be finished within the next 18 months and fisheries managers should have a better idea of what they want to stock to benefit their anglers.”

In mark-and-recapture studies, DNR fisheries crews work the stream with electro-fishing boats. The fish are netted and the crew collects length and weight data, as well as noting fin clips. They take scale samples for age studies in the laboratory. Before the fish are released back into the river, fisheries workers cut off the tip of the upper edge of the fish’s tail fin.

The next day, the crew surveys the same stretch of river, noting the percentage of fish that are marked versus those that aren’t. The resulting ratio gives fisheries biologists a tool with which to estimate the population of trout in the river.

Although the data haven’t been completely worked up yet, fish with left ventral fin clips (Sturgeon River strain) far outnumbered fish with right ventral clips (Wild Rose strain) during the recent survey below the dam at Mio. And unclipped fish outnumbered clipped ones. That adds some information that the DNR never really had before.

DNR electro-fishing crews turned up some large brown trout,
such as the one in the net on the right, in the Au Sable River
below Mio.
“If you get an 18-inch brown trout with no fin clips, that could be a fish that’s from before the study started,” Cwalinski said. “But we were getting quite a few 5-inch fish that were not clipped – those are wild fish. So fish are reproducing in there. There’s probably a lot of spawning, but there’s also a lot of mortality due to high summer water temperatures. Still, some of those fish make it.”

Fisheries biologists always assumed there was little natural reproduction below the dam at Mio, where water temperatures can get quite high some summers.

“Until we started clipping fish, we didn’t see it,” Cwalinski said. “So we can finally go in there and say, ‘There’s more wild production in here than we knew.’ That’s not a bad thing. We are stocking to supplement a wild population that could probably swing up and down pretty heavily in any given year.”

The final report will not be completed until sometime in 2014. When it’s finished, you’ll be able to find it at www.michigan.gov/fishresearch. To learn more about Michigan’s fish production system and individual hatchery work, visit www.michigan.gov/hatcheries.

Michigan DNR asks us to take a survey about outdoor recreation in SE Michigan

Michigan Department of Natural Resources is partnering with Michigan State University  to better understand southeast Michigan residents’ levels of awareness and use of outdoor recreation resources throughout the region. Your participation in this short survey will help the organization assess current levels of resource use as well as identify the additions and changes to regional recreation resource offerings most desired by you, the region’s residents.

Take the survey and make a difference!

Bifold Liftstrap door puts motorhome in family garage

Marianne Riddle's Motorhome Madness is an online RV magazine that all of us should subscribe to. the best online magazine about motorhoming. "I am scanning the virtual globe for all-things motorhome and bring them to you here," Riddle says. "News, products, how-to's, inspirations and a little of my opinion." She's also on Twitter @motorhomemomma and Pinterest, @motorhome madness.

One of her latest finds is truly unique.

From doityourselfrv.com, comes word of a creative solution for storing your motor home in your garage: a 12.5-foot door that looks like a traditional 8-foot residential garage door. A clever bifold liftstrap along the top of the door allows it to open high enough for the homeowner's motor home. Ordinance restrictions prompted the creative solution for the Washington state homeowner and his architect.

The mechanism makes use of two patented Schweiss liftstraps, and that company's website has even more information and photos.