March Report – Trails, Birds & More!

March Report – Trails, Birds & More!

Well, how about this weather, eh? Not since 2012 have we had this big of a jump on spring. Of course this means everyone is wondering about park conditions.. So let’s get started!

Melt Water, Steinke Basin

Melt Water, Steinke Basin, March 6, 2016

Trail Conditions Part 1

Trail conditions are mixed and changing each day as the mix of warm weather and rain break down the ice and frozen earth.  Some sections of the main trails near lake are in good condition. However, some spots can still be ice-covered and slippery.  The upside is that with the melt, water is flowing and there are some beautiful falls and babbling brooks doing their thing out there.

The East Bluff Woods Trail, Steinke Basin Loop and Uplands Trails all have areas of mud and ice.  The low-lying areas of Steinke Basin & Uplands are very wet.  I’ve sunk in mud up to my ankles on Steinke Basin!  Oh, and remember folks you MUSTS have your dogs on a leash at all times on Steinke Basin.. Stepping in mud is bad enough!

Precarious Trees Plentiful

Precarious Trees Plentiful

Trail Conditions Part 2

Hazard Trees

Hazard Trees

The thing you might want to be concerned about on the trails right now are hazardous trees.  This time of year a mix of soft ground, wind and simply trees that have been marked as hazards, but haven’t been cut from previous years present some precious situations, especially on the Steinke Basin and Upland Trails at the moment.  If you look at the screencap from my GPS (left), you’ll see I’ve marked every tree that was sketchy, downed or downright dangerous in my opinion along these two trails. This does not include the trees that were officially marked as hazard trees last season that haven’t been removed to date. The point is, when it’s wet and windy this early in the season, I’d be cautious around trees hanging over the trails or hung up on others just waiting for a good shove.

Personally, I’m very disappointed in the general trail maintenance out there over the last couple of years and hope we can find a way to resolve this in the coming season.

Lake Conditions

Ice fishing shelters were required to be off of Wisconsin’s inland lakes March 8th. We’ve still seen some folks out walking on the ice as of March 8th. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

It’s hard to guess when the lake will open up, but it’s fair to say that the thaw is well on the way.

Birding

So here’s the fun birding news for Devil’s Lake. Red-winged blackbirds, robins, sandhill cranes & turkey vultures have all returned to Devil’s lake State Park in the last week or so. Just this morning I discovered that Great Blue Heron have also returned to their rookery on the south shore!  That’s a bit early for the Heron, but they’ll do well, even if we have another snowstorm before spring “officially” arrives.

Heron Rookery March 9, 2016

At The Heron Rookery March 9, 2016

I think that’s it for the moment. Just keep in mind, that conditions are as changing as the weather this time of year and while it feels like spring is in the air, it’s completely possible that we could see more snow and ice before the summer season really sets in. Until then, enjoy and be safe out there!

***And as always, this website and my opinions are mine and are no way associated with the park or the Wisconsin DNR.

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