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The recent heatwave has slowed down everything but mosquitos it seems. Lots of deer, whose young are losing their spots, were mobile until it hit 85 degrees. They've been congregating around white oak trees, whose acorns are dropping fast.
Friday Sept. 22 is the autumnal equinox, the first official day of the astronomical fall. Colors are changing quickly and leaves are starting to fall. More than half the state is reporting 50 percent color with a handful reporting 75 percent color on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Deer archery and crossbow season opened on Saturday, Sept. 16. Small game, ruffed grouse, and turkey seasons are also open. There was also a youth duck hunt with hunters reporting it was hot with a large fresh hatch of mosquitos. Conditions look favorable for the opening of the northern zone duck season this weekend. Mallard and wood ducks are abundant and also spotted are increasing numbers of teal, shovelers and pintail. Woodcock season opens this weekend. Large numbers migrating Canada geese are flocking in and along with locally nesting "giant" Canada geese are starting to build up in numbers on area wetlands, crop fields, golf courses, parks, and other staging areas and hunters have been successful.
The Wisconsin River is just a bit below normal for this time of year, but based on the high water this summer, it seems exceedingly low. There should be plenty of sandbars for people out on the river. Inland trout fishing has been very good on central Wisconsin streams as water temperatures start to drop.
No salmon have been observed yet in the Menominee, Oconto or Little rivers. The Kewaunee River has had some good catches this week, although water is low upstream. Salmon can be seen jumping in many wider stretches of the river. The Manitowoc River has had low but consistent numbers coming from a couple spots. The Twin Rivers have had mixed results, but chinook have been seen jumping in both. The Root River visibility is very good but the water levels are still very low. Only a few anglers were fishing and while there were no reports of fish caught, a lot of king salmon could be seen jumping in the river.
A fair amount of anglers were out on Sturgeon Bay over the weekend with the warm weather. Perch fishermen in the canal had limited success. Walleye action has been good out of Sturgeon Bay and Stone Quarry. Smallmouth bass were still biting with anglers on shore catching a few fish and boat anglers having success from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock. Salmon action around the piers and canal is picking up as more fish are moving in for the fall run.
Anglers fishing out of Kewaunee have taken, almost exclusively, to trolling in the harbor or just outside the piers. Catches were dominated by chinooks in the 15-20 pound range, with an occasional rainbow or coho hitting as well.
Monarchs and painted ladies have been seen at goldenrod and New England asters, which are in full bloom. Fall bird migrations are marching on. Nearly 500 yellow-rumped warblers were tallied in Bayfield County this week, signaling the beginning of the end of the warbler migration. Broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks were on the move this week. Numbers of common loons are beginning to build toward their October migration peak.
Statewide Birding Report
Migration marches on! Nearly 500 yellow-rumped warblers were tallied in Bayfield County on Sept. 21, signaling the beginning of the end of the warbler migration. In general, warbler numbers and diversity are on the decline, with exception of late movers like orange-crowned, palm, and yellow-rumped warblers. Other neotropical, long-distance migrants are also becoming scarce, including most vireos, buntings, orioles, grosbeaks, flycatchers, and hummingbirds. Meanwhile, short-distance migrants like kinglets, blackbirds, robins, and especially sparrows are increasing in numbers. Birders noted white-throated, white-crowned, swamp, song, savannah, Lincoln's, clay-colored, chipping, and even LeConte's and Nelson's sparrows this week. Look closely and you'll find subtle beauty in fall sparrows, even if identifying them can be difficult! The first dark-eyed juncos have also arrived statewide but especially in the north.
Blue-headed vireos bring color to match the season. Migrating later than the more common red-eyed vireo, look for them within flocks of forest birds through early October.
Photo Credit: Ryan Brady
Overhead, broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks were on the move this week. Raptor diversity is excellent in late September so look for more of these species, as well as turkey vultures, red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, ospreys, kestrels, merlins, and peregrine falcons in the week ahead. Across the north, good numbers of pine siskins, purple finches, red-breasted nuthatches, and red crossbills continue.
Waterbird migration is picking up. Birders noted good flights of common and Forster's terns, Bonaparte's gulls, and blue-winged teal, especially on Lakes Michigan and Superior. Numbers of common loons are beginning to build toward their October migration peak, while a few snow and Ross's geese were found among incoming flocks of Canada geese. Shorebirds were few but included black-bellied and golden plovers, sanderlings, both yellowlegs, and Wilson's snipe.
The week's rarest find was an immature long-tailed jaeger on Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County. At Wisconsin Point in Superior, birders found up to four parasitic jaegers, one to two long-tailed jaegers, five Sabine's gulls, a western grebe, and possible arctic tern. Find out what others are seeing and report your finds at http://www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties
September 23-24, 2017
Saturday, September 23
Sunday, September 24
Saturday and Sunday, September 23-34
For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Find a park, forest trail or recreation property
Upcoming State Natural Area Workday
Sept 26 9 a.m. to noon: York Prairies - Join us to collect seeds on the 3 units of the York Prairie State Natural Area and enjoy the beauty of these prairie remnants. The seeds will be used for a new prairie restoration at the York sites and at the Stauffacher Unit of Muralt Bluff Prairie State Natural Area near Albany, WI. We have several days scheduled so come to one or all. No experience is necessary, we'll teach you! This is a great way to start learning prairie plants.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - Fall colors are around 20 percent of peak, with the expected peak of color arriving the first week of October. We've had some rain and more rain is in the forecast, so let's hope the leaves aren't knocked down before we get to see more fall color. Tomorrow brings the first official day of autumn. It's a beautiful time of year for a canoe trip down the Brule or a walk through the miles of State Forest trails. The boat landing at the mouth of the Brule River has reopened. The road has been narrowed to one lane, but visitors are now able to access the boat launch. Deer archery and crossbow season opened on Saturday, Sept. 16. Small game (Northern Zone), ruffed grouse (Zone A), and turkey seasons are also open. Bear hunting is underway as well. Just a reminder that fishing on the Brule upstream from Highway 2 closes on Sept. 30. Fishing on the remaining stretch of river remains open until Nov. 15. The campgrounds continue to be busy with fishermen and families. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - Conditions look favorable for the opening of the waterfowl season this weekend. Water levels on local wetlands are at or slightly above average. Large numbers migrating Canada geese have begun to show up in area farm fields. Duck populations look favorable as well with Mallard and Wood ducks being the most abundant. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of Sept. 10-16. The make up of boaters at the boat launches is changing from anglers to water fowlers, leaves are turning and falling and except for the unusually hot and humid weather fall has arrived.
Marinette County - Some perch and smallmouth bass were being caught in the lower part of the Peshtigo River mainly using live bait adjacent to some kind of structure. Fishing for browns and salmon from Little River to the Menominee River has been extremely slow this past week. Some perch were being caught out of Little River and Red Arrow Park using minnows and crawler pieces. Anglers on the Menominee River were catching some pike, walleye. smallmouth and fish trolling and jigging from Bum Island to the mouth of the River. No salmon have been observed at Little River or the Menominee River. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Anglers below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River are still catching pan fish mainly using slip bobbers and live bait. No sign of pink salmon or kings have been observed yet. Fishing has slowed a bit on the lower river to the mouth although some perch and smallmouth are still being caught. Perch and walleye anglers are still catching good numbers of fish from the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II. Perch anglers are fishing in 6 to 12 feet of water adjacent to weed beds and having good success especially early in the morning, minnows and crawler pieces are working well. Walleye anglers are having success in 16 to 30 feet of water trolling crawler/harness and large stick baits. Rip jigging areas with structure has also been producing some nice fish. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - At the Metro Launch, at the beginning of the week few boat anglers were observed and reported having little luck. At the end of the week boat anglers reported mostly targeting musky but again came back without any bites mostly. Some shore anglers were observed at the beginning and end of the week. Off of Duck Creek, a few boats were observed coming off the water at the beginning and end of the week, though these were all hunters and not anglers. Both boat launches averaged at least two trailers throughout the week and weekend. Boat anglers off Suamico were mostly targeting musky. Anglers reported not having any luck, and with only a few bites from freshwater drum and northern pike. The launch was very full during the beginning of the week with lots of recreational boaters and duck hunters. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Off Little Sturgeon Bay, during the week anglers were in search of walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch with varying success. Walleye anglers were trolling with flicker shads and flicker minnows of various sizes and colors and brought home one to three fish per boat. Perch anglers were having a harder time finding fish but when they did they would hit them hard. Some boats couldn't find the right spot and came home empty while others would find fish and hit their bag limit. Occasionally staff would run into a bass fishermen and of late they are not having much luck in or around little sturgeon bay. While out anglers also caught the sporadic round goby. Sawyer Harbor saw some yellow perch anglers with an occasional walleye angler. Perch fishermen were having inconsistent success over the past week with some not catching any while others were close to their limit. Most fish that were measured were from 7-9 inches but one was over 11 inches. The few walleye anglers didn't have much luck and kept zero to two fish for a half a day's trip. Anglers out also caught round goby and freshwater drum, but their numbers are far lower than previous weeks. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
A fair amount of anglers were out in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend with the warm weather. Not many people fishing north of Egg Harbor aside from the occasional shore fishermen downing worms. Perch fishermen in the Sturgeon Bay canal had limited success. The best catches came from fishermen that got out early and kept moving. Both crawlers and fatheads had bites depending on the day. Walleye action has been good out of Sturgeon Bay and Stone Quarry both trolling and jigging. The smallmouth bass are still biting with anglers on shore catching a few fish using crawlers under slip bobbers. The few boat anglers after bass have had success all over from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock. Salmon action around the piers and canal is picking up as more fish are moving in for the fall run. Anglers on shore and trolling the canal have had success using spoons and crankbaits. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Salmon fishing has picked up for some anglers, but has stayed pretty consistent overall. Anglers fishing out of the Kewaunee port have taken, almost exclusively, to trolling in the harbor or just outside the piers. Catches have been mixed, but many anglers have managed to come in with at least one fish. Most were trolling with spoons, and their efforts yielded one to two fish on average. Anglers fishing with crankbaits, especially flicker shads and flicker minnows, had better average success, reporting five to eight fish per trip. Firetiger, green, and silver were the best reported colors of those anglers. Catches were dominated by chinooks in the 15-20 pound range, with an occasional rainbow or coho hitting the net as well. Few Anglers have hit the big lake out of the Algoma port. Surface temperatures just out of the piers was reported to be around 56 degrees toward the end of the weekend. Pier fishing has been poor in Kewaunee, with no fish coming off during any shifts. Anglers have put in good amounts of effort regardless, as 10-plus have lined the piers at multiple times this past week. The Algoma piers have been a little more successful, with a handful of fish taken this week. A mix of chinooks, rainbows, and a brown were the harvest, with chinooks dominating numbers-wise, and spoons have been the ticket for anglers that have managed to hook up. Still, there was a total of less than 10 fish reported all week. The Kewaunee River has had some good catches this week, all the way up to the Bruemmer Park bridge. Although water is low upstream and salmon are easily spooked, many anglers have been able to drift spawn or beads in pools just downstream and get some chinooks hooked. Some anglers have also had success fishing the slower moving parts of the river with natural spawn sacs fished on the bottom. Salmon can be seen jumping in many wider stretches of the river, but no reports of more active presentations like spoons or crankbaits taking fish have come in. The Ahnapee has only had a few anglers targeting salmon, but none of the anglers have had any success with spawn or spoons. Chinooks can be seen coming up Stony Creek, but only one coho has been reported as caught this week. Many anglers are hoping for some rain soon in hopes of river fishing improving. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Salmon fishing was consistent with the past couple weeks, both on the big lake and in the rivers. Few boats were out from Two Rivers, with no word of any remarkable catches. Manitowoc also had light pressure from boat anglers, but some decent catches came in from those fishing in the harbor or outside the piers. Chinook and a couple rainbows came in, and anglers trolling crank baits out-fished those using spoons by a wide margin. Flicker shads, shad raps, and other similar baits produced fish, as well as j-plugs. Angler reported that fish showed no color preference, as they caught fish on black, silver, green, and pink. Water surface temps as of Sunday afternoon ranged from 56 degrees right out of the piers on both ports down to 51 degrees at about 40-50 feet of water. A handful of chinooks and rainbows were all that was caught from reports over the last week. River fishing has remained steady since the first fish were caught. The Manitowoc River has had low but consistent numbers coming from a couple spots upstream to Manitou Park. Many anglers have been fishing with shad rap/flicker shad-like baits, which have appeared to be more successful than spoons. Chinooks in the 8 -10 pound range have been the most frequent catch. The Twin Rivers have had mixed results. Anglers fishing at the mouth and upstream on the West Twin River have had no success, although salmon have been seen jumping up to the Shoto boat launch. The East Twin River catches are still dominated by browns, but chinooks have been caught and seen jumping up to the Mishicot dam. Many anglers fishing in Mishicot have been drift and/or fly fishing with spawn or beads. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Fall colors are really picking up with some Tamarack turning gold and lots of maple and sumac turning red. Woodcock season opens this weekend and most other small game seasons opened last Saturday along with archery deer season. Flickers are being seen in large numbers and flocks of geese are migrating south. Tansy, a yellow flowered invasive plant, is now in bloom in some areas of the county. Tansy has the ability to create a large monoculture and outcompete native plants. If you find tansy growing on your property, it can be controlled through hand pulling and bagging. Oaks are producing good amounts of acorns in some areas of the county. White oak have been particularly productive and the resulting acorns are attracting lots of deer and bear activity. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - There are plenty of opportunities to get out and hunt right now rough grouse in zone A, squirrel, cotton tail rabbit, turkey, deer, bear "if awarded a permit", and geese. Geese are plenty and on the move. Hunters have been successful on the bay and all over the county. The leaves are starting to change and are looking very beautiful. Surprising there are still butterflies out. There are also still blackberries around if you look hard enough. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Governor Thompson State Park - The snapping turtles are hatching! Please be careful driving through the state park. Baby turtles look a lot like fallen leaves on the roadways. Fall is fast approaching and 16 miles of mowed hiking trails await your next adventure. The leaves are starting to turn to bright colors and the trails are lined with asters, goldenrod, blackberries and hazel brush. We are seeing lots of turkeys and young deer starting to lose their spots. Native hazelnuts are ready to be picked. The boat access campsites on Caldron Falls Flowage are open year-round. Each site has a place to tie up your boat, canoe/kayak rack, tent pad, fire ring, picnic table, bench, primitive latrine and a bear-proof box to store your food. The Family Campground will stay open until Nov. 27, 2017 and the shower/flush toilet facilities will stay open until Oct. 16, 2017. There is always fresh water available to fill your camper at either vault in the east loop. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Lots of rain in the past few weeks has been great for the wildflowers and plants. There have been a few mosquitoes with all the rain. The thimbleberries are in bloom and in a few weeks will have berries. A few fawns have been spotted in the park. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Flickers have been spotted out on the yellow trail. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Unseasonably hot, humid weather has temporarily shut down much hunting activity. Deer were moving well until 85-plus degree heat got here earlier in the week. Lots of wood ducks around. The only reports of youth duck hunting was that it was hot with a large fresh hatch of mosquitos. Trout fishing has been consistently excellent. Hot baits have been spinners and small stick baits. About 50 percent of the trees in the northern part of the county have started to change colors, Marquette and Waushara somewhat less. Starting to look like fall but sure doesn't feel like it this week. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was relatively low during the week but increased to an extent over the weekend. Success was limited with neither boaters nor anglers reporting much success. One chinook salmon was caught on the Sheboygan River on a spoon. The water temperature ranged from 58-61 degrees at the beginning of the week to 68 by the end of the weekend. There was only one coho salmon and one small brown trout caught off of the north pier this week. Most anglers were using spoons, although the coho salmon was caught on a minnow. The surface temperature of the water was 60 degrees. One boater reported catch of a brown trout on Sunday, Sept. 17. The brown trout was caught in 40 feet of water on a j-plug.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure was lower during the week than over the weekend. Most of the success was reported from anglers off the piers and utility area. On Sauk Creek, water levels remain low, and the water temperature warmed from 53 degrees at the start of the week to 59 degrees by the weekend. No catches were reported off of the shoreline this week; however, several chinook salmon, some brown trout, and a couple of small rainbow trout were caught off the piers and utility area. The chinook salmon weighed anywhere from 7-27 pounds, and the one rainbow trout that was kept weighed about 2 pounds. All catches from the utility area were made on spawn sacs, and anglers off the piers were having success on spawn sacs, spoons, and walleye jigs. The surface temperature of the water was 61 degrees. Success off the boats was limited this week with only a couple of chinook salmon caught, along with one coho salmon and one lake trout. The chinook salmon weighed on average about 13 pounds. Catches were reportedly made in water depths ranging from 30-300 feet on spoons and j-plugs.
Racine County - Anglers fishing the ramp caught a few fish each day this past week. They focused their efforts in front of the Racine Harbor in 20 to 40 feet of water. A few kayakers and boaters fished inside the harbor as well. Mostly king salmon were caught but a few coho salmon and brown trout were caught as well. Anglers got most of their bites on magnum spoons, and glow spoons. The best bite seemed to be before sunrise. About four to 12 fish were reported caught each morning. The best bite seemed to be from 3 to 7 a.m. Most of the fish caught are king salmon; however a few coho salmon and brown trout were caught as well. Almost all of the fish caught were caught on glow spoons. White and green glow spoons with or without black dots caught the most fish. A few fish were also caught on other various lures as well (crankbaits, skein, spawn sacs, spoons, jerkbaits). The water temperature was 62 degrees. Only one fish was reported caught this week. The small king was caught on skein under a bobber. The water temperature was 64 degrees. The Root River is currently flowing at 8.83cfs. The water visibility is very good and the water levels are still very low. Only a few anglers were fishing this week and they mainly concentrated their efforts down river near the harbor. Only a handful of anglers fished upstream of the facility this week and none reported catching any fish. Only a few anglers fished downstream of the facility this week and most of them concentrated their efforts near the main street bridge and near the marinas. No fish were reported caught, however, a lot of king salmon could be seen jumping in the river. Most of the anglers were using skein, spawn sacs, and crankbaits. The water temperature was 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kenosha County - One angler reported catching two king salmon trolling spoons early in the morning in front of the Pike River. Other anglers reported catching two king salmon in 170 feet of water with their lures down 60 feet. They caught the kings on a flasher/fly combo. Shore anglers reported catching two to 10 fish each day. Most of the fish caught were king salmon, but a few brown trout and coho salmon were reported caught as well. Some anglers caught their fish off of the beach in front of the mouth of the Pike River and some anglers caught their fish in the harbor. The fish caught were caught on various lures (crankbaits, spoons, skein, spinners, jerkbaits). The water temperature was 66 degrees.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - A few flocks of migratory Canada geese have started arriving from Canada. They along with locally nesting "giant" Canada geese are starting to build up in numbers on area wetlands, crop fields, golf courses, parks, and other staging areas. Migratory bird viewing is excellent on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area from the Highway 28 right-of-way, just west of Interstate Highway 41. Leftover bonus antlerless deer tags for public and private land are still available for both Washington and Ozaukee County and can be purchased through the "Go Wild" system. Deer hunters from Washington and Ozaukee County who wish to have their deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease can bring the deer head to the self-service head collection kiosk located at the Pike Lake DNR office parking lot. Friday, Sept. 22 is the last day to submit online comments on the "CDAC" website about proposed three-year county deer population goals and unit boundary changes. Comments can also be made in person by attending the October CDAC public meetings in each county. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Video Report at Muscoda - The river is very low. It is just a bit below normal for this time of year, but based on the high water this summer, it seems exceedingly low. Very warm and humid on Sept. 20 and the stretch of warm weather is expected to last through the weekend. Should be plenty of sandbars for people out on the river. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Waterfowl numbers have started to increase with every north wind. Migrating geese from Canada have started to arrive along with increasing numbers of blue-winged and green-winged teal, shoveler and pintail. You can view the waterbird survey conducted by the staff at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge here. https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_3/NWRS/Zone_3/Horicon_Complex/Horicon/Home/Promos/9-7-17%20Waterbird%20update%20(2).pdf. Monarchs and painted ladies have been seen at goldenrod and New England asters, which are in full bloom. Come to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center located at N7725 Hwy. 28 on Saturday, Sept. 23 to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day with activities for kids who are interested in bowhunting and fishing. 10-11:30 a.m.. All equipment will be provided. No prior training is needed. All ages are welcome. Free and open to the public. For more information please call Liz Herzmann at 920-387-7893 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
West Central Region
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Dunn County - Leaves are changing color fast and dropping just as quickly. Fall color is about 20-30 percent in the area. It's a great time for a bike ride on the trails with tremendous views of the river corridors as the woods open up. Waterfowl and other migrants are starting to group up and congregate along the rivers. There's plenty of fishing activity as water temps are starting to fall as well. Don't forget to take in the fall colors at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area and enjoy the view from atop the tower. - Calvin Kunkle, ranger
Red Cedar State Trail - The Depot Visitor Center, at the Trail Head is open weekends only for the month of September. There are restrooms available in the city of Menomonie's River Side Park next to the RCST. - Penny L. Thiede-Klish, visitor service associate
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Adams County - The white oak acorns are falling like crazy and the deer are concentrated under these oak stands so it is a good time to set up a stand nearby. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship
Buckhorn State Park - Office hours are limited at this time of year due to staffing and working on projects in the parks. The upcoming state wide youth deer hunt is bow only in the park and Buckhorn wildlife areas. Gun hunting will be allowed in the Yellow River only; no gun youth hunt in the state park. All hunters except waterfowl hunters must wear blaze orange on Oct 7-8, even in the bow only areas. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate will be closed for the season on Oct. 10. Parking from Oct. 10 through the first week of May will be in the winter/prairie lot on Czech Ave. There is a pit toilet and the parking lot is plowed in winter. - Heather Wolf, park manager