FUN DAY… 4-H Straight Shooters held their Open House on Sunday, March 8 where everyone got to shoot. New member, new archer 8-year-old Moira Lowry is homeschooled and in 2nd grade. This photo is of her first shot ever, at approximately 7-10 yards; six arrows shot – five in the target with one in the yellow! Moira is a fast learner and she pays great attention to details. Welcome Moira, to the Straight Shooters 4-H Club!
Annual Tree and Shrub Seedling Fundraiser
The Berrien Conservation District would like to announce that orders are being accepted for their Annual Tree and Shrub spring fundraiser sale. A variety of bare root seedlings of evergreens, deciduous trees, shrubs, and fruit trees are being offered along with strawberry and raspberry plants. Rain barrels and composters are also available. Orders may be placed on-line at www.berriencd.org or, order forms may be obtained from the office at 3334 Edgewood Road in Berrien Springs, printed from the website, or you may request one to be mailed by calling 269-471-9111 ext. 3. Orders are due by April 10. Quantities are limited.
Great Lakes water levels to remain high for spring
(Press Release) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces that despite a dry month of February across the Great Lakes basin, water levels on each of the Great Lakes remain very high going into the spring. Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie set new monthly records for February 2020. The records were previously set on lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron in 1986 and in 1987 on Lake Erie. Although 2020 started with wetter conditions, February was a fairly dry month for the Great Lakes basin with precipitation below average throughout the region. Also, a few cold air outbreaks during the month led to increased evaporation. Late winter and spring is usually a period of seasonal rise on all of the Great Lakes due to increased rainfall and runoff. Water levels typically peak in the summer or early fall. Significant erosion continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high. Strong storm systems and resulting large waves have led to substantial erosion along much of the Great Lakes coastline. “After months of generally wet conditions, February was finally drier across most of the Great Lakes,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, Detroit District. “However levels remain above or near record highs for this time of year, and we expect impacts to those along the coastline to increase as water levels now begin rising towards their seasonal peaks.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urges those impacted by the high water levels in 2019 to prepare for similar or higher levels in 2020. The most recent six-month forecast of Great Lakes water levels still forecasts that water levels could peak very near last year’s record levels.
Before the trees are leafed out, look for the globular nests of bald-faced hornets from previous seasons on the branches. The nests are usually high in trees or at roof peaks. Occasionally they are found on lower building structures but not typically lower than three feet. The insect’s name is a bit of a misnomer. The only true hornet in North America is an introduced species, the European hornet. The bald-faced hornet is actually a type of yellowjacket wasp. Its large, stout body (3/4 inch) as well as its coloration (black and white) led early observers to declare it a hornet. Although they can deliver a nasty sting, bald-faced hornets are not usually a problem for humans. An aggressive defense of their out-of-the-way nests is unnecessary. They feed almost entirely on other living insects, including yellowjackets and the occasional cicada or praying mantis. When their diet changes later in the season to a carbohydrate-based one, they prefer nectar and fruit rather than human sweet foods. The abandoned nest and its dead inhabitants provide snacks for enterprising birds. Welcome early spring with a “how to” demonstration on maple sugaring at Sarett on Sun., March 15 at 2 p.m. Learn to identify maple trees, how to tap and collect the sap, and how to turn that sap into syrup. We’ll taste the sap, syrup and candy and learn about historical and traditional techniques! Non-member adults cost $5.
Fishing With warmer weather this week, it will be important to pay close attention to deteriorating ice conditions. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that ice shanties must be removed once the ice can no longer support them safely. It is the angler’s responsibility to remove their shanty before it falls through the ice. In the southwest Lower Peninsula, the ice quality deteriorated quickly this past week. Anglers will need to use extreme caution on any remaining ice. The warm weather may push steelhead upstream, especially in the St. Joseph and the Kalamazoo rivers. Water levels were pretty much normal but may increase as the snow melts, the DNR reported. New Buffalo pier anglers continue to target coho when using spawn on the bottom, and Galien River continues to produce a few coho near the mouth. In the St. Joseph River, the water levels were up, but the clarity is good for this time of year. The fish ladders have been cleaned of all debris. The fish cam at the Berrien Springs ladder is up and running. Good numbers of steelhead were observed moving up the fish ladder at Berrien Springs, including a mix of fresh fish and those that have been in the river for a while. Fishing at the dam was light. No steelhead or anglers were observed at the Niles or Buchanan fish ladders. On the Grand River near Grand Rapids the fish ladder at the 6th Street Dam has been cleaned out. A couple boats were seen below the dam and a few shore anglers on both sides between I-96 and the dam. Steelhead was caught on spawn or wobble glo’s up near the dam. Walleye was caught around the Fulton Street Bridge and up along the east wall between the dam and s-curve bridge on U.S. 131 when using a white or chartreuse twister tail. The Rogue River continues to produce steelhead for those using a jig with a wax worm. The Ellinee Bait & Tackle shop on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported the ice is gone in our area. The Paw Paw River as well as the St. Joseph River has been producing some steelhead with anglers using spawn bags, wax worms and skene. The action has been good and some nice steelhead has been caught. The DNR fisheries staff will be talking about local and statewide issues important everyone at the upcoming “Conversations & Coffee” events around the state in March, April and May. These forums are a great opportunity to catch up on local and statewide fishing regulation changes that affect anglers. The schedule includes the following dates and locations: March 23 (Elmira), March 25 (Beulah), March 30 (Iron Mountain), March 31 (Newberry and Waterford), April 2 (Munising), April 6 (Sault Ste. Marie), April 14 (Ironwood), April 15 (Grandville and Ishpeming) and April 16 (Coldwater and Houghton), plus a May 7 virtual meeting covering the northern and southern Lake Huron management units. For more detailed information about the meetings or other questions, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing or contact Suzanne Stone at 517-284-6162.
Hunting There is still March hunting and trapping opportunities hunters can take advantage of with their 2019 base license. Small game hunting for cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare and squirrel (fox and gray) are open statewide through March 31. See the 2019 Hunting Digest for small game season dates and bag limits. Fur harvesting hunting for coyote is open year-round, statewide. Trapping beaver, otter and raccoon is available throughout March. For season dates, unit boundaries, bag limits and other regulations, see the 2019 Fur Harvester Digest. As Michigan moves into prime campfire season in state parks, state forests and other outdoor spaces, everyone is encouraged to put safety first. The DNR said that whether they’re due to debris burning, sparks from equipment or power lines, fireworks or, yes, campfires – in Michigan, nine out of 10 wildfires over 10 acres in size ultimately are caused by people. The good news is that by committing to some simple steps, anyone enjoying a campfire can help reduce that scary statistic. A brief video titled “Smokey’s Campfire Safety Competition” pokes a little humor at how easy it is to properly extinguish a campfire, and the importance of doing so. The next time family and friends are ready to gather ‘round the campfire, they should make sure their fire-dousing techniques would earn a Smokey high-five! Learn more about campfire safety at Michigan.gov/wildfires.