Author: Deb Wearne-Neurohr

Public Events for December and January

Greenery Workshop

Friday, December 1st                      1 – 4pm

Come spend a festive winter day crafting around the fireplace here at the MacKenzie Lodge. We encourage participants to bring their own greenery supplies, although we will have a small amount of greenery and other materials available. Participants are also welcome to bring their own warm beverage to enjoy! Please register for this event as there is a $10 fee for supplies by contacting 608-635-8112 or [email protected]


Winter Wonders Learn to Ski                                                                                                                           

Saturday, December 16th              10 – Noon

Join us for a winter wonders ski on our South Trails! We will discover and learn about skiing in the wonderful snow-covered prairie and forest. Please dress for the weather and meet naturalists at the South Trails Parking lot at 10am.


First Day Hike 

Monday, January 1st, 2024                               1-2:30 p.m.

Celebrate the first day of 2024 with us in the snow! We’ll be trekking along the south trails to explore the forest and prairies on the first day of the year! Meet naturalists at the South Trails Parking Lot and please bring your own hiking gear, trails will not be removed of snow.


Call for Volunteers to prepare for Candlelight Hike on Nov. 4, 2023

Call For Volunteers
Saturday, Nov. 4

As we near our Fall Candlelight Hike, MacKenzie naturalists are looking for volunteers to help prior to Nov. 4 preparing the tealights. Additional volunteer opportunities are available on the day-of setting up the candlelit path, tending the campfire and directing parking. Please contact the MacKenzie Center Education if you’re interested in volunteering at 608-635-8112 or [email protected].

Comment on DNR Master Plan now through Nov 2, 2023

This is a news release from the DNR.  We urge all interested to read the Master Plan (especially as it relates to the MacKenzie Center) and comment as you see fit either online or by attending one of the public comment meetings.

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking comments on the next phase of the Central Sand Hills Regional Master Plan process.

Among the more than 60 properties included in the plan are Devil’s Lake and Hartman Creek state parks, the MacKenzie Center, Mecan River, Caves Creek and Pine River fishery areas, White River Marsh, Grand River Marsh, Lawrence Creek wildlife areas, Lunch Creek Wetlands, Observatory Hill and Plainfield Tunnel Channel Lakes natural areas.

The DNR has developed a draft vision and goals for the properties along with management objectives for each property. For some properties, alternative approaches to reach the objectives have been developed. These draft plan elements are now available for review in the Central Sand Hills Draft Vision, Goals, Objectives and Management Alternatives document.

The department is seeking public comments on the document from now through Nov. 2, 2023. The document, and information on how to provide input, is available on the department’s Central Sand Hills Region webpage.

The department encourages the public to submit comments using the online public input form located on the project webpage. Additionally, two public open house meetings will be held in Prairie du Sac (Sept. 27) and Wautoma (Oct. 3).

Both meetings will run from 4 to 7 p.m., and department staff will give a presentation starting at 5:30 p.m. Staff will be available to answer questions and discuss this next phase of the planning process before and after the presentation.

Hard copies of the document are also available at the Devil’s Lake and Hartman Creek park offices and at the Baraboo, Portage and Wautoma public libraries.

Please submit questions or comments on the master plan by Nov. 2, 2023 to:

John Pohlman, DNR Property Planner
PO Box 7921 Madison, WI 53707
[email protected] or 608-264-6263



What: Public meetings on the Central Sand Hills Regional Master Plan

When and Where:

4-7 p.m. Sept. 27
River Arts Center at the Sauk Prairie High School
105 Ninth St.
Prairie du Sac, WI

4-7 p.m. Oct. 3
Waushara WWII Veterans Memorial Building
440 W. Main St.
Wautoma, WI

Save the dates –events in the next few months!

In the next few months, There will be a few MacKenzie events you won’t want to miss:

August 20, 2023, beginning about noon — Annual members picnic and meeting.  Usually we have grilled brats, burgers, and chicken plus lots of sides provided by members, pot luck style.  More info to come.

September 30, 2023, 5:30 pm — Friends Fundraiser Banquet at the lodge.  Reservations required.  Many great raffle items and good food and beverages.  Have fun while you help out the Friends of MacKenzie!

October 21, 2023, 9 am – 2 pm — Fall Festival.  A wide variety of fall themed activities, food for purchase, a great way to celebrate a beautiful season! Per vehicle admission charged.

2023 Maple Program Recap

Despite some less-than-ideal weather which forced us to make the tough decision to cancel Maple Fest in 2023, we still had a successful maple program.  From the end of February through the end of March, we welcomed over 1000 students (mainly 4th graders) as well as numerous teachers, parents, and other chaperones to learn about all aspects of maple — identifying and tapping trees, the history of making maple sugar and maple syrup (focusing on indigenous peoples and European settlers), and some related biological and ecological concepts.  Groups got to try their hand at tapping a tree and everyone had a chance to taste our delicious MacKenzie Gold maple syrup at the end of their tour.  Many volunteers are needed to make this program successful.  If you haven’t helped in the past, you might want to consider it next season!

Raptor Presentation by Hoo’s Woods Raptor Center

On Sunday, April 16, 2023, Friends of MacKenzie Center members were able to learn a great deal about raptors and got to see four live birds at a presentation by Dianne Moller, director of Hoo’s Woods Raptor Center in Milton, WI. The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of raptor species (eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and vultures) founded in 1998. It also focuses on education and uses birds which are unable to be returned to the wild (usually due to injuries) as teaching ambassadors.  We got to see a Saw Whet Owl, Broadwinged Hawk, Snowy Owl and Bald Eagle.  The program was originally scheduled as part of our Friends of MacKenzie annual meeting in January, but had to be postponed due to weather.  Programs like these are a great reason to join the Friends of MacKenzie!

Diane with SawWhet OwlBroadwinged HawkSnowy OwlBald Eagle

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