Thursday, 25 July 2019

Score big with Wisconsin Wetlands Field Trips

image of the Fish Creek estuary in Ashland County.

Fish Creek Estuary is a haven of bio-diversity at the head of Chequamegon Bay.

Make the summer of 2019 a real hit with this triple play from the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. As part of their 50th Anniversary celebration, WWA is offering field trips to some of coolest wetlands in Wisconsin. There are three field trips, all quickly coming up. So fit at least one of these into your calendar and make it a summer you will not soon forget.

image of springs in the Chippewa Moraine wetlands.

Wetlands are all about the place where water and the land meet.

 

 

 

 

Field Trips

July 27, 29019 – Wetlands of the Chippewa Moraine. Treat yourself to a diverse tour of the bogs, sedge meadows, and ephemeral ponds that make up the Deerfly Swamp State Natural Area. Wear rubber boots because this is a walk for those who aren’t afraid to get their feet wet.

August 1, 2019 – Wetlands of the Penokee Hills. You may know the Penokee Hills as part of the Gogebic Range that was the site of proposed iron mining several years ago. Take a walk through interesting wetlands that are the home of cold water brook trout, beaver, and trumpeter swans. Learn how these wetlands capture runoff and provide cool, clean water to the creeks and rivers downstream, all the way to Lake Superior.

August 16, 2019 – Paddling the Fish Creek Estuary. This fish creek is not in Door County. This fish creek feeds the Chequamegon Bay in Ashland County. This is an important Lake Superior fish spawning grounds that is packed with wildlife in an incredibly bio-diverse setting.

image of Penokee Hills wetlands.

A creek flows through the wetlands of the Bad River watershed.

Add some excitement to your summer with a field trip to one of Wisconsin’s delightful wetlands. Treat yourself and your family to an adventure into some of the most interesting and diverse ecosystems in Wisconsin. You will be batting a thousand when it comes to making nature a big part of your summer enjoyment.

May 2019

Friday, 24 May 2019

Farming Better Wetlands

Seventy-five percent of Wisconsin wetlands are privately owned. When private landowners act to conserve those wetlands, we all benefit. Wetlands provide much of the groundwater recharge that we all depend on to make sure our wells have enough water for our homes and families. We all depend on wetlands for flood control during the spring thaw and heavy rains. They also filter out sediments that would otherwise clog our rivers and streams.

Wetlands also provide water, food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife we all enjoy. Likewise, wetlands are critical resting places for migrating birds.

Farmers’ Role

Farmers are the largest group of private wetland owners. They live on the land and make their living from the soil. As stewards of their land, farmers make decide how to best use their property. They can protect wetlands or ignore them. In the past, farmers often drained or degraded wetlands to make way for grazing and cropland.

Today, farmers take a different view of the places they used to see as wasteland. Farmers like Nick and Dianne Somers, potato farmers in Plover, are leading a revolution on the farm. Wetland are starting to get the attention and respect they deserve. Nick shares his love for the wetlands on his property in a Wisconsin Wetlands Association video, Farmers Care for Wetlands.

The Wisconsin Wetlands Association produced it as part of a six part video series, celebrating American Wetlands Month and their 50th Anniversary. They provide information and assistance to farmers and other private landowners in Wisconsin who want to preserve their wetland resources. You can also check out our Resources page.

Wetlands Future

Wisconsin farmers hold the future of our wetlands, the groundwater and biodiversity in their hands. Nick believes, “It’s something everybody should do.” When you choose to protect and improve your wetlands, you are making an investment in your family’s future and the wildlife that call you farm home. As Wisconsin’s most important land stewards, the decisions you make will ensure we all continue to enjoy the this great natural heritage.

 

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Landowners Care for Wetlands

Landowners Karen and Marty Voss have owned their land near Eau Claire since 1981. They like you, the they take great pride in their land and want to do what they can to conserve it. Over the years, they have spent untold time and energy improving their wetlands. Karen and Marty did it for their own enjoyment, as well as to be good stewards of their little corner of the watershed.

According to the Wisconsin Wetland Association, “Private landowners own 75% of Wisconsin’s remaining wetlands and as much as 85% of potentially restorable wetlands, giving them a vital role in caring for wetlands.”

 

The Wisconsin Wetland Association produced this video as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration. It is part of a six part series of Wisconsin wetland videos. Check out the entire series and get better acquainted with their work.

Conservation Digest and the Wisconsin Wetlands Association are your partners in conservation. We can help no matter what kind of wetland you own or its condition. Check out our resources and events. Find out how you can improve the diversity and functioning of the wetlands you call home.

April 2019

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Got Purple Loosestrife?

Collect purple loosestrife plants in the spring and introduce beetles in a contained netted environment. Because these beetles feed on the netted plants, they multiply before release throughout the summer.

Plant the loosestrife with their beetles into your wetland, stream or lake that is surrounded by unaffected loosestrife plants. The beetles then spread to surrounding plants reducing their vigor and reproduction. As you establish beetle populations; they can prevent the spread of purple loosestrife across your property and beyond.

You can help with this process in a few ways:

  • Learn to identify Purple Loosestrife and look for PL already affected by beetles
  • Report when you find a population of loosestrife.
  • Attend the Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Training at Beaver Creek Reserve’s Citizen Science Center on Tuesday, April 16th, from 6-7pm. No sign up necessary!

2018

October 2018

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Patagonia to Hustisford

If you are looking for that special winter getaway, Chile might be just the ticket. The Route of Parks trail spans across 1,740 miles from Puerto Montt all the way to Cape Horn.

Sparked by the recent donation of 408,000 hectares of private conservation land by Tompkins Conservation, the Chilean government announced that it will convert 2 million hectares of conservation reserve land into national park land. Combined with the Tomkins donation and existing national park property, the new Patagonian Route of Parks trail stitches together a network of national parks that occupy around 11.5 million hectares.

Douglas and Kristine Tompkins made their fortune in outdoor apparel, founding both North Face and Esprit. They created Tomkins Conservation and began buying up land for conservation in the 1990s. Tomkins Conservation made the donation last year, following the accidental death of Douglas Tomkins kayaking the Patagonia in 2015. 

While I do not usually post about outdoor recreation, this story is different. The Patagonian Route of Parks not only created a trail for hikers and backpackers, but a vital corridor for wildlife.

Meanwhile back in Wisconsin

Fragmentation is second only to habitat loss as threats to rare plants and animals. In Wisconsin, this plays out as small prairie remnants nestled along old town road right-of-ways, railroad corridors and the forgotten corners of early graveyards. Minute micro habitats where a tiny number of native plants, as well as the insects and animals that depend on them, hang onto a tenuous existence.

An increasing number of private landowners are deciding to manage part of all of their land for conservation. Small restored prairies are showing up in areas where once they dominated the landscape. Woodland owners are investing great effort to thin over-mature woodlands and clear invasive shrubs that a generation ago chocked out grasses and wildflowers.

 

Staying connected

While the work and money these landowners are plowing back into their land is vital to conserve and protect Wisconsin, those efforts cannot by themselves same many of the species that are heading for a quite death. These islands of habitat need to be connected.

Take for example the whirled milkweed. This tiny member of the milkweeds, grows barely a foot tall. It spreads through rhizomes into patches thirty feet or more across. However, whirled milkweed does not self-pollinate. That means that pollen from stems in the same clone must be transported to flowers on a different clone in order to pollinate those flowers and produce seed.

As farms and the equipment got bigger, fences were removed. Less productive land was also worked up for cultivation. This reduced that places where the Whirled milkweed could grow.It also isolated the few remaining populations that had been hanging on. These plants can live for thirty years of more. However, without cross pollination, the few remaining plants will eventually die without producing seed for new generations.

The solution to the problem is obvious, we need to connect fragmented islands of habitat. These do not need government to set aside vast expanses of public land to make that happen. As private landowners, we can work together to protect our natural heritage. Working together, neighbor to neighbor, we can make a difference.

Maintaining our outdoor traditions means ensuring we have a strong habitat where wildlife can survive long-term. This is called resilience, which comes from keeping as many pieces of the puzzle as we can.

Better together

So what can you do? None of us are billionaires who can purchase hundreds of thousands of acres. We can, however, walk next door and talk to with the folks who live around us. That marsh stretching a half mile south across the next two properties is more valuable for waterfowl if you work with your neighbors.

Together, we cans share equipment, labor and knowledge to increase the impact our conservation work has. This is especially important when taking on tough invasive species like buckthorn, garlic mustard or phragmites. Increasing waterfowl production will  be much easier if you can get those two neighbors upstream to work with you.

Restoring and maintaining the natural heritage of our state is too big for individual landowners to fix. Government cannot maintain the land it owns, so they can only be very limited partners. Neighbor-to-neighbor, is the only way we get back the quail and ruffed grouse. Working with neighbors is the only way to ensure our woodland remain clear of buckthorn and garlic mustard. A shared vision is the best way to return waterfowl production to that marsh seemingly lost to cattail and phragmites.

It takes time to make these things happen, but there is no time like right now to go for a walk with your neighbor.

Friday, 05 October 2018

Are there biological control success stories for invasive plants?

Yes, the invasive perennial purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) was the scourge of midwestern wetlands for twenty years. Marshlands turned a pinkish purple every summer and fall because virtually all competition was eliminated.

Researchers chose Galerucella beetles because they knew Galerucella feed on loosestrife in Asian and Europe where it grows naturally. Local school children and non-profit organizations set up beetle rearing projects; releasing the natural loosestrife predator to feed and lay eggs on the exotic invader.

Note that biological control is not eradication. Wetlands rebounded because the number of beetles rise and fall with those of the loosestrife. Because of the Galerucella beetle, purple loosestrife is now just another member of the wetland community and no longer the big bad bully pushing everything else out of its way.

The reason why the Galerucella beetle is a rare success story is that biological controls must be thoroughly vetted prior to introduction. Scientists must ensure that the beetles are effective, but even more critical, that they do not cause other unintended consequences. Researchers exposed Galerucella beetles to pretty much every native plant they were likely to encounter in the their new home, but safely in isolated greenhouses. Researchers made sure the beetles would not harm native plants.

Comments Off on Are there biological control success stories for invasive plants?