Adopt a Wildlife Area

WDNR Adopt a Wildlife Area:adopt

This exciting new program was just introduced in the 2nd half of 2015.  Similar in concept to the long-standing “Adopt a Highway” program, this opportunity seeks to match interested volunteers, and fundraising, with state fishing and wildlife areas which need more help, in an era of tight budgets, and smaller DNR staffing.

As of January 2019 WWA volunteers have adopted seven wildlife areas across the state, including Rome Pond Wildlife Area (Jefferson county), Lake Mills Wildlife Area (Jefferson county), Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area (Washington county), Paradise Valley Wildlife Area (Waukesha county), George W. Mead Wildlife Area (Marathon, Wood and Portage counties), Mud Lake Wildlife Area (Columbia county) and Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area (Waukesha county).

If you are interested in assisting with our Adopt a Wildlife Area efforts, please fill out our Volunteer Form and indicate Adopt a Wildlife Area on the area of interest.

Summer of 2021 has brought an exciting update to our endangered black tern nesting project with black tern banding taking place at Rome Pond Wildlife Area in Waukesha County. WWA AWA lead volunteer, Mike Alaimo, partnered with  Dr. David Shealer from Loras College on a history-making endeavor to band and track the birds at Rome Pond in June 2021. Check out the full report on that day’s activities here. The following month found Mike and Dr. Shealer back on Rome Pond to try to deploy more geolocating tags on the terns. The pair successfully banded one adult tern, one fledgling and two day-old chicks! Thanks to Mike and Dr. Shealer for this amazing project to help study endangered black terns. Check out the full report on July’s banding success here.

Spring and Summer 2020 projects have continued with some restrictions due to COVID-19. The Endangered Black Tern Nesting Project was a success at Rome Pond, clearing and cleanup was completed and the crew at Jackson Marsh continued their work with the clean-up of a log jam on Cedar Creek amongst other projects. Read about them all in our recent project updates here.

Interested in learning more about Black Tern Nesting platforms? Check out more information and how you can help this endangered species here.

Spring 2019 AWA clean-up projects were completed in April, check out all the photos here.

Check out our 2018 Adopt A Wildlife Area year in review here!


Rome Pond Wildlife Area Adopted!

In 2016 WWA volunteers from our Waukesha County and Twin Rivers came together to “adopt” the first wildlife area for WWA: Rome Pond.  Since 2016 volunteers have been busy at Rome Pond, check out many of the updates, below, and for even more information on what these teams are doing, and how you could help, please contact Waukesha County Chapter Chairman, Mike Alaimo.

Lake Mills Wildlife Area Adopted!

We’re very pleased to announce that a second WDNR Wildlife Area has been adopted by WWA volunteers! Laklake-mills-awae Mills Wildlife Area, found midway between Milwaukee and Madison, became effective on October 1st, and like the Rome Pond agreement that began last winter, will be in effect for three years.

During this time, our crews from Twin Rivers chapter and others, lead by TJ Schnulle, will be seeking to work on projects like an observation deck, osprey platforms, wood duck nesting structures, and much more. If you’d like to learn more about this specific AWA opportunity, please reach out to TJ at 920.988.8888, or Mike Alaimo, Chapter Chair for Waukesha County, and for all things AWA at 262.443.4674.

Lake Mills Adopt A Wildlife Area Updates

  • On Saturday, April 1st, volunteers installed wood duck box houses on Lake Mills AWA.  See pictures of the day’s accomplishments here.
  • On Saturday, March 25th, volunteers are needed to help install wood duck box and mallard nesting tubes at Lake Mills AWA.  Boats and volunteers are needed.  Contact TJ at 920.988.8888 if you would like to help.
  • Osprey Platform Installed! In late February, during volunteers installed this osprey platform at Lakes Mills AWA.  Check out all the pictures, here.




Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area Adopted!

WWA volunteers Al Klug (in the water) and Jim Freck place wood duck boxes at Jackson Marsh

We’re excited to announce that Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area was officially adopted in June 2017 with a three year contract for wetland management projects, invasive species management, wood duck box installation and other structures like a disabled blind.

Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area is a 2,312-acre property located in eastern Washington County, just north of Hwy 60.

Hats off to Joe Lesch and Al Klug of WWA’s Midland Wings/West Bend Chapter for adopting the first wildlife area in Washington County! Al and Joe have already been discussing projects with the DNR and will be developing a project plan for the first year of their contract.

  • Jackson Marsh Updates: The volunteer crew, now lead by WWA board member and long-time Cedar Creek chapter volunteer Mike Depies, have put in a successful 60+ hours and $1500 in donated materials to close out the May 23rd reporting year.  A BIG THANKS goes out to Mike and all of the Jackson volunteer team! Check out more photos from their spring wood duck box work here and here.
  • Disabled accessible blind is ready for opening day 2019 thanks to Mike Depies & crew. See more pictures here.

A view of the disabled accessible blind at Jackson Marsh

Paradise Valley Wildlife Area Adopted!

In Waukesha County, the Paradise Valley Wildlife Area in the town of Ottawa and northern Eagle was adopted with a contract for wetland management, invasive species management, wood duck and hen tube installation, and other projects/improvements as deemed necessary. This property is an ongoing stewardship project with a goal of 6000 acres over the next 10 to 20 years.

Land purchases will continue to expand opportunities in the Paradise Valley wildlife unit. Currently, the wildlife unit includes the 1,300 acre Bark River Unit, School Section, Reagon Lake and Beaver Dam Lake. WWA has had a land contract on the Bark River Unit of the Wildlife Area for over four years with wood duck box management, ID signage, and an invasive boot cleaning station. Mike Alaimo of the Waukesha County Chapter will be championing this effort.


Early spring of 2018 saw WWA volunteers busily cleaning up Paradise Valley Wildlife Area, removing bags of trash

In early June of 2018, the Waukesha team composed of Anne and Ron Churchill, Nick Smart, Don Guenther and Mike Alaimo helped to clear around a parking lot to make the entrance more visible to users.


George W. Mead Wildlife Area Adopted!

In July of 2017, WWA’s Wausau Chapter, lead by volunteer Melanie Love, successfully adopted the George W. Mead Wildlife Area. Mead is located five miles north of Highway 10 between Stevens Point and Marshfield. The property extends into Marathon, Wood and Portage counties. While project plans for the site are still ongoing the chapter’s agreement with the WDNR calls for with volunteers keeping the parking lots clean, maintaining gates, signage and other infrastructures, invasive species control of buckthorn and trail maintenance.

WWA volunteer Melanie Love during spring chainsaw training at Mead earlier this year

Update July 2018: A huge congratulations and thank you goes out to the entire team of AWA volunteers up in the Wausau area for completing their first year of adoption of the George W. Mead Wildlife Area.  The chapter went above and beyond and donated 120 hours of volunteer work at Mead.  Check out their full report here that details the projects they completed including trail clearing, wood duck habitat improvement and chainsaw certification.


Mud Lake Wildlife Area Adopted!

In March of 2018, new WWA volunteer Scott Hamele worked with the DNR on an adoption contract which will be the first of its kind in Columbia County on Mud Lake Wildlife Area. DNR’s area biologist stated that Mud Lake WA is a challenging property as it has one of the largest concentrations of invasive species in the county, along with a challenging marsh environment with bogs impeding access and taking out refuge signs. This spring, a new gun range is opening as well, which will need help with clean-up and grass cutting. If improving this property is up your alley and is close to home, please contact Scott Hamele at 608-235-6307 to sign-up as a team member.

Scott Hamele & DNR Biologist Sara Kehrli with the new WWA AWA sign on Mud Lake in June 2018!

  • In June 2019, lead Mud Lake volunteer, Scott Hamele, on a solo mission helped to restore damage from a washout at the wildlife area (photos, below).  It just proves how less than a half day’s work can make a significant impact on the infrastructure of our wildlife areas.  Thanks, Scott, for taking the initiative!

Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area Adopted!

For those of you in the Milwaukee or Eastern Waukesha county areas, we are very excited to announce that in March of 2018 a collaboration between WWA’s Waukesha County, West Allis and South Suburban/South Milwaukee chapters have resulted in the adoption of Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area, most likely one of your waterfowl and recreation destinations. Close to home in a large populous, this Wildlife Aare gets heavy use. The DNR was very excited in partnering with the WWA for an AWA contract here. We would also like to thank Ian Bartelmez from West Allis for taking on the lead for this combined team. If you would like to be part of his team and make a difference on Big Muskego, please contact Ian at 414-779-1552.

WWA’s Adopt A Wildlife Area had become a very popular program with WWA chapters around the state as awareness of the program has spread. If you are interested in volunteering or assisting in the adoption of your local Wildlife Area please fill out our volunteer form and indicate AWA in the area of interest.