On Saturday, March 20th, WWA’s Appleton/Valley Chapter completed the install of thirteen new wood duck box houses on the Chase/Baehnman property, located northwest of Lake Poygan. Thanks to Brad Miller, Scott Stache, Keven O’Brien, Doug Flouro, Steve Beach, Corey Baehnman, Zander Baehnman and Lee Chase for providing critical nesting habitat. Special Thanks to Lee Chase and Corey Baehnman; property owners for supporting the WWA nesting project!
The box locations are marked on the property map.
The team in action, hauling supplies
Driving Pipe: Steve Beach, Corey Baehnman, Zander Baehnman Scott Stache and Doug
Due to the number of installs, the team decided to rent a gas-powered post powder for this project, below is video of their new found technology at work:
Corey Baehnman, Scott Stache, Doug Flouro and Kevin O’Brien working on installs
Zander Baehnman adding nesting shavings to an original house on the property
Using the cold to our advantage, and then sprinting because 30 degree temperature swings and the now longer sunny days shortens the construction window, a lot of our project work gets accomplished on frigid winter days like we had in February. That’s been the race this winter, with our significant snow cover creating a nice insulating blanket, and with nearly zero frost in the ground, conditions have been challenging. We had three projects lined up ready to go, and all were expecting to take off to start construction within a week of each other. We were waiting for cold conditions and then helping Mother Nature along a little bit as you will see from the pictures below.
Removing snow and Reed Canary Grass during the deep freeze allowed frost to set in and created the solid ground conditions we needed to get these projects constructed this winter. We were able to create haul roads for running 70,000 pound trucks across the wetland to move fill for some ditch plugs and scrape activities.
With our warmer temps and some sun, water began to accumulate on the work site, but enough frost is present we should be able to wrap this up before the entire area floods over. It looks like this may be the end for winter work and it came really fast this year since we lacked any frost until early February, and now by the last week of this short month what we have is disappearing.
Once we get rid of a portion of this snow cover I will be back at it with surveying new projects for the coming year. As always, keep the inquiries coming in, we never turn away a good restoration project and the only way to get good ones is to have you, our members and interested individuals, send them to us. Give me a call or send in a project application (found here on our website) and I’ll be in touch.
The mild temperatures have been nice for some things in the habitat world and not so good for others. We currently have a project under construction in Outagamie County and the mild temperatures made it possible to actually install erosion matting during winter construction without having to install it within minutes of when the machines finish.
Erosion matting installed on this Outagamie project
The downside is we have a number of projects which need good frost depth to be completed and that is not even close to happening yet. To see what we have been up to, I’m sharing a few pictures of this Outagamie project site.
The water control structure will allow water management on approximately 10 acres of habitat, which was formerly a field dominated by invasive species. The scrape will add some diversity of water depth in an area where open water will provided good brood and breeding habitat.
Wisconsin’s high ground water tables are providing waterfowl habitat statewide
As the season is nearing its end here in the southern part of the state and we transition into winter, I’m thinking about wetlands and how they fared over the year. It is with no doubt in many parts of the state wetlands are in good shape from a water standpoint. We have high ground water tables from ample precipitation over the last two years which has aided in spring production by providing “wet areas” in nearly every depressional landscape contour across Wisconsin. This has also been a benefit for fall migrants as well. With many shallow flooded areas in the middle of fields there were ample food and security spots which helped keep many birds around this fall after some early cold fronts moved birds into the state. With all the water in the soil, which is exhibited by numerous areas of ponding which normally are dry, we should have good brood and spring migratory habitat in 2021, which will greatly benefit production.
That is not all that is needed. Quality and quantity of habitat is also important. WWA continues to provide habitat where it is most beneficial. We recently wrapped up a ten acre site in Marquette County, which will really impact about 30 acres. From here, we are waiting on frozen ground to finish five more restoration projects this winter. Hopefully we get some decent frost, unlike last winter, and all will go as planned.
As always WWA is continually looking for quality projects on public and private lands to help restore. Send me an e-mail or fill out our project request form online.
The waterfowl season is upon us. The northern season has begun and, as I write this on October 2nd, our southern season will begin this weekend. I traveled around the state this week and saw plenty of ducks; I just hope the abundance of blue-winged teal stick around through this last cold front prior to the southern opener, because they were all over the wetlands I visited recently.
Things have been moving along on the project front. We have not seen as much construction as normal this year to date, but I’m sitting on four projects that are fully permitted and ready to go. They each have their own specific reasons for why we have not completed them yet, but I’m happy to report that soon they will be on the ground. Three need frozen conditions to proceed with construction and another one is delayed with structure build. Others are nearing the end of their permit application process and will come into the mix soon. It looks to be a busy winter for a few of these wetland restorations.
In addition, our partners at the WDNR just sent me an email and the image, below, showing that they finished a restoration at Killsnake Wildlife Area. As fall rains recharge the shallow aquafer, those of you that are in this area may want to check that out. Traditionally newly exposed areas recently flooded are a great magnet for migratory birds.
Newly restored site at Killsnake Wildlife Area located in southeastern Calumet and southwestern Manitowoc counties.
Thanks to all of the support we received from our membership over the summer, WWA was able to continue its good work on the ground, restoring habitat where ducks need it most and will thrive best. WWA currently has active projects in Fond du Lac, Walworth, Winnebago, Marquette, Sauk, Ozaukee, Outagamie and Sheboygan counties. We have not slowed down our efforts for restoration and are active on other projects throughout the state, which should see more habitat on the ground in the coming year.
The dry spell was a nice chance to get some work done in the field while staying fairly clean for a change since I typically work in rubber boots and boot-sucking mud. This weather pattern has also started to concentrate birds to available water, which is good news for those of us looking forward to hunting season.
These are some pictures of a recent project we completed in Fond du Lac County. I really like these type projects since they are pretty straight forward and our cost per acre is good, making WWA’s membership support dollars go farther.
Here we removed a rusted out culvert through a farm road on a ditch line, installed a new pipe and water control structure, which will provide the ability to flood approximately 15 acres. With an adjacent larger waterbody nearby, and over a hundred acres of warm season grass cover for nesting in the one mile surrounding this area, this is sure to be a project that proves to be very beneficial to waterfowl.
Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas County: Multiple
By Bruce Ross, Executive Director
Despite the government shutdowns due to the pandemic, life, and nature, go on at WWA’s Adopt-a-Wildlife Area program. And that program to assist at public hunting areas continues strongly during the pandemic: Ron and Anne Churchill, Chris Scheder and many others cleaned up access and parking lots at Paradise Valley, Beaver Dam, and Reagon Lake and other locations. Purple loosestrife beetle have, well, been loosed. And buckthorn and other invasives have been removed. This kind of work is more needed than ever as DNR crews just aren’t permitted to assemble and do the work themselves. Here’s a few of the pictures our AWA lead volunteer, Mike Alaimo, has shared of the hours of volunteer work that has been put in over the last month in keeping AWA areas clean and accessible:
All photos copyrighted and courtesy Paul Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
I hope some of you caught the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Mike Alaimo’s black tern nesting project . Unfortunately, it’s only available to MJS subscribers right now, but it’s a great article, and has great photos (some of which we can share with you) of the young terns that hatched on Mike’s floating nest platforms and are now fletched and flying. This article has spurred a lot of interest around the state to replicate Mike’s success for these endangered birds, and we are thinking a “how-to” guide may be needed.
Alaimo, pointing out one of the nesting platforms at Rome Pond Wildlife Area
In recent habitat project posts you’ll have seen Mike Alimo’s efforts, and lately, successes in the black tern nesting program at Rome Pond. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Outdoors writer Paul Smith also heard of it, and wanted to learn more. He joined Mike a couple of weeks ago to watch endangered adult and immature Black Terns frolic overhead, while learning more about Mike’s creative initiative with floating nest platforms that were pivotal to their breeding success at Rome Pond Wildlife Area. “It was mesmerizing to watch the graceful birds feeding and inspiring to see the innovative work of Alaimo”, said Paul. You may not be able to see the article if you are not an MJS subscriber, but here are a few pictures, and our previous coverage of the project fill in the details.
A nesting platform at Rome Pond
Mike’s success has not only caught the eye of writers like Paul—the DNR, the USF&WS are also “going to school” on Mike. And a friends group that hasn’t had success with their own efforts may soon benefit from this program’s experiences, too. WWA’s Project Director, Peter, is also working with such groups that we may find common ground to our mutual benefit. We’re trying to spread the word even wider since this program shows the overlap between hunter conservation efforts and the interests of nature-minded non-hunter groups as well. Know a birder? Share this article with them. Have an idea for similar projects in your “backyard? Drop us a line