November 2019 Projects

Project: Multiple
County: Multiple

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

The landscape can provide many clues when looking to restore a wetland. I recently looked at a potential project that had a dead giveaway of a tile line failure. In all my years I had never seen such a clear indication of a drain tile failure which created this degree of back-pressure.

No a UFO did not land here.  This circular “crater” was formed due to a tile line below the ground that was not functioning properly.  It is so clear it give me great indication of what is happening.

  1. I know that the tile line plug is down slope from this spot.
  2. The tile line extends probably a considerable distance or elevation gain up-slope to create enough head pressure to blow out the clay soils from three to four feet below the surface.
  3. We have hydrology very near the surface indicating within the field a wetland that could be restored.
  4. Without any effort I have located the exact spot where the tile line is, which can be tricky many times without excavating.

The colder temps of early to mid-November had the majority of late migrating birds on the move.  After a wet fall, to say the least, these temps have actually helped WWA move forward on some projects.  We were busy in the west central part of the state, completing this 90 acre project in Jackson County last month.

Looking over the southern half of the Jackson County project site where a 5-foot deep drainage ditch was filled.

It will have a mix of open, emergent and wet meadow habitats.  This wide variety will provide great habitat for waterfowl through all the seasons in one of the most productive parts of the state.  This project was completed in conjunction with USF&WS and the landowner.  USF&WS helped WWA secure funding, permits, provided technical help and seed for the site.  The landowner provided equipment, pipes for the water control structure and install of the seed over the 90 acre project site.  This is one of those true partnership projects.  The design created a few small berms to impound water, filling of a main drainage ditch and disablement of thousands of feet of drain tile.

Jackson County Project

Project: Jackson County Project
County: Jackson

By Peter Ziegler, Project Director

Restoration work is still progressing even with the lack of “fall weather”.  The colder temps have actually helped WWA move forward on some projects since it has been so wet.  This Jackson County project was completed in early November.  This 90 acre project will have a mix of open, emergent and wet meadow habitats.  This wide variety will provide a great habitat for waterfowl through all the seasons in one of the most productive parts of the state.  This project was completed in conjunction with USFWS and the landowner.  USFWS helped WWA secure funding, provide technical help and seed for the site.  The landowner provided equipment, pipes for the water control structure and install of the seed over the 90 acre project site.

I took this picture standing on a newly constructed berm, you can see water already beginning to fill the basin.

Fall 2019 Wild Rice Seeding

County: Multiple
Project Start Date: 10/01/2019
Project End Date: 10/31/2019

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

October had many wet days which have delayed a couple of our wetland restoration projects, mostly due to the fact that our wet weather has set excavating companies behind and site conditions aren’t real great for construction.  WWA did, however, do a number of wild rice seedings.  Pat Shay Lake in Forest County received its final seeding this year.  The effort between WWA and local schools over the last three years appears to have been paying off.  In an effort to re-establish a rice bed once lost, WWA formed a couple of partnerships with local schools, which provided education on wild rice and a helping hand in completing the actual seeding itself.  This year the seeding was completed by Three Lakes – Global Science Class.   The rice bed looked good this past year and started to really fill in the SE end of the lake.  Hopefully it will continue to flourish on its own after this fall’s final seeding.

Entering the rice bed on Pat Shay Lake with students from Three Lakes Global Science, Project Director Peter Ziegler provides some education information to the group.

This means WWA is looking for new waters to do wild rice restoration on for next fall. If you have ideas please let us know by emailing wwainfo@centurytel.net.  We also completed a seeding with some of our Wausau Chapter members on the Eau Claire River this fall.  Our seedings targeted backwater areas which should help protect the rice during flow and high water events.  Thanks to those who helped and hopefully we can set some more seedings up for next year.

A couple of WWA’s Wausau Chapter members seeding rice on some backwaters of the Eau Claire River in the Wausau area.

We also helped seed a large wetland complex in the Necedah area.  This being very near the National Wildlife Refuge and other state land, it should certainly have a benefit to migratory birds by providing a valuable food resource during fall migration.  It will also add to the overall habitat being provided by supplying a very desirable food source in a region with great waterfowl habitat.

Learn more about our Wild Rice program here.

Jackson Marsh Disabled Accessible Blind

Project: Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area
County: Jackson
Project Start Date: 09/01/2019
Project End Date: 09/30/2019

Thanks to Mike Depies and his crew, the disabled accessible blind on Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area is ready for opening day! Learn more about our Adopt A Wildlife Area projects at Jackson Marsh here.

September 2019 Project Program Updates

Project: Multiple
County: Statewide

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

Hope everyone had an enjoyable opening weekend.  I know over here in southern Wisconsin, where I’m located, the birds bird have lots of places to go after recent heavy rains.  Ponding is frequent in many fields, forests and even lawns, providing ample hiding spots for waterfowl to escape to.  This also has led to newly restored wetlands filling quite quickly, and those can be some of the best places to hunt.  The newly disturbed soil and annual seeds, which many times are floating in 2-6 inches of water, are waterfowl magnets.

I heard hunting stories of success on some new projects we completed on both private and public lands.  Having more wetlands available not only helps the waterfowl, but also helps the waterfowlers.  A much more enjoyable hunt can be had when you spread people out over many areas, which is the result anytime a new wetland restoration happens.  More habitat aids in less crowding.  Something to think about is talking with your local biologist during the summertime to see where, if any, new restorations have happened.  Many times there are small wetland restorations happening every year on our state wildlife areas, mostly funded with waterfowl stamp money.  If you’re into trying new spots take advantage, some of these don’t show up on aerial imagery because they are too new.  I know I have looked at google earth and have not seen some of WWA’s restoration sites show up for up to 3-4 years or more, depending on the part of the state you’re looking at.

If weather cooperates I will be heading to Jackson and Green Lake counties to complete two restorations in the coming month.

The above photo shows a project we finished in July and geese quickly taking advantage, even with minimal water initially occurring on the site.  This same site, as of a week ago, had 2-8” of water over large sections, flooding short annual and perennial vegetation, and I expect it to be holding birds this fall.  Quite a change from the 30 acres of agricultural ground it was just one year ago.

Abrams Property Blinds Ready to Hunt

Project: Abrams Property
County: Oconto
Project Start Date: 09/15/2019
Project End Date: 09/15/2019

Former WWA ED Don Kirby assists with the brushing of blinds at Abrams

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 15th, a small work party (WWA President Bruce Urben and former ED Don Kirby), completed the brushing of the 3 duck blinds at the WWA’s Abrams Property, located just north of Green Bay. Brushing and clearing makes the blinds ready for the waterfowl opener on September 28th.

The three duck blinds are wheel chair accessible and there has been considerable waterfowl activity at the Abrams property with early goose, teal and the upcoming general waterfowl season. The Abrams property and blinds are located in the Northern zone.

AbramsMap2016_001There are two disabled deer blinds also located on the property’s north side access of Hwy 41, along with the three duck blinds.

There are also three disabled deer blinds located on the south side access to the property off of Oak Orchard road.

The Abrams property is privately owned by WWA but is available for public use. Rules for use of the property are located on our website under the Abrams property links.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help at the property can contact Bruce Urben at 920-660-2773 or fill out our online volunteer form and indicate your interest in helping at Abrams.

Late Summer 2019 Adopt A Wildlife Area Updates

Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple

By Mike Alaimo, Lead AWA Volunteer

Seems like a tough thing… passing up the opportunity to hunt waterfowl, but that is what I did this year.  Maybe it was the warmer weather, the thought of swatting bugs, being able to soak a line in the morning sun, or just a busy holiday weekend.  Regardless, this was the flip of the switch, and maybe this is what I was blocking out in my mind.  Summer is over.  The kids are heading back to school and birds are flocking up.  Orioles that have vanished through the summer heat are once again gorging on my jelly feeder.  AWA activities will keep on progressing, but at a much slower pace.  Snow and ice will mark our transition back to the marshes and wood lots for our biggest projects of the year.

Updates:

The WI DNR has requested assistance in reviewing an online site for posting AWA hours for volunteers.  This is a major step forward, as reporting is now done via paper and email.  Contract dates are varied throughout the calendar year and annual reports in January are hard to tally.  As part of the new system, hours can be reported at any time.  It will allow the WI DNR to track all AWA sites through the calendar year.  We should be honored to be one of the first to trial the website.  I will have more to report coming soon…after I get my first test drive.

2018 Chainsaw training at George W. Mead wildlife area

Chain Saw Training:  After cancelling the training in August, the event is rescheduled for December 7, 2019.  The day will involve classroom instruction in the morning and a work project for the afternoon.  Additional volunteers will be needed in the afternoon as well that are already chain saw certified or willing to help move brush and branches.  All work will be done in the Lake Mills Wildlife Area, with classroom instruction at the Sandy Beach Road DNR station.  Please contact me at malaimo73@gmail.com for more information.

Boot Cleaning Stations:  Ahead of the Early Teal and Goose Seasons, four stations were installed in the Lake Mills and Rome Pond WA areas.  Stations were added to Rome Pond, Prince’s Point, Bean Lake and a canoe access for Mud Lake and Lower Rock.  Please remember to clean your gear this fall and use these stations when available.  This weekend was a reminder about hitchhikers, which are not just the plants and vegetation.  Invasive species like zebra mussels hitch a ride on these plants as well.

August 2019 Project Program Updates

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

Hunting seasons are upon us. I hope everyone has a great beginning to the season.

One thing I have found is that wildlife love new areas and, as with many bird species, waterfowl are quick to exploit newly flooded or disturbed areas.  These areas typically have uncovered or provided access to water, a whole slew of new seeds and/or invertebrates.  I always hear from landowners after we finish a project and water begins to return that birds are already using it.  That is not atypical, which is why, when we have heavy rains, waterfowl quickly spread out to new areas and take advantage of those new food sources.  So keep your eyes open for new habitat in places you can hunt, there are certainly new ones out there for all to enjoy.

One such area that is still under construction is within the Killsnake Wildlife Area, located in both southeastern Calumet and southwestern Manitowoc Counties.  This project is being completed utilizing duck stamp dollars by the WDNR.  WWA is playing a small role in this one, but as WDNR is a partner on our NAWCA grant we have been getting updates on its progress so we can work on reporting for our grant.  This type of partnership is important to all, and especially the habitat within Wisconsin.

This project included some ditch plugging, small berms and scrapes generating ~13 acres of wetland habitat. Photo courtesy of Steve Easterly, WDNR

Until we get some precipitation and our fall recharge of wetlands begins, this new habitat may not appear very attractive, but it will certainly provide habitat and opportunity for waterfowl and waterfowlers for many years to come.

Valley Chapter Adopts Town of Neenah Conservancy Park

Project: Wood duck boxes
County: Winnebago
Project Start Date: 08/22/2019
Project End Date: 08/22/2019

WWA’s Appleton/Valley Chapter recently formalized their adoption of the Town of Neenah’s Conservancy Park and trail system with a wood duck house install and replacement project volunteer day. The volunteers, including Adam Post, Scott Stache, Brad Miller, Rick Reed, Kevin O’Brien, Natalie Miller and Becca Miller spent the evening of Thursday, August 22nd installing a new wood duck house on the park property and replacing an existing house.  The chapter will continue to work with the Town of Neenah on various projects in the park and on the trail system in the future.

Download a map of the location of Conservancy Park here..

 

Volunteers Adam Post, Scott Stache, Brad Miller, Rick Reed (not pictured), Kevin O’Brien, Natalie Miller and Becca Miller (not pictured)

July 2019 Project Program Updates

Project: Multiple
County: Statewide

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

It was a busy month helping to restore habitat in Wisconsin for WWA. We assisted with the restoration of a total of 60 acres of habitat on the ground in July. Thanks to some breaks in the weather in the southern part of the state, we were also able to complete two of our projects.

WWA was a partner on one project in Waukesha County which was entailed a 3-year long process with other conservation partners working to make it happen.  Approximately 2,500 feet of ditches were plugged and a few shallow scrapes were constructed.  This will result in great wetland habitat for a variety of wildlife species and should offer some good migratory stop-over habitat for waterfowl specifically.  The picture, below, demonstrates the size of the ditches being filled with a D-6 dozer.

In Fond du Lac County we are just finishing up a 10-acre site which will provide some added open water and emergent habitat on what was formally an agricultural field.  This one is already ponding water after some weekend storms dropped a couple inches of rain on the area.  WWA is looking forward to completing more projects this fall.