April 2019 Adopt A Wildlife Area Project Updates

Project: Adopt A Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple
Project Start Date: 04/01/2019
Project End Date: 04/14/2019

The ice cleared and then the snow came back.  Divers have cleared through southern WI and the teal have moved in.  For the first time, an early April wood duck box clean-out by our Adopt A Wildlife Area (AWA) volunteers had an occupant in the form of a very upset hen hooded.  The hen was busy, as she laid an almost full clutch of eggs on top of some unhatched wood duck eggs from last year.  Spring has sprung and the time is diminishing to get the last boxes ready for the season.

Lake Mills AWA:  2018 is well behind us and the wood duck report was submitted after maintenance was completed on boxes at lower Rock Lake.  Mature pelicans were everywhere and the geese were nesting in mass.  There were nests dotted nearly fifty feet apart along the circumference of the island.  Ron Churchill took a fantastic shot of a pair of geese lifting off of their nest site.

Mud Lake AWA:  Scott and his crew helped add more apple trees to the unit.  His team struck out on April 13th and got it done during the marginal break in the weather.  Great work and congrats to the Mud Lake team!

Jefferson County Chain Saw Training Potential:  if  you’re willing to drive to Jefferson County, the DNR has just enough funds for a class if we can fill the slot.  Please contact Mike Alaimo malaimo@merr.com by April 19, 2019 if you’re interested.

Spring 2019 Adopt A Wildlife Area Updates

Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple
Project Start Date: 03/01/2019
Project End Date: 03/31/2019

By Mike Alaimo, Lead AWA Volunteer

This is the time of year when everything is in high gear.  It is hard to prioritize the “honey do list” from all of our other passions.  Spring banquet prep, clearing projects, wood duck box maintenance, dusting off the camera to take in the spring migration, preparing for Turkey season, getting the boat ready for open water, maybe hitting the spring walleye run….and the list goes on.

Picture of our buddies arriving in full plumage on Fowler Lake in Oconomowoc on March 30, 2019.

Big Muskego AWA:  The crew dedicated their Saturday on March 16th to chainsaw training.  This DNR-sponsored training was in support of future clearing projects at Big Muskego Wildlife Area with the necessary skills to take down trees with a focus on safety, planning, saw maintenance, and some new techniques.  The day was perfect for the field portion of the training.  Below are Scott Hopper, Nick Smart, Chameron Hatzinger, Ian Bartelmez, Bruce Ross, Jim Olive (instructor), AJ Kimball, and Stephen Regenfuss.  Congrats on your completion of the training!

Jackson Marsh AWA:  In a similar fashion, WWA members, along with DNR staff and PF volunteers, went through chain saw training on March 30th.  The day was a little more challenging with the cold front that streamed  in, but the training was completed!  Congrats to Jim Freck, Dennis Gutmann and Mike Depies, who completed their chainsaw training, along with Eric Kilburg, biologist from Pike Lake DNR Office, 2 PF members from Ozaukee County and 2 PF members from Sheboygan County.

Rome Pond AWA:  The Wood Ducks are here!  We raced out on Sunday March 24th to maintain boxes and were pleasantly surprised that we could get out to all of them!  No three-peat this year chasing retreating ice.  Better yet, out of the twenty-one boxes, we had success in eighteen boxes, egg dumps in 2 and only 1 that was void of duck nesting; but it must have hatched a ton of wasps!

Paradise Valley AWA:  Fresh off the press and with a full “post clearing lunch” belly, I am adding that the Waukesha team of Mike Alaimo, Don Guenther, Ron Churchill, Chris Scheder and newly chainsaw certified Nick Smart, cleared fence lines on the smaller School Section parcel of Paradise Valley AWA on March 31st.  If anything was learned, it was that removing old fencing is not the the best pre-cutting warm-up and big willows need twice the hinge!  Although windy, the conditions were perfect for the task.  Thanks to the crew for spending their Sunday morning helping out! In the picture are Don Guenther and Chris Scheder.

Learn more about our Adopt A Wildlife Area program and how you can get involved, here!

Adopt A Wildlife Area Spring Work Days

Project: Lake Mills Wildlife Area and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area
County: Jefferson and Washington
Project Start Date: 03/08/2019
Project End Date: 03/09/2019

By Mike Alaimo, Lead Adopt A Wildlife Area Volunteer

Spring is upon us, with woodies arriving, robins following the retreating snow, and much work to be done, after a very frustrating winter. Volunteers have been busy out on our adopted Wildlife Areas, here’s what we’ve been up to:

Lake Mills Wildlife Area:

A clearing project was completed on Saturday March 9th.  Willows were cleared from the nesting islands at Zeloski in preparation of a future prescribed burn.  It was key to get to these areas before the ice softened.  The trick was getting the vehicles out there without getting stuck… success was zero.   But, 8 volunteers and one DNR staff member were able to complete the initial project on the islands 100%. A big thanks goes out to the team!

Lake Mills/Zeloski Marsh volunteer crew: DNR staff member Logan Hahn, WWA volunteers Anne and Ron Churchill, Don Guenther, Chris Scheder, Jordan Learned, Katie Brewster, Todd Berger, and Mike Alaimo behind the camera.

Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area:

All the nesting structures are ready for the 2019 nesting season.  Al Klug and Mike Depies were able to get 8 nesting boxes cleaned out on Friday afternoon, March 8th.  On Saturday morning, Steve Jeffery, his 2 boys, Kevin Pasquarette, his neighbor, and Mike Depies worked on cleaning out the remaining nesting boxes and tubes, then put in fresh nesting material.   Steve Jeffery and his sons are pictured below maintains a wood duck box.

Big Muskego Wildlife Area:

Chain saw training will be conducted on March 16th with the Big Muskego team.  The training will involve instruction and then practical hands on training in the field.  For details, please contact Ian Bartelmez.

Learn more about our volunteer-run Adopt A Wildlife Area program here.

March Project Program Update

Project: Waushara County
County: Waushara

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

As winter holds on, it has given us a chance to get started on another project.  As you read this, we are currently working a wetland project in southeast Waushara County, just north of Berlin.  For as cold as it has been, this site still has some soft spots, but with the work roads plowed off (as seen in the picture, below) and single digit temps, mother nature is giving us a hand every night and allowing work to move along pretty consistently.

Construction roads are plowed for project restoration work to begin on the WWA project site in Waushara County

Ironically, the scrapes are already filling with water; an indication of the high water table, which is creating the soft spots where there is very little frost.  These are all indications of good hydrology, which make for a successful wetland project.

This site is in a great area for attracting waterfowl, with lots of other wetlands surrounding it, and it has a grassland component already in place which will aid in nesting and brood rearing success.

Adopt A Wildlife Area Winter Wood Duck Box Maintenance & Volunteer Opportunities

Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple

A WWA volunteer checking wood duck boxes at Paradise Valley

It is Spring cleaning time!  There is nothing better than investigating and piecing together what has or hasn’t happened in the yearly cycle of a wood duck box.  Armed with tools and cedar chips, AWA volunteers are fanning out to check the breeding success of wood duck boxes and nesting tubes on our adopted state lands.

This last weekend, Paradise Valley volunteers maintained 14 boxes with better nesting results than previous years.  What was learned is that we have a competition going on between Woodies and Hooded Mergansers.  Swallows and other nesters definitely add to the mix by building grass and reed nests on top of the previously occupied duck nests.  In the next few months we should be able to share more photos from Jackson, Mud Lake, Rome and Lake Mills Wildlife Areas.

A wood duck box at Paradise Valley

Winter is also the time to get out into the normally more difficult locations to remove invasive and other problematic growth that is choking out our uplands used by some duck species for nesting.  Sometimes, the clean-up work is geared towards opening-up access lanes, fence lines and ditches.

On February 24th, we will begin nesting island clean-up at Lake Mills.  The crew will be removing willows, coupled with herbicide treatment, on critical nesting habit.  There will also be upland maintenance to help preserve grasslands.  If interested in helping,  please contact Mike Alaimo at malaimo@merr.com.

On March 16th the Big Muskego team will be completing their chain saw training with hands-on project work.  The class size is limited and almost full, but if you are interested in the training or the project work, please contact Ian Bartelmez at ibartelmez@gmail.com for more details.

Before the ice disappears, the Paradise Valley team hopes to also remove willows and apply herbicide treatment.  The willows are starting to get tall enough that prescribed burns may not be effective.  Although the days are TBD and might be impromptu due to weather, please contact Mike Alaimo if interested.

Adopt A Wildlife Area 2018 Year in Review

Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple
Project Start Date: 01/01/2018
Project End Date: 12/31/2018

By Mike Alaimo, Lead AWA Volunteer

At the Annual Meeting in Berlin on January 26th, a presentation was given summarizing the projects our AWA teams completed in 2018. It is amazing as to the variety of tasks these teams accomplished:

The Wausau Team over at George Mead Wildlife Area (WA) surpassed their 100 hour goal with an additional 25% completed! They tackled chain saw training, clearing projects and wood duck box maintenance with UWSP students. This was a great accomplishment for their first year!

Rome Pond WA received over 100 hours of work through a clearing project, blind removal, wood duck box maintenance, new Wood Duck boxes, nesting tubes, Invasive work, black tern nesting platforms and parking lot clean-ups.

Lake Mills WA marked a first with a multiple-year grant to improve nesting islands.

Paradise Valley WA saw clearing projects, wood duck box maintenance, gate painting and parking lot clean-ups.

Jackson Marsh WA had new wood duck boxes and nesting tubes added and a lake clean-up. Chain saw training is next on the list.

Big Muskego was added as a new AWA and projects are being worked through, as well as chain saw training.

Wrapping up the great successes noted above, the Mud Lake WA team in Columbia County has completed their 100 hrs early as a first year team! This amp’ed-up team added new wood duck boxes and nesting tubes, planted apple trees, posted closed area signs, went through chain saw training, completed some clearing work, and most recently helped clear snow at the adjacent public shooting range!

A big thanks goes out to all involved in AWA work for the WWA! 2019 will be an exciting year and is already starting strong! Check out our full 2018 Year in Review report here.

Wild Rice Seeding 2018

Project: Wild Rice
County: Oneida, Vilas
Project Start Date: 10/01/2018
Project End Date: 10/31/2018

Wild Rice. Photo credit: Jennifer West, Three Lakes School District

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

We have had some great fall weather with waterfowl migration in full force and, in some instances, even a bit ahead of schedule. I talked with a local hunter in the northern part of the state who had one of those “hunts”. One minute is all it took for two individuals to limit out on Ringnecks. For those who have experienced a large, hundred-plus ringneck flock, you know the excitement they can provide; not only the noise that they create bombing around, but also the quick flyers that make for an exciting hunt as they pile into the spread. These particular hunters were hunting a wild rice bed. Wild rice is known to be a great migratory forage food and is very attractive to waterfowl.

WWA completed a wild rice restoration planting this past October, once again engaging the local Three Lakes, Global Science class.

WWA Project Director Peter Zielger speaks to the group before Wild Rice seeding. Photo credit: Jennifer West, Three Lakes School District

Thanks to their help, we were able to seed 150 pounds of locally harvested rice to try to reestablish an historic rice bed. The seeding efforts went really smoothly after having worked with this group in the past, and kudos to Honey Rock Camp (A Wheaten College affiliated camp) for providing the canoes for the students to help make this happen.

Students paddling out for Wild Rice seeding. Photo credit: Jennifer West, Three Lakes School District

We will be looking for more wild rice sites in the Eagle River, Three Lakes and Rhinelander areas, so if you have ideas let me know so we can do the background work for viability, historical presence (not mandatory), locations for access and proper notification of landowner(s) (many of the sites end up being within the national forest).

Goose Pond Property

Project: Goose Pond
County: Dane
Project Start Date: 09/01/2018
Project End Date: 09/30/2018

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

Water is not an issue in most parts of the state right now and the waterfowl are loving it. They have been spread out feeding in recently flooded areas which hold a tremendous amount of valuable food resources as they begin their fall migration.

Many wetlands went underwater in the past month and have recently begun to return to normal levels, but water is high and abundant throughout much of the state. This has delayed some projects and a few that will have to wait until winter to be completed due to the wetness.

A project WWA partnered on was completed recently out at the Madison Audubon Society – Goose Pond property. For those who do not know about this place, it is a tremendous spot for birds during migration and breeding. WWA, USFWS and Madison Audubon partnered on the project to restore a basin, which will aid in bird habitat in Columbia county.

This project was partially funded through WWA’s successful NAWCA grant received this year in which all partners provided matching time or money, thereby bolstering our competitiveness for the grant and helping all of us get some quality wetland habitat on the ground.

Mark and Sue Martin of Madison Audubon checking to see how the project is going; shallow ground water can be seen seeping in. Photo by Arlene Koziol.

This area was highly impacted by sediment loading through time. There were spots on the site where 18+ inches of sediment have buried the original wetland, changing the hydro periods and vegetative components and ultimately use by wildlife which rely on wetlands for survival.

Wetland scrapes filled with water after 2.8 inches of rain. The prairie restoration surrounding this wetland provides excellent nesting habitat for many birds and aids in the long-term ecological protection of the wetland. Photo by Mark Martin.


Late Summer/Early Fall 2018 Project Program Updates

Project: Multiple
County: Multiple

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

Over the past month we have been busy working on projects during which time I have installed four water control structures, disabling drainage features of several wetlands. These will provide the ability to manage water levels to control vegetation. This becomes a key component in wetland management these days, with our wetlands being workhorses for water management, they take on a lot of nutrients and sediment and are continually being invaded by invasive species. Having the ability to manage water levels gives landowners the ability to effectively manage wetlands for desired vegetation and wildlife. It also provides the ability to mimic natural wet and dry cycles through draw downs. Draw downs are an important aspect and natural occurrence for wetlands. If you plan ahead you can accomplish two critical goals with the water control structures; drawing down the water to solidify suspended solids and promote native wetland vegetation, while at the same time providing access to control unwanted or invasive species.

We should be busy in the coming month so long as our recent large rain events do not continue. It was well needed in most parts, but the volume over such a short period puts wetlands hard at work and hampers our ability to access many of the restoration sites.


Abrams Project Property Blind Additions

Project: Abrams Property
County: Oconto
Project Start Date: 08/01/2018
Project End Date: 08/31/2018

By Bruce Urben, President


A work crew of WWA volunteers from the Green Bay Chapter, (Bryan Urben, Logan Sincoular and Jeremy Van Sistine) along with Don Kirby (WWA ED), Don’s son Blake and daughter Brooke, and I, completed brushing of the disabled duck blinds at the Abrams property just north of Green Bay on US Hwy. 141. The blinds are brushed and ready for the upcoming season opener.

We also added the fourth disabled deer blind at the Abrams project property along with wheelchair ramps and rails. Four disabled accessible deer blinds are now available for use for the season opener in September (two on the north property off US Hwy. 141 and two on the south property off Oak Orchard Rd. ). A fifth disabled deer blind is under construction and will be available for use for the November gun opener on the Oak Orchard side. Check out the Abrams project property on our website for maps and rules for use for all available blinds.

The food plots planted and maintained by Eric Schultz (Pro Plots Wildlife Plots) are located at each blind location. You can find more information for Pro Plots here or by contacting Eric at  ece953schultz@bayland.net.

A huge Thank You to WWA Green Bay Chapter volunteers (Logan Sincoular, Jeremy VanSistine, Shawn Demeny, Bryan Urben and Bruce Messenger) for helping install the disabled deer blind and to Chad Bolle (Bolle Construction), Andy Ryczek (Ryzcek Construction) and Bryan Urben of Urben Construction” for coordination and construction of the wheel chair ramps to each deer blind.

Fall is in the air and season openers will be here before you know it. Get out and enjoy the WWA’s Abrams property this fall for hunting, hiking, bird watching or a leisurely walk in nature.