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.

Adopt A Wildlife Area June-July Projects

Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple
Project Start Date: 06/01/2019
Project End Date: 07/01/2019

By Mike Alaimo, Lead AWA Volunteer

Summer?  Yup, it arrived with a roar and no transition.  Nature has made up for lost time based on the gains seen in our host purple loosestrife plants in the last few weeks.  Even with the seemingly endless Seattle-style weather we were having and now the heat and humidity, hours continue to be clocked by our volunteers!

Mud Lake Wildlife Area:  Lead Mud Lake volunteer, Scott Hamele, on a solo mission helped to restore damage from a washout at the wildlife area.  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!

A Helping Hand:  Regular wildlife area volunteers Ron and Anne Churchill engaged in a goose banding activity in Jefferson.  The core group of the team were DNR personnel in training.  An almost all day affair, the group was successful in tagging geese.  Some of the geese were already sporting some bling and it was not their first rodeo in a goose round-up!  Thanks again to Ron and Anne (pictured below) for volunteering outside of the AWA box to support the DNR!

Rome Pond Wildlife Area:  The beetles have found new homes in our host loosestrife plants.  They were infested by the DNR last week and will soon be ready to be deployed out in the marsh.  I will be reaching out to local boat owners to help support the deployment in the next few weeks, as I will be traveling out of state during “prime” time for the dispersal. Check out our past project updates on this invasive species initiative!

Beetle infected purple loosestrife seeded into Rome Pond in July 2017.

Chain Saw Training:  I have not been contacted by anyone outside a few previous responses for the August 17th planned training date at Lake Mills.  Please contact me at 262-443-4674 if interested.

June Habitat Program Updates

Project: Multiple
County: Statewide

By Peter Ziegler, Project Director

Progress continues, although a bit slower than normal.  Ditches continue to remain high and the shallow ground water table is high as well, impacting the landscape.  This is delaying many things, including wetland restoration work.  We have a few projects ready to go and others which will be soon, but it might be a mad dash to get the work done when conditions finally cooperate.  The rise in the shallow groundwater table is great for wetlands and all the wildlife that utilize them.  It is allowing long periods of flooding which basically increases the available wetland acres to wildlife that rely on semi-permanent wetland types.  This should provide greater brood rearing habitat and increase the quality as well.  Hopefully this will lead to higher production of waterfowl in Wisconsin.

We are looking at a few good quality projects that are slowly making their way to the dirt-moving phase.  I can tell you, as projects progress and the field work continues, vegetation is robust.  This past week Reed Canary Grass was head high and, in some cases, taller than me as I surveyed one site.  It’s good to know that we will be able to flood a portion of that site and drown it out, creating great habitat for waterfowl in all seasons.   As I looked at that site I identified an old river channel running through, located just slightly lower in elevation, it retained good quality vegetation of bur reed and rushes.  Seeing this response, probably due to long and high periods of water since last fall, shows that with some restoration that we can bring this type of habitat back to a greater portion of the site and permanently to that old river channel, instead of just when the water is high.

A ditch that will soon be restored to help reestablish hydrology to about a 10 acre area.

Black Tern & Purple Loosestrife AWA Project Updates

County: Jefferson
Project Start Date: 06/01/2019
Project End Date: 06/15/2019

By Mike Alaimo, Lead AWA Volunteer

As summer approaches, our Adopt A Wildlife Area volunteers are still putting in time supporting the Wildlife Areas.

Chain Saw Training Save the Date:  August 17th at 8:00am at Lake Mills for any AWA team members.  Contact Mike Alaimo at 262-443-4674 for details.

Jackson Marsh AWA:  Awesome job to the team for submitting a 100 plus hour annual report to the DNR, along with their wood duck box and nesting tube report.  A special thanks goes out to Mike Depies for taking the reigns on this achievement!

Netted plants for Rome Pond

Rome Pond AWA:  Loosestrife plants have been potted and netted, but with a late start it is a question if the plants will be viable enough.  Beetle supply is also up in the air, so we will keep everyone posted on the season.

A black tern nesting on one of our floats at Rome Pond

Two weeks ago pictures started hitting our Facebook page with black tern nesting success at 100% on our artificial floats at Rome Pond Wildlife Area.  As of this past Father’s Day weekend, two of the three egg clutches on the floats have changed to two eggs and a sizable gap between the two remaining eggs.  The remaining floats still have three egg clutches and active tending.  This is all exciting news as we gather more information this season on what can be a very viable future project worth growth and expansion.  Check out the full black tern nesting project report here with more pictures!