2020 Project Year in Review

Project: Statewide
County: Statewide
Project Start Date: 01/01/2021
Project End Date: 12/31/2020

By Peter Ziegler, Project Director

Watch the full video on WWA’s 2020 Habitat Program accomplishments, presented at our annual State Meeting on January 23, 2021, here:

 

 

January 2021 Habitat Program Updates

County: Outagamie
Acres to Restore: 10

By Peter Ziegler, Project Director

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.

November 2020 Project Program Updates

By Peter Ziegler, Project Director – wwawetlands@gmail.com

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.

 

October 2020 Project Program Updates

By Peter Ziegler, WWA Project Director

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.

September 2020 Habitat Program Updates

By Peter Ziegler, Project Director

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.

 

Adopted Wildlife Areas Get a Summer Haircut

Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
County: Multiple
Project Start Date: 08/01/2020
Project End Date: 08/17/2020

Rome Pond Wildlife Area in Jefferson County got a nice summer cleanup courtesy of the Churchills.

WWA’s adopted Wildlife Areas needed a haircut and our dedicated volunteer AWA teams have provided the service.

Over at Rome Pond, Ron and Anne Churchill spent nine hours on mowing and cleanup at the wildlife area.

At Jackson Marsh, Mike Depies and crew took advantage of some cooler August weather to clean up the wildlife area with some weed wacking.

Thanks to all of our volunteers who have taken the time this summer to work within the DNR’s restrictions and still get some much needed work hours accomplished.

Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area after its summer “haircut “

 

AWA Work Continues

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:

Black Tern Nesting Project Highlighted in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

County: Jefferson

By Bruce Ross, Executive Director

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

This nesting program sprung from our Adopt-a-Wildlife Area program – another of Mike’s initiatives.

 

Outside the AWA

Project: Purple Loosestrife Invasive Species Control
County: Waukesha

By Mike Alaimo, Lead Adopt A Wildlife Area Program Volunteer

With COVID restrictions in place this season, the DNR purple loosestrife program was put on hold.  There were, however, some plants raised and infected with beetles, as a side project outside the WWA ranks.

On Monday, June 6th, three pots were deployed on Dousman municipal land with village permission.  The WWA helped with this quick deployment.  A map shows the region of the wetland that was being overtaken by purple loosestrife.  The ease of access to this site will make it easier to collect beetles and to extract host plants for future volunteers.

The DNR is always looking for sites.  When driving around or enjoying the outdoors, please consider recording and forwarding location information of this invasive species to aid in its eradication.

June 2020 Adopt A Wildlife Area Updates

Project: Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area & Rome Pond Wildlife Area
County: Washington and Jefferson

We have chicks!

Mike Alaimo, WWA’s lead AWA volunteer recently shared this exciting update. This is the first documented proof of a Black Tern hatch on multiple artificial platforms after three years of attempts at WWA’s adopted Rome Pond Wildlife Area. It is our hope we can now expand this success with this concept. Learn more about WWA’s Endangered Black Tern Nesting Project here.

The log jam on Cedar Creek

WWA volunteer Mike Depies reported on the projects his crew has been working on over at WWA’s adopted Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area. Mike, along with fellow volunteers Dennis Guttman, and Jim Freck, cleared a log jam at a bridge on Cedar Creek which had been building for a few years. Once water levels dropped to levels were the project could be completed, and with the help of Dennis’s UTV and winch, they were able to clear all the branches and limbs that had been accumulating.

Jim Freck, in the water, gets some help from Dennis Guttman, above, and his UTV to clear the log jam on Cedar Creek

The group has also replaced all of the old yellow “Public Hunting Grounds” signs with the state’s new white “State Wildlife Area” signs at Jackson Marsh.

With the COVID-19 restrictions keeping DNR employees from being allowed out on the state land, the group also replaced the out of season 2:00 pm closing for pheasant hunting signage with the current 12:00 pm closing (for the first two weeks of the season) that starts this fall over at Jackson, Allenton, and Theresa Marsh.

Mike was also excited to report that WWA’s Adopt A Wildlife Area contract has now been renewed at the Jackson Marsh for another three years.

Jim shows off the now clear bridge on Cedar Creek