Project: Wood Duck Nesting
WWA’s Valley Chapter was excited to partner with two seniors from Neenah High School, Lauren and Josie, who led and facilitated a wood duck nesting project as part of their School Leadership project. Both Lauren and Josie facilitated the construction of over 30 nesting boxes at two CESA 6 (Cooperative Education Service Agency) K-12 schools.
Lauren and Josie presenting and demonstrating how to put a kit together.
This project involved over 40 students from the Winchester and Amity Schools within CESA 6.
The students at both schools received an introductory presentation which discussed the importance of nesting boxes, and also saw a video of “jump day.” Vie the presentation here: Personal project presentation.
This project was coordinated by both High School students with the donation of kits from the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association. Onsite support and assistance for the students was provided by the WWA Valley Chapter and CESA 6 staff.
The collaborative partnership between Neenah School District, CESA 6, and WWA made this event possible.
Nesting boxes will be installed this spring in three different location in Winnebago and Outagamie Counties.
By Peter Zielger, WWA Project Director
Winter restoration work on one of the projects WWA completed this past year.
WWA wrapped up the year by finishing off a project on the 23rd of December in Green Lake County. We had just enough frost to hold a machine on the surface and to get the project completed prior to it getting even more unseasonably warm for December. We wrapped up a good year with getting more habitat on the ground, but that means we need to start looking forward to next year. A few projects are getting going, but WWA is always interested in getting more projects to look to so we can maximize our resources for the benefit of waterfowl and all wetland dependent wildlife. If you think you might have a viable restoration project you’d like us to look at, fill out our project application.
Although November was cold, December has been mild and there have been plenty of waterfowl still around in my area. With the lack of snow and ample food, as many crops were just getting harvested prior to the holidays, they have no reason to leave. On my holiday drive to visit family, I noticed many fields with new and open sheet water which were waterfowl magnets. We have gone through two very wet years in Wisconsin and our shallow water tables are extremely high. I read that Wisconsin had its wettest year on record this past year, and I’m sure anyone who spends time in and around our state’s wetlands noticed we barely got much of our seasonal drying which typically occurs in the late summer months.
These are trends which typically come and go on decades-long cycles, so although we have great wetland resources for waterfowl now, there is no guarantee they well be there down the road. By restoring what we can we can, we ensure that many of these wetlands will be available in the future and are not just by-products of “wet years”. This is why our work is so important. Our best connection to getting projects is our members and readers like you.
Project: Paradise Valley and Rome Pond Wildlife Areas
On Saturday December 7, 2019 a crew of WWA’s Adopt-A-Wildlife Area Program volunteers spent eight hours cleaning up the parking lots at Rome Pond Wildlife Area, Paradise Valley Wildlife Area and Beaver Dam Lake. Thanks to all that participated to help keep our adopted Wildlife Areas clean!
Bags of trash removed from Rome Pond parking lot
Trash removed from Paradise Valley lots
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.
- I know that the tile line plug is down slope from this spot.
- 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.
- We have hydrology very near the surface indicating within the field a wetland that could be restored.
- 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.
Project: Jackson County Project
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Project: Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area
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.
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.
Project: Abrams Property
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.
There 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.
Project: Statewide Wildlife Areas
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.
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 email@example.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.