Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sustaining State Natural Areas

Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas protect the last remnants of our state’s rarest and most ecologically significant ecosystems. These places need our help. This informational booklet outlines the State Natural Areas that have been identified as having a high priority for conservation in Wisconsin. Special thanks to the Sally R. Luthin Memorial Fund for making this publication possible....

Restoration at Guckenberg-Sturm Preserve

By: Jonathan D. Steffen, former intern with the Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust. The Guckenberg-Sturm Preserve (also known as Stroebe Island Marsh) is owned and managed by the Northeast Wisconsin Land trust and encompasses an area of 48 acres located in the Village of Fox Crossing (formerly the Town of Menasha). In the last year, the preserve has undergone many restoration efforts. Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust staff and volunteers have had tremendous success removing invasive species...

Family uses Foundation Field Trips to stay connected

By Rebecca Biggs, communications assistant. As children get older and become busy with school, work, and responsibilities, it can be difficult to find the time to get together with family. It can be just as hard to make time to take a break from everyday life and return to the pleasures of Wisconsin’s wilderness. One family, however, has found a way to combine these two endeavors through the Natural Resources Foundation’s Field Trip program....

Eagle Days Along the Fox River

By Debra Nowak, naturalist with 1000 Islands Environmental Center In the winter of 1987-1988, 1000 Islands Environmental Center in Kaukuana, Wisconsin, was the location of the first bald eagle sighting in decades. Slowly and steadily, thanks to many legal protections and regulations (including those offered by the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency), those wintering eagle populations have grown. Today, bald eagles are flourishing all over the country, but especially in the Fox...

Traveling to Isle Royale with the Foundation

By: Bill Smith, NRF Board Member As our Natural Resources Foundation (NRF) tour left the sheltered dock at Houghton, MI, and headed to the open waters of Lake Superior, I was wondering: What did Lake Superior have waiting for us? The Michigan shore slowly disappeared below the stern of the Ranger III and the skies remained clear. Winds were favorable for our five-hour voyage across Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Wilderness Park. It was a...

Amid massive declines, NRF joins national effort to protect the monarch butterfly

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin is proud to announce our recent partnership with the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV), a collaborative effort with more than 50 partners including government agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations working to conserve, protect, and promote the monarch and its habitat throughout the country. The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is arguably America’s most recognizable insect. Despite its popularity, monarch populations have been reduced by a staggering amount—researchers estimate that 80 percent...

The first drones: The night-time world of owls

By Jillaine Burton, Open Door Bird Sanctuary Owls are the predator drones of the night. Seldom seen, these mysterious birds are designed to spot and swoop in on their prey silently and effectively. They flew with the dinosaurs—fossils date them back to more than 50 million years ago. And they are everywhere. Owls are found on all seven continents except Antarctica. There are more than 150 owl species, most of them found in Asia. There...

Long flight: Feathered dinosaurs turned into birds

By Jillaine Burton, Open Door Bird Sanctuary The next time you see a red-tailed hawk swoop in on its prey or a turkey vulture soaring in the sky, take time to appreciate the fact that you’re witnessing one of the last remnants of the dinosaurs. That’s right. Our feathered friends belong to the same family tree as the beasts that roamed the earth more than 100 million years ago. They are much more attractive than...

Crane watching: One of nature’s many gifts

By Ronald L. Semmann, founding Foundation board member   “What are we doing out here?” I asked my ecologically inquisitive wife as we stumbled along the rain-soaked dike, feeling the occasional impact of small chunks of hail. “Did we make a mistake signing up for this thing.” “It’s going to be great,” she responded. “This is one of those rare chances to really enjoy nature.” We were talking about the great Sandhill Wildlife Area crane...

Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program: Valued volunteers

By Becky Sapper, University of Wisconsin Extension   Do you enjoy Wisconsin’s vast natural resources? Do you get energized by being outside? Are you a life-long learner, who wonders about nature? Do you like to make a difference? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have something in common with Wisconsin’s 400 certified Master Naturalist Volunteers! Or, perhaps, you are already one of them. Volunteers have passion, interest and dedication and...

Flambeau River Forest fund: Protect what you love, and help others love it, too

By Lisa Charron   Imagine 90,000 acres of protected forest. Seventy-five miles of hardwood-lined river winds its way through the property. Paddlers and people fishing drift on the open water, while thrill-seekers maneuver through the rapids. Deer, wolves, raccoon, black bear, otter, bald eagles and ospreys make their homes along the lush banks while musky, sturgeon, trout, walleye, bass and pan fish thrive in the waters. Families spend evenings around the fire in the rustic...

An outdoor lab in the city of ravines

By Kelly Koller, Fox River Academy (guest blogger) Hidden amid the pulse and flurry of modern life, every city, village and countryside offers monuments, both natural and human-made, that weave together the rich fabric of history from thousands of years ago until today. For the students of Fox River Academy, that natural landmark is the Ravine. A refuge from the bustling downtown City of Appleton and an important sanctuary for wildlife in the sprawling development of the Fox Cities, the Ravine is home to what our students estimate...

Ray Zillmer: A Vision Come True in the Kettle Moraine

By Kathlin Sickel, freelance writer Check out Kathlin’s blog, The Badger and the Whooping Crane.   The natural resources of our state contain not just the gifts and wonders of nature, but also the seeds of many a story. Consider, for example, the story of the Ice Age Trail, the Kettle Moraine State Forest and a life-long Wisconsinite named Raymond T. Zillmer.   Ray Zillmer’s story highlights the fact that a very different landscape might...

Telling Wisconsin’s stories: A Q&A with Tim Eisele

The Foundation is thrilled to have Tim Eisele, freelance outdoor writer and photographer, join our board this month. His stories have appeared in the Wisconsin Outdoor News, Capital Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal. He edited Woodland Management magazine for 12 years. A third-generation Madisonian, Eisele previously worked in information and education for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We recently sat down with Eisele to talk to him about what he cherishes...

Inspiring the next generations: A Q&A with Tom Dott

The Foundation is thrilled to have Tom Dott, vice president of commercial banking at First Business Bank, join our board this month. Dott has more than 20 years of commercial banking experience. He served on the Board of Directors of the Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society and serves in several leadership roles for the United Way of Dane County. We recently sat down with Dott to talk to him about what he cherishes most about...

Keeping leaves (and nutrients!) out of our streets and lakes

By Theresa Vander Woude, Clean Lakes Alliance   By the time leaves have started to fall in Dane County, most of us have tucked away swimsuits and beach towels for the year. The lakes are too cold to swim in and too liquid for winter sports. This fall, Clean Lakes Alliance and the Village of DeForest partnered to tackle one of our lakes’ biggest headaches: nutrient pollution from fall leaves. In particular, we wanted to answer...

Give the gift of nature

The holidays are upon us and we’re here to help you give the perfect gift to the Wisconsin nature lovers in your life: Give a gift membership to the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Members have the advantage of registering early for our popular field trip program, which includes more than 150 field trips across the state. Members also receive our quarterly Bridges newsletter and our monthly e-newsletter. You can give a gift membership online...

Protecting What’s Precious on the Lake Michigan Shoreline

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin   The United States has only thirteen designated National Marine Sanctuaries. But that’s about to change. After fifteen years without a new National Marine Sanctuary, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has finally decided on a new designation—the Lake Michigan shoreline from Port Washington to Two Rivers in our great state of Wisconsin. The National Marine Sanctuaries program was established on October 23, 1972 by the...

Halloween Fun at State Parks and Forests

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin   Did you know that Wisconsin state parks, forests, wildlife areas and nature education centers offer a whole lot of Halloween fun? Neither did I, until I checked out the WI Department of Natural Resources events page for the coming week. These events offer it all–night time hikes lit by jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin painting and other crafts, bonfires with all the associated treats, education about Halloween-themed critters and even some...

Restoring wild rice for waterfowl in the Mead Wildlife Area

By Patrice Eyers, guest blogger from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources As far back as one can imagine, the area that sits between Wausau and Stevens Point along the Little Eau Pleine River, has been cherished for its abundance of natural resources. In pre-settlement times, the Chippewa inhabited Smokey Hill, a forested island in the former Rice Lake. The river and the lowland marshes provided a bounty of white-tail deer, bear, fish, beaver, muskrat,...

Volunteers help care for Wisconsin’s woods, waters and wildlife

By Olga Bednarik, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Volunteers play a vital role in Wisconsin’s conservation efforts by helping respond to conservation needs around the state. In return, volunteers have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the importance of conservation and to be a part of a welcoming community. Wisconsin state natural areas, in particular, benefit from a new corps of volunteers committed to helping remove invasive species, assisting with controlled burns and planting native...

Congratulations to heron haiku contest winners and entrants

Thanks to everyone who entered or voted in our heron haiku contest! We had a great time reading through your terrific entries, making the task of picking just four finalists very challenging. The haiku by Max Witynski of Madison received the most Facebook “likes,” making him the winner. Max will receive a birding prize pack from the Foundation and our partner Eagle Optics. We’ve posted Max’s haiku, the finalists and all of the other great entrants...

The birds, the bees and the Badger state

By Brooke Hemze It’s February, the month of love. With springtime around the corner, love will soon be in the air for many species. In honor of Valentine’s Day, staff here at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin consulted with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other references to take a look at the quirky courting rituals of some of our favorite Wisconsin critters. American Woodcock   Hold me closer sky dancer. The American woodcock’s...

Paul Brandt’s Lower Wisconsin Riverway Fund continues to shape and restore the riverway

By Brooke Hemze This year marks 10 years since former Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Paul Brandt established the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Fund with the Foundation, generating more than $30,000 annually in recent years. Since its creation, the fund has been used to manage and restore the beautiful Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, an area that Brandt was instrumental in creating. Brandt died in 2006. “Paul Brandt was one the most dedicated state employees...