News from the Wisconservation Blog

Wisconservation Blog

The WisConservation blog is a collection of posts from individuals at the Foundation and around the state about conservation news—and heroes—in Wisconsin. Follow along for stories of inspiration and hope.

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....

Future of Environmental Education in Wisconsin

At the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin we are honored to share some important news about the future of environmental education in Wisconsin. Our partners at the Wisconsin Environmental Education Foundation have done so much to further environmental education for over a decade. We are excited and honored to be handed the baton and to bring our collective passion and resources together in this important effort. Please read on for an important message from Janet...

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...

Protecting rare plants at Kohler-Andrae

By Caitlin Williamson, director of conservation programs The shores of Lake Michigan preserve some of the last remaining Great Lakes dunes in Wisconsin, and harbor some of our state’s most incredible and rare flora and fauna. At Kohler Park Dunes State Natural Area in Sheboygan County, a series of beautiful dunes and swales face Lake Michigan. This State Natural Area was created to preserve this unique natural community and provide critical habitat for the rare and endemic...

The battle for prairie

By Rebecca Biggs, Communications Assistant The Battle Bluff State Natural Area has a lot to offer history buffs as well as nature lovers. Battle Bluff gets its name from the Black Hawk War of 1832, a tragic fight for land between members of the Sauk Nation and the United States. The Sauk warriors would use the high bluff to evade U.S. soldiers and to find a safe place to cross the Mississippi River. By the...

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....

Building a home for insects

By Rebecca Biggs, communications assistant for Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Insect family seeks cozy home in quiet neighborhood… Insects aren’t so different from us; they too need a safe space to grow and raise their young. While many of us may have a tense relationship with insects, they are crucial to any healthy ecosystem—from our yards and gardens to forests and prairies. Even farms and orchards rely on beneficial bugs to keep crops healthy....

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...

2016 Field Trip Photo Contest Winners

All of these photos were taken during Field Trips with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. The name of the Field Trip is included for reference. Join us for our 2017 Field Trip season. Registration opens for current or renewing members on March 22, 2017 at noon. Make sure your membership is current before February 15th, in order to receive your 2017 Field Trip Guidebook in the mail. Grand Prize: Jerry Newman for Muralt Bluff Prairie...

Rattlesnake Appreciation Day?

January 28th is Rattlesnake Appreciation Day. It might seem crazy to devote an entire day to appreciating a creature like a rattlesnake, but hear us out. Rattlesnakes, like Wisconsin’s native eastern massasauga (Endangered in Wisconsin and recently added as a federally Threatened species) and timber rattlesnakes, usually get a bad rap in society, and are often portrayed as creepy, deadly pests. This humble holiday reminds us that even slithering snakes play a critical role in...

Marty Henert steps up as Foundation’s next Board Chair

Martin (Marty) Henert has been with NRF since the very beginning and played a fundamental role in getting the Foundation connected to funding in its first years. He even took over as Executive Director of the Foundation when Ron Semmann, the first Executive Director, was called upon to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources....

Bob and Nan Rudd discuss new conservation endowment

During the holiday season, with all of its sales and shopping, it is easy to forget the true joy of the season—giving. In a recent interview for Bridges, Bob and Nancy (Nan) Rudd reminded us of the magic of giving, and that conservation is a gift that gives back for generations. This fall Bob and Nan established the Robert and Nancy Rudd Conservation Fund to support the perpetual management and restoration of their land, along...

Study will map vegetative impact of climate change over time

Climate experts are predicting a northward shift in forests and wetlands in the coming decades. For that reason it is critical to establish a record of past and current vegetative cover for historical comparison. To aid this important work the Natural Resources Foundation is contributing to a project that began over 50 years ago in the Brule River Watershed of Douglas County, Wisconsin....

Reflecting on 30 years

By Carl Schwartz, steering committee chair for Bird City Wisconsin and board chair for the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. Anniversaries always offer a time for reflection—a chance to look back on where we have been and how our various relationships have evolved. In the 18 years since my wife Barbara and I became members of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, I’ve had the chance to see the many ways NRF carries out...

Bird Protection Fund Updates

Check out these progress updates on the Natural Resources Foundation’s Bird Protection Fund priority projects, made possible thanks to donors to this year’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon.  Click here for the final report on the 2016 Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Kirtland’s Warbler Monitoring and Management The Kirtland’s warbler is a federally endangered bird that has been known to nest in Wisconsin since 2007. This project is an effort to annually monitor breeding pairs and nests, control cowbird...

My Time at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center- Hudson, WI

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center provides unique opportunities to learn and explore the outdoors. With property on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the scenic St. Croix River, the nature center preserves 725 acres of wildlife habitat while also providing educational opportunities for over 7,000 K-12 students annually. Hiking trails wind through restored and prairie habitat and mixed deciduous forest on the 300 acre Wisconsin campus. With help from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin’s C.D. Besadny Conservation...

A family retreat on the west shore

By Wisconsin Wetlands Association Across Wisconsin and the globe, wetlands have historically been misunderstood and underappreciated. Wetlands—found where land and water meet—provide countless benefits to wildlife, landscapes and communities. But despite their value, past and current land use has filled, drained or degraded many wetlands. In Wisconsin, we’ve already lost half of our wetlands. Eleven percent of Brown County is currently wetlands, with the greatest concentration on the bay shores, especially the west shore. Protected...

Creating a work of art: A wetland landowner story

by Wisconsin Wetlands Association and Ben Arnold Mequon resident, landowner and Foundation member Ben Arnold loves nature, and not just from a distance. Whether it’s keeping a careful eye on a clutch of hatching turtle eggs, planting rare native species or sharing photos of a pheasant that wandered across his yard, Arnold is always engaged. Forty years ago, Arnold’s love of nature took him on a surprising journey–the challenging, rewarding journey of native forest, prairie...

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...

Snapshot Wisconsin: Let’s discover Wisconsin’s wildlife together!

By Susan Frett, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Snapshot Wisconsin is a new program from Wisconsin DNR, University of Wisconsin and UW-Extension to more fully monitor wildlife populations with the help of volunteers and crowd-sourcing. Volunteers in Wisconsin with access to private land can sign up to host trail cameras to capture images of wildlife going about their normal routines. Anyone in the world with access to the internet can help out by going online...

Two silent auction items for the birds (and bird-lovers)

By Rachel Hollingworth, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Tim Eisele, one of our own board members, has chosen to donate two silent auction items this year, including a birdhouse and a framed photo that comes with an International Crane Foundation Membership. The photo, pictured below, features the first Wisconsin whooping crane hatched in the wild since the 1800s. To learn more about Tim, the birdhouse and his photograph, you can read his Q&A with us below....

Project highlight: Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin   At almost 6,500 acres, Quincy Bluff and Wetlands is one of the largest and most diverse state natural areas. Its location on the bed of the extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin gives it an interesting topography–a huge wetland with low sandy ridges and seepage ponds surrounded by 100-200 foot sandstone mesas and buttes. Its namesake, Quincy Bluff, dominates at 200 feet high and two miles long. Numerous...

Painting and positivity for our next 30 years

By Rachel Hollingworth, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin   Bruce Braun is a longtime member of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and has been a part of our board for over ten years. A photographer at heart, he began to also paint in the early 2000s. Our 30th anniversary silent auction will feature one of Bruce’s paintings, pictured below. Read on to learn about Bruce, his time with the Natural Resources Foundation and how he...

Investing in nature, and enjoying the returns

By Dave Adam, NRF board member   To the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin family, The seeds of conservation and preservation were planted in me during my formative years while camping with my family in Columbia County just north of Madison. But it took a solo cross country bike ride for me to elevate my game and pursue land stewardship with a passion. It was the fall of 2014 and I was mentally and physically...

Painting for conservation

By Rachel Hollingworth, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin     Owen Gromme, hailed as the “Dean of U.S. Wildlife Artists,” had a longstanding presence in the State of Wisconsin as both an artist and an advocate for conservation. Born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 1896, Gromme began his career as a taxidermist for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago at the age of 21. After serving in World War I, he worked...

Aldo Leopold Nature Center: A true Wisconsin landscape to host our 30th bash

By Rachel Hollingworth, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin When we began to spearhead our big 30th anniversary event, we knew that location was key. Finding a place that had an atmosphere encompassing the natural charm of Wisconsin and a central location for all of our members sent us on a search for the very best that Dane County has to offer. The Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s beautiful landscapes and trails instantly caught our eye. Located...

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...

Mercury no longer marring Wisconsin’s loon population

By Molly Sequin   There’s something haunting about the beautiful call of a common loon. This sound, however, nearly vanished from Northern Wisconsin as a result of mercury and lead poisoning and hunting, all of which devastated loon populations starting in the late 1800s. Since then the federal government has taken steps to bring these birds back from the brink and conservationists in Wisconsin are embarking on a new Foundation-funded project to make sure those...

The Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey: A great amphibian adventure

By Lindsay Renick Mayer This story was re-printed from the Amphibian Survival Alliance’s Spring 2016 issue of FrogLog It is a late night in June in Wisconsin’s beautiful Kickapoo Valley and I am straining to hear the calls of frogs around me. It’s not that they’re faint, it’s that there are too many of them, coming from the woods in all directions. I try to remember what a seasoned birder once told me—that picking one...

Translocation project gives Wisconsin’s salamanders a helping hand

  By Lindsay Renick Mayer This story has been re-printed from the Amphibian Survival Alliance’s Spring 2016 issue of FrogLog Seven years after staff at the Mequon Nature Preserve (MNP) in southeastern Wisconsin began a project to re-establish the hardwood forests that once dominated the landscape, they noticed that while snakes, frogs and birds had returned in abundance, one important resident family of species was still missing: salamanders. Farmland development, parking lot construction and other...

White trumpeter swans make an impressive comeback

By Molly Sequin   Wisconsin has an astounding number of adult white trumpeter swans. These animals are the largest native waterfowl species in North America, and they’re quite the sight– beautiful white birds that stand five feet tall and weigh up to 35 pounds. As their name suggests, one sure way to know you are around a trumpeter swan is if you hear their loud trumpeter call. While the species may be thriving now, it...

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...

The countless reasons to cherish Wisconsin

By Rebecca Haefner, Foundation board member Sometime in the late 1970’s while I was living in Missouri, two girlfriends and I struck out on an adventure to do a bike trip in Wisconsin on that trail we had read about in a bike magazine: The Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail, Wisconsin’s first rail-to-trail conversion,  which had opened in 1965. From there we planned to take back roads to Madison:  our destination. It was on the Elroy-Sparta Trail...

Discovering nature (and supporting conservation) through a camera lens

  Josh Mayer is a longtime Foundation member, and has allowed the Foundation to use his stunning photographs for pretty much every form of publication and outreach. For the Foundation’s 30th anniversary, he’s gone one step further and donated this image to be printed, framed and auctioned off at the Foundation’s 30th anniversary party on August 30th. Read the following Q & A with Mayer to learn about his connection to nature and photography, what...

Origins: Creating the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation

By Ronald L. Semmann, founding Foundation board member In 1986, a group of individuals associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources embarked on a journey to seek alternative funding for its programs, supplementing the scarce and diminishing financial resources appropriated through legislated channels. This is the fascinating story of that successful venture. Sufficient funding for public programs has always been difficult.  Perhaps that is the way it should be, ensuring the taxpayer that public...

Restoring more than land: How conservation work in one unique landscape invigorates, connects and inspires

By Lisa Gaumnitz, Foundation member and volunteer (guest blogger)   The sign off the highway announced “Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area” but there were no other clues we had arrived at one of Wisconsin’s unique landscapes to help sow prairie seeds and burn brush that crisp January day. No cars, no people, no sublime nature — just a sign next to a nondescript house with a field behind it and a windbreak of pine...

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...

Battling invasive species with herbicide and education

By Jill Hapner, Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc.   Give the natives a hand At first glance, it looks like a peaceful grassland. But if you look closer, you will see a battle unfolding. Controlling invasive species is challenging, and replacing those invaders with native species can be a long process. In 2011 the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium (SEWISC) initiated plans to establish a small native prairie restoration demonstration site on the grounds...

A trip to Wyalusing State Park

By Cait Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin   Winter is a beautiful time to be outdoors. The quiet is wonderful for reflection, both personal and phenological.  I recently visited Wyalusing State Park, a gem in southwestern Wisconsin offering stunning views overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. Wyalusing is situated at the mouth of the Wisconsin River, where it meets the mighty Mississippi. In fact, this is where I recently paddled with...

The ugly side of road salt, and how you can keep it out of Lake Wingra

By Susan Frett, Friends of Lake Wingra   Lake Wingra is the smallest of the five Madison lakes, and it is a hidden treasure on the near west side of Madison. It is well-loved by people who live nearby, with many neighbors visiting daily to paddle on the lake, play Frisbee in the park, try their luck catching fish, walk their dogs or simply sit along the shoreline and enjoy the peaceful view. During the...

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...

Winter revelations: Wisconsin’s state natural areas during the barer months

By Josh Mayer   The frozen depths of winter do not put a damper on my explorations of our great state’s natural areas.  In fact, the effects of the climate provide opportunities for new adventures and new perspectives on SNAs that I have already visited, in some cases, multiple times.   Many people are familiar with Parfrey’s Glen, a picturesque sandstone gorge cut into the Baraboo Hills that was designated as Wisconsin’s first SNA in...

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...

Bald eagle news and events

The recovery of bald eagles is one of our nation’s greatest conservation success stories, and here in Wisconsin we played a key role in the species’ comeback. Here we’ve compiled upcoming opportunities to celebrate, learn about and even see our national bird! Live online chat on eagles (January 12) DNR conservation biologists will give the latest eagle population numbers, viewing tips, and answer questions about these majestic raptors during their online chat at noon Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016....

Quilting for conservation

By Diane Humphrey Lueck, chairwoman of the Foundation’s board of directors As a fundraiser for the Foundation’s 30th anniversary this year, the chairwoman of our board of directors, Diane Humphrey Lueck, is creating a quilt to be auctioned off or raffled. Here she talks about her quilting style, fabric choices and the quilt’s symbolism. For the donation quilt, I chose to use batik fabric for the most part. Batiks are made with wax designs that...

Winners of the 2015 Field Trip Photo Contest

Thanks to all of our field trip participants who submitted their beautiful images to our third annual field trip photo contest! The submissions capture some of the best moments of the field trip season and show off Wisconsin’s diverse wildlife and wild lands. The winners and runners-up below submitted photos that were particularly captivating, either in their approach to framing the photo’s subject or in helping tell a story about the unique experiences our field trips...

Find a winter adventure at a state natural area

By Josh Mayer, Foundation volunteer photographer and guest blogger  (All photos in post by Josh Mayer) The time has come to our wonderful state when the temperatures have chilled and the precipitation is whiter and fluffier…or it will be soon. I used to think this meant that hiking season was over, but I have now come to realize that there are many great opportunities to explore in Wisconsin’s state natural areas. One of the more...

Your Brain on Nature: A short book review

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation On my birthday, my boyfriend and I went hiking at Governor Dodge State Park. We picked out a long, looping trail, headed into the woods and immediately got lost. We found ourselves on a narrow trail broken by roots and jutting rocks, climbing ever more steeply. I started to breathe harder. But I couldn’t help but notice the determined way the saplings clung to the rocky hillside and the...

Paddling for the love of Wisconsin: The final tale

By Ruth Oppedahl, Natural Resources Foundation This article was originally published in the Winter 2015 edition of Bridges, the member newsletter of the Natural Resources Foundation. When my mother turned 50 years old, she joined a group of women who were training to hike the Grand Canyon. She filled my brother’s Boy Scout backpack—a heavy canvas thing—with bricks and walked the hills around our suburban neighborhood in Iowa to get prepared. Her euphoria on doing...

The thrill of…counting birds

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation “That’s the silliest question ever!” Ryan Brady exclaims when I ask him if he has a passion for birds. I guess it is a silly question, seeing as he’s been coordinating WBCI’s Wisconsin Bird Monitoring Program for seven years. Brady recruits, organizes and trains 150-200 volunteers each year to monitor the bird species that fall through the cracks of other surveys: night birds and secretive marsh birds. In 2015,...

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...

Our Wisconsin Tundra Swan Connection

By Connie and Peter Roop, Foundation members and guest bloggers Each year we try to experience one or more of the more than 150 field trips offered by the Natural Resources Foundation. This November we had the opportunity to enjoy the abundance of waterfowl migrating along the Mississippi Flyway between western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota and Iowa.   Our sightings included mile-long rafts of canvasbacks (in the tens of thousands), hundreds of green-winged teal and mallard ducks,...

Wrapping up the Foundation field trip season on the Mississippi River

On Saturday, Nov. 17, the Foundation drew its 2015 field trip season to a close with the ever-popular “Boat Cruise the Mississippi in Autumn Migration” trip. The Mississippi Explorer, captained by Captain Annie, took to the famous Pool 9 in the Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge for both a morning and an afternoon session in search of migrating waterfowl and bald eagles. As the Foundation’s field trip assistant coordinator, I was able to attend these trips...

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...

Wisconsin Science Fest Features Conservation and Ecology Events

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Each year, the Wisconsin Science Festival engages Wisconsin residents in the wonder and power of sciences, arts and more, bringing together organizations from around the state to put on events over four exciting and enriching days. This year, the festival runs Thursday, Oct. 22 through Sunday, Oct.25. Events are happening right now, and many will celebrate wildlife, landscape and conservation. For those of us interested in such topics,...

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...

The Conservation Legacy of Bud Jordahl

This week’s annual Jordahl Public Lands Lecture is hosted by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and proudly supported by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. This year’s lecture, which is tonight, features Timothy Egan, a writer and columnist whose focus has been on American landscapes. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, a popular columnist, and a National Book Award-winning author. His free public lecture is titled “Still the Geography of Hope: How Public Land Can Restore...

Day XVIII: The last leg of the I Heart Wisconsin: River Trip

Listen to Ruth tell the story of her last day on the Wisconsin River: Day XVIII transcribed:  Last day of the I Heart Wisconsin River Trip. I woke up this morning to the sound of birds flying overhead. I was completely socked in by the fog. I couldn’t even see the edge of the water that was only 20 feet away. It was a solid bank of fog. Yet I could hear, not that far...

Day XVII: Campfire magic and sandbar living

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XVII:  Day XVII transcribed: Today I traveled from Muscoda Village campground down to the Wauzeka wildlife area. It’s— what I think is—my longest day on the river at about 25 or 26 miles. I was joined for camping and this morning by Mike Mossman and Lisa Hartman. And what a lot of fun to travel with these folks! Last night the winds were still blowing until who...

Meeting up with Ruth on the river

By Bill Keen, Foundation member How to meet up with Ruth on her extraordinary journey?  We decided that the only day possible was Sunday the 11th. Next step was to email the NRF office and Camille, who got the word to Ruth that we would join her in Arena.  Once we received the password to follow her GPS, details on how Lisa and I could meet Ruth on her paddle needed to be worked out....

Day VII and VIII Revisited: Learning from the Land and the Power of Partnerships

By Mike Mossman As my wife Lisa and I stood on the sandy banks of the Wisconsin River at the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s Leopold Memorial Reserve last Thursday evening, awaiting Ruth’s arrival, I was grateful to know Sauk County as my home. It has been a conservation hotbed since even before the 1930’s, when Aldo Leopold and his family began to restore this worn-out piece of land and learn its many lessons. The Leopolds, and...

Ruth’s River Angels: The Heart of the I Heart Wisconsin: River Trip

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin At the Natural Resources Foundation, we are amazed by all of the “River Angels” who have stepped up to help Ruth out. They’ve opened their homes and their kitchens, shared their river stories and their conservation efforts, guided her through tough waters, helped her lug many pounds of gear and gave her a lift when the river got too choppy. We’re shining a spotlight on a few of those River...

Day XVI: Striving for clean air, clean water and a connection to nature

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XVI:  Day XVI transcribed:  This is the October 12 blog. I want to start with a list of towns that I’ve been in so people have an idea about the route of the Wisconsin River. The closest town at the start is Land O’Lakes, although the river actually starts in a lake called Lac Vieux Desert, which is on the border between Michigan and Wisconsin. From there...

Day XV: Going with the FLOW, and cranes galore

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XV:  Day XV transcribed: This is the blog post for Sunday, Oct. 11, day 15. This morning started with a welcome by Timm Zumm of the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin, FLOW. Their motto is “go with the flow.” Timm came to the boat landing in Prairie du Sac and spent the day with me. He was a really great guide to the river and helped me...

Day XIV: Westerly winds

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XIV: Today I’m totally defeated by the wind and waves on Lake Wisconsin. I started out at 9 a.m. this morning after Pete Ostlind helped me go over the boat. We did a little extra patching, he replaced a rivet on the washboards (sort of like the cockpit edge) for me and we went over the whole boat and I headed out around 9 a.m. There was...

Day XIII: The beauty of birds

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XIII:   Day XIII transcribed: We woke up on the site of the Aldo Leopold Shack and it was a morning of learning and discovery for me. Mike Mossman and Yoyi Steele, who work on the Leopold Pines Important Bird Area, were there, along with Dan and Carl from the Aldo Leopold Foundation. This is a really interesting and significant area for the State of Wisconsin, and probably...

Day XII: Aldo Leopold, campfires and the Dells

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XII: I’ll start with the ending of the day. I pulled up on the right side of the Wisconsin River at the site of Aldo Leopold’s shack. What an inspiration to be coming down this river that he was so familiar with, with eagles flying overhead, with cranes flushing off the sand bars and settling back down—hundreds of cranes—and with the geese arcing across the evening sky...

Paddling Through History

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation All my life, I’ve walked through the woods and imagined what it would have been like to do so long ago. What would a Winnebago Native American see from atop this hill? What potential did Wisconsin’s first fur traders see in this stream or that lake? Richard D. Durbin, professor emeritus of UW Madison’s Plant Pathology Department, does the same thing when it comes to paddling down the Wisconsin...

Day XI: Rock, stone and floating boats

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XI:  Day XI transcribed: This is the Oct. 7 blog for day 11 on the river. I first wanted to start out answering a few questions people have asked. One is about if my boat is still leaking–it is. When I was in Point, my boat was completely unloaded and when I turned it upside down, I saw two pencil-lead-sized holes where I could see daylight straight...

Day X: Stevens Points and the gifts of wetlands

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day X: Day X transcribed: This is the blog for Oct. 6, day 10, in Stevens Point. A couple of weeks ago when I was talking about this trip with Tracy Hames at the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Tracy hatched an idea that ended up being an incredible experience today. Tracy had done his graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on the wetlands system and islands upstream from...

Celebrating Wisconsin’s Wetlands of International Importance

By Tracy Hames, Executive Director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association As executive director for Wisconsin Wetlands Association, I have had the chance to visit hundreds of beautiful wetlands across our state. And while I love every Wisconsin wetland, it’s especially fun to visit rare wetland types like Chiwaukee Prairie along the Lake Michigan shore in southeast Wisconsin. Wisconsin Wetlands Association recognized this rare wetland as a Wetland Gem® in 2009, and just recently I joined more than...

Day IX: Mystery mussels and outstanding outdoorswomen (Monday, Oct. 5)

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day IX: Day IX transcribed:  This is the blog post for Oct. 5, day nine, Merrill to Wausau. Today three good Samaritans helped me out and really made a huge difference and I wanted to say thank you. I was kind of whiny about camping at Council Grounds State Park, but there was one really great thing: the campground host. I eventually found him that night and he...

Day VII: Homer Simpson and shoe goo to the rescue (Saturday, Oct. 3)

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day VII: Day VII transcribed: This was the stretch of the river from Menard Island into Tomahawk. This morning was a really great day because I reached my one hundredth mile on the trip! But before I got there, oh boy.       I had an incredible campsite on Menard Island. I was dropped off by the Watsons and Neil on the upstream end, which was beautiful...

Day VI: Escaping time, and celebrating DNR employees (Friday, Oct. 2)

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day VI:  Day VI transcribed: This was a really special day, and I want to thank the people who paddled with me today because that’s what made it incredible. One thing I’ve noticed about this whole trip so far—I’ve been out since Sunday and today is Friday—is that I’m living totally in the present. There’s only a couple of minutes during the day when I have to think...

Day V: Waterfowl and wild rice (Thursday, Oct. 1)

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day V: Day V transcribed: Today is Thursday, Oct. 1, day five of the I Heart Wisconsin: River Trip. Today started with a freezing night, it was about 36 degrees and it was pretty cold, so I’m going to make some adjustments to how I stay comfortable at night camping. I was camping on Rainbow Rapids and had just finished up my breakfast when two dogs came running...

Day IV: Spectacular wildlife encounters…and leaky boats (Wednesday, Sept. 30)

Listen to Day IV in Ruth’s voice: Transcription of Day IV: Today is Sept. 30 and I’m on day four of the I Heart Wisconsin River Trip. This was a day of drama. Drama in a good way, and drama in a not-so-good way. The first drama: this morning, I saw a family of otters playing. There were four of them and I had been waiting for that on this trip. It was really cool—they...

Day IV: In video

Day IV of the I Heart Wisconsin: River Trip took Ruth through the Rainbow Flowage, a wildlife paradise, and to a beautiful campground for the evening. Follow along through these short video vignettes Ruth shot throughout the day:         Rainbow Flowage Beavers Wilderness Paradise Bald Eagle Campsite...

Day III: Winding waters and the power of land trusts (Tuesday, Sept. 29)

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day III of the I Heart Wisconsin: River Trip: Day III transcribed: Today is Tuesday, Sept. 29 and it’s day three of the I Heart Wisconsin trip. Today I kayaked from Eagle River down to the County O boat landing, which was just about 12 miles. That’s kind of a nice short day. I paddled with Trisha Moore, who’s a conservation specialist with Northwoods Land Trust. We started...

Day II: Lunar eclipses and millions of stars (Monday, Sept. 28)

Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day II in her own voice:  Day II transcribed: Today is Monday, Sept. 28, day number two. This was an interesting day of paddling. We went from about mile eight to mile 35. The upper reach of the headwaters is a huge, winding stream that turns into endless alder thickets. When the river goes through the alders, it seems to spread out and what’s left is a shallow...

Day I: Beaver dams and heavy boats (Sunday, Sept. 27)

We put in at Lac Vieux Desert Lake around 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The wild rice bed in the distance fringed the shore. The sky was clear. I was lucky to have two friends join me for the start: Denny Caneff of the River Alliance and Bryan Pierce of the Northwoods Land Trust. After pulling over at the dam, we only had a short stretch to cross County Road E. The culverts were wide enough...

“Be safe”

  I’ve been hearing this phrase quite a bit this week as friends and family give me best wishes for a great trip. Usually it’s said in a way of showing care for my well-being, and sometimes there is a tinge of “be careful.” I appreciate both messages. There are three main ways I stay safe: using my experience and knowledge, planning when I am where so my support team knows what to expect, and...

Pre-trip shakedowns

Ahead of my trip, I’ve been out on a few kayaking adventures to test my equipment, make sure all of my supplies will fit in the boat and strengthen my rowing muscles. While out on some of these pre-trip shakedowns, I was greeted by bald eagles, heard the call of the sandhill crane and witnessed the beautiful bluffs of the Upper Dells. I’m looking forward to capturing more of these sounds and sights during the real trip, but...

Which boat?

When I decided to do this river trip, one of the first decisions was about which boat to use. Like a lot of paddlers, there are several boats in our garage. This past spring I bought a used kayak off Craigslist because at 13 feet, it is better for navigating southern Wisconsin streams. And, ever since reading Larry Rice’s books and watching his presentations about trips he has taken with a “boat in bag,” I have...

Tom Uttech: Mother Nature’s artist

By Christine Seeley, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin One may wonder what role a landscape painter can play when modern cameras can capture the beauty of our surroundings with a level of detail that many artists can’t or don’t. What is it, then, that these artists are hoping to achieve with their work? As an artist myself, I know all too well the struggle between trying to create artwork true to my own ideals and...

Drumlin and Prairie: Celebrating two of Wisconsin’s Natural Treasures

  By Josh Mayer, Foundation member and guest blogger Smith Drumlin Prairie is owned by The Prairie Enthusiasts, a grassroots conservation organization with chapters in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. TPE has worked to manage and restore Smith Drumlin for nearly 20 years, including regular burning, tree removal, mowing, and invasive species control. In the last couple of years, TPE began to seed the former agricultural field between the two drumlins back to prairie. The site...
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