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.

Community conservation: 25 years of the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program

By Caitlin Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin The Natural Resources Foundation has been a model for community conservation for more than 25 years by providing hundreds of small, matching grants to local conservation groups in Wisconsin through the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program. Created in 1990, the program fosters responsible stewardship of Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife by supporting grassroots, community-based projects. To date, the Natural Resources Foundation has awarded $420,000 to more than...

The biggest, baddest Big Day

By Lindsay Renick Mayer, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin It is 4 a.m. and I’m standing in the middle of an empty Wisconsin road waxing philosophical through chattering teeth with two of Wisconsin’s best birders. We’re listening for different species of birds and talking about Aldo Leopold, specifically his fondness for sitting outside this time of night, communing with the birds during their beautiful dawn chorus as they welcome the morning light of the new...

Protecting the state’s wood turtles, one garden at a time

By David Zeug, Foundation guest blogger Any day on the Brule River is a good day. What I didn’t realize when I heard the commotion behind me was that this November day was going to become even more special and lead to a fascination with the wood turtle. Like a buck chasing a doe, the turtles ducked and weaved through the woods along the banks of the river. Surprised by the behavior, I tried to...

The birding bond: Father and son together take on the Great Wisconsin Birdathon

By Matt Reetz, executive director of the Madison Audubon Society, Foundation guest blogger I’m pulled from a deep slumber by a gentle tapping on my elbow. I can hear a faint whisper. My fog lifts slowly and my squinted eyes adjust enough to find the clock. It’s 5:58am on a Sunday. There is a small, adorable person at my bedside. “Daddy…” he whispers again softly. I am able to muster a garbled “Yeah, buddy?” in...

Bad River Youth Outdoors: Good waters, good life

By Caitlin E. Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Bad River Youth Outdoors is gearing up for its third summer of watershed education with tribal youth from the Bad River Ojibwe Indian Reservation, a four-week program designed to get kids outside and to learn more about the waterways of Lake Superior and the Bad River watershed. In its first year, BRYO received funding to purchase equipment from the Natural Resources Foundation’s C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant...

Of birds and snakes on the Osa Peninsula

By Connie and Peter Roop, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin members While hiking the Osa peninsula of Costa Rica with the Natural Resources Foundation, the deadly fer de lance, one of the most venomous snakes on Earth, slithered right between us. We looked at each other and agreed—it was time to make our will. We are both deeply committed to the natural world. So “naturally” we turned to the Natural Resources Foundation. We learned of...

Seeking spruce grouse

By Sunil Gopalan, guest blogger and Foundation member I had been eyeing the NRF field trip to seek out the elusive spruce grouse since I first heard of it being offered last year. The spruce grouse is one of those secretive species that makes you work for it and even then, it is mostly sighted along roadways picking at grit. The field trip offered a chance to find the bird displaying in its breeding regal...

Celebrating a season of spring ephemerals on state natural areas

By Josh Mayer, guest blogger Some may think that the summers in Wisconsin are far too short, but even more fleeting is the spring ephemeral season. In the forest, before the green canopy drapes the forest floor in shade, a bevy of wildflowers emerge and bloom in a wondrous display. On the prairie, the flowering display is much different in the spring than it is later in the summer and fall. There really is never...

Get involved in one of Wisconsin’s many great citizen science opportunities

By Lisa Gaumnitz, NRF volunteer and local freelancer My husband and I settled onto a camping pad on a hill overlooking a pond and waited in the dark. Armed with binoculars, hot coffee and a clipboard, we were ready for the start of our second stint as participants in the Annual Midwest Crane Count. Our task was to count and record the sandhill cranes we saw or heard in the early morning hours at a...

Protecting Wisconsin’s Rare Plants for the Future

By Cait Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Dr. James P. Bennett, a retired research botanist with the United States Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Botany, has spent his life studying and protecting rare plants. His research has focused on the impact of air pollution on plants, specifically on lichens and State Natural Areas in Wisconsin. “Wisconsin is losing plant species as part of the global biodiversity crisis,” said Bennett, who...

Goats in the forest: A different kind of land management

By Caitlin Williamson, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin The Riveredge Nature Center in Ozaukee County wanted to try a different approach to land management. A goat approach. Using a local company, Riveredge hired 32 hungry goats (and their herder) to remove dense undergrowth vegetation and eat invasive plants, such as autumn olive and buckthorn, on the nearly 400 acres of forest and prairies in southeastern Wisconsin. The project was supported by a $1,000 grant from...

Dispatches from Belize

Foundation Executive Director Ruth Oppedahl and a group of Foundation members traveled to Belize. Together they explored birding hotspots, learned about community-based conservation efforts in Belize, and ventured into the country’s myriad habitats, including wetlands, Caribbean cayes, primary rainforest, and pine savanna. Below Ruth shares her observations from the adventure. Day 1 – Belize Floating down the river near Pook’s Hill Lodge, giant philodendrons vines hang over me like a beaded curtain. We are in...

Building an environmental ethic: A Q&A with Michael Williamson

The Foundation is thrilled to have Michael Williamson on our board. Williamson has served as deputy secretary for the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the director of the North Carolina Retirement System and deputy director of the District of Columbia Retirement Board. We recently sat down with the former University of Wisconsin-Madison administrator to talk to him about what he cherishes most about Wisconsin’s wildlife and public lands, and what he hopes to accomplish with...

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

In 2005, Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Paul Brandt established the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Fund with the Foundation. 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. It starts with a personal connection “Paul Brandt was one the most dedicated state employees I’ve ever encountered,” says Mark Cupp, executive director of the...

The Ghosts of Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area

Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area is haunted by ghosts. That was my impression even before I first visited the 6,600-acre state property. The afternoon before my trip, I had spoken to Stan Temple, professor emeritus of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he told me about the gruesome scene that played out at Quincy Bluff in 1871: “That year a major portion of all the passenger pigeons in the world nested...

Setting Conservation Priorities for State Natural Areas

At the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin we dedicate our efforts to supporting restoration work at many of Wisconsin’s 673 State Natural Areas. We recognize that some sites need more work than others and we want to make sure that we live up to our commitment to protect the most imperiled lands, waters, and wildlife in Wisconsin. In order to do that, we partner with the Department of Natural Resources and other stakeholders to set our...
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