Working groups are also open to all conference participants, and will offer participants a chance to discuss issues raised during the conference or develop action plans on particular topics. If you would like to organize a working group at the conference in order to seize this opportunity to gather a group of wetland professionals to work on a particular topic, contact Katie Beilfuss at 608-250-9971 or programs[at]wisconsinwetlands.org.
FIELD TRIP 1: Fairfield Marsh Restoration
Art Kitchen and Jim Lutes, USFWS Biologists
Maximum: 23 participants
This 200-acre wetland and grassland restoration is situated along the Baraboo River in Sauk County, approximately 4 miles east of the city of Baraboo along STH 33. It is owned and managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Leopold Wetland Management District as a designated waterfowl production area (WPA) for the benefit of nesting waterfowl, grassland birds and other game and non-game wildlife.
The Fairfield Marsh property was in continuous agricultural crop production until restored in the fall of 2008, so this tour offers the opportunity to view a floodplain marsh/grassland complex in the early stages of its recovery. Trip leaders will point out restoration techniques used and challenges that had to be overcome for a successful restoration. In keeping with the conference theme, Wetlands in the Landscape, the group will discuss future management goals in the context of ecosystem services and floodplain health, in addition to the wildlife habitat and recreation values.
If time permits, the tour may include a stop at an additional 100-acre wetland and grassland restoration completed in 2007 at nearby Devil’s Lake State Park. This former cropland site offers the tour group a look at an amazing native seed bank response that was a direct result of the wetland restoration.
FIELD TRIP 2: Ho-Chunk Nation White Otter Restoration Project
This trip is now full.
Randy Poelma, Ho-Chunk Nation Aquatic Biologist
Maximum: 24 participants
Ho-Chunk Nation Aquatic Biologist Randy Poelma will introduce participants to the 272 acre To Sanak Ska, pronounced Doe Shahnunk skah, (White Otter) property located near the village of Lyndon Station in Juneau County. The property, purchased by the Ho-Chunk in 1998, was named for Chief White Otter and the village site located near the property.
In 2000, the Nation formed partnerships with multiple government agencies and conservation groups and began restoration projects aimed at enhancing wildlife habitat, improving water quality and providing outdoor education opportunities to the surrounding community.
The field trip will feature a walk or snowshoe along the educational trail to view sedge meadow, marsh and mesic prairie that was restored in areas previously used for row-crop agriculture and pastureland. The tour will also take participants into the forested wetland areas bordering Lyndon Creek. Lyndon Creek has undergone multi-phase stream bank stabilization and habitat improvement projects and participants will be able to see the different techniques used by resource professionals to reduce erosion and sedimentation in streams in order to improve water quality and habitat for species using these areas.
Come and join the group to learn about the Ho-Chunk tribe and their restoration efforts at the White Otter Property and across Wisconsin. Contact Brooke Bushman at register[at]wisconsinwetland.org or (608) 250-9971 to reserve one of six pairs of snow shoes available to borrow.
FIELD TRIP 3: Aldo Leopold Foundation
Steve Swenson, Aldo Leopold Foundation Ecologist
Maximum: 24 participants
The highlight of this trip, led by Aldo Leopold Foundation Ecologist Steve Swenson, will be Aldo Leopold’s Shack (approx. 1/8-mile walk). Leopold used his family’s experiences at the Shack to develop his understanding and writings, collected in his most famous literary work, A Sand County Almanac.
The Shack, recently dedicated as a National Historic Landmark, is not only embedded into conservation’s literary history but restoration history. Beginning with Leopold and during restoration ecology’s formative years, this land bears the mark of land management philosophies from the beginning to the present.
Although subtle, the physical landscape of the region has been the product of water for millennia; glaciers, Wisconsin River, flooding, and dams have shaped the biological history and capacity of this land and influence land management today. Steve will tie the history of the physical landscape with his current work to restore floodplain forest and their involvement in the 12,000 acre Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area partnership. Given time or inclement weather, we will explore the Leopold Legacy Center, the foundation’s headquarters and “greenest” building in the United States. Dress appropriate for the weather and trails will be snow covered.
WORKING GROUP 1: Wetland Buffers
Thursday, February 17, 1:30 - 4:30 PM
Location: Lower Dells Ballroom C/D
Organized by Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse
This workshop will be a follow-up discussion of topics identified during the Wetland Buffer Symposium: Theory, Science, Policy and Implementation, and will allow for ample interaction among conference participants and symposium speakers. The workshop session will be split into two sections that will be approximately equally in length and centered around two themes:
- Next Steps in Research for Wetland Buffers. We will synthesize the current state of knowledge as presented by symposium speakers and those in attendance, including points of agreement and points of contention. Furthermore, we will generate a list of outstanding questions that warrant additional research. This list will be compiled and shared with all in attendance in hopes of establishing opportunities for future collaboration.
- Next Steps in Wetland Conservation: Seasonal Pond Management in Wisconsin. This half of the workshop will include breakout sessions where local conservation challenges will be posed to workshop participants. Potential discussion questions include: Can Best Management Guidelines for Vernal Pools in the NE be adapted to WI? What modifications are needed? Should guidelines be focused on ponds? Are guidelines based on a ‘wetland landscape’ potentially more effective? At what scale should we focus our management efforts?
WORKING GROUP 2: Wetland Mitigation Science & Practice
Thursday, February 17, 1:30 - 3:30 PM
Location: Lower Dells Ballroom E
Organized by Dr. Mary Linton and Alice Thompson
Since 2000, Wisconsin has had the ability in certain circumstances to consider compensatory mitigation while evaluating the functions of the wetland proposed to be filled. Although early implementation of the program favored on-site mitigation, staffing constraints and apparent difficulties or inconsistent results from on-site restoration has led the WDNR to implement purchase of mitigation bank credit as the primary mitigation credit. Two state wide banks were grandfathered into the original mitigation program. One is sold out. The other, "Legacy Bogs", is currently the only state wide bank and it will eventually sell out as well. The only other regional banks to develop in the last ten years are the Dane County Bank that services governmental projects, and the Upper Chippewa Wetland Mitigation Bank that services northern Wisconsin.
It appears timely to initiate a robust discussion of present mitigation science, mitigation experimentation, critique and success. The discussion will include watershed-based and in-lieu mitigation as well as any recent initiatives. The session will open with brief presentations by a panel on current mitigation policy for private development by representatives of regulating agencies. The discussion will be open to all participants, including regulators, scientists, wetland practitioners, property owners, business communities, and participants wishing to educate themselves on wetland mitigation.