March News and Highlights
Youth Photography Workshops Spring field events begin! Registration is now open for our upcoming Youth Photography Workshops: Saturdays April 17th & 24th, 1:30-3pm. As part of our ongoing Driftless Through Your Lens series we are inviting kids in 4th-8th grades to explore a protected property and learn the basics of outdoor photography with smartphones and lens adapters. Participation is free, adults must accompany their children, and we will use COVID-related safety measures including mask-wearing and social distancing. All activities are outdoors. Find more information or register today! Thanks to The Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin for helping support this program.
Spring Arrivals at Erickson Conservation area's yearly visitors
March and April are exciting months to be out at the Erickson Conservation Area in Argyle. When you arrive, make your way to the trailhead and then keep your eyes and ears open as you scout for seasonal visitors. American white pelicans come to the wetlands of Southwest Wisconsin on their annual routes. You also may hear the sounds of sandhill cranes as they return to their summertime stomping grounds. There are mating pairs in the north prairie at Erickson that have been observed for the last few years. Bring your binoculars and camera and send us any images or noteworthy sights.
Spring Brings Welcome Sounds Frogs, Toads and Salamaders, oh my! With the return of longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures comes the soundscape of water dwellers seeking mates and the appearance of eggs in Wisconsin's waterways and wetlands. The presence (or absence) of amphibians can tell us a lot about the health of a habitat. You can learn more about these important species with a new publication from the Wisconsin Wetlands Association called A Field Guide to Amphibian Eggs and Larvae of the Western Great Lakes. If you are inclined to become a citizen scientist yourself, the WI DNR is still looking for volunteers to participate in a new phenology survey. If you simply want to learn the calls of frogs and toads near you, check out the USGS Frog Quizzes. Happy listening!
Southern Driftless Grasslands Welcomes New Project Manager On behalf of DALC and the SDG team we'd like to welcome Jenn Simons to the Southern Driftless Grasslands network. Earlier this month, Cindy Becker transitioned to be DALC's Director of Conservation Programs. Congratulations to both! Jenn is completing a Master's degree in Restoration Ecology at UW-Madison and is eager to continue working in the field. In her words, "The passion of those who care for this region is contagious, and the Driftless Area has completely stolen my heart." Read more about Jenn and help us welcome her to the team!
Conservation Calls to Action Use your voice to protect what you love Work on paving the way for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line is well underway in Iowa and knocking on the door of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. A recent article in the Dodgeville Chronicle highlights some of the striking damage this line is causing. Read more. Have you reached out to your local representatives about supporting Knowles-Nelson funding in Wisconsin? They need to hear your voice! Since 1989, the Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson Stewardship Program has provided funding to acquire land for conservation, to improve facilities on public lands, to enhance outdoor recreational activities, and to protect ecologically important places. Knowles-Nelson funding has been integral to the success of DALC projects over the years. We have some easy links for you to email a message to your legislators to urge them to continue funding this stewardship program.
Notes from the Field Spring seems to springing early this year! I’ve been hearing reports of spring wildflowers starting to poke through the soil, prescribed burns happening across the landscape, and more birds singing, joined recently by frogs and toads calling. Another sure sign of spring at my house is chickens tearing up all my landscaping beds to make cozy dust nests to bask in the spring sun. We’re all anxious to get outside and enjoy spring, and this month we’re bringing you several ideas from simply walking, listening, and being outside, to participating in upcoming events, or volunteering your time as a citizen scientist. I want to let you know of another way to engage with the land this spring…. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has initiated a regional property master planning process for the Southwest Savanna region. This includes planning for all DNR owned or managed properties in our corner of the Driftless, and they want to hear from you! You can learn more about the planning process and ways to engage by visiting their website. Many changes are proposed in this plan, including campground improvements and expansions at New Glarus Woods and Yellowstone Lake state parks, expansion of state natural areas, maintenance of existing trail systems. In particular the DNR is seeking public input on two management alternatives regarding future use of the Yellowstone and Canon Creek Stream Bank Protection Area, which includes ATV use and an ATV campground. The input received on the management alternatives will be used to help inform decisions regarding future property management proposals. Engage in this important process – your first opportunity is at an April 1 online listening session. The draft plan is online now! I hope everyone has an opportunity to get outside as the weather warms and the season turns, and maybe do a little dust and sun bathing. Chickens are smarter than we think!